In most owner-pet relationships, the owners see their dog as far more than a simple possession. Any Antisocial behavior that develops is often tolerated, partly because the owners couldn’t contemplate the loss of the dog and partly because they feel the problem is due to some failure on their part. Understanding these problems is a big step towards solving them.
The main kinds of problem are:
- Separation behavior
- Phobia due to loud noises
- Urine marking
The dog that bites
One of the worst aspects of aggression in dogs is the danger of their biting people. Although dogs can be trained to attack on command, this is thankfully a rare occurrence. Usually, such dogs are trained to grab and hold the arm of their victim rather than to truly bite and savage. Luckily, most dog bites are minor ones. Statistics show they are most often inflicted on children, away from home. This implies that at least part of the reason may be a child’s inexperience in interpreting the warning signs or even provocation. Most accidental dog bites are probably due to territorial, protective or defensive aggression. Any of these may be caused by a stranger.
What to do: It is very important to warn children not to run up to strange dogs and not to extend their fingers towards them, but to offer a clenched fist if the dog is friendly. For how to deal with different types of aggression in terms of corrective training. Training is ineffectual when a dog is frightened and in pain. If the dog is threatening to bite because it has been in a road accident or a fight and is hurt, handle it carefully with slow, calm movements and use a soothing voice.
This is most often seen in puppies when they move to their new home. It can also occur in adult dogs whose behavior was not properly controlled during puppyhood and in adult dogs who have a change of owner. This may cause a feeling of distress and insecurity in a dog and the effect is over-dependency on humans.
What to do: You should try to reduce your dog’s dependency on yourself and your family. Pet the dog on your return from absence, but don’t make any farewells when you leave. Try also to reduce the amount of contact between you and your dog when you’re at home.
Phobic problems in dogs develop from an early age. Most are linked in some way to loud noises, ranging from gunshots to car sounds, fireworks and thunder. Sometimes, a noise becomes linked in the dog’s mind to another feature associated with it, so that a fear response to thunder may lead to a fear of all the other aspects of a storm such as lightning, rain and wind. Sometimes telephone bells, vacuum cleaners and hair-dryers can trigger these fearful responses. Generally, these problems are associated either with a traumatic event or with fear of the unknown. As the dog gets older, they become generalized.
What to do: It is important to notice any fear reactions in your young dog and try to allay the fear before phobias develop. Use the desensitization technique if possible. If your dog panics on firework night, put it in a quiet, dark room and ask your vet to prescribe a sedative the next time there are fireworks.
This is an annoying problem and can be embarrassing. It is most often seen in small, young dogs such as poodles and terriers. The behavior is usually directed at people, often children, although some dogs often choose objects such as cushions. The development of this behavior is abnormal since most dogs have a low sex drive. If the problem does occur, it is usually at puberty.
What to do: The solution is firm physical rejection and a sharp “NO”. If the dog persists, reject and ignore it for a while. Keep your dog away from bitches on heat. Don’t rush into having your dog castrated. Mounting behavior. Will often stop once the dog is mature and your vet may help with temporary hormone medication
A dog may get carried away with the business of scent-marking and masking other smells and begin urinating in the house to cover scents like perfume or tobacco. The urine of a bitch on heat contains strong odors, particularly pheromones, which excite the male and indicate her availability. Unfortunately, certain perfumes and aftershaves designed for humans also contain pheromones and these may lead to further problems in the dog, causing inappropriate urination in the house.
What to do: Removal of the cause (the scent which triggers the problem) is the first step. Ignore the dog if it continues urinating in the house; reward it if it behaves well. If necessary, use a reprimand. Failure to solve the problem may necessitate going back to the early stages of house-training