Every day I tip my hat to those living with and treating a dog with a behavioural issue, it can be challenging, frustrating, costly but can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be TIME CONSUMING; behaviour issues are not fixed in a day (no matter what some claim), they take time, understanding, repetition, clarity and way more than I can list in a simple post.
When faced with a behavioural issue, the first step is advocacy, management and a lil’ bit of WHS (Work, Health & Safety).
If your dog is a resource guarder, then pick up high value items, don’t let food sit there where they may feel the need to guard it, do not add more evidence to why they must feel the need to guard. YOU MUST ADVOCATE & MANAGE.
If your dog is reactive to others and displays this on almost every walk around the block, stop taking them for walks until you are both ready and prepared. YOU MUST ADVOCATE & MANAGE.
If your dog is nervous of strange/ new people, then don’t take them to locations they may feel like this or let people in the home (their “safe” place) to approach and corner them. YOU MUST ADVOCATE & MANAGE.
By not putting management in place you are setting your dog UP TO FAIL. This does not “fix” the issue, this does not “treat” the behaviour, but it DOES stop the repetition, rehearsing and inadvertent rewarding of the behaviour from happening until treatment can be sourced, obtained or completed.
Think like that annoying WHS dude in most workplaces, as annoying as WHS can be, it has an importance in the workplace but also in your home and DEFINITELY when it comes to living with or treating an animal suffering from a behavioural issue.
Before you put your dog into difficult situations or environments, ask yourself;
Can I ELIMINATE any potential that my dog may be faced with an out of control dog (on lead or not)?
Can I find an ALTERNATIVE location that will limit or eliminate the risk of my dog having a potentially damaging experience?
Can I SUBSTITUTE our outing with something more rewarding or beneficial to my dog’s behaviour? Can I spend the day doing some training?
Can I use ADMINISTRATION CONTROLS (give me space harnesses etc)
or use PPE (personal protective equipment, muzzles for example) to communicate
to others we need space?**
**These are in most instances unsuccessful and will not change how your dog is feeling, there are last resort options.
Management techniques are not intended for long term use, and are doomed to fail if they are the only part of the process. They are an important first step and element of the process as it STOPS the behaviours occurring short term until proper training programs can be introduced for a longer-term goal.
1. MANAGE THE BEHAVIOUR
2. SEEK PROFESSONAL ASSITANCE IN TREATING THE BEHAVIOUR LONG TERM
3. REASSESS REGULALRY
4. ADVOCATE AND SET YOUR DOG UP TO SUCCEED.
The responsibility ALWAYS falls at our feet as responsible and caring guardians.