Normal Behavior of Your Dog
Dogs display a number of traits that humans find annoying, strange or even disgusting (eating feces is a prime example). Yet dogs do what they do for a reason. As far as they are concerned, they are doing nothing wrong, and they become confused when we scold them. Knowing why dogs do certain things will enable you to cope better with them as they occur.
Compared to humans, dogs have a limited ability to communicate using sound and tend to rely more on body language to get their message across. The range of sounds they produce tends to be used to back up their body language rather than in isolation. Howling and growling are the least common sounds, but barking is used frequently, often in different ways to convey different meanings. These can range from guarding barks to those designed to get attention, or barking can be used just to let off steam when excited or frustrated.
Guarding and possession
Natural instinct dictates that to let another take away food will result in hunger. This principle sometimes gets transferred to toys and other items a dog possesses; to give them up is a sign of weakness. Guarding food or a toy, by growling or snapping at anyone who approaches, is a dog’s way of saying ‘this is mine and you are not having it’. However, this line of defence is inappropriate in a human environment. In pet dogs, not letting go of something must be discouraged from an early age, otherwise aggression problems may later result. It is perfectly fine to let a non-aggressive or non-possessive dog occasionally win the toy in a game to keep his play motivation high, but this should be the exception, not the rule.
Behaving like a leader means that you must demonstrate – to the dog’s satisfaction! – that your behavior is that of a higher status animal. Each dog will have different criteria for what constitutes adequate leadership skills on your part. And his expectations may change considerably as he grows & matures, requiring that you also make shifts in your approach.
Directing, Controlling & Inhibiting Behavior
From the dog’s perspective, only someone they respect has the right to control, direct or inhibit another dog’s behavior. Turned around the other way, this means that if you can’t control, direct or inhibit your dog’s behavior (especially at critical or highly exciting times), your dog is making it quite clear that he does not consider you higher status – in other words, he doesn’t respect you, a clear sign that your leadership is inadequate for that dog (though it may be quite adequate for another dog with a different personality.)
Train your dog to walk on a leash
For a new puppy or an aged dog, pulling on a leash can be one of the worst and most difficult habits to break. Dogs naturally get extremely excited to be outside, going for a walk, taking a hike, or whatever the activity may be. With time and persistence, your dogs leash pulling days will be over, and your arm will return to its socket, where it should be.
First and foremost, some puppies have a hard time adjusting to collars and leashes. Many will scratch them and refuse to move, while others ignore it and go on as if it were not there. For new puppies and adults alike, it is important to have a one-length leash rather than a retractable one for training. Training your dog not to pull on a leash is much more likely to be accomplished if he does not have free reign to pull as he pleases.
When you are preparing for your walk, ensure that your dog is sitting and calm before putting on his leash. If he starts out excited, he will remain that way and it will be difficult to calm him down. Even if you must stand for five minutes waiting for your dog to stop jumping up and down, he will soon realize that you are not going anywhere until he sits. Once he calms down, reward him for his good behavior, and continue on your way. It is important to do this each and every time you take your dog out, whether it is for a walk or simply to go to the bathroom.