Archive for the ‘Understanding Your Dog’ Category

Is Your Dog Angry, Or Just Trying To Tell You Something?

Gemma | March 29th, 2006
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When a dog growls, it is an indication that he is uncomfortable in a specific situation, whatever reasons that may be. As a dog owner, you can observe this behavior and discover what types of things tend to bother your dog or puppy. This makes a great opportunity for you to condition him to better relax during these situations.

Many times it is the advancement of another animal or human being that will make your dog growl. And if this growl is heeded and the person does move away from it, the dog will drop the desire to continue its dramatic behavior because he appeared to have gotten his point across. It really is just another form of communication that canines use.

But this communication must be understood by people, especially children. If a child is approaching this same dog and the barking is ignored, the dog may then escalate its behavior and snap, or even bite the child.

What Would You Do?

Suppose for a minute that your child approaches your dog while it is laying down and it turns his head slowly away while growling at a low tone. Do you know this means? What should you do?

Of course not all growling is considered bad, and in such a situation it would appear that your dog is simply trying to communicate that it is uncomfortable with you approaching and would like to be left alone.

Don’t Take It Personally

Many dog owners take this behavior personally. They tend to punish their dog or puppy whenever it growls at them. This is a big mistake and could lead to potentially greater behavior problems down the road.

All you are doing in this situation is blocking the dog’s most important way of communication. If you continue this practice then sometime in the near future, the dog may not be courteous enough to give such a warning growl and may result in immediate snapping or biting.

Children should always be taught this form of communication. They must know that whenever these warning growls are given, it is always best to respect your dog and to move away from it.

Teach your kids to stop doing whatever it is they are doing when a dog growls at them. Running away is not advised. They should calmly retreat to a distance that is safe, but do it SLOWLY. And advise your kids to let you know exactly what happened so that you can use this information to continue training your dog the obedience skills it needs.

Why You Should Never Let Your Dog Beg For Food

Gemma | March 27th, 2006
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Unless they are trained not to do so, most dogs will form the natural habit of begging for both attention and food. Some dog owners except this behavior and think it’s cute, but most people get annoyed very quickly when their dog starts to beg every time he wants love, attention, and especially when he smells something tasty cooking in the house.

What is wrong with begging you might ask?

For starters, begging is another form of demanding and it gives your dog an aspect of control within the family “pack”. I describe your family as a pack because that is exactly how your dog sees it. Anyways, while it seems adorable when Sparky rolls over on his back expecting a belly rub every time you enter the room, or just sits all teary-eyed staring straight at your plate of food when you’re eating dinner, this behavior has the possibility to gain momentum and become aggressive.

Just how aggressive can a dog possibly become?

If you do not think that your dog could ever possibly bite your hand because he expects you to give him food every time he begs, think again. For years a friend of mine would hand feed his puppy pieces of food at any time of the day he was eating. If it were breakfast, his dog would get a two pieces of bacon. At lunch time my friend would hand feed his dog a few bites of his sandwich. The same went for dinner.

After some time, his dog matured and grew bigger, and my friend did not realize that he was reinforcing a dominant leadership role into his dog every time he gave in to begging. Once he decided to change this behavior with his dog, he learned quickly just how dangerous the situation was. At one of his meals, my friend absolutely refused to feed his dog anything and the begging and crying turned into aggression and barking. Then without notice, his dog leaped up onto his plate and snapped at the food, taking a little bit of my friends flesh with it.

Begging can be eliminated with proper training

The above example may seem a bit extreme and you still probably could never imagine you’re adorable dog biting you in the attempt to get food that he was expecting. However, the problem is real and you must start early in your puppy’s life with instilling the rules when it comes to begging.

During your meals, you need to train your dog to sit and stay in a specific area when the family is eating. This may take some time but eventually he will remain in a sit position until after your dinner is over and then of course you should praise his actions by offering him up a nice hot meal that he can eat in his own food bowl, and only after everybody else is finished eating.