Do you sometimes feel like you are in over your head? Confused by the many opinions you have heard from well-meaning people?
Most of us try to solve common dog behavior problems on our own-this sometimes works, but sadly, more often (the number one reason dogs are turned in to shelters is behavioral problems) does not.
It is as simple as this: dogs are not people and their problems cannot be solved in the same way.
A good example of this is soiling in the house. Many people were taught that you must "show the dog that it is bad to defecate in the house by dragging him to the poo and rubbing his nose in it".
A human might be able to put two and two together and conclude" If I poo, then my nose gets rubbed in it. Therefore, I will only poo in the toilet". Unfortunately, a dog does not have that level of cognitive thought.
A dog who is dragged to the scene of the poo crime and has his nose forcibly rubbed in it cannot make the connection between your action and not defecating in the house-his brain is simply not that powerful (it is about the size of a small lemon on average). All he has learned from this experience is that when there is poo nearby, his human becomes scary!
The dog will most likely then begin to poo when his human is not in the room, leading the human to again (naturally) assign human motives to the action.
"Ah-HA! The sneaky dog is now getting revenge and purposely pooing on the floor when I am not here!".
That the dog likely cowers when witnessing the human's anger leads to yet another misunderstanding between the species-the human will conclude that the dog is "acting guilty" when in reality the dog is RE-acting to the human's anger by trying to communicate using dog language.
This includes cowering, licking his lips, turning his head to the side and blinking. Tail will be down, maybe between his legs and wagging frantically. He may even urinate a bit. This is all dog-speak for "I mean you no harm, please don't hurt me!".
It is NOT your fault that you do not "speak dog"! There are 65 million pet dogs in the US right now-how many classes did you attend in school that explained dog behavior? Ummm, if your education was anything like mine the answer is a big fat zero!
So where did we learn about dogs? From television commercials and Disney movies that assigned human motives, values, and characteristics to dog behavior-add to that handed-down information that was more likely than not, just plain wrong (although certainly well-intended).
I know you love your dog and want what is best for him. That means when there is a problem, you must go to a professional and get help.
Training is not as expensive as you think and can make the difference between having a happy, calm dog and a terror that digs up the garden, chews up the sofa, and jumps on the guests.
For more information, go to www.deschutesriverdogs.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If nothing else, I can point you in the right direction and give you some free advice to get you started! Trust me, I have made every mistake possible-you are not alone ;-)