Many dog owners become frustrated with their pet’s excitable behavior. A recent survey of self-selected dogs indicated that certain daily scenarios tended to trigger such behaviour: playing with the dog, arriving home from work or school, putting on shoes, getting out their leash to take them for a walk and/or preparing or eating dinner were some scenarios which often set off this kind of reaction in dogs.
Most often, these behaviors stem from an intense desire to interact with those or objects that cause them. But genetic factors, early life experiences or environmental stresses could all play a part. No matter their source, such behaviors should always be treated professionally by training and desensitization exercises to help your pet overcome them.
When trying to stop certain behaviors, using consistent signals and rewards is key. Use verbal cues like “sit” or “down,” with all family members using this command, to ensure continuity. Furthermore, avoid rewarding any unwelcome behaviour; rather redirect it. For instance if your dog chews up shoes instead of giving a chew toy and praise them for focusing their energy elsewhere.
Many dogs are predisposed to chase moving things – including animals, people and cars – which can be hazardous for both themselves and their human companions. It is vital that dogs learn how to control their instinctive urge to chase by eliminating triggers for this behavior and teaching them new responses instead. Furthermore, keeping your dog on leash at all times when outside or when someone enters their yard will also help avoid unnecessary chasing behavior.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety can be in a dangerous state. While often due to environmental or social influences, treatment options include training programs designed for behavior modification and desensitization exercises as well as medication in some cases.
Jumping is usually an attention-seeking behavior, and punishment used to curb this action sends the wrong message. Gripping their paws or pushing them away only reinforce this behavior and send the signal that jumping will get your attention.
Effective strategies to stop this behavior include withholding rewards when they jump up, such as withholding eye contact, clickers or treats; leaving them alone or walking away is even more effective – eventually they will understand that jumping is no longer rewarding behavior.
Some dogs tend to jump when their owners play with them, which should not be taken as an indication of dominance but more frequently nervousness or anxiety. Such instances should be dealt with by an experienced behavior specialist. Meanwhile, other canines develop stereotypies which involve repetitive behaviors without clear purpose or function that might be caused by dopamine stimulation; such instances need to be evaluated by a veterinarian in order to rule out any medical disorders as potential sources.