Dog Behavior Modification Takes Consistency

Everyone wants their dogs to behave. They take the time to train them and teach them the basics, like potty training. But there is a step beyond training. This is called behavior modification and it is the basis on which training is best developed.

Behavior modification is an extremely valuable tool that helps both dogs and their owners, providing a platform in which a dog can easily learn and develop future skills. The only problem is that behavior modification demands consistency, or else it will become counterproductive to the process. If you begin teaching using an outside source such as a trainer and then take them home and contradict or neglect what they’ve learned, your dog won’t be able to learn properly.

Continuing the behavior modification process

The first and most effective lesson you can learn is the act of teaching your dog how to learn. This process is simple, but provides the basis by which all other training is done. From here, it is your job, regardless of whether you have a trainer or not, to constantly solidify your dog’s teachings. Always start by isolating them from distraction. If they receive outside communication, even if another person is trying to help, it can confuse your dog and distract him from the lesson. Your own house is ideal for this, since the outdoors can produce numerous sounds and scents, and a new environment can be confusing and more interesting all on its own.

An ongoing experience

Even though you may be using an outside professional trainer, it is imperative that you continue the work that is being done. Like a student coming home from school, there is always homework that needs to be done and discipline that is required. Spend time affirming what they’ve been taught. Remember that young puppies can easily get bored or frustrated, so you may consider including games in the learning process.

Rewards are something should be given when they are deserved. This is one of the biggest problems in contradicting the learning process. Owners are renowned for giving their dogs treats, like rawhide or toys, without reason. While it may seem that a dog would definitely deserve it (they are the epitome of affection), it is definitely a contradiction to the behavioral training process. Rather than simply giving your dog a treat, have them give you full attention prior to giving it. Don’t be fooled by their supposed attention when they may likely have their attention targeted towards the treat. Have them “see” you first. You can confirm this by offering a variable command (change it every time so they don’t get used to one). When they succeed, give them the treat.

Behavior is forever

The reason these techniques must be practiced consistently is because dogs are renowned for developing habits. If you tell your dog to “sit” every time, they will always sit when you speak. This is a habit you’ve trained into them. While repetition is essential to mastery, you must include variables into the education process.

It is recommended that a quality training experience last no longer than fifteen minutes at a time. These increments should be scattered periodically throughout the day. During these training periods, incorporate a different task to learn each time or your dog may develop a habit out of the command.

This process helps to develop a dependency on you, rather than simply a reaction. This is the process of teaching to learn. While it may seem simple, it is the basic structure that helps your dog develop behavior modification in a positive light.

Training your dog to perform tasks is slightly different from behavioral training. When your dog develops the right behavior, training is as simple as instruction. This is where behavior modification plays an essential role in dog development. While classes and personal instruction can help, it is vital that you continue teaching your dog how to act and learn.

In order for your dog to succeed, you must be willing to teach and your dog must be willing to learn. This is a fact shared between every teacher and student. Behavior modification helps your dog learn how to learn for the rest of their life. But it takes the persistence and dedication of a good teacher to remain consistent during the process.

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Steps to Control Dog Aggression

Something that we don’t often consider about dogs is that we don’t necessarily know what they’re thinking. One minute, they’ll be running, jumping, and licking your hand. But in a split second, they can decide that they want to fight a fellow playmate, or even worse, a person.

For instance, my border collie often fights with my friend’s basset hound (separating them is a challenge of its own). At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but then it struck me. The two dogs played wonderfully together when no one was around (I was watching through the window). They often sleep next to each other, and even chase one another through the yard while they play. But, when my friend or I approach to pet one or the other, they get mad at each other: A hint of jealousy perhaps, but it is difficult to understand exactly what they were thinking. Regardless, it has made interaction between the two decline to a very limited basis.

This raises the question of dogs and their aggression. Whether you’re visiting the local dog park or just over at a friend’s house to enjoy some company, dogs can sporadically become aggressive, and the worst part is that you may not even know when it will happen.

Protecting you

One of the most common stimuli of aggression is when a dog senses danger. Now, keep in mind that many owners have their dogs for that exact reason- to protect. They have the instinctive nature to love you and the unbreakable desire to protect you from harm. When out and about, another dog may want to simply explore or even meet you. But, to your dog, they may appear to be trying to do harm to you. They don’t always know the difference.

This is why socialization is imperative to a dog’s development. When you meet new dogs, familiarize yourself with both dogs at the same time. Pet them both, while restraining them both, along with your fellow dog owner. This definitely needs to be a group effort.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Now, that brings about another important topic for dog aggression. Who’s in my space? Bedding, food, and even toys are all “mine” to a dog. The den, as a dog would know, is a private sanctuary where they have the desire and need to feel safe at all times. When another dog intrudes, even if they are harmless, it can raise aggression to dangerous levels.

Keep in mind that your dogs need to meet on neutral grounds. Territorial invasion is amongst your dog’s dislikes. So, it is in your dog’s best interests to always be introduced to another away from their own territory, such as in a park.

Unfortunately, aggression can be difficult to spot until it’s too late, which brings about the subject of spreading the aggressors apart. NEVER get between them. That is a definite “don’t do” interaction. You can be bitten or injured in the attempt. One of the safest and possibly best ways to stop a fight is to utilize water. It’s harmless to anybody, and definitely cools down a situation. How you dispense it is up to your intuitive thoughts.

Dog aggression and people

An uncommon, but dangerous issue is when a dog shows aggression to others. This can be dangerous, but it’s also important for any dog owner to be able to tell the difference between wanting to play (such as chasing a jogger or playing child) and attempts to intimidate or attack another person.

Do keep in mind that dogs are very protective of you, their loving owner, but it is also your job to protect those around you from your dog’s protective instincts. Perhaps the best way to introduce a new person is to positively interact with them. You may find your dog barking at first, attempting to scare an intruder away (especially when they ring the doorbell), but if you simply shake hands and act in a friendly manner, your dog can pick up on your attitude in the situation. A friendly handshake is always good. You may avoid hugging, though, since it may be taken as an attack. Instead, restrain your dog and allow them to watch while you interact with another person. Keep in mind that sniffing and inspecting are important before acceptance.

With small children, this can be difficult. Many times, youngsters may pull hair, ears, or even tails, causing pain to a dog. They may correct the child as they would their own pup, by nipping or biting. Because of the extreme danger that can present, if you have young children in the presence of your dog, avoid unsupervised situations where this can happen. Dogs are very curious creatures (even more so than cats), but children are much more, so take preventative measures to ensure that curiosity doesn’t get the better of either.

Dogs are very protective creatures. Some are aggressive, while others are passive, but we must always remember that they are our friends. So, it is up to us dog lovers and owners to help teach and prevent situations in which a dog might feel obligated to become aggressive. When you do this, you construct a happy, perfect home for your beloved pet.

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Help Your Dog Learn not to Bite

One of the many problems that dog owners face is the biting issue. Sure, a puppy nibbling on your finger may be cute and just tickle a little, but as a dog gets older, biting can really become a serious problem. Many dog owners realize the danger that a dog bite can present- both to people and the dog. A dog bite raises more than just an issue with harm or danger. There is also the concern that if a dog bites someone else, you and your dog may be in trouble- legally.

Needless to say, biting isn’t only harmful, but dangerous. But why is it that dogs bite? Mostly, it’s often derived because your puppy and other puppies and dogs will play by biting and nipping at each other. When one becomes too rough, the others are quick to correct the other. This helps them learn the appropriate levels of biting. Unfortunately, when a puppy leaves their mother and fellow “playmates” to live with you, they don’t necessarily have that instinctive advantage of learning not to bite.

An opportunity to learn

Because your dog commonly only experiences mainly you and what you teach them, it’s up to you to correct this biting tendency in your puppy. Keep in mind that regardless of some old fashioned techniques like biting their ears or having to resort to other physical discipline, this may not be at all necessary. Rather it has to do with the way you treat them and the example you set early in their life.

The first step for any young dog is proper socialization. The most opportune time to begin socialization is around or before three months of age. During this time period, dogs develop the primary habits that will ultimately carry over into the rest of their lives.

Socialization includes a wide range of interactions. You will want them to encounter and experience other adults, children, and even dogs. During this process, many young puppies will be either very shy, or else aggressive. They may play, they might even retreat, but eventually, they will get used to the idea that there is more than just you and them in the world. This understanding helps to eliminate their fear of an unfamiliar face.

During the interaction, it is imperative your dog doesn’t become accustomed to biting. This applies to biting both humans and other dogs as well. Many young puppies are teething, and will chew on just about anything to relieve the irritation that goes along with this. While young puppy bites aren’t usually harmful because they aren’t fully grown, they can be regarded as “cute” or “it’s okay” by others, even children. But, it’s not okay at all. If your dog is chewing or nibbling on hands, feet, or even clothing, stop them, and instead take a step in a different direction.

This means that you should be providing appropriate toys to curb their biting desires. Chew toys, ropes, tennis balls, and even treats all help teach a dog when and what they should be biting on. Even as they get older, the need to chew and bite is often a reflex to the need to help scrub their teeth, so be sure that you provide them with that opportunity so they won’t be nibbling on your favorite pair of shoes.

Dogs will be dogs

Consider that dogs will always be dogs. They play, tackle, and even nip and bite each other. But fighting shouldn’t be allowed. During socialization, dogs learn a lot from you and their peers, including when biting is appropriate, and when it is too much. That’s why socializing with other dogs at an early stage is crucial to developing non-biting habits. During their interaction, other dogs will quickly alert their playmate that they are being too rough. Not to worry, because often times it is simply a yelp to alert them that they’ve been injured or sensed pain.

You can even practice the alert sounds, because if your dog bites you, even just a nip, yelp like you’ve been injured and play the part. You’d be surprised at how often your friend will instantly stop because they don’t want to hurt you. They may just be trying to play.

The experience with you

You need to be ready to stop your dog from biting. Don’t let young puppies chew on fingers, hands, or even your clothing. Even if you think it’s okay for them to bite you, it can definitely confuse them during their experience with others. By starting your dog off with some socialization skills and by giving them something that’s okay to bite, you can prevent them from biting anybody or anything they shouldn’t put their mouths on. After all, you don’t know where they’ve been.

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