Bad Dog Problems – Fundamentals
Before digging too deeply into the specifics of your dog’s particular problem or set of problems, it is worthwhile taking a look at the general or underlying cause of dog behavior problems in general.
What is the root cause of what we determine to be misbehavior in our beloved pets? Here is the answer – It’s you. It’s me. It’s us. It’s humans. It is we humans trying to make our faithful companions into little humans, or little robot-dogs who will respond to every command like a well-written program. (Actually a well-trained dog pretty much does, the fault is usually inconsistently applied commands, but we will get to that later).
The main thing to keep in mind always is that a dog is a dog is a dog. In adapting our dog to fit into human society, which we must do if we are to have a companion or pet that will give us pleasure and lead a happy life also, we must remember that we are bending the dogs nature to fit our society.
A dog is not a child who will naturally mimic us and follow our social cues. Our dogs’ brains are wired differently to ours. Gaining an understanding of the basic nature of dogs is fundamental to the necessary application of training techniques which will result in the bond and behavior we seek with our pets. The single biggest determining factor of dog behavior is that dogs are a pack animal.
What this means to us as dog owners and trainers is that we must provide a pack structure in our relationship with our dog, and in that structure we must be the leader. Human concepts of equality, fairness and morality are not part of a dog’s mentality. Not accepting the role of leader is a dereliction of duty on the part of the dog owner. Dogs are very smart, but not is the same way humans are smart.
Dogs don’t think in our accepted meaning of the word. They can’t plan days or hours ahead, and this is where they are very dependent on us. In a natural setting a dog kills when it is hungry, travels to water to quench its thirst, shelters from bad weather, sleeps when it is tired. Mating and raising of young are carried out in response to hormonal urges. Not much thought required, just fairly immediate responses to current requirements.
Allowing, or worse, expecting the dog to make allowance for the unnatural set of circumstances we place them in, and expecting them to think things through for themselves, is totally unfair.