Bringing a dog home for the first time is an exciting moment for both the owner and the dog. It can also be a nerve-racking time, especially in the case of rehoming or rescuing a dog who has suffered from mistreatment or abuse.

Avoiding or correcting dog behaviour problems can be extremely challenging. Learn more about how to get the best out of your dog through our dog behaviour advice.

Dog behaviour advice

Firstly, a surefire way to avoid dog behaviour problems is to train them through the use of rewards. Using training treats makes it easier to control and teach your dog to behave appropriately. One of the earliest things to teach your dog is where to go to the toilet.

Always remember never to shout or punish your dog, they will not understand and will become nervous and scared. This kind of treatment can lead to dog behaviour problems. Always remember to be consistent with your training, so your dog does not become confused.

Your dog should always have a safe hiding place in the home where they can escape to when they feel afraid.

Regular exercise and allowing your dog the opportunity to run and walk is imperative. This will not only keep them fit and active, but it will also stimulate them. So, unless your vet recommends otherwise, give your dog the opportunity to run every day.

Dogs are generally very sociable animals, so it is important to provide them with opportunities to interact with other dogs, people and safe toys to prevent them from becoming bored or distressed.

Always be mindful to avoid things that scare them. Your dog should always have a safe hiding place in the home where they can escape to when they feel afraid. It is important to observe any changes in your dog’s behaviour. If they show regular signs of stress or fear (excessive panting, licking lips, hiding, cowering, aggression), always seek the advice of a vet or a dog behaviourist.

Can aggressive dog behaviour problems be cured?

A question we hear a lot is whether there is a cure for pre-existing aggressive behaviour in dogs. Well, firstly it is important to understand that it isn’t possible to cure aggression overnight. There are steps that you can take to control aggressive behaviour in dogs and achieve a calmer pooch.

Dog behaviour advice – calming an aggressive dog.

Any behaviour connected with an attack or an impending attack would be classed as aggressive behaviour. Some of the most obvious signs of aggressive dog behaviour problems can be when they are being still and rigid, growling, snarling, baring teeth, lunging and nipping or biting. The initial step to preventing this behaviour is to understand what the cause is.

Some dogs growl if you approach them whilst they are eating, others react aggressively towards strangers or children. Sometimes dogs can be aggressive towards other animals or even towards inanimate objects, such as wheels on a vehicle or household equipment like a hoover or washing machine.

When your dog becomes aggressive, make a note of the behaviour and the circumstances. These factors will play an important part in creating a plan to help your dog remain calm. A plan will take time, consistency and possibly the help of a professional. Dogs aren’t normally aggressive but sometimes an underlying medical problem may be to blame.

Health problems, such as hypothyroidism, neurological problems like encephalitis, epilepsy or brain tumours, and even painful injuries may cause aggression. Through talking to your vet, you can determine if this is the case. Treatment or medication may help to improve your dog’s behaviour.

Punishing your dog for aggressive behaviour will usually backfire and can, in fact, escalate the aggression.

If any medical problems have been ruled out, it may be time to call in a dog behaviourist or professional dog trainer. As aggression can have serious consequences, attempting to fix the problem on your own often isn’t an option. A professional can help to create a plan to manage the behavioural problems. In most cases, you’ll use positive reinforcement to teach your dog new behaviours.

As an example, if your dog is showing mild aggression towards strangers there are simple exercises you can carry out. Initially, standing far enough away so your dog is not snarling, growling or snapping is the way to go. Then, as you gradually decrease the distance, reward your dog with praise and treats, continuing to use positive reinforcement. In doing this your dog will learn that strangers equal treats and you will see a reduction in the aggression. A similar approach can be used for a variety of other situations.

Punishing your dog for aggressive behaviour will usually backfire and can, in fact, escalate the aggression. Hitting or yelling at your dog could result in your dog feeling the need to defend itself by biting. A dog’s growl is often their way of warning you they are not comfortable in a certain situation. If you then punish your dog for growling, the next time they are in a similar situation they may bite without warning.

In some cases, training on its own is not enough. Medication is also used to help manage a problem with aggressive behaviour in dogs. When a dog is experiencing fear, stress or anxiety they are incapable of learning new things. Medication is used as a tool to assist your dog in overcoming fear and the medication is only used temporarily.

Dog behaviourists will always mention diet as a cause of dog behaviour problems

All of the above advice should help you curb or avoid dog behaviour problems but the final thing to bear in mind is the food you feed your dog. Traditional dog foods such as the kibble you buy from the supermarket contain additives, supplements and grains that can cause chemical imbalances within your dog. This often leads to issues such as hyperactivity, similar to the way high E numbers do to humans within their food.

Most dog behaviourists will raise this issue with you when you speak to them about dog behaviour problems and the best thing for you to do for your dog is to improve their diet. Raw dog food are free of grains, chemicals and supplements and are made from 100% natural ingredients. A sure-fire way to reduce dog behaviour problems and improve their health at the same time. Visit www.uberpet.co.uk to learn more about raw dog food.

This is a guest essay by Chris Parlour. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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