Why Dogs Behave As They Do

Causes and help for dog behavior issues.

Causes Of Dog Behavior

As a dog trainer for over 20 years I have worked with hundreds of dogs and their owners.  One common misconception is that people think a dog behaves a certain way because of either the dog’s breed, his past or his current environment.  It is usually never just one thing that makes a dog what he is, but a combination of a lot of different things.

Inherited Temperaments and Environment

Let me explain further.  Within every breed there are different temperaments that are inherited.  Further, the pup’s early socialization (or lack of) and the dog’s past and current environment plays a role in its behavior.  Finally, how the dog perceives its current home environment, as well as how its owners interact with it, plays a role in the dog’s behavior.

In every breed there are dogs that have issues.  Most bad behavior is changeable, but occasionally, no matter what you do to try and change the behavior, like hiring a trainer (or trainers) and reading books, it is not. 

What dog owners have to understand is that while labs, for example, are known to be “good family dogs” each one can be very different.  There are laid back labs, hyper labs, even-tempered labs and a few with a screw loose.  Mixed-breed dogs can sometimes have the best of all breeds in them but not always. 

Hiring a Trainer

If you have a dog that is in need of training consider hiring a trainer to help you.  A group dog training class would be good for you and your dog if your dog needs socialization and you want to work on basic commands like sit, stay and come.  If your dog is having behavior issues such as housebreaking, separation anxiety or aggression you would want to consider hiring a trainer to come to your home.

When considering a trainer, first interview her to find out what her training style is and how long she has been training dogs.  There are two distinct styles of training.  There is traditional training, which uses mainly verbal punishment for bad behavior, as well as firmer leash corrections, such as jerking the leash back when a dog pulls.  Pinch collar and choke collars are often used with traditional training as a method to stop a dog from pulling on leash. 

Positive reinforcement training is the other style of training being adopted these days as a newer and more effective method of training.  This training emphasizes praising a dog’s good behavior and minimizes bad behavior by redirecting the dog.  The Animal Planet television show, It’s Me Or The Dog, is a prime example of positive reinforcement training methods.

Unfortunately it is a sad fact that more dogs are given up to shelters because of behavior issues than any other reason. I encourage any dog owner that’s dog is having issues not to give up.  Your dog needs you.  Without you their future is dismal. There is help out there.   The Association of Pet Dog Trainers  is a web site dedicated to helping pet owners with behavior issues as well as a resource for finding trainers in your area.  You can also check with your veterinarian for a referral to a trainer they know and trust. 

If you are considering a group dog training class check out some classes and see what you think of the trainers and their style of training before signing up.



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