Bent u de oorzaak van het slechte gedrag van uw hond?januari 22, 2020
Many dog training professionals believe that undesirable canine behavior can almost always be traced to something a human did or didn’t do in that dog’s life, either intentionally or inadvertently. Many dog parents are stunned when they realize the behavior that drives them craziest about their pet is something they’ve unconsciously encouraged!
Three examples of unwanted behaviors that are commonly the result of human interaction (or lack of appropriate interaction) with dogs are jumping up on people (usually as a greeting), leash pulling, and “hyperactivity.”
Sometimes when people are first getting to know their new puppy or adult dog, the jumping thing can seem almost endearing. Your new furry family member is beyond excited to see you, and what’s not to love about that? So, you laugh when she does it, and pet her as you push her off you, or wait till she decides to get down.
The result? Your dog learns that you enjoy it when she jumps, and that she gets attention when she jumps. Her jumping behavior has been rewarded and reinforced.
Inevitably the time comes when your exuberant greeter must learn to keep all four paws on the ground. A jumping dog can pose a threat to people who aren’t steady on their feet, people holding or carrying something, friends and strangers wearing nice clothing, small children, and others.
Modifying the behavior:
Kneeing a jumping dog or worse, kicking her as a form of punishment (or simply to keep her off you) is unproductive because she isn’t learning a more acceptable behavior to replace the unacceptable one. In addition, you can cause injury to the dog and/or yourself using your knee or foot against her.
There’s also the issue of unintentionally reinforcing the bad behavior because you’re paying attention to her when she jumps. Your dog needs a replacement behavior that is equally motivating, for example, teaching her to sit to greet people. Sitting becomes the alternative behavior that gets rewarded with petting and/or a food treat.
While she’s being taught to sit to greet people, it’s important to stop reacting when she jumps on you. Turn your back, stand straight and ignore her. This is the opposite of what she wants (attention) and sends the message that you don’t welcome her jumping routine.
Eventually, your dog will realize a nice sit gets her the attention she was seeking by jumping. Another option is to teach your dog the “off” command. If she jumps, give the command, and then reward her once all four paws are touching the floor.
This is such a natural behavior for most dogs that it’s easy to overlook, especially if you’re walking a small or medium-sized dog whose tugging doesn’t threaten to separate your arm from your shoulder. But if you allow it, your dog will learn very quickly to interpret leash tension as the signal to go full speed ahead.
Leash pulling is not only annoying, but potentially dangerous. If the leash is attached to your dog’s collar, it can cause injury to his neck or back. If he’s a large or giant breed, he can cause you injury, and even pull you off your feet.
Modifying the behavior:
These are the general steps involved in training train your dog to walk politely on leash:
- Allow him to walk around dragging the leash for a bit, then pick up the opposite end. Let him lead you for a few seconds while you hold the line just off the ground. Slow down so he’s forced to slow down, ultimately to a stop. Take a short break for praise and affection.
- Next, let him drag the leash again, but when you pick up your end this time, call him and stand still. If he pulls, hold your ground without pulling him in your direction. The goal is to teach him to put slack in the line himself by moving toward you. When he puts slack in the line, praise him and call him to you.
- If he comes all the way to you, more praise and a training treats are in order. If he stops on his way to you, tighten the line just enough to apply a tiny bit of pull to it. Immediately call him to come again. Give praise as he moves toward you and treats when he comes all the way back. Two or three repetitions are all many dogs need to understand lack of tension in the line is what earns praise and treats.
- When your dog has learned to come toward you to relieve tension on the line, you can begin backing up as he’s coming toward you to keep him moving.
- Next, turn and walk forward so he’s following you. If he passes you, head in another direction so he’s again behind you. The goal is to teach him to follow on a loose lead.
Depending on your pet’s temperament, 5- to 15-minute sessions are sufficient in the beginning. Practice controlling your dog on the lead for 30-second intervals during each session. The very first second you begin leash training, make sure your dog accomplishes nothing by pulling on his line.
It takes some dogs longer than others to learn to keep the leash loose. Stay patient and don’t engage in a battle of wills with him. Don’t snap, yank or use the leash for correction or punishment. Stop before either of you gets frustrated or tired.
After each short session on the lead, liberally praise your dog and spend a few minutes playing ball or some other game he enjoys.
The term “hyperactive” is often used to describe very active dogs, but in reality, the clinical syndrome of hyperactivity is actually quite rare in pets.
Veterinarians and animal behaviorists agree most symptoms of hyperactivity that dog parents complain about are actually either breed-specific behaviors, conditioned behaviors, behaviors resulting from a lack of appropriate physical or mental stimulation, or a combination.
It’s important to recognize the difference between canine behavior that is abnormal, and behavior that is actually normal given the dog’s circumstances, but undesirable.
There are many things that can affect your pet’s behavior, including whether she’s alone or ignored much of the time, isn’t getting enough exercise, or hasn’t received obedience training using positive reinforcement techniques.
It’s also possible she’s been conditioned through your repeated and possibly unintentional responses to use physical activity to get attention or is punished for unwanted behavior instead of rewarded for desired behavior.
If you notice your dog is much easier to manage after she’s been to the dog park or has run around the backyard with your kids for an hour, you can usually conclude that burning off physical and mental energy has a positive effect on her behavior.
Dogs who don’t get their daily needs met for activity, social interaction, mental stimulation and environmental enrichment may appear to be hyperactive as they attempt to fulfill those needs within the constraints of their lifestyle.
Modifying the behavior:
Since very few dogs are clinically hyperactive, my recommendation is to evaluate your dog’s lifestyle from every angle as a first step.
Make sure she’s getting plenty of rigorous exercise until she tells you she’s tired. Choose activities your dog enjoys so she’s excited about participating.
Provide mental stimulation with puzzles, treat-release toys, hikes, swims and other outdoor activities that appeal to your dog’s natural instincts.
Focus on desired behaviors your dog performs rather than on what you don’t want her to do. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement behavior modification, which does not include punishment.
Enroll your dog in an obedience class or an activity that helps her focus, such as nose work.
Feed your dog a nutritionally optimal, species-appropriate diet to avoid food intolerances, amino acid deficiencies (tryptophan deficiency is common in homemade diets and can negatively affect behavior) and allergies common in dogs fed low-quality commercial pet food. I think veterinarians underestimate how often food sensitivity contributes to restless, hyperactive behavior.
Discuss the use of supplements such as L-theanine, ashwagandha, rhodiola, GABA, melatonin, hops, chamomile, valerian root, flower essences and CBD oil as good starting points with your integrative veterinarian if your pet has been diagnosed with anxiety or hyperactivity.