Be willing to change your approach and routine. "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you have always gotten."
Watch the PET House Training Video (Video One Click Here, Video Two Click Here). Look at the House Training Cycle (click here) and House Training What If (click here) papers. If you want even more go to the Housebreaking Bible website (click here) or a shorter version at Mercola (click here). For puppies or dogs who you are training to go inside check out
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Begin with a thorough check-up from your veterinarian. Conditions like hip problems, injuries and other medical causes can produce pain that may make dogs irritable about being touched or make them have a hard time doing simple behaviors like sitting. Just like with people, medical problems can cause problems with behavior. Urinary tract structure problems or urinary tract infections can cause house training difficulty. Lyme disease, which is becoming much more common in southern Ohio as well as in many areas across the country, can even have neurological effects.
Dogs can get diabetes or thyroid problems, just like people, which can affect their behavior. Their diets not only can help them be healthy but can also lead to medical problems, but also can affect their behavior if they are not getting the right nutrients to support their brain and gut health. Gut health, just like in people, can have an effect on mood and behavior. Dogs can also have subtle seizure activity that in some cases can lead to unstable behavior or sudden 'out of the blue' aggression. Older dogs can start to have cognitive failure.
Anytime there is a sudden behavior change in your dog without an obvious event in the dog's life causing the change, then think medical problems.
Jumping, pulling on a leash, digging, chasing, mouthing, chewing or stealing things or being pushy are usually normal behaviors that training by itself can address. However careful management or safety steps are necessary when small children or physically limited adults might be accidentally injured.
Having enough foundation training in place is required for teaching the acceptable behaviors we want to see replace our dog's problem, behaviors.. They have to be able to show some self-control, trust, ability to respond to guidance and the ability to ignore distractions in non-problem areas first.
When a dog's behavior problems come out of being fearful or emotionally over-activated then basic training won't change how the dog feels. Obedience/basic training is needed as part of the picture, but obedience training won't change the emotional reactions your dog feels and is reacting to . Also part of how our dogs respond emotionally depends on how they read our emotional reactions. You feeling and showing calm confidence that you can manage a problem situation will also help your dog. If you are fearful your dog will read you as telling them there is a problem they need to react to, and so you have a continuing cycle.
Consultation with a veterinary animal behaviorist (a veterinarian with specialty, usually board certified, competence with behavior-Click Here) is needed when the owner, dog or others are at risk for potentially serious injury, when the dog's distress is so high that they are unable to respond to emotional reconditioning alone or the dog is so distressed that they are suffering miserably. Veterinary animal behaviorists are trained to look at the whole picture, diagnosing and treating potential medical causes for behavior problems, recommending a behavioral reconditioning and management plan and knowing what medications at what doses and for what periods of time can help.
Your veterinarian, who has already examined for possible contributing medical problems, may feel comfortable discussing what medication alternatives you have to start with.
If you or others are at significant risk for serious injury I want you to get an assessment and treatment plan from a Board Certified Veterinary Animal Behaviorist. The closest veterinary specialists in that field we have are at the Click Here Ohio State University Veterinary Animal Behavior Clinic Monday through Friday at 614-292-4655
Behavioral reactions due to fear are at the root of many fight/avoid-flight/freeze emotionally based dog behavior problems. A fearful dog may look only aggressive because they have learned over time to give right off that bat threatening, intense warnings to make what they fear decide to go away. If that fails the dog has to choose between fighting and being helpless and hoping for the best. Dogs can also react to higher levels of frustration with redirected aggression.
Aggression can also reflect defending or guarding valued food items, resting places or even keeping others from competing for the attention the dogs wants to have from someone. There are many other kinds of and causes for aggressive behavior. Predatory behavior, which is purposeful but not usually emotionally intense, is a related but motivationally different category..
Dogs can have conditioned fear to circumstances that they associate with pain or feeling unsafe, and dogs who have missed early confidence-building socialization prior to about 14 (plus or minus 2) weeks are going to be apt to react cautiously or fearfully to something that is new/unfamiliar to them.
Dogs can feel fearful about having vulnerable areas of their bodies touched or having them physical ability to move restricted. We want them to feel comfort with body handling so we can check them for injuries, ticks, trim their nails, give them a bath, tolerate veterinarian exams, or even letting us brush their teeth. Dental health affects physical health and possibility even cognitive health as dogs age. Very large numbers of dogs develop gum disease by age 3.
Dogs can have sound/storm fears. They can also suffer from levels of actual panic about separation, very similar to human phobias and panic disorder and separation anxiety.
If one or two uncomplicated normal canine behavior problems come up during beginner dog training at PET I will show you how the beginner skills your dog and you are learning can be used to start to retrain the problem behaviors. We can discuss and add additional training sessions.
For multiple problems and problems that appear caused by fear and other emotional responses I will discuss what steps we need to take to understand the problems and develop a remediation and plan.
Muzzle training may be needed by some dogs for the safety of others.