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  • Writer's pictureRenée at Bravo Dog

Are You Trying to Un-Dog Your Dog?

Updated: Apr 4

Humans have been living with dogs for over 30,000 years. 65.1 million U.S. households own a dog. Apparently we love dogs! But, why is it that we, as a society, work SO hard to change natural behaviours that the canine species were bred for?

I've found the most common nuisance behaviours listed on Google, which are below.

How to stop dogs from:

  • barking

  • jumping

  • pulling on leash

Stop Barking!

Dogs communicate by barking, growling... vocalizing. Excessive barking is one thing, but barking in general is absolutely normal. Would it be normal to hire someone to get your spouse to stop talking? We are also guilty of being quite happy that our dogs bark when a stranger is creeping around outside the house. We then get upset when our dogs bark while watching people walk by the house from the living room windows. You can't have your cake and eat it too!

Reducing barking means getting to the bottom of WHY your dog is barking. Are they alerting to something? Are they excited? Frustrated? Fearful? Dogs don't typically bark for no reason! Once you determine the why, it's then your job to get creative and see if you can prevent barking. If your dog is watching out the window barking, put temporary window film up to block sightlines. We have brought another species into our home, the onus is on us to make changes if we don't like when they are being.... a dog!

No Jump!

I've heard this one a million times. Think about this; dogs are often touched and people interact with them when they jump up. You may yell once in a while but they still find the whole situation quite exciting. Dogs are social animals; when they jump up they gain closer proximity to the face to gather scenting information. It's natural and normal that they would jump up. Dogs get a LOOOOOT of attention from jumping up. I am honest with a lot of my clients about jumping up; because the humans are so inconsistent the behaviour is hard to change.

Are you putting as much attention into your dog NOT jumping up? Are you asking for your dog to do something else and rewarding that? If we don't want our dogs doing something, we need to find an alternate behaviour that we can reinforce. Prevention; using gates at the front entrance of your home can allow guests to come in without being accosted by your dog. Keeping your dog on leash when meeting new people and preventing jumping up until they have cooled down a bit is another tip. And sometimes we need to make concessions and realize that the excitement of accessing a person to say hi may not even compete with a steak dinner. Pick your battles.

Pulling On Leash

How often does your dog get to go out for a walk every day? For many dogs, this is the part of their day that they get to smell the fresh air, smell all the smells and "pee-mail" left from other dogs and animals. They are driven by scent, so naturally they are going to want to access these things. Being tethered on a leash prevents dogs from having freedom, and if they were not on a leash they wouldn't be pulling because, well... they wouldn't need to!

We do live in a somewhat civilized society that requires dogs to be on leash in the majority of public areas. This keeps people and dogs safe. A longer leash is often helpful paired with working on connecting with your dog more on walks and utilizing valuable rewards. Find a happy medium. No magic collar or harness that claims to stop pulling comes without side effects.

So, what's the answer here?

A few things; finding outlets for your dog to be able to BE A DOG and access smells outdoors freely. This doesn't mean they have to be off-leash. Long lines are amazing! If you live in an urban area and would like to find spaces for more freedom check out Sniffspot.

Are Our Standards Unrealistic?

Well, if you've been following anything that I've written or my social media posts... YES! We set such high standards for dogs that it's actually unfair. You'll notice in my upcoming article that I address how LOT of people stand to benefit financially from the expectations for dogs to behave a certain way. If they don't... there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. :( Often that's not the case.

So, let's relax our standards for dogs a little bit. Keep safety paramount, but don't sweat the small stuff.


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