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  • Writer's pictureRenée at Bravo Dog

"I Want To Fix My Dog's Behaviour"

Updated: Mar 28

The concept of "fixing" dog behaviour is a common approach when it comes to our dogs. It is a societal and pop culture perspective that directly impacts the pockets of a multi-billion dollar industry.

Now, let's discuss why the concept of "fixing" when it comes to behaviour is completely ridiculous. What impacts behaviour?

  1. Behaviour can be environmentally triggered (you can't control the environment)

  2. Genetics impact behaviour; we can't change genetics

  3. A lot of behaviour is context dependent

  4. Past experiences and trauma

  5. A lot of "nuisance" behaviours are reinforced by the humans accidentally

  6. Consistency; how consistent are you with your dog? You're human so you likely aren't as consistent as you think you are

  7. Dogs are animals with specific needs and genetic predispositions for behaviour; a lot of times the humans don't like the behaviour but they are natural for an animal such as a dog (digging, barking, chasing, etc)

washing machine with tools on top
Dogs aren't washing machines. We can't replace a part to magically fix behaviour.

Fixing dog behaviour: what questions should we be asking first?

For this conversation I'll be focusing on reactive behaviour. When we are looking at attempting behaviour change we want to ask some questions first.

Q: What could be impacting my dog's behaviour?

  • medical, discomfort, injury

  • stress & anxiety (anxiety is a medical condition that should be diagnosed and treated medically)

  • the environment we live in (lots of triggers?)

  • genetics, socialization, trauma, negative experiences

  • frustration

  • un-met needs

  • MY BEHAVIOUR (inconsistency, apathy, using punishment, frustration)

Behaviour change will be VERY difficult if we don't address the above. They impact animal behaviour greatly. While we cannot change genetics and past experiences, we can recognize that as a result, we have limitations.

Q: Am I being realistic with my expectations for behaviour change?

This is a BIG one. We often have higher expectations for our dogs than we do for ourselves! Based on identifying the above, are you being realistic when it comes to behaviour change? Resetting your expectations can take the pressure and stress off of your dog, and yourself, do "fix" behaviour. We need to have realistic time frames and be willing to track and re-examine OUR behaviour as we move forward. Think months vs days and weeks for behaviour change in any context.

For reactivity, we are often addressing the underlying issues that are impacting their behaviour (see Q1) which can take time!

woman holding a calendar up
Ethical and lasting behaviour change takes TIME.

Q: Who is potentially benefiting from telling me my dog needs to be "fixed"?

Manufacturers of the following products (which all come with negative side-effects and impact your dog's welfare and quality of life):

  • e-collars

  • shock collars

  • bark collars

  • citronella collars

  • ultrasonic bark devices

  • anti-pulling equipment

  • prong collars

  • choke collars

  • slip leads used for training

  • books

  • television shows

  • electric fences/invisible fences

  • pet "correctors"

  • books

Many are listed as "humane" and marketed with absolute lies to play on your emotions.

Service providers/other:

  • dog trainers (those promising to fix behaviour or guarantee behaviour change)

  • television shows featuring unqualified and damaging "trainers"

  • books (same as above)

  • boarding facilities (board and train)

  • online courses (again, those offering to FIX or guarantee behaviour change)

Changing Perspective: Why It Matters

When we start to re-evaluate our expectations for our dogs, we become much more connected and in-tune with our dogs needs. Why does this matter? Because, when your dogs needs are met we often have behavioural health. Which in plain terms means less reactive behaviours. We are also less susceptible to scammers and those looking to take advantage of us when we are feeling vulnerable.

I don't want your dog to be put in damaging situations with the mindset of "fixing" their behaviour. All this does is suppress their issues which bubble under the surface.... and we have even MORE reactive behaviour down the line.


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