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7 Reasons Dogs Develop Behavior Problems

 

Next time you find yourself saying the words “bad dog,” you might want to take a step back and think about what’s really behind that undesirable behavior. Dogs exhibit “bad” behavior for a variety of reasons, from lack of exercise to health issues, and addressing the root cause of the issue can help. Below are seven reasons dogs develop behavior problems:

1. Lack of Exercise:
A tired dog is usually a happy dog, and one that’s less likely to chew up your shoes or bark at the mailman. A lot of owners don’t realize that a stroll around the block isn’t enough physical stimulation to ward of problem behavior. A run, an afternoon at doggy daycare, or a game of fetch is necessary for many dogs to get the proper amount of exercise. Speak with your vet about the right amount of physical activity for your individual dog.

2. Lack of Mental Stimulation:
Just as crucial as physical activity, dogs need mental activity to keep them at their best behavior. Work on some training or try a food puzzle toy to ensure balanced mental health and help deter unwanted behavior.

3. Health Problems:
If your dog starts displaying an uncharacteristic problem behavior, like aggression or using the bathroom indoors, it’s very possible that a health issue could be to blame. Any painful condition, from arthritis to an ear infection, can cause a dog to act out aggressively. A urinary tract infection could be the culprit for your dog’s sudden inability to hold it while you’re away. Be sure to discuss any sudden changes in behavior with your vet to rule out possible health issues.

4. Inconsistency:
If you let your dog jump up on you in your everyday clothes, but scold him when you’re dressed up, this sends an unclear message. Inconsistency can also come in the form of everyone in the household not being on the same page about the rules. To ensure inconstancy doesn’t hinder your pup’s good behavior, work on training on a regular basis and be sure that the whole family is in agreement about expectations.

5. Lack of Socialization:
Not having enough experience with other people, animals, and experiences outside of the home can result in fearful or aggressive behavior. Puppies should be exposed to a variety of experiences at a young age to develop healthy social skills. If you’re adopting an adult dog, speak with the shelter staff to determine what kind of training and exposure is recommended (many adoptable dogs have great social skills, while other may need a little work).

6. Disruption of Routine:
Changes in routine can cause canine stress, which can lead to undesirable behaviors as a coping mechanism. Whenever something major happens in your household, whether it be a new four-legged addition or a move, keep your pet’s wellbeing in mind. Stick to your dog’s regular feeding and walking routine, offer comfort items like toys  and a soft bed, and be sure to spend a lot of quality time together to help combat anxiety.

7. Genetics:
Although proper training and socialization can help curb some genetic traits, some breeds are just more prone to certain behaviors than others. For example, terriers are more likely to try to chase that neighborhood cat because of their prey instinct, and hounds are likely to express themselves by howling. While these aren’t necessarily negatives and training can definitely help, potential owners should do their research about a breed’s behavior quirks before bringing a new pet home.

The Puppy’s Rule of Twelve

*Please be sure that your puppy is vaccinated and uptd for their health.  Do not take your puppy out and socialize until it has received it’s first round of “5 to 1” or “6 to 1 “Distemper shot to prevent diseases that it may catch.

Make sure all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy. Each encounter should
include treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add distance if your puppy is scared!

By the time a puppy is 12 weeks old, it should have:
(If your puppy is over 12 weeks start right away with this socialization guide.)

Experienced 12 different surfaces:

wood, woodchips, carpet, tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet
grass, dirt, mud, puddles, deep pea gravel, grates, uneven surfaces, on a table, on a chair, etc……

Played with 12 different objects:

fuzzy toys, big & small balls, hard toys, funny sounding toys,
wooden items, paper or cardboard items, milk jugs, metal items, car keys, etc…….

Experienced 12 different locations:

front yard (daily), other people’s homes, school yard, lake, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car, garage, laundry room, kennel, veterinarian hospital (just to say hi & visit, lots of cookies, no vaccinations), grooming salon (just to say hi), etc….

Met and played with 12 new people (outside of family):

include children, adults (mostly men),
elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, etc….

Exposed to 12 different noises

(ALWAYS keep positive and watch puppy’s comfort level –
we don’t want the puppy scared): garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, Harley motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts rolling, power boat, clapping, loud singing, pan dropping, horses neighing, vacuums, lawnmowers, birthday party, etc…

Exposed to 12 fast moving objects

(don’t allow to chase): skateboards, roller-skates, bicycles,
motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, vacuums, children running, children playing soccer, squirrels, cats, horses running, cows running, etc…

Experienced 12 different challenges:

climb on, in, off and around a box, go through a cardboard
tunnel, climb up and down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide & seek, go in and out a doorway with a step up or down, exposed to an electric sliding door, umbrella, balloons, walk on a wobbly table (plank of wood with a small rock underneath), jump over a broom, climb over a log, bathtub (and bath) etc….

Handled by owner (& family) 12 times a week:

hold under arm (like a football), hold to chest,
hold on floor near owner, hold in-between owner’s legs, hold head, look in ears, mouth, in-between toes, hold and take temperature (ask veterinarian), hold like a baby, trim toe nails, hold in lap, etc…

Eaten from 12 different shaped containers:

wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, paper, coffee cup, china, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, Kong, Treatball, Bustercube, spoon fed, paper bag, etc……

Eaten in 12 different locations:

back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen, basement, laundry room,
bathroom, friend’s house, car, school yard, bathtub, up high (on work bench), under umbrella, etc….

Played with 12 different puppies

(or safe adult dogs) as much as possible.
Left alone safely, away from family & other animals (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week.

Experienced a leash and collar:

12 different times in 12 different locations.

-Positive Paws Dog Training ©2002 – Margaret Hughes Adapted with permission from Pat Schaap’s “RULE OF 7’s” for 7 week old puppies

The Rule of 7’s

Socialization is crucial for puppies.

By the time a puppy is seven weeks old he/she should have:

Been on 7 different types of surfaces: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips.
Played with 7 different types of objects: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy toys, squeaky toys, paper of cardboard items, metal items, sticks or hose pieces.

Been in 7 different locations: front yard, back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom

Met and played with 7 new people: include children and older adults, someone walking with a cane or stick, someone in a wheelchair or walker.

Been exposed to 7 challenges: climb on a box, climb off a box, go through a tunnel, climb steps, go down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, run around a fence.

Eaten from 7 different containers; metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan.

Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom.