Common Misconceptions About Dog Behavior

Dogs are a part of our families, and many times, we develop deep connections with our canine companions. But, no matter how you look at humans’ relationships with dogs, we do not speak the same language. This language barrier may not seem like a big deal since we are able to train dogs to obey commands and behave in certain ways. However, because our pups cannot share why they act a certain way, we, as humans, have made assumptions about our dogs’ behavior that have led to misunderstandings about why dogs do the things they do. 

Below are five common misconceptions about dog behavior explained to help you better understand your canine companions, to help keep your pups safe, and to ensure you are giving them the best lives possible.

Dogs Like Relaxing As Much As Humans Do

As humans, our routines typically keep us away from the house for large portions of the day: we go to work and go to school. So, when we return home for the day, we value the opportunity to chill out at home and relax on the couch. Dogs, however, spend most of their time at home. So, when we return home from work or school to chill and relax, dogs have already been sitting around the house all day. Therefore, it is important for dogs to get out of the house and exercise by going on a walk or to the dog park. Being cooped up indoors all day is not ideal for a dog. So, keep this difference in mind and make sure your pup gets out of the house and gets some much needed play time!

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Any dog, no matter their age, has the ability to learn new behaviors. The biggest difficulty with an older dog is teaching them how to unlearn old behaviors. But, just like with puppies, older dogs have the capacity to learn commands and behaviors. The most important thing to remember about dogs, no matter their age, is that once they learn something, the behavior must be constantly reinforced. Reinforce the learned behavior and your old dog will be learning new tricks in no time!

Barking, Snapping, or Lunging is the First Sign of an Unhappy Dog

Dogs using these signals are usually expressing fear. Barking is a dog’s way of trying to buy space, so they can feel safer. However, barking is not the first sign that a dog is upset or afraid. They usually try more subtle signaling first, like avoiding eye contact with whatever is bothering them, licking their lips, furrowing their brow, lifting a paw, or tightening the muscles of their face. Because many people are not aware of these subtle signals, dogs have learned that these quieter warnings do not work and resort to louder signals, such as barking. 

If nothing is done to help dogs move away from whatever is worrying them, these signs can often escalate to more troubling behavior that is more obvious, such as growling, snapping, and lunging. So, try your best to identify your dogs’ subtle signs when something is worrying them and move them away from the trigger to prevent those troublesome behaviors.

Playing Tug-of-war Makes Dogs Aggressive

Dogs require exercise and play, and tug-of-war is a fun way to play with your dog! During tug-of-war, you will oftentimes hear your dog growl and snarl.  This is perfectly normal, and you do not need to be alarmed. However, it is important that your dog knows it is just a game. In order to ensure your dog understands it is just a game, you should give your dog a command to drop the toy at the end of tug-of-war, and they should release it. This will reinforce that you are allowing the game to happen. Learning this behavior will, of course, take training, practice, and constant reinforcement, but ultimately results in a fun way for you and your dog to play.

Another Dog Will Help Teach My Dog to Behave Better

Dogs rarely learn good behavior from each other.  More often than not, they learn bad behaviors from each other.  So, if your dog isn’t behaving and you are thinking about getting another dog to “help them learn”, don’t! Getting your dog a friend because he is destructive will land you with two destructive dogs. 

Instead, make sure you take time to train your dog and help them unlearn undesired behavior. This may take time and continual reinforcement, but it will be better for you and your dog in the long-run. 

How Landheim K9 Can Help 

Ultimately, the best way to avoid troublesome behavior in your dog is to make sure they are properly trained, which is where we come in! Landheim K9 offers a variety of dog training services from puppy kindergarten to advanced obedience classes. Contact Landheim K9 today and our trainers will assess your dog’s behavior and develop a training plan that best matches you and your dog’s behavioral needs. 

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