Monday, November 22, 2010

Be Part Of The Solution Not Part Of The Problem

I recently had a conversation with a woman whose dog is very dog aggressive.  They adopted her when she was  2 years old and over the past few years her behavior has gotten worse.  They can no longer walk her outside and she only gets quick bathroom breaks outdoors because she will attack any dog she sees, so exercise is not an option.   To prevent her from bolting outside and chasing after other dogs a friend advised them to use a shock collar.  They have watched a few episodes of a dog training show and tried some of the techniques recommended but found that it made her more aggressive.  While the woman felt bad about the problem she concluded that there isn't any point in trying to change her behavior. 

I shared with her that when dealing with a behavior problem we are either 'part of the solution' or 'part of the problem'.  She seemed a little surprised by my response and said 'so you think that her behavior problems are our fault'?   I explained that while they clearly didnt' have any control over their dogs early socialization and training, which most likely contributed to the problem,  they do have control over dealing with the problem now.  By not seeking professional help,  their dogs behavior has gotten worse, so yes, you are now part of the problem.  

It's common for families to ignore behavior problems, even dangerous aggression issues because they don't realize how serious they are or because they hope the problem will go away on its own.    In reality,  few behavior problems go away without professional intervention.   The consequences of ignoring the problem impact the family and the dog so it's a losing situation for everyone involved. 

How do we become part of the problem?
  • Ignoring fearful, reactive or aggressive behavior, especially in young puppies
  • Assuming behavior problems of any kind will go away as the dog gets older
  • Believing that our dogs behavior problems are 'his way of getting even with us or trying to dominate us'
  • Using punishment to correct the problem
  • Taking advice from unqualified persons
  •  Re homing the dog in the hopes someone else with figure it out
How do we become part of the solution?
  • Socialize and train puppies, help them get off to a great start in life
  • At the first sign of behavior problems seek professional help from your Vet or a qualified Behavior Consultant.
  • Educate yourself about dogs and dog behavior
  • Don't rely on Television Shows to solve your dogs problems, work with a professional
  • Don't resort to 'quick fix' approaches
  • Be patient, behavior problems are complex and take time to resolve

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