Being in Denial About Your Dog

Pondering this thought I came to the realization that this can go many many ways.
The unique aspect of owning a dog is that it is a conduit to the truth. The agenda of the dog is one that is unfettered with unnecessary desires, unless we're talking about dogs who over eat! However even there you'd find something more honest than gluttony.
I would be willing to wager that even dogs that appear gluttonous are somehow driven by a biological need to do it, or something associated with not getting enough food at some point.

As we progress in the humane dog behavior sciences we're finding more and more that dogs are at the mercy of our behaviors, our actions, inactions and our understanding of them.
The denial aspect of human behavior is prickly patch in deed. It can be disastrous or funny. The same can be said of our relationship with our dogs.
Being in denial about our dogs can come with heavy prices. If you are not aware that your dog's recall is shoddy and you "feel" the dog will come when called and it does not and gets hit by a car, that's a pretty big mistake. If you are in denial about your dogs need to chew, chase and tug you may be missing out on some easy and effective ways to tire your dog out while you do little work.
The way we think about our dogs, the ways we address or do not address behaviors are inextricably linked. We do indeed have a very big effect on how our dogs react to the world and how the dog gets through the day.

Admitting that you need help or that your dogs behavior is something not to be experimented on is the first step to success. In most of the cases I see the main issue is normalizing dog behavior for owners. Common misconceptions are aggression vs. frustration, demand barking vs. watchdog barking and people not realizing either through bad information or omission that dogs require a fair amount of mental stimulation in the form of engaging their brains with some type of training, sniffing and social activities with dogs and people.
Of course the other side of the spectrum is the denial that the dog has any problems. This is often because the owner does not want to admit the dog has a problem. I've seen owners ignore aggression and freak out over dogs peeing in the house, I've seen owners unwittingly create aggression due to the ill conceived advice from a number of sources both in the media and the good old "someone told me to try this".
In this age of information where you can find virtually anything at the touch of a button let your common sense and your better self guide you through your dog’s  life.
Addressing basic training with effective and gentle methods is just as important as modifying fear based behaviors with safe and gentle methods. Do not be in denial about how your dog views the world which is safe or unsafe. This is scientifically proven, this is on a par with gravity, so don't debate it, accept it. There are things dogs need to do, and we should let them do these things as long as they are able to be done without hindrance to humans, other dogs or themselves.
Don't deny your dog outlets for canine behaviors they need and want. This website your on right now is full of excellent advice. Make sure you're meeting your dogs’ physical and emotional needs daily. Even for an hour at a time it can make all the difference.
Recently while attending a seminar by Dr. Karen Overall she reminded us that dogs are “always gathering information” and it is a multi layered affair with safety and trust topping the dogs criteria.
My female dog Keysha loves to grasp and hold with her front paws. This is most likely due to some biological need. After all American Pit Bull Terriers are bull herding and hog catching dogs.
I allow her to get these behaviors out in a variety of ways during play with me and only me. I gently interrupt her if she is harassing dogs in play, and she is not allowed to rehearse her love of leg humping on anyone but me. This is greatly reduced the behavior on other dogs and she has never once humped anyone else other than me. In addition I use the reward of getting to grasp and hold in conjunction with consistent operant training. She has a great disengage on one verbal "that's enough" backed with a chained in auto sit. Two or three short sessions of this has her well in check and she gets her biological urge to grasp and hold released. Keysha was so misunderstood for this natural behavior she was almost euthanized for it.
My male dog Mojo likes to bark, especially when he hears something out side. My tact is simple; let him feel good about it. I usually say " Thanks buddy, yea I know I hear it too", bark bark bark..."ok that's enough", and he peters out and chuffs his way back to what he was doing. Why get him even more ramped up, or  have him slink off into a low grade fear haze? Its better he gets to do his “job”. The release of energy is good for him and his associations to me, the house and even the events outside are padded with positive associations. In fact he just barked and I said nothing and he stopped after one bark.
People seem amazed that I can have Mojo listen in the face of seeing a squirrel.
Once I realized he needs to chase I put it on cue and use an intermittent reward schedule. There are times we chase and times we do not. He is always on leash and it goes like this.
Mojo sees bird, squirrel etc and I ask him for a "look", then a "sit", then a wait..Then "OK" and we run to “get” the prey. By the time we go though the sequence the prey is out of the picture, or at least up a tree. Mojo gets his chase on and he’s really happy about it. When we cannot chase he gets a reward of food for doing a "leave it". He is quite content to get a food reward instead of the chase. This may not work for all dogs but it has been a home run with Mojo and quite a few clients dogs.
Many people are only concerned with what they want the dog to do or only what they do not want the dog to do. Keep in mind what the dog needs to do. The owners who tap into a dog’s natural desire will have a very strong bond and a very happy dog. Remember all things in life for dogs come through humans making or letting it happen in some way.
The people who hammer their dogs into submission with constant squelching and reprimands are skating on thin ice. You'll either get dogs to shut down or worse.

Find out what your dog needs to do and do not deny them their natural instincts. There are many creative fun safe ways to work your dog, you'll become better at training and build your bond based on trust.
Your dog will really appreciate it, and my guess is you will too.

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