No two dogs are the same, even two litter mates grow up to have distinct characters and personalities. Dogs, like humans, are individuals (thank goodness!) and it is obviously key to match your dog’s breed behavioural traits to the home environment you are providing. For example, you would not keep an Alaskan Malamute in a small flat nor would you keep a Labradoodle or a Terrier if you were not able to exercise it on a daily basis. Many behavioural issues stem from not satisfying the needs of your dog (whether it be exercise, companionship or just being present), or your dog not knowing that it is at the bottom of the family hierarchy. A dog who knows its rightful place within the home totem pole is at the bottom is a happy and well-balanced individual. It does not need to constantly re-assert its position above a human being, whether it be adult or child.
So the first questions you should ask yourself if you feel you have a dog with behavioural issues are “have I provided a home environment that is suitable to the characteristic traits of the breed?” and “does my dog know its rightful position within my home?”
If both are answered in the positive then it is time to dig deeper as some behavioural issues may be medical/surgical in origin.
Does your dog shows any of these behaviours?
- Active: Aggression, destructive behaviour, urinating or defecating in the home, excessive barking, self-mutilation
- Passive: Does very little, doesn’t eat, seems unhappy or depressed, sleeps more than usual, hides
Both lines of signs show that something is stressing the dog.
Causes might be:
- Pain/ illness
- Social interaction with other pets
- Fear and need for safety
Knowing and removing the cause of stress is important so as to not let your dog suffer any further. Furthermore these behaviours may become habitual and hence a potential danger to both the dog and pet owner. As mentioned, it is important to rule out any medical causes by seeing your veterinarian first with any behavioural issue.
There are however certain causes of stress that cannot be avoided. Fireworks season comes with loud noises which can easily frighten pets. Holiday seasons may involve travelling and hence new surroundings or staying behind in an unknown place (kennel or dog boarding).
For these temporary causes there are a wide range of helpers that can be useful to reduce these external stresses.
- Internal: oral remedies, for example Zylkene or Calmex
- external: helpers such as pheromones Adaptil or Thundershirt
It is important to give the proper time for these therapies to work so please read the instructions carefully.