How do I stop my dog from being aggressive?
When any form of aggression exhibits itself veterinary advice should be sought to rule out any medical reason for the problem. Advice from an experienced Behaviourist should then be sought to firstly diagnose the type of aggression being exhibited in order to correctly design a program of modification, often aggressive behaviour can be modified through behavioural techniques but not in all cases. There are many types of aggression, all need different approaches if treatment is to be effective but punishment must never be implemented as this could exacerbate the aggressive reaction.

How do I stop my dog chasing joggers?
Predation is a normal canine behaviour. For some breeds, for instance the Border Collie have a strong tendency to chase and bark at things that move. Training classes allow the dog to learn basic levels of obedience for instance “recall”, also seeking professional behavioural advice may improve the behaviour however this behaviour is self rewarding therefore keeping the dog on a lead and under control at all times is the safest option. This behaviour is potentially very dangerous for the “stimulus” and dog itself possibly also landing the owner in court whilst the dogs fate is decided.

Do all rescue dogs have behavioural problems?
No. Often people can be put off from adopting a rescue dog as they feel that they were only abandoned because of behavioural difficulties. Not all rescue dogs are ‘problem dogs’. The most common reasons for dogs being re-homed include; owners not having enough time for the dog, owners unable to pay for veterinary care following an illness or injury, the owner dying or is admitted into a nursing home, or the owners have divorced and neither party can keep the dog. Often dogs in these instances have some rudimentary training and are older, which means they are out of their juvenile stage where teething, chewing and toilet training can be a major issue. This is not to say that all rescue dogs come with perfect manners and are wholly socialised and house trained of course some rescue dogs do have behavioural problems however the same can be said for a dog bought from a breeder. A reputable rescue will offer ongoing support and advice possibly with an in-house behaviourist, hopefully putting the owner at ease knowing they are not alone and hopefully enabling any problems to be worked through.

What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is the term used when a dog becomes extremely anxious when left alone. This condition has no age , sex or breed predisposition. This problem may present itself in a number of ways including urination and defecation, excessive vocalisation, destructive chewing, self mutilation and fearful behaviour. The behaviour, which may be just one or a number of the above usually begins within five to thirty minutes of the owners departure however some dogs may anticipate the owners departure and show signs of increased restlessness before such departure. The behaviour associated with the separation anxiety may continue until the owner returns possibly all day or the dog may recover and relax sooner.

Do some breeds of dog need more exercise than others?
Yes. Choosing a breed of dog requires a lot of research and should not be a decision taken lightly. The choice should not be made on the looks alone, i.e. choosing the latest star of a Disney production or the latest fashion accessory of celebrities. Each breed of dog belongs to a breed group. Looking at the breed group gives a clearer picture as to it’s original purpose giving the prospective owner a good idea of what to expect. Often behavioural problems can arise because the environment in which the dog is expected to live does not fill the requirements of the breed.  For instance the Dalmatian; they have been used as a hunting dog, guard dog, a retriever and a trail hound and a firehouse dog although probably best known as a coach dog and were expected to run along side the horses all day long requiring a great deal of stamina. For this reason they may not do well if expected to live in an apartment only receiving a quick walk around the block. Lack of exercise and mental stimulation may result in this breed becoming bored leading to destructive behaviour and inappropriate barking. They also thrive on human companionship and do not do well if expected to spend long periods of time alone which may also lead to problem behaviours.

Why does my dog jump up at people?
One of the most common problems which may be encountered are the puppy or dog that jumps up at all and sundry. This is a normal behaviour and may be seen as quite amusing. A puppy scrambling up to greet us may be seen as quite sweet. But, as the puppy grows and the behaviour continues, our response may well change. Where a child or elderly person is involved, jumping up may well cause an accident, or at best, frighten the child or person on the receiving end of this behaviour. We are also very likely to object if the puppy is wet and muddy and we are not dressed in dog walking clothing and the dog scraping its nails down your legs becomes increasingly painful as he grows.Puppies jump up at their dam to encourage her to regurgitate part digested food for them, though not all bitches oblige. Jumping up at the bitch is also often a greeting gesture which the puppies display when she returns to the whelping box or room. A wise bitch will very quickly put a puppy in his place if his greeting becomes too exuberant. When the puppy moves on to his permanent home, he comes ready equipped with a cute baby face and big eyes and we come programmed to respond to these juvenile attributes just as we do to human babies. So the puppy may well be allowed to jump up for weeks, months, or in some cases, even for several years before his owner really finds his behaviour intolerable. Yet the problem can be avoided, or easily overcome, if the owner starts as they mean to go on. The key to working with any unacceptable behaviour is to remember what every dog finds rewarding…. and it is not always what we humans might think Often an owner sees reward solely as praise, touch, food and play – and all four of these are strong rewards. But attention is a huge reward for a dog and thus pushing the dog away is rewarding. Speech is rewarding, and strange as it may seem to us, shouting is rewarding to the dog. While we may find it unpleasant, the dog has gained attention and as such is inadvertently rewarded for his unwanted actions and so the action continues, even though we, as owners, think we are working to cease the behaviour.Often owners have to take some of the blame for this action which is so natural to the dog. How often do we see an owner tap his or her legs or tummy, encouraging the dog to jump up?

Crating a dog is inhumane. Why would I put my dog in a cage?
When properly introduced to a crate, a dog will not feel like it’s trapped in a cage, but secure and content in it’s own special place.

For more information on the above issues and more, visit Best Behaviour Ltd.

Courtesy of the Bull Breed Advisory Service © 2009