It's not their fault

It’s not their fault!

Dogs have toilet accidents, dogs chew things they shouldn’t, dogs bark too much, dogs get aggressive. So, if it’s not their fault how do we, as humans react? Most important to remember is that there is no place, when sharing your life with a dog, for punishment, either verbal nor physical. A dog has no understanding of the reasons for your anger, they may act guilty, but it’s concern about your mood and voice tone, not what they might have done to provoke it!

Behavioural issues are usually due to one or more instincts that a dog has inherited from its distant ancestors so always try to look at situations from a dog’s point of view! Find the cause and eliminate or manage the behaviour!

Toileting accidents (or what sometimes seems like “getting their own back”!)

You take your dog out for walks, you let your dog in the garden when it asks. Then, overnight, or when you’ve been out or busy doing something else, you find a puddle, wet patch or even a poo! Or possibly when you greet your dog there is a little leak.

Your first reaction may be anger, frustration and you may shout at your dog or at the very least you may huff and puff whilst angrily getting the cleaning stuff out. Meanwhile, your dog is slinking away or looking guilty.

Here are some of the reasons why it happens: -

  • Urinary leakage beyond your dog’s control
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Age related incontinence
  • Bladder stone
  • Injury
  • Damaged nerves
  • Urethral obstruction
  • Kidney disease
  • Behavioural, such as stress/anxiety, submissive urination, safety issues, protection/guarding (marking)

First check with your vet that the issue isn’t medical.

Always clean up with suitable ammonia neutralising cleaning solutions, otherwise the dog will still smell it and may think it’s ok to use that spot again.

Dogs that suffer from Separation Anxiety, feelings of vulnerability/safety, or think they are the “guard” dog, may use their urine/stools to mark, as a protection at important areas such as doorways, entrances/exits, food storage, eating or preparation areas. In the wild some dogs patrol and protect their territory and use their excretions to mark their boundaries to prevent or warn unfamiliar canines and animals that they are to stay away.

Ways to help:

Provide a safe place, such as a covered cosy crate; dogs love dens.

Reduce the area where left so your dog doesn’t have the whole house to guard.

Provide a structured life, with rules and boundaries, calmly and consistently managed

NEVER tell your dog off or indicate ANY annoyance if an accident is found, as this may cause further stress and behaviour problems.

Destruction/Chewing

Pups need to chew especially when teething. Provide suitable items such as rope toys, GameChanger ®, Kong, and most important keep shoes (leather is really tasty and rubber deliciously resilient for teeth) and other precious items out of reach. Provide a safe pen so when you can’t pay attention to your pup, pop him in the playpen!

In adult or teenage dogs, they may need enrichment; they seem to love plastic (feels like bone!) so keep TV remote controls, (sometimes they smell the sandwich you had when watching TV) mobile phones and children’s plastic toys away and out of reach. Cardboard boxes are great for ripping up, provided your dog doesn’t eat masses of it. Snuffle mats, where tiny treats are secreted can give hours of fun for the dog, as it satisfies a natural hunting, foraging instinct. A stuffed GameChanger ®, Kong or scattering food in the garden, all these can distract and enrich your dog's life.

Barking

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons: - To alert the pack, excitement, a demand for attention from their humans, anxiety/fear and boredom. Causes may be a fearful personality, changes in a dog’s life, discomfort (needing to urinate), the breed, (some dogs are more vocal than others) or once again, separation anxiety. Once you understand the cause you are half way to helping to prevent excessive barking.

  • Check with neighbours if they are being disturbed
  • Set up monitoring – a voice activated phone App will help
  • Make sure you’re not setting your dog up to fail – don’t leave him in charge of the whole house
  • Practice taking control of areas such as the hallway or front door, teaching your dog that you are the one to answer the door
  • Ignore it if your dog barks at you demanding attention. Walk away.
  • If it happens when your dog is on the lead, work at keeping your dog’s attention on you.

Aggression

Many people misunderstand the way that dogs communicate with each other. They use body language, growling or barking and sometimes snapping. It is embarrassing and causes us humans to be anxious about being in public, but none of this is intentionally aggression. It’s a dog’s way of saying “stop”, and if the situation does not stop, it may result in a bite. Our human perception of a dog’s aggression can take many forms: - lunging at dogs or people when on lead or off lead, rushing at the delivery man, sibling rivalry with other dogs in the home or trying to control who comes in your home. Some dogs even seem to be jealous of one human over another in their family.

Pain or discomfort can be a cause of a dog's reaction to situations or touch. Be aware that dogs hide their pain from us very well, so if your dog has snapped at you when you are stroking him/her, or if they are asked to move, it’s worth getting a vet or chiropractor to check your dog's frame.

It’s also important for us humans to recognise that a dog’s focus should be on the owner in their life, whether it be in the home, on lead or off lead in safe places. Almost all aggression stems from anxiety or fear of a situation or a belief that he or she has been promoted to position that they would be incapable of controlling.

A dog on lead can feel trapped, so any dog or person approaching them may seem like a threat to them or their owner, so will react to tell it to go away. This can sometimes be the case when dogs lunge or try to chase traffic, cyclists or joggers; they can sometimes see it as a huge threat. With Sibling Rivalry, it can often stem from food situations, so ensure good, sufficient quality nutrition and make sure you are treating all dogs the same. Don't allowing one on the sofa and not the other! Jealousy towards one human over another is about leadership. Sometimes a dog considers one of the people to be his/her property, so some basic rules and boundaries should be put in place to show a dog, kindly and calmly, that it’s not their job to supervise/protect that person.

Some of the behaviours described here, can be managed and adjusted by owners, but sometimes professional help is needed. Don’t think you’ve failed if that’s the case, it just means you haven’t found the right way and need guidance and support to ensure that you and your dog(s) live happily together, in mutual enjoyment of life!

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

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