Barking News

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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Before a puppy or dog:

What breed of dog should I choose?

Question on puppies or dogs and breeds.Answer: There is no easy answer to this question. There are many factors you may want to consider. If you are a new dog owner, you may want to do some research on different breed characteristics. This can give you an idea about the right type of dog for you, but keep in mind that all dogs are individuals, so not every dog in a particular breed are going to be the same. Also, consider your lifestyle, work schedule, family responsibilities, and energy level. If you are an active family and want a dog to accompany you on family hikes or a running partner, you don’t want to adopt a Pug. If you are a busy family with a hectic work schedule and gone for 8-10 hours per day, you probably don’t want an 8-week-old puppy. Puppies and some high-energy working breeds require a huge time commitment, so be realistic and honest with yourself before falling in love with a fuzzy little face.

What gender dog should I choose? I’ve heard males are more aggressive.

Answer: There is no one gender that is more aggressive by nature than another. However, if you have a dog already, sometimes adopting the opposite gender is a good idea. For example, two females may have a difficult time coexisting, especially if they are intact (unsprayed). The same is can be true for intact males.  

I’m picking my new dog/puppy up today. What should I do when I get home?

Answer: Introducing your new dog or puppy to your new home is important. You want your puppy or new dog to have a positive experience with his new home, so keeping it positive and fun is critical. Making decisions prior to bringing your dog home is important as well, so where is the dog going to sleep? Is she going to be allowed on the furniture? Make some thoughtful decisions and be consistent, but above all, be patient with your new dog or puppy while he is adjusting.

After choosing a puppy or dog:

Why does my dog show threatening behavior and/or aggression?

Answer: There are several reasons dogs threaten or present with aggression. There are too many reasons a dog may show aggression to address here. If your dog is showing threatening or aggressive behavior, contact a professional who can help you understand the motivation behind your dog’s behavior and help you implement an effective behavior modification plan to address those issues. What I can tell you not to do is assume it’s because of dominance or being dominate. Most often, dominance is NOT the cause of most aggressive or threatening behavior. Dominance has its place in the dog world, but using dominance based training techniques usually make problems worse rather than better. (See tab on dominance and the resources page for more information on dominance in dogs).

Why is my dog so destructive and/or hyper?

Answer: Most often, dogs that show destructive or hyper behavior are bored or unclear about what objects are allowed to be chewed. Chewing is a natural behavior in dogs, and most dogs enjoy chewing. However, if your dog hasn’t been taught what objects he’s allowed to chew on, he’ll pick up anything he can sink his teeth into. Many owners make errors in correcting this because they find a chewed shoe or table leg hours after the dog has chewed it and scold the dog. This is an example of punishment used incorrectly because your dog doesn’t have a prayer with understanding what he did wrong. For punishment to be used correctly, you have to catch the dog in the act. For example, he has to have the shoe in his mouth for him to understand what you want or don’t want him to do. This is also true for house training, as well! Even if the dog is just walking away from an object he’s chewed or an area he’s soiled, it’s TOO LATE to correct him.

Why does my dog misbehave? He/She was a star in obedience school!

Answer: Have you continued to practice the obedience your dog has learned? Obedience is just like any other skill. If you don’t practice, you get rusty. Are you implementing the techniques you and your dog learned correctly? Most often, obedience fails because techniques aren’t being implemented correctly. You may need a refresher in these techniques before continuing. Contact me and we can set up a plan that works for you and your dog.  I typically meet with owners in their homes and spend time with you and the dog to assess and evaluate the situation.

Should I let my dog sleep in my bed?

Where should dogs sleep, bed or floor?Answer: That is a decision each owner needs to make individually. Some people can’t sleep well with the dog in the bed, or don’t want to deal with the hair. If you want your dog to sleep in your bed, have at it. If you don’t, then don’t. Provide a comfortable, secure place for your dog to sleep instead. You may read that allowing your dog to sleep with you makes him dominant or can make him aggressive; however, there is no research to show a cause/effect relationship here. Your dog sleeping in your bed has nothing to do with growling at other dogs or people who visit or pass you on a walk. Kicking him out of your bed won’t solve these problems. If he’s growling at you when you get in your bed, then common sense says he may need an alternative sleeping area, but otherwise, it won’t cause behavior problems or aggression in your dog.

If you didn’t find the answer you were looking for about your dog or puppy, please contact me to discuss your situation.