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Humans need to feel connected to others, and we sometimes bond as deeply with our dogs as we do with those of our own species. However, the flavors of human-canine bonding can vary wildly. On one end of the spectrum are those who fall in love with dogs based on their looks, personality or intelligence. On the other end are those who become attached to dogs in order to fill the holes left by emotional wounds. There probably are as many variations of this bond as there are dog owners, and any variation can be unhealthy if proper consideration is not given to providing for the dogs' needs. So, what do dogs need from us?
When someone has a very problematic dog, I (the dog trainer) am usually the last person to know. But when I finally do hear about it, I encounter a lot of human frustration: someone at their wits' end because their dog has destroyed an expensive sofa, shredded a mattress, or uninstalled some linoleum; or someone who is feeling angry and betrayed because their dog bit them or a family member.
Solving a dog's behavior problems is like peeling an onion. First, you have to wipe away the tears. And second, you must peel the problem one layer at a time.
As a dog trainer in Denver, Colorado, one complaint I often hear from prospective clients is: “My dog will not obey me!” Typically this means the dog only obeys when it wants to. Troubleshooting the issue generally is pretty simple, as there are several common reasons a dog will not do what is asked of it:
Perhaps it is because Christmas is right around the corner, or perhaps you have been thinking about it for a while. But if you are thinking of adding a second dog to your family, make sure you have throughly considered it and are prepared for the commitment. Here are five questions you should answer before adopting a second dog.
The fourth of July is only a few days away, and Denver will be filled with celebration and fireworks. Not only will there be many major fireworks displays, but the streets of nearly every neighborhood will be filled with the sounds of firecrackers and roman candles. However humans tend to enjoy the ear-piercing shrieks and thunderous booms produced by fireworks more than dogs do.
Spring is almost over in Colorado, and summer is just around the corner. As temperatures rise, it is more important than ever to think of your dog's safety when considering leaving him alone in your car.
There are a large number of behavior issues that result directly from your dog not respecting you as his leader. Territorial marking in the home, growling or snapping at you and jumping on beds and furniture without your permission are just a few examples. Many behavior issues related to leadership perception will go away on their own when you communicate to your dog that you are the leader and he is the subordinate. This communication must take place in a language the dog can understand.
Understanding wolves helps us to understand dogs better. However, research over the last twenty years has radically altered our understanding about the nature of wolves. And while dogs are almost genetically identical to wolves, tens of thousands of years of domestication have created significant differences that should be taken into account by dog trainers and owners.
Dogs are keen observers of humans. Their ability to read our body language, tone and even facial expressions is well-known among dog trainers, and good trainers capitalize on that knowledge to make themselves and their students more effective dog handlers.
But not only are dogs aware of how we act, they are cognizant of whether we act, and sometimes doing nothing at all is a powerful way to teach a dog what is relevant and what is not.