Solving Dog Behaviour Problems
Research has clearly shown that punishment does not work in dogs (or in any other animal for that matter), but unfortunately, this evidence is all too often ignored. This solving canine behaviour problems examines some of the most common unwanted behaviours experienced by owners – most of these behaviours are natural and normal for dogs, thereby creating conflict in the home. Many problem behaviours in dogs can be prevented or minimised when a dog is getting what it needs in terms of exercise and environmental enrichment. It is common for people to underestimate or overestimate how much exercise and stimulation dogs require. This lack of awareness frequently leads to behavioural problems - which if not dealt with or prevented, may result in a dog being given up by the owner for re-homing. It is a useful exercise to consider what a dog will be doing over an average 24 hour period. Let’s say the dog is getting walked for an hour a day - this still leaves 23 hours in the day! Clearly, some of that time will be spent sleeping, a little time eating and the dog owner or carer needs then to think about what else the dog could be doing during the rest of the day. Thinking this 24 time clock concept through often helps those caring for dogs to ensure that adequate stimulation is provided and therefore unwanted behaviour is avoided!
The last module of this canine behaviour problems course takes a look at the “dominance theory”. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, the concept of “pack leader”, “alpha status” and “dominance” continues to rear its head, leading to frustration, broken relationships and misery for many dogs and their owners. This canine behaviour problems course also examines how we can help dogs that are fearful or anxious. An in-depth look at classical conditioning covers counter conditioning and desensitisation. All of our canine courses are force free, welfare orientated and relationship based. We do not support the use of aversive training or so called “tools”. One harmful way of dealing with fears and anxieties is called “Flooding”. This is a technique that instead of exposing the dog to the lowest form of the stimulus he is fearful of, he is exposed to the highest possible form. The theory behind this is that he will “get over it” as adrenalin and fear can only affect the body for so long. After that the dog will calm down. This is a dangerous approach based on similar behaviour therapy principles that were originally invented for humans. This course also looks at dog bite statistics and puts these into perspective. Figures for the year ending April 2017, showed a total of 6,450 admissions for dog bites or strikes, an increase of 5.2% on the previous year. Of those 1,040 were children under 10.
The RSPCA has stressed the vast majority of bites treated by the NHS would not necessarily be down to dogs being more aggressive, but rather due to human behaviour around dogs and the poor quality of life the dog has experienced. Although some dogs are a risk to society, this is often due to irresponsible breeding or irresponsible owners. More often than not, the subtle warning signs the dog gives are ignored by humans (the signals discussed in module 1), leaving the dog with no other option but to bite.