Worldwide dogs are by far the most popular companion animal. In Australia 40% of households own one or more dogs. Their intelligence, loyalty and will to please are a few of the many qualities that make dogs so desirable as pets.
Every breed of dog you see today from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane (left) has descended from the wolf (Canis lupus)(below). The archaeological record suggests that wolves were domesticated by humans more than 10,000 years ago, possibly earlier.
Common Behaviour Problems:
The most common behavioural problems seen in dogs are:
- Separation Anxiety.
- Aggression towards people.
- Aggression towards other dogs.
- Resource guarding.
- Coprophagia (eating stools).
- Destructive behaviour.
- Pulling on lead/poor lead manners.
- Toileting problems.
- Jumping up.
- Excessive barking.
- Fears and phobias.
Dogs are highly intelligent and social animals and still share many behavioural characteristics in common with their closest ancestor; the wolf. Dogs need companionship, opportunities to engage in natural behaviours, ongoing training and socialisation, a nutritious diet and regular check ups at the vet to remain physically and behaviourally healthy.
The Importance of Training:
Training should start on the first day you bring your new puppy (or adult dog) home. Obedience training your dog is one of the best things you can do to establish yourself as a consistent leader and to set boundaries that your dog will understand. Unfortunately, the majority of dog owners do not participate in obedience training classes with their dogs. This results in many dogs becoming hyperactive, boisterous, disobedient and confused about their role within the family “pack.” A subsequent weakening of the bond between owner and dog often results in relinquishment or abandonment.
These days, most dog training facilities train dogs using positive reinforcement. Some use food treats as rewards, while others use praise (verbal and physical) and play. You may need to consider which method will suit your dog best. For example, if your dog is highly motivated by food, you should choose a dog training school that uses food treats as positive reinforcement. However, if your dog is motivated with praise and play rather than food, choose an obedience school that uses this method.
Perfect Dog Owners:
Perfect dog owners are people who have researched different breeds (or cross breeds), decided which breed or cross breed will best suit their situation or lifestyle and understand what it takes to be a responsible dog owner. They know that dogs are social animals, must have companionship and are not to be left to their own devices in the backyard for extended periods of time. They understand that dogs are intelligent and that their minds need to be kept busy or else they are prone to behavioural problems. Perfect dog owners are prepared to walk their dog on a regular basis, provide ongoing training and socialisation to teach their dog how to live in our society, provide suitable veterinary care, feed a balanced and nutritious diet and above all, provide companionship for their dog. If you do not think you can provide these things to a dog, then please DON’T get one! Not only is it unfair for the dog but you will save yourself a lot of grief in the long run. Instead, you could offer to walk a friend’s dog or even volunteer at your local animal shelter.