Things to Remember During the Life of Your Dog

By: Renee Premaza Obedience Trainer and Certified Behavior Consultant

Your dog is a dog – not a human child in a furry suit!
  • 1.Your dog has the same emotions that humans have – he just reacts to them very differently.
  • 2.Unless you teach your dog what behaviors YOU want him to use, he will not know that ANY of his behaviors are wrong.
  • 3.Dogs do ONLY those behaviors that work for them! If peeing on your carpet provides an absorbent surface, he will pee on your carpet UNTIL you motivate him to pee outside.
  • 4.If you put newspaper or wee-wee pads on the floor, you will teach your dog to pee on the floor!
  • 5.If you show aggressive behavior toward your dog, he may decide to show aggression toward you. He will want to defend himself!
  • 6.Dogs do not feel guilty about ANYTHING they do. If your dog seems like he looks guilty, he is only trying to calm you down. He will cower and put his tail between his legs in an effort to look smaller – so you won’t notice him.
  • 7.You will NEVER be able to train your dog not to do the behaviors he is genetically programmed to do for his breed. You can, however, train him to do alternative or incompatible behaviors.
  • 8.Barking is a self-reinforcing behavior. If your dog is allowed to bark for long periods of time, it will be difficult to stop him. If you holler at him for barking, he will think you are also barking!
  • 9.If you notice that an inappropriate behavior is increasing, try to establish what is “feeding” (reinforcing) that behavior.
  • 10.When a behavior is rewarded (either by you or by the environment), that behavior will generally increase.
  • 11.When the reward is removed from an attention-seeking behavior, the behavior will extinguish. But it might get worse before it gets better (known as an EXTINCTION BURST).
  • 12.It is near impossible to extinguish fears, phobias and aggression. However, you can desensitize and countercondition the dog to help him change his emotional state.
  • 13.When extinguishing an attention seeking behavior (i.e., jumping, barking, stealing), ignore the dog. If someone comes along and shows your dog attention, the behavior will come back (called SPONTANEOUS RECOVERY).
  • 14.If you want to make a behavior stronger, put the dog on a random reinforcement schedule instead of a continuous reinforcement schedule. If you see a particular behavior increasing, it is probably because the dog is getting reinforced for it “sometimes” and sometimes he is not!
  • 15.Most aggression is fear-based. Most fears are due to lack of socialization before puppy is 12 weeks old.
  • 16.Aggression is NOT curable. An aggressive dog can be rehabilitated and managed to lower the dog’s stress levels and raise his bite threshold. If your dog is aggressive, REMOVE ALL TRIGGERS THAT CAUSE HIS AGGRESSION!
  • 17.More dogs die of behavior problems vs. diseases and disorders.
  • 18.Lack of exercise is responsible for the occurrence of most behavior problems. A tired dog is a good dog!
  • 19.During adolescence, which begins around 5 months, a dog will try out all sorts of behaviors to see which ones work and which ones don’t. Train your dog so that he learns appropriate behaviors work for him vs. doggy behaviors.
  • 20.Most spoiled dogs are not happy dogs. Dogs look for leadership. If they don’t see YOU as being a good leader, it behooves the dog to take on that responsibility himself. This makes many dogs feel stressed and anxious, causing behavioral problems to occur.
  • 21.Teach your dog that you are in charge of all of his valuable resources in his life. Teach him he must do SOMETHING (i.e., sit, lie down, do a trick, etc.) before he gets anything that he wants.
  • 22.If a dog doesn’t recognize YOU as having good leadership skills, it is instinctive for your dog to become the leader in your home. Many little dogs, for example, are permitted to “rule the roost” because we tend to spoil them so much. Dogs who are “given” this responsibility become stressed and anxious. Sometimes, having all this responsibility creates aggressive dogs.
  • 23.There are 4 ingredients in the making of an aggressive dog. They are: stress, anxiety, anger and frustration. Any one of these ingredients can cause a dog to show aggression.
  • 24.If you treat your dog like a human, he will treat you like a dog.
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