Monday, June 22, 2020

When it's not behavior.

Your Dog Making A 'Sad Puppy Face' May Be Trying To Tell You ...When dogs do something that humans don't like or that is out of character for the dog it's very common for most people to immediately blame it on the dog's behavior. The dog is often mis-labeled as "naughty" or "spiteful" or even "dumb". More dangerously, the dog is often mis-labeled as "dominant". More on the whole "dominant" thing later . . . Let's look at more common [and logical] explanations for behavior that we don't like or that are a bit "off" in our companion dogs.
Anxiety and/or stress can cause a dog to present with a wide range of behaviors, many of which can look more like an un-trained dog or what some would label as a "naughty" dog. For example, excessive defecating and/or urinating can be a sign of anxiety. Dogs that chew excessively or destroy things can be anxious or stressed and do these behaviors as a "stress release". Dogs can withdraw or hide when nervous or anxious and be mis-labeled as "shy". There are quite a few behaviors dogs can present when they are stressed and/or anxious. It's critical to get a proper evaluation for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Dogs don't always show a lot of symptoms or let us know when they are in pain. So, if your dog is acting in a way that you don't approve or is doing something you really want to be angry about (like snapping at your kids!) then don't jump to the conclusion that your dog is bad or aggressive or needs you to be "more dominant" (never assume this!). Instead, make an appointment with your vet to rule out a physical and/or medical cause. Also, find a qualified trainer or behavior consultant (need to know how to know who to hire? Read my blog on choosing the right professional here) to help set up a proper behavior modification program that will benefit everyone involved.

Dog Anxiety: What dog Owners Need to Know
Growling when being touched could be anxiety or the dog is in pain and has not been diagnosed yet with what is causing the pain. The same goes for snapping or biting.

Potty accidents are a main cause of stress in many dog owners, for obvious reasons. However, it's critical to know what the cause of your dog's potty accidents are before jumping to any conclusions. Always set up an appointment with your veterinarian first and go from there. Never assume your dog is doing something "on purpose" or because she's "mad at you". Those are never reasons a dog does any behavior, there is always a reason and it's important to find out what that reason is so that it may be addressed appropriately.

I remember some years ago I had a client have one of her dogs very uncharacteristically attack her other dog. She was so angry at the dog for attacking her other dog unprovoked. She had every right to be upset but I calmly explained that it was important we find out why the dog would do this when he had never done this before. Upon further investigation we found that the dog had a tumor on his leg she didn't know about and when the dogs were playing we think he likely caused the dog a lot of pain and so the dog just reacted out of pain.

I've also seen dogs that had urinary tract infections (UTIs) get attacked, seemingly "out of no where" by another dog in the home. Once the owner took both dogs to the vet it was discovered that the one being attacked had a very bad UTI that had likely been going on undiagnosed for quite some time. It doesn't seem to make sense that the sick dog would be the victim, however, this is a case in point here. This is the reason it's very important to always look at the root cause instead of jump to conclusions.

Amazon's Alexa is a lot like a bad dog.
If you feel your dog is doing things as a "naughty dog" or out of "dominance" you'll treat your dog differently and it will have an effect on your dog's future behavior.  This would likely not be a good thing as you'll be reacting out of frustration and/or anger, which will only lead to more problematic behavior.

In conclusion, never assume. Always look into a mental, neurological, physical and/or medical cause for your dog's behavior and then go from there on a plan of action. 

On a last note . . . Never, ever assume your dog's behavior is due to "dominance" that is rarely, if ever, a reason for any dog's behavior. If you'd like to read more on this please read this article here.

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