Co written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
When experiencing frustrations with Dog Training or the behaviour of Dogs. People quickly begin to apply human emotions to Dogs and blame the Dog and express that the Dog is trying to embarrass them or that they are being stubborn.
When Dogs act out in human opinion they aren't acting out they are communicating that they aren't OK with something or expressing normal Dog behaviour.
This could be for example that the Dog has urinated indoors when the owner has left to spite them. This isn't the case, the reality is the Dog either simply needed the toilet or there wasn't consideration for the Dogs needs to go to the toilet prior to being left or they are frightened and had an accident, in some cases it can also be a sign of ill health such as a UTI.
Another example and the most common is Dogs who are reactive to other Dogs. The Dog Isn't trying to embarrass you they are showing that they aren't OK with the distance between them and the other Dog.
The Dog will be communicating with you about how they feel probably before they even walk out the door.
Trigger stacking can begin once the Dog is aware that they are going out. Then this escalates once outside, it could be the wind adding to their anxiety, travelling in a vehicle can add to anxiety, the type of tools your using to walk the dog, whether or not your engaging with the Dog or your phone.
Have you noticed the ears changed, the tense body language, the tucked tail or even the wagging tail?
Then once the other Dog or even a person is close enough and all of the communication signals have been ignored this is when the behaviour escalates.
This is saying I'm not comfortable and I'm scared. Dogs have no idea that you feel embarrassed because Dogs do not understand the concept of embarrassment. The Dog only cares about their safety and comfortable feeling first.
If you walk the Dog and the day before and the day before and you had the same experiences the Dogs emotional cup is not only full but over flowing.
Not all Dogs want to be friends with other Dogs. Lots of owners assume their Dog needs socialisation but as we have mentioned in other blogs; What is socialisation anyway?
Socialisation isn't about getting your Dog to be friends with other Dogs, socialisation is actually exposing your Dog to the environment and different stimuli and the ability to walk past other Dogs without getting too excited or conversely overwhelmed.
If a Dog doesn't wish to train have you looked at their diet and feeding schedule? Do you even have a feeding schedule or leave food down all day? If you leave food down all day the Dog won't be hungry and when offered food to train they won't be interested as they know the food is readily available in the bowl.
Do you use high value food for Training or Kibble? Using their Kibble is a poor motivator for most Dogs. Do you know if your Dog prefers toys as motivation as a reward over food?
When a child is bullied at school, doesn't want to go outside and play, doesn't want to interact then the parent will try to help to understand what the child is going through and help them in enjoying a better quality of life.
Or if a child wets the bed, steals food, draws on the walls, damages the house or their own toys, or fights another child. The child isn't then labelled as reactive. Again the parent will try to get to the bottom of the situation, the behaviour and improve the quality of life for the child.
When a Dog is struggling they are embarrassing or acting out. But surely a child and a Dog giving the same behaviour is the same just in different contexts of species?
So if we can be kind to one species and understanding and putting lots of measures in place to help then surely we can do this for another species that we also recognise as part of the family?