Dog Trainer Norfolk
Happy Dogs Happy Families
Living with dogs can and should be an absolute joy.
Dogs have an incredible ability to bring happiness into our lives and we can, in turn, give them a happy and fulfilling life. However, for many dog owners, life with their dog is at best an ordeal and at worst a complete nightmare! Understanding what it is that makes the difference, has been pivotal to my work as a Dog Listener over the last seven years.
Watching a much loved dog running freely in the woods or on the beach, playing in the garden or relaxing at home, brings joy to millions of dog owners the world over, and sharing these simple pleasures with our dogs brings us and them a great deal of happiness.
But what happens when things go wrong and what is it that causes a dog to become a problem?
First of all it’s much more helpful to view a “problem dog” as a “dog with problems”. Problem behaviour can be seen as a cry for help from a dog who is trying to cope under pressure! Excessive pulling on the lead, poor recall, hyper-vigilance, manic behaviour, aggression, separation anxiety, destruction……..the list goes on. All of the above are symptomatic of a stressed dog who is trying to control and manage his environment!
Stress is an infectious state of mind and body and if one member of the pack is stressed, the chances are that others will be too! Whether it’s just you and your dog, a family group or a pack made up of many dogs, the effect of too much, or prolonged stress, is dis-harmony, inability to cooperate and often conflict.
So how does the stress get there and what can you do about it?
Not all stress is bad. Without the bodily systems that implement the responses that are associated with stress, we wouldn’t be alive! These systems are what get us out of danger and make sure that we stay that way. However, it is possible for these bodily systems to become out-of-balance. Over-exposure to challenging situations and stimulus – especially at an early age – can cause the nervous system to become over-sensitive and this can lead to problems.
Almost all problem behaviour in dogs is the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding about who is in charge of – and responsible for – the pack and the associated stress. It’s all too easy to give the role of leader to our dogs, landing them with a big job of responsibility that they are just not equipped to deal with. The result is stress, anxiety and problem behaviour. Some dogs are even less suited to this situation than others and this is when the problems can really escalate!
So what’s the answer?
Communication is key! By calmly and consistently communicating to your dog -in a way that he can easily understand – that you are the pack leader that he can trust, you reassure him that all is well and gain his respect and cooperation. Understanding the world from your dog’s unique perspective (they’re all different!) allows you to manage his life in the very best way and resolve problem behaviour without the use of force, gadgets or gizmos.
Understanding, communication and cooperation are all essential ingredients for happiness. Happy dogs make happy families and happy families create happy dogs!