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Learn how to use research-based techniques to improve your dog’s bad behavior.

Contact Stacy Hulen for help with improving your dog’s behavior. If you want a better behaved dog, take action and contact me to discuss your situation.

Changing Voluntary Behavior in Dogs.

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BEWARE OF MISINFORMATION!

The world of dog training and behavior is wrought with misinformation and misconceptions about dog behavior, which ultimately leads to inappropriate practices. Have you been “Googling” dog behavior? have you been critically evaluating what you have been reading? It is easy to just take what you find on the internet as “gospel” when it comes to dog training, but often times, the information that pops up is just plain inaccurate. This is problematic if you attempt some of the techniques suggested or accept some of the reasons given for WHY your dog has the behavior problems  he has.

Here’s a common example:

A dog owner looks up information or calls a trainer because their dog is threatening unfamiliar people either on the walk or in their home.  So they read or are told the following:

1. They are being too permissive with their dog, so they are not being seen as the “Alpha.” 

2. They need to make sure they are not allowing the dog in the bed or on the furniture.

3. They need to feed the dog after the humans have eaten.

4. They need to make sure the dog is not going through the door ahead of them or walking ahead of them on the leash because that means they are allowing the dog to be “dominant.” 

5. They need to give a hard leash correction (a hard jerk on the leash when the dog growls or barks at unfamiliar people) and/or make the dog “submit” by forcing him to the ground and making him  (I love this one) “relax.” Would you relax if you were pinned to the ground by your neck when you were already in a fearful, panicked state? 

ALL of this advice is NOT based in scientific theory or research. If you just stop and think for a minute, you’ll realize that none of this really makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s put it in terms we can relate to. 

Suppose you had a fear of flying. Whenever you even hear a plane, you get a bit nervous. If you get close to one or sit on one, you begin to panic. Now, think about the techniques mentioned above in numbers 1-5. If you called a therapist about this problem, and they suggested that they really needed to speak with your boss and/or your husband or wife and talk about being more strict with you at work or home, do you think this would help you learn to like flying? What if they went on to say that they were going to put a device on you that delivered a shock when you began to panic on the plane. Maybe you would begin to stop reacting, but would you learn to LIKE flying? What if someone wrestled you to the ground and held you there when you began to panic? Are you going to like flying then? 

OF COURSE NOT! So, when you are reading about or discussing your dog’s behavior issues with a trainer, be sure to apply the critical thinking skills you already have and ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” If the answer is “no” or the techniques suggested make you uneasy, that’s probably your intuition setting off alarms! LISTEN TO THEM! 

 If you are evaluating trainers, you should hear them talk about learning theory, what the current research shows, and researched-based methods. Unfortunately, none of the commonly suggested techniques or reasons for a dog’s particular behavior are based in science.

Be a critical consumer of information rather than taking for granted that the information you are getting is accurate.  

Are you trying to house train a puppy or a newly adopted adult dog? Have you read up or researched house training methods?

Recently, I’ve had several calls from dog owners with house training issues.

ALL of them were using the same method: taking the dog over to the mess (minutes or hours after the dog has soiled), showed it to the dog/and or rubbed his nose in it, told him “NO!” in a very harsh voice, and put the dog outside.

Although many of us have probably watched our parents use this method when we were growing up and ended up with house trained dogs, the dogs became house trained DESPITE this technique. If you want to stop a dog from doing something, you have to CATCH THE DOG IN THE ACT. If you wait until the dog is even walking away from the soiled area, it’s too late. (FYI: This is also true with destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging holes, etc).

So, if you are using this method to house train your dog, please do yourself and your dog a favor, and STOP!

Your dog is only learning that you attack (and yes, that’s the way he perceives it) without warning, provocation, or reason. Your dog does not connect to this to the fact that he had an accident minutes or hours ago. This is true despite the “guilty” looks you may get when you come home or find a mess. Your dog is only “looking guilty” because of your offensively threatening body language, harsh voice, and/or hard stares.

Additionally, if you do this every time you come through the door, your dog will associate being attacked with your arrival home or your approach, which isn’t going to improve your relationship much. If you are house training, punishment should NEVER be used as a training method.

Please call for help if you are struggling with this common problem, or at least find a reputable source for information such as www.patriciamcconnell.com or www.helpingfido.com. On these sites, you can find access to books and DVDs to help you help your dog or puppy.