Dogs are pack animals and in any pack, someone has to be the leader to help your everyday interactions run smoothly. Like a well maintained clock, the relationship functions at its best when each member is doing his or her own job in the right way. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to let your dog know that you are in control and you’re the one they need to listen to and trust.
From the Beginning
Whether you get an adult dog or a small puppy, it’s essential to begin to establish the role of pack leader with them from the moment they become a member of your home. The role will take time to develop between you, but once your dog realizes you are the pack leader, it will make your life together much easier. Like children, dogs need to understand the rules and know who is in charge to know who to listen to and follow. Letting your dog know who the pack leader is helps you maintain a healthy balanced relationship and a keeps a good bond between you. As pack leader, you are the one who runs everything. If you let your dog know that from the beginning, everything will run more smoothly.
For some dogs, an opened door is an invitation to rush through before it closes. But for us, it’s frightening to watch our beloved pet bolt across the yard and disappear out of sight, or head towards a road with a car bearing down on them. Cheyenne, my Siberian Husky, looked for any chance to escape through the front door, and I developed a technique to use when someone rang the doorbell. Cracking the door open so I could block it with my body, I stood on one leg and used the other one to keep her away. She just wanted to go for a run, but there are other reasons why dogs fly out an opened door. Fortunately, I found a better technique than the one-legged dance to teach my dog not to rush through the door.
Why dogs try to escape out the front door
Dogs are individuals, and some are more adventurous and independent than others. Working breeds, terriers, scenthounds and sighthounds were bred to do their jobs away from their human, and are likely to bolt out a door to run down an interesting scent or chase an animal they see. Some dogs may be focused on finding a mate. If that’s the case, spaying or neutering your pet may help reduce a desire to wander. A fearful dog may see an opened door as a way to escape what he fears. Homes with multiple dogs might charge the open door as a competition to see who can get outside first, and some dogs enjoy the “game” of their owner frantically chasing them down the street.
When you share your life with a dog and there are no other humans living in your house, your pet may become so accustomed to interacting with your gender that she develops a fear of the opposite sex. Not the sex opposite from her, but the sex opposite from you! This can become a serious issue. Since your dog has limited opportunities to interact with the other gender on a regular basis, they are strange and unusual to her. She may react badly towards them.
I’ve seen it from both sides. My cousin lives alone with his German shepherd mix, Leon. These two are inseparable; the dog goes everywhere with him. People often talk about the special bond my cousin and Leon have, and it is a beautiful thing to see. The other side of the coin, however, is that the dog is not friendly towards women. It’s so bad that he will snarl and show his teeth when a woman is anywhere near. He behaves differently towards men.
A neighbor friend and her roommate live with a tiny Chihuahua named Brutus. The two women and Brutus take long walks every afternoon. Whenever my husband and I happen upon them, Brutus allows me to pat him but he won’t let my husband within a 10 foot radius. The women say Brutus acts that way towards all men.
Like us, dogs use their voice to convey intentions and express how they are feeling. Barking is as natural to canines as talking is to us, and expecting a dog to never use his voice is an unreasonable expectation. However, that doesn’t mean you should allow him to bark nonstop. Never punish a dog for barking, and don’t yell at him because that will only escalate the barking. There are more effective ways to get your dog to stop barking excessively.
The first thing you need to do is understand why your dog is barking. A few weeks ago, I covered how to correct frustration, demand, and boredom barking. This article deals with correcting four more types of problem barking: alarm, excitement, territorial, and anxiety barking.
Sometimes what a dog perceives as danger isn’t, but to him it is a serious threat and his “Timmy’s in trouble” bark is meant to get your attention. Your dog thinks something isn’t right so he’s alerting you, his leader, to come investigate. Most of the time there’s nothing to be concerned about, but you need to go see why your dog is barking because he could be alerting you to a brewing problem, like smoke coming from the kitchen or someone prowling around outside.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Some breeds, like hounds and herding dogs, were bred to vocalize when prey is sighted or when working with livestock. Barking is one way that canines communicate, but we don’t always understand what they are trying to say. Frustration barking, demand barking and boredom barking are three common issues that dog owners face. I’ll offer solutions for those barking problems in this post, and I’ll cover four additional types of barking problems in a follow-up post.
Any kind of barrier (window, fence, baby gate, etc.) that keeps a dog confined and restricts his movement can be extremely frustrating for some canines. In their eyes, not being able to chase a rabbit they see through the confines of a dog pen or a window isn’t right. Frustration barking is an excited, insistent bark. A stressed-out dog, or one confused about what you want him to do, can also bark to vocalize his frustration.
How to correct – Changing your dog’s behavior takes time, lots of patience, committed dedication, and plenty of his favorite CANIDAE treats. Yelling won’t stop barking and only increases the excitement of his voice. You have to physically get up and go to your dog, unless he’s a champ at coming when called – especially when distracted. If he understands the “watch me” or “look at me” commands, use a treat to get his attention. Once he’s distracted, engage him in some playtime to give the source of his frustration time to pass by.
Puppies love to be the center of attention and will do anything they can to engage you in consistent interaction. Some of the things they do are charming and endearing, and other things can be downright exasperating. It’s a good thing they are so darn cute! And their breath…don’t get me started on puppy breath.
Why Puppies Steal Things
Oh, sorry, back to the subject at hand. So, why do puppies steal things? You guessed it: to get your attention. That, and to lure you into playing with them. Puppies are naturally naughty – in a playful way. They like to get something of yours and sneak it away when you aren’t looking in the hopes that you’ll chase them around and try to get it from them. This little game is big fun for a puppy.
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