Millions of dogs are euthanased each year because of behavioural problems. Most of these problems are preventable. Prevention is always more desirable than attempting to cure a problem once it has become entrenched.
Preventative training is the key to avoiding troublesome situations with your dog. A tiny pup with no bad habits is far easier to train than a big, out-of-control dog.
For a young puppy, supervised socialisation from an early age – 3 weeks to16 weeks is extremely important. Puppy Pre School classes, such as we run here at Gladesville Veterinary Hospital, are a great opportunity to prevent the development of bad habits and to develop good ones. It is important for the establishment of a healthy, manageable pet-family relationship to implement a preventative training exercise regime- for example so that your dog won’t feel the need to guard things, people and places. This is also a time to ensure that your pup is comfortable with being handled and with staying home alone. Importantly, he must be taught to have a “soft mouth”.
Often people ring dog trainers with an out of control 6 to 8 month old.
Their dog is misbehaving and by this stage the family is frantic. Unfortunately this is the adolescent period of the pup’s development and a challenging time to begin a training programme. Training the pup earlier in life would have been the easiest course, however we are still able to take action to modify his behaviour- it just takes a little more effort.
Socialisation and preventative work at a young age should always be a priority.
If you have an older dog with a behaviour problem that you have been attempting to deal with for years, there is help available. Some people may adopt older dogs who come with pre-existing “issues”. Rescue dogs are usually happy to have a home and someone to love them, but sometimes they may be fearful and this can cause problems. It is possible, however, to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’. Typical behaviour problems in older dogs include separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms and fireworks, destructiveness, escaping and barking. Aggressive dogs who threaten people may need to be referred to a Specialist Veterinary Behaviourist, but most other cases can be dealt with here at the hospital.
If you would like to book your puppy into our Pre-School classes, you can simply phone our receptionists to make arrangements.
If you have an older dog who needs help with a behavioural problem, make an appointment to see Gayl O’Grady, who has trained with the Delta Society Canine Good Citizen programme; she can see you at the hospital, or alternatively can come to your home and see the dog in his own environment. Various techniques can be implemented to modify inappropriate behaviour to a more socially acceptable situation. The training techniques we use are based on kindness. A dog will learn faster and retain more of what he has learnt if the experience is a pleasant one.
All it takes is motivation by the owners to change, consistent effort from everyone in the household and some very yummy treats.