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Joan Stalker

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Dog Behaviour Problems
6/19/2008 12:44:39 AM

Barking Dogs
Understanding It and Dealing With It

Some dog owners just want their dogs to stop barking, period. They believe that a good dog is a quiet dog, and the only time that barking is allowed is when there's a burglar in the house.

This is not how dogs see barking. Like you, your dog has a voice and she uses it just the way you do: to communicate with the people she cares about.

Learn proven techniques to earn your dog's respect!
Visit SitStayFetch, the top selling
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I don't think that barking is necessarily a bad thing - in fact, I think it's sufficiently encouraging that my dog wants to "talk" to me that I can overlook the loudness of her voice in favour of her desire to communicate with me.

Unfortunately, the language barrier between dogs and humans is pretty well impermeable, which means it's up to us to use the context, the body language of our dogs, and the circumstances of the vocalization to extract meaning from the barks.

So why do dogs bark? It's difficult to say (it's like trying to answer the question, "Why do humans talk?"). Let's start off by saying that dogs bark for many different reasons.

Much of it depends on the breed: some dogs were bred to bark only when a threat is perceived (this is true of guarding breeds in particular, like Rottweilers, Dobermans, and German Shepherds); some were bred to use their voices as a tool of sorts, to assist their owners in pursuit of a common goal (sporting breeds such as Beagles and Bloodhounds, trained to 'bay' when they scent the quarry), and some dogs just like to hear themselves talk (take just about any of the toy breeds as an example of a readily articulate dog!).
However, casting aside specific breeds, there are some circumstances where just about any dog will bark:
  • She's bored
  • She's lonely
  • She's hungry, or knows it's time for a meal
  • Something is wrong/someone is near the house
  • She's inviting you to play
  • She sees another animal
  • She needs the toilet
If your dog is barking for any of these reasons, it's not realistic for you to try to stop your dog from barking: after all, she's a dog, and it's the nature of all dogs to bark at certain times and in certain situations. Presumably you were aware of this when you adopted your friend (and, if total silence was high on your list of priorities, you'd have bought a pet rock, correct?).

Of course, there are times when barking isn't only unwarranted, it's downright undesirable. Some dogs can use their voices as a means of manipulation. Take this situation as an example:

You're lying on the couch reading a book. Your dog awakes from a nap and decides it's time for a game. She picks up her ball, comes over, and drops it in your lap. You ignore her and keep on reading. After a second of puzzled silence, she nudges your hand with her nose and barks once, loudly. You look over at her - she assumes the 'play-bow' position (elbows near the floor, bottom in the air, tail waving) and pants enticingly at you. You return to your book. She barks again, loudly - and, when no response is elicited, barks again. And this time, she keeps it up. After a minute or so of this, sighing, you put down your book (peace and quiet is evidently not going to be a component of your evening, after all), pick up the ball, and take her outside for a game of fetch. She stops barking immediately.

I'm sure you know that respect is an essential part of your relationship with your dog. You respect her, which you demonstrate by taking good care of her regardless of the convenience of doing so, feeding her nutritious and tasty food, and showing your affection for her in ways that she understands and enjoys.

In order for her to be worthy of your respect, she has to respect you, too. Something that many kind-hearted souls struggle to come to terms with is that dog ownership is not about equality: it's about you being the boss, and her being the pet. Dogs are not children; they are most comfortable and best-behaved when they know that you are in charge. A dog has to respect your leadership to be a happy, well-adjusted, and well-behaved pet.

If you'd like more information on how to stop dog barking,  you should take a look at SitStayFetch. It's a complete, A-Z manual for the responsible dog owner, and deals with recognizing, preventing, and dealing with just about every problem dog behavior under the sun.

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Joan Stalker

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Re: Dog Behaviour Problems
7/17/2008 12:11:02 AM
Hi everyone,

5 Myths of Dog Training is an excellent report by Daniel Stevens. Get your free copy here.

Joan Stalker

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How to Handle Dog Growling
2/26/2009 3:09:05 AM

A dog that growls at you is sending a clear message that must be heeded. People often do not understand a dog’s warning signals and do not retreat; dogs use growling to get their message across to humans and other animals.

Under normal circumstances, dogs will only be aggressive when they feel threatened or in danger.  Once a dog has repeatedly shown warning gestures and they have been ignored, he is likely to attack.

If you want a top notch course which will show you what to do when a dog growls, I suggest that you look at: Dog Growls.

Often, dogs will growl to let their owners know what they want. This behavior is likely to be repeated once dogs realize that it gets them what they want. It is hardly unexpected that dog growling is a frequent issue because some people foolishly think that this is a sign that their dog will safeguard them. It is more likely that the dog will take care of himself and his stuff.

A growling dog may be considered dangerous according to some legal definitions so may have to be confined accordingly. This could mean that he has to be placed in a crate, kept in a separate space, or confined to the back yard.

If you give a dog what he wants after he has growled at you, he will very quickly realize that this is a great way to get what he desires. Comprehending your dog’s wants is very helpful in resolving this behavior.

Just a reminder, if you are looking for a great free site to help you handle growling dogs, you should check out: Dog Growling.

A dog will growl for the following reasons:

  1. He wants you to feed him. This is an excellent opportunity to train a dog how to communicate his needs. The dog would need to behave appropriately before his food bowl would be placed in front of him.
  2. He wants to eliminate. Some dog owners are delighted that their dog asks to be let outside to go potty, though this is an unrealistic expectation for an old or sick dog or a puppy. It is much better if regular potty outings are scheduled so the dog doesn’t need to get his owner’s attention.
  3. He is protecting his meal. A dog may practice resource or food guarding to protect his food from a perceived threat (namely you!). It is important that children be taught not to interrupt or tease dogs while they are eating. This also applies to adults; it is important that a dog sees humans as giving food not taking it away. When their is no risk of the dog growling, food should be added to the dog's dish.
  4. Similar to food guarding, a dog may also guard a toy. When someone approaches the dog, growling is frequently the first sign that he will become aggressive if his warnings are ignored. In this instance, the simplest thing to do is take the toy away from the dog permanently or only give it to him when he’s in his crate.
  5. He has stolen an object and wants to keep it for himself. If your dog takes one of your belongings, do not chase after him. Make sure he is given obedience training so will come to you on command.
  6. Frequently, dogs growl when they feel afraid of having their nails trimmed or being groomed. Considerable skill is necessary to groom some dogs and you should not try it yourself without the appropriate training.
  7. Dog growling also occurs when the dog feels the need to protect himself from abuse or pain. Maybe a child has hit or tormented your dog when you weren’t looking so he may growl when a child approaches. Unfortunately, the dog will most likely be blamed for growling under these circumstances.
  8. When a dog growls and his owner jumps backwards, this can be great sport for the dog. If he is allowed to continue this behavior, it is possible that the dog will become aggressive if his owner doesn't jump when he growls. It is important to nip this behavior in the bud from the get go.

To find out more about what to do when dogs growl at you, I suggest that you take a look at the best selling dog training guide, Secrets to Dog Training.

Joan Stalker

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Stop Aggressive Dog Behavior
2/26/2009 3:14:30 AM

Dogs are naturally aggressive and we all realize that dogs are able to seriously injure people and other animals. Thankfully, there are ways for dog owners to stop aggression in their dog. An aggressive dog must be given obedience training immediately, before he injures you or a member of your family.

For a really great dog training book, I strongly recommend that you check out: Stop Aggressive Dog Behavior.

Aggression towards strangers and aggression towards family members are the most frequently displayed types of dog aggression. Dog aggression can be caused by many different factors so it should be reacted to in different ways.

Aggression to Strangers

The main reason dogs dislike strange animals and humans is due to the fact that they haven't had an opportunity to become familiar with them. The process for getting your dog used to unfamiliar people, animals, and surroundings is called socialization. Socialization is a key component of training your dog. You're probably wondering how socialization can prevent aggressive dogs from attacking the postman or pizza delivery boy. When a dog is socialized, he begins to understand that new experiences can be fun rather than scary.

He needs to learn this lesson as a young dog. If your dog is frequently amongst various kinds of people (such as, men in uniform, elderly people, young children, teens, people with umbrellas or wearing helmets in peaceful and enjoyable surroundings, the safer your dog will be around strangers.

Just a reminder, if you are looking for a great free site to help you solve your dog's aggressive behavior, you should check out: Training Aggressive Dogs.

Puppy group training sessions (often run by pet stores or at a vet clinic) are an excellent place to socialize your pup in a monitored environment. Your dog will learn how to act with dogs he doesn't know. He will also realize that there is no reason for him to be afraid of the unfamiliar people at these sessions. He should not feel overwhelmed at these sessions - let your dog's comfort level increase gradually.

Aggression to Family Members

The most common reasons for dogs showing aggression to their human family are:

  • Your pooch is guarding his belongings from a perceived danger (in his mind, that's you!). This highly possessive behavior (called resource guarding) is quite usual in dogs.
  • Such resource guarding behavior is brought on by a feeling of dominance and relates to your dog's perceived ranking in the hierarchy of your household. To your dog, your family structure is no different from a dog pack. Dogs that perceive their ranking in the hierarchy to be higher than their owner or family members will probably show aggression.

Such resource guarding is common dominant behavior, as an underdog would not show aggression to a more highly ranked member of the pack.

Dog obedience training is the best method to prevent aggressive dog behavior, which will make your dog understand that you are the boss or "alpha dog". This fact may be emphasized with rewards such as praise and treats when he obey a command, and by enforcing "time out" when he misbehaves.

I hope you have found this article useful. I also have a review of a fantastic product that you might want to see: Secrets to Dog Training Review

Joan Stalker

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Re: Puppy Separation Anxiety
3/6/2009 10:02:57 PM

Puppy separation anxiety is an anxiety or fear experienced by your pup when you leave him. An agitated dog may whine or bark when you leave to go to the store or work. As well, he may damage your stuff and have potty accidents. A dog that forms a strong attachment to his owner is likely to experience puppy separation anxiety.

Stopping puppy separation anxiety can commence before you adopt your puppy. First of all, you should let your puppy be fully weaned away from his mom, normally by the time he is eight weeks old. Your puppy should have some level of independence from his mother. When dogs are taken away before then, they may be prone to puppy separation anxiety.

For a top notch guide to solve your dog behavior problems, I recommend that you check out: Puppy Separation Anxiety.

Training to prevent separation anxiety can start immediately after bringing your puppy home. When you plan on leaving your puppy, you shouldn't make a huge fuss. This means that you shouldn't tell your puppy that you'll miss him or give him extra petting or attention. Initially, puppies should only be left on their own for short periods of time. When you return, don't make a fuss and carry on with your life as usual.

A dog that is already showing signs of puppy separation anxiety when he is adopted may be more difficult to train. Never fear, your hard work will pay off. Strays or dogs from shelters are the most likely adult dogs to suffer from separation anxiety. They have probably had a tough life before being fortunate enough to be adopted into your family. Stick with them! Often, these adult dogs will be more loyal and trusting.

About half of all adult dogs will improve if given the proper training. However, you may need to change your routine in order to desensitize them to your leaving.

By taking a look at your dog's environment you may be able to understand what is causing your dog's separation anxiety. Don't make a huge fuss when you leave home. Begin slowly by leaving the older dogs for a little while, and eventually work up to longer periods of time.

It is also an excellent idea to provide your puppy with distractions when you leave. Your puppy will usually calm down within 30 minutes to an hour after his bout of puppy separation anxiety. Distractions, such as toys or chewies, will keep him occupied for the entire time you are away. This may assist him in getting over the first barrier. Another option is toys filled with peanut butter or cheese. It will take time for your dog to reach the treat so he will work on it until he gets to it. This will help him to forget about you and his separation anxiety.

Another good option is crate training. Crates are especially effective with dogs that tend to be destructive. Do not destroy their crate as they think of it as home. Your dog should feel positively about his crate so you should never use it to punish him. Dogs should think of their crate as their sanctuary. By giving your dog food and treats while he's in the crate, he will feel positively about the experience. You should leave your dog for short periods, once he has proved to you that he won't ruin your possessions. The crate door should be left open so your dog feels that his sanctuary is still available to him.

Your veterinarian may be able to provide you some other ways to prevent puppy separation anxiety. It is important to note that separation anxiety happens for many different reasons.

To find out how to deal with puppy separation anxiety, I suggest that you check out Secrets to Dog Training.


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