Top 3 reasons why dogs behave badly and how to resolve it
Animal Behaviourist Dr Kate Mornement in an interview with HT Digital says that behaviour problems are common in dogs and suggests ways to address them.
There is always a root cause behind your dog's aggression and bad behaviour. It could be fear, phobias, or anxiety that could make them bark, jump at people or pull leash. Separation anxiety or interaction with unknown people can make some dogs anxious. Some dogs may also find it difficult to socialise with other furry friends due to negative past experiences that could lead them to show aggression towards them. It's with time, compassion and some expert help pet parents can learn to combat it. (Also read: Pet behaviourist on tips to stop your dog from jumping up on you)
Dr Kate Mornement, BSc (Hons), Ph.D, CAAB, Board Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist & Consultant in an interview with HT Digital says that behaviour problems are common in dogs and the most common issues dog owners seek assistance for include separation anxiety, aggression towards other dogs and aggression towards people or children.
So why do these problems develop and what can be done to address them? Dr Mornement elaborates on the same.
1. Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is common in puppies and newly adopted dogs due to a change to the normal routine. Covid resulted in many dogs experiencing separation anxiety when the owners went back to work. Dogs are not born knowing how to cope being on their own. The ability to cope with separation is a learned behaviour and it's up to us to teach them. Resolving separation anxiety can be challenging if it's moderate to severe, however you can work on teaching your dog to cope with separation by pairing things your dog loves (e.g. meals, long lasting chew treats etc) with separation. Begin with short separations and gradually increase the time you leave them if they’re coping well. Sometimes anti-anxiety medication may be needed for successful resolution.
2. Aggression towards other dogs
Most aggression is fear or anxiety based due to a lack of prior positive socialisation with other dogs and/or negative past experiences with other dogs. Reactive and aggressive dogs are in 'fight or flight' most and resolving this issue involves changing the dog’s negative association with other dogs to a positive one. Keep your dog at a distance from unfamiliar dogs and pair their presence with high value treats. This starts to build a more positive association over time and will help your dog learn to associate other dogs in a more positive light.
3. Aggression towards unfamiliar people
Aggression towards people is also fear or anxiety based due to a lack of prior positive socialisation with other people and/or negative past experiences with unfamiliar people. Dogs learn that aggression works because it keeps people at a distance. Resolving this issue also involves changing the dog’s negative association with unfamiliar people to a positive one. Avoid people approaching or interacting with your dog and instead pair their presence with high value treats. This starts to build a more positive association over time and will help your dog learn to associate unfamiliar people in a more positive light, reducing their fear-based aggression.