Bad Dog Behaviours – Here Are Some Causes

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So on to dog training.  We’ve just seen that the problems you have are symptoms of what’s wrong.  They’re not the causes.  So what are?

These are often the causes of the problem: 

You’re using the wrong training methods for the dog you have – part 1.

You don’t actually understand the dog’s original purpose, so aren’t tailoring the training to what that dog really needs.  Different types of dogs train differently – as well as the individual breeds.  So trying to train a dog bred as a companion might be totally different to training a dog bred for working.

You’re using the wrong training methods – part 2. 

Maybe you have switched breeds due to a change in lifestyle and are still using what worked on your Borzoi.  And you can’t understand why it’s not working on your Portuguese Water Dog.

You actually don’t know how to train your dog.

Youre out of your depth even in the basics, so you’re really starting from nothing and don’t know what to do.  It’s all very bewildering.

You’re stuck and unsure. 

Maybe you’ve started training using one method and got confused when other people have given different advice about what’s ‘right’.  In some cases there is no ‘right’ answer as different dogs need different things.  So then you’re stuck not knowing what to do, even if you started out well.

You’re not the leader.

You’re having trouble setting yourself up as the ‘alpha’ pack leader with proper rules and boundaries.  Whatever you do your dog doesn’t seem to obey you, or even want to obey.  But to have that great relationship you want, your dog needs to see you as the most important thing in their world – more important than any food, other dog, or whatever else your dog has a fixation for.

Your family are inferior. 

No – we know they’re not but that’s how the dog thinks! You’re doing ok, but having trouble with the dog seeing other members of the family as not pack leaders.  Which means it obeys you but not them.  Which means that when you’re not around the dog behaves badly, but is an angel as soon as you arrive!

You’ve not done enough training at an early age

By believing that ‘it’s just a puppy’ and therefore a bit mean to train them when they’re do young and full of fun this sets you up for later problems.  This is a big mistake and one a lot of people make. Now your dog has developed some bad habits and you’re having trouble breaking them.

You adopted a dog with baggage

Which came from rescue or from someone you know and it had a bad start in life with not enough training and socialisation.  It’s easy to train an older dog.  Despite what people seem to believe, even an old dog can be taught new tricks, but you just have to know how.  And it can actually enjoy learning them too.

Your dog is too hyper to be trained. 

You might have a dog which requires a lot of mental and physical exercise.  If the dog hasn’t had enough of both, it might be too hyperactive to be trained well.  Some of the strong working breeds like border collies can go a bit nutty if they don’t get enough ‘work’ to do, and that makes training more difficult.  They have so much energy left over that their attention span can be pretty short!

You’re in conflict. 

You’re doing training as well as you can but sending out conflicting messages, so the dog is getting confused.  Or you are training one way and someone else in the household is training another way, so it’s all getting muddled.

The dog really IS a breed which is difficult to train – part 1. 

Some highly intelligent breeds were bred to think for themselves because they had to work remotely from their owners.  Guarding breeds (especially flock guardians who would spend days on the hills with the sheep or cattle) might not see their owner for quite a while and had to act totally on their own.  Terriers were bred to kill and be totally focussed on their task.  These highly independent breeds can require a lot of patience and sometimes specialised help.

The dog really is difficult to train – part 2. 

Your dog might actually be a bit simple, or even hard of hearing, or seeing.  Or it might have specific training issues known in the breed, like toilet training issues.

So you’ve got some issues that need dealing with,  Well it is possible to do that, and usually more quickly than you think.  So let’s move on to Dogs Need Rules And You Are The Rule Maker!    Send article as PDF