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Behaviour (training, stress, barking)

Angry dog flashing sharp teeth

We’re asking a reasonable amount from dogs to live our lives the way we want them to without complaint. Some breeds and personalities do better than others and some even thrive under these conditions. Similar to humans though, there are many dogs that have high energy or a stubborn streak, some with underlying mental health issues and they can also feed of our own mental health and energy. It is one of the main reasons I was so passionate about developing my Soothe + Calm range. Helping dogs and humans to ground and balance their emotions can help to manage most situations. Though it is not a miracle worker and many dogs will additionally need behavioural modification techniques and some prescription medication – just like humans.

We’re lucky these days there are so many resources for training your puppy or dog. The first, most important step is socialisation classes. They’re important to help your dog become familiar with strangers and strange dogs during a critical development window. I would encourage you to persist with a training school beyond this for at least a few months so that you can master all the basic training skills. Dogs are much happier when they understand their boundaries and know how to behaviour.

The key to toilet training is patience. There are plenty to ‘tricks’ out there and lots of products to buy, however I believe that if you maintain the philosophy ‘ignore bad behaviour, reward good behaviour’ in your training including toilet training your dog will get there. Crate training suits most dogs and helps toilet training accidents be confined too. Most dogs don’t want to soil their bed so will be motivated to hold on. If the breeder has commenced toilet training some pups can master it by 3 months, however the majority won’t finesse the skill until 6-8 months (usually infrequent accidents by this stage don’t worry!)

There are few more nuisance behaviours in dogs than excessive barking. How many of you have googled ‘stop barking dog’? Some breeds are more prone to it and the most problematic barkers are the ones that bark when you are not home. I would encourage you to seek out a behaviourist to help you. There are many good behaviourists that will come to your home to help. These dogs are often over stimulated or over excited during the barking phases so using our Soothe + Calm to help settle their baseline behaviour may also help. Essentially you need VERY desirable treats. You need to get their attention, ask them to do a behaviour you want them to do (sit) and try and maintain their attention during the episode – you may have to repeat sit and give more rewards.

Barking when you’re not home is more challenging. It is important to figure out why it is happening. The most common causes of unwanted barking are:

  • Territorial/fear
  • Boredom/lonely
  • Greeting/play
  • Attention seeking
  • Separation anxiety/compulsive

If your dog barks when you’re out I strongly encourage you to consult with your veterinarian as it is a complex issue that needs to be addressed to move forward to stop a barking dog.  It is also possible to consult with a specialist in behaviour – veterinary behaviourist if there’s other mental health issues. They can do in-person or skype/zoom consultations and you can get a referral from your general practice veterinarian.

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