Dog Behaviour Problems A different perspective

I was working today with 3 lovely people and their beautiful Kelpie. A very nice girl that had no major problems, just a little leash pulling and over excitement really.?One of the ways that they were dealing with the problem of the dog interacting with strangers with too much excitement was to scold and correct with a correction collar.

First I would like to say that there is nothing wrong with this method at all, but I want to share with you what I saw and how that changed.

I am going to list the “components” of the event and show you how much can change with behaviour therapy, at least in my behaviour therapy.

Bec walked through the consult room, ignoring the dog.

The dog saw Bec as reward source and got out of the sit ran to Bec and jumped up on her.

The owner saw this as frustrating behaviour, perhaps a little embarrassed at the dogs naughtiness and corrected the dog and scolded it.

The dog again was reminded that the owner was there simply to rob the dog of rewards.

The dog sat down disappointed and the owner regained attention back on me and tried to get back into the flow of the information I was covering.

I noted the dog had basically interrupted the work and we all went off track for a moment with no winners in the end.

Not long after this I trained the dog in the Behavioural Interrupter. See this program here, it’s free!

Once I had only give the dog maybe four or five repetitions, I asked Bec again to walk through the training room and let’s see the difference.

Bec began her walk.

The dog focused on her again, it got up again.

I gave the cue, the dog focused on me, sat and got a reward.

The owners all smiled and Bec, who saw this dog 5 minutes before was also impressed.

I was pleased that the dog made a better choice.

The outcome was: –

The dog won, I won, the owners won, Bec won.

Everyone was pleased, we focused on the new behaviour and the effectiveness of the training already, no one disappointed, frustrated or jumped on.

Although in the second staged event, we had a dog, a distraction, an owner and a trainer, we ended up with a totally different outcome with less than 5 minutes of training. An outcome each party would happily want to repeat, that is the dog, the owners, me and the non jumped on Bec.

Many people see dog problems as something they don’t want to see, and become upset, frustrated and perhaps even angry when these behaviours present themselves. To get anyPepper_photowhere in terms of extinguishing these behaviours, you need to take a different stance. You want to see the behaviours, you want to be able to produce them so that you can deal with them.

You also need to look at the players in the game, if the owner comes out on top and there is nothing left in it for the dog, the dog won’t settle for that for long, if the program only suits the dog, the owners lose commitment fast too. If the trainer or behaviourist has a chosen method and they will only use that method, it may not suit the dog or the owner, and we are back to square one.

It is very common for people to suggest that complex behaviour problems cannot be cured, only managed. Well this is true when you don’t encompass all the elements and aim to make sure that all players come out thinking differently.

I was inspired to write this post as the three people that came today worked really well with their dog, appreciated her efforts and loved her for them.

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  1. Hey there

    just wondering what the behavoural problem would be with my Rhodesian Ridgeback.

    He snarls, shows teeth, intimidates some dogs not all but charges towards them but not biting them ever.
    He also does this weird noise and then yawn towards the dog he is staring at.

    so much to write but he use to do this when my sister and I took our dogs to the park. Her dog suffers major anxiety and nervousness and he would do the above to keep people and dogs away from her.

    He’s a big dog and I just want my big soft sook back 🙁

    • Dominique your dog needs to see a skilled Behaviourist, if you are in NSW or willing to travel you should bring him to see me, this can turn into unmanageable aggression very fast if not curbed early.

  2. Thanks so much Steve. So you would put a fence or something up to separate the two during the day while we are out at work? It sounds like you are suggesting it is unlikely to be a boredom thing then? Thank you again for your help!

    • Its a bigger answer than I would type here, but in short, I don’t run my dogs together, until at least 14 – 16 months, then not constantly either. I have a high expectation from them and I only want them to learn from me not the other dog/s. So I use a crate, ex pen and separate yard for my pups / young dogs.

  3. Hi Steve, I have a pup, about 3 months old who has been digging a bit in the back yard. We have another dog who has never been one to dig, about 10 months old. They go ‘in cahoots’ together and end up both covered in dirt! We do training with them every day, my little pup is fairly solid in sit, down, come, up and getting there with stay. They also both get exercise every day, out running, chasing balls, on sand, dirt, cement, grass etc. They also have toys in the backyard to play with as well as fresh meat to eat during the day. Have you got any ideas- or some research that you could point us to- to help us work through this issue? The holes seem to be in a couple of main places- and don’t seem to be connected with escaping. We also put bricks and tiles etc in the holes so that the joy of the dig would be ruined a little bit (as recommended by a couple of different websites) but it hasn’t seemed to have helped.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hey Jen, the reason that your pup may have started digging will be hard to uncover, it could have been chasing a lizard, looking for warmth or cool from the heat, burying food or similar. At this stage it is likely a habit as it happens regularly.

      There are a ton of articles suggesting filling holes with feces, water and other things, but your puppy may not actually dislike any of these and this could increase the behaviour.

      I would likely restrict the opportunity to be able to dig by separating the dogs when not supervised and not allowing access to the area that is being excavated. Not allowing rehearsal is a good way of breaking a habit, and as we are talking about a 3 month old puppy? direct aversion are not recommended.

      Some people have had success at giving the dogs a sand pit and allowing digging in that area.

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