How to Train a Dog with Behavior Problems

apprehensive puppy

Dog with behavior problems - Helpful techniques you can use


In our relationship with dogs, the biggest subject that always comes up is dog behavior problems.  The problem is quite difficult to understand and according to a study done in the U.S., it shows that dog behavior problems are the main reason why many dogs end up in shelters or euthanized. This is why it is a problem for most dog owners.

It might be interesting to say that many household dogs exhibit at least one issue from the wide range of dog behavior problems. Most of the time, dog owners learn how to live with these issues or even worse, they just find excuses and reasons to explain their dog behavior problems.

Before we go to the list of different dog behavioral problems, it is important to know why these problems arise in the beginning.

First of all, the relationship that dogs and humans share has changed considerably from what it primarily evolved as, into the type of relationship we have today. Today, a dog is in a very different environment.

Many of the dogs today are not trained to have duties or jobs, instead, they have a lot of leisure time in apartments, crates or fenced properties then the owner return from work, spending little time together possible a short walk in the gutter.

This type of training is the biggest reason why dogs develop these behavioral problems. Dog owners should ask themselves, “Should I really need to change my dog's behavior or just let him live that way?

Does their lifestyle give the dog-total care, with enough time and resources to meet the dog’s natural needs?
What are the mistakes we commonly do?

It may not be acceptable to most of us, but the truth is what our dog is going through is a direct result of our influence. Our first mistake is the one mentioned earlier; our way of life and environment is totally not compatible with having a dog. 

Our second mistake is improper breeding.  Whatever the reason people have why they breed dogs, there are dog breeds with such behavior patterns that they shouldn’t be bred, primarily because parent dog with bad temperament will likely appear in their offspring that will result to dog prone to behavior problems like anxieties or fearfulness and the like.

If you are planning to buy a dog, you should consider buying one from a respectable breeder. It is better to avoid early the potential headache of getting a dog with inherited bad behaviors from parent dog, which eventually result in behavior issues for you and your dog in the end. To know the best type of breed for you is to have some knowledge about dogs.

For some, it is normal and acceptable to just bring a dog and let the dog roam wherever he wants to. This is not the proper way to train a dog. We must first know anything about the animal we brought into our house. By learning first about dogs before you rush to a breeder and get one, you are helping yourself to avoid potential mistakes down the road.

nervous dog

Variable reinforcement schedule

This is an important technique that can be used to deal with dog behavior problems. Random reinforcement schedules are used in different dog training’s, dog sports etc. this concept is very useful for dog training success. This technique works by not allowing the dog to know which repetition of a given command will give him the reward, doing that will keep him doing that action and will eventually earn a reward.

However, this technique also can reinforce unwanted behaviors. By letting our dog do some unwanted behavior once in a while (whether we are aware or not aware of it) we are actually rising the standard and the particular behavior we wanted to eliminate will take longer or very hard to deal with.

Behavior extinction bursts

Most owners are not very much aware of this increased behavior in dogs. Once you start dealing with and correcting a dog behavior problem, trying to put an end to it that unwanted dog behavior you want to erase must first rise before it subsides. Most of the time people view this as a disaster in the treatment and therapy and they will try to apply new approaches, which is the wrong thing to do.  It is a normal tendency for a behavior to increase up to a certain level then it will start to vanish.

It is better to stay with your training plan and proceed with the behavior extinction burst phase you will notice a subside in the intensity and will help you arrive at your goal.

By withdrawing the behavior extinction burst period, you are leaving a message to your dog to keep his best to get the reward, and eventually, he will succeed in doing so. These two concepts of training: behavior extinction bursts and variable reinforcement schedules can bring more problems to you and your dog.

Handle dog issues with proper knowledge

There are options you can choose: either learn and familiarize yourself with the techniques of training a dog or forcing yourself to learn after you get a lot of troubles from your dog. Knowledge about dog care is a very important thing for a dog owner.

Some of the most common problems of uninformed dog owners:
  • Not completing the puppy socialization period will make the dog lack the abilities for the rest of his life.
  • Unable to understand a dog’s needs and having no knowledge how to fulfill them
  • Improper diet and nutrition
  • Not being able to recognize early signs of dog behavior issues and way to prevent them
  • The problems can go on and on, as mentions above, having knowledge about dogs is the first important step in getting a dog.

How do deal with dog behavior problems

Actually, the question is more complicated than the answer. In order for you to eliminate unwanted dog behaviors, you have to gain knowledge about dogs, spend time, be patient and know the type of behavior and temperaments your dog has.

depressed looking dog

Common mistakes with do to our dogs:
  • We ignore the problems most of the time – most dog owners lack the determination to teach their dog thinking the problem will disappear on their own.
  • Believing the problem will disappear because the dog will mature – this is a very wrong idea of bringing up a dog. Dogs will not stop doing what they love to do so even after reaching a certain level. If you don’t actual early the problem will grow and will give you more headaches.
  • Getting a new dog – after the problems appeared most owners tend to make this decision and this ends up in a more disastrous result. Trying to fix your problem with the help of another dog will not resolve the issues. It is the wrong approach and most of the time resulting in both dogs having the same behavior problems.

Dealing the issue directly is your best solution

Helping your dog to erase bad behaviors is not only an action your dog needs to do, it also requires you. If you’re having problems dealing with your dog issues try to seek professional help or find some helpful input. Doing this can help you start in the right direction of correcting the problems.

You will need persistence, patience, and consistency to alter the bad habit your dog has developed.

Some aspects need to be present in order to deal with the issues like the ability of the handler, where the dog lives, the dog’s temperaments and similar things. There are always different cases in a problem, therefore make sure to apply the unique approach to find the best possible solution for the problem.

You can use different techniques when dealing with your dog behavior problems like the one's list below:
  • Flooding therapy – exposing the dog to the stimulus that causes the problem
  • Desensitizing and counter -conditioning
  • Behavior adjustment training
  • Aggression treatment

Dogs can show different behavior problems and they are into to groups: normal dog behavior and dog behavior problems.

The first group is the dog’s normal behavior or their untaught behaviors like:
  • Chewing things
  • Mouthing
  • Chasing small animals
  • Jumping
  • Digging
Though these behaviors seem just a normal dog behavior, they can cause problems for the owners and are usually classified as dog behavior issues.

The second group of behaviors is the real dog behavior problems most dog owners always complain. These dog characteristics normally appear due to hereditary reasons or because of the different stressors the dog experience in his environment like improper training, inappropriate socialization and other triggers:
  • Dog anxiety
  • Attention seeking behaviors
  • Excessive submission
  • Excitability/unruliness
  • Resource guarding behavior
  • Destructive behavior
  • Dog aggression
  • Frequent barking
  • Dominating behavior
As I mentioned above, correcting your dog’s behavior problems may take time, it is a lengthy process. There are no techniques that can change a dog’s behavior in one-day training. You need to be patient, persistent and applying the right solutions in order to make the problem disappear. 

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