We all love our dogs, but some of us are a little more dog savvy than others. That’s not a bad thing, so long as you’re willing to learn. While you might feel that your unruly pup is stressing you out and causing you some strife, it’s important to realize that it’s actually you who might be stressing your dog out! There are a number of ways owners can cause stress for their dogs, and this in turn will create behaviors that stress out the owners. There are a few factors to address when trying to figure out how to manage stress in your dog an in yourself in relation to your dog. To create a healthy relationship, certain guidelines should be followed. Here are a few things to think about when considering your dog’s stress:
#1 – Forgetting Your Dog is a Dog
Many people know dogs, and some even do some in-depth research before purchasing to learn as much as possible about their desired breed. But while each breed and each dog differs in temperament and personality, owners often forget the basic rule of dogs – they are dogs. All dogs bark, sniff, chew, dig, get dirty, shed, and smell. They don’t inherently know not to play in your flower bed, or that you want them to chew on a toy instead of a shoe. Owners will not only find themselves stressed out by these behaviors, they stress out their dogs by putting unfair punishments on them for behaviors that are ingrained in their very being. While all dogs can be trained not to do some of these things, it’s important to remember that this takes time and effort.
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#2 – Lack of Training
Dogs will be dogs, and as established earlier, we might not like all of their doggy behaviors. Dogs need training to be able to suit our needs, as well as give them outlets for their physical and mental needs. An untrained dog will attempt to rule your entire house. That means jumping up on people, counter surfing to steal your food, and running amok all over your furniture. This might seem like a good deal for the dogs, but lack of training typically leads to unfair punishment. When we don’t teach our dogs what acceptable behaviors are, they won’t know how to offer them. Punishing a dog without teaching him what he should be doing creates stress and confusion for your dog. For example, if your dog is house trained and urinates in the house, you can punish him for being disobedient. But if you’ve never house trained your dog and he urinates in the house, he won’t understand why you’re punishing him. It won’t stop the behavior, it will only confuse your dog and damage your relationship.
#3 – Expecting Your Dog to Obey Just to Please You
We all would love a Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, but we have to understand that those dogs are fictional characters. All living beings are looking to do what’s in the best interest of themselves. If you expect your dog to simply obey you because he loves you, you’re in for a rude awakening. Even the best trained dogs know that there is a reward coming somewhere, sometime. They aren’t doing it simply because they want to please you. Dog training is based off of a dog’s desire for a reward and their desire to avoid punishment – it has nothing to do with your feelings. When we expect our dogs to behave because they want to obey us, we end up either feeling like our dogs are misbehaving to spite us and punishing them for simply being dogs. These leads to nothing but animosity on both ends of the leash.
#4 – Inconsistent Training
You’ve decided to train your dog! Great!! Now just make sure you’re consistent. Many owners want dogs to make sweeping generalizations that they simply just can’t do. Many owners only want dogs on the furniture sometimes. So sometimes they allow the behavior, and sometimes they correct it. This only leads to confusion and stress on the dog’s end. He doesn’t understand what he’s being punished for because he only gets punished half of the time. Inconsistent training is essentially as bad as no training, when it comes to the mental and physical health of your dog.
#5 – Lack of Exercise
Dogs need activity! All dogs, no matter what size, age, or breed. They are intelligent living beings that can and do get bored. Having a dog should be a rewarding experience for both the dog and the owner. Dogs need physical exercise to stay healthy and strong, and mental exercise to keep their brains working. Both types of exercise release endorphins and make people feel happier and healthier, and they do the same for dogs! Dogs that are unsatisfied and bored will often start destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging, which leads to unfair punishment and stress. Making sure your dog has the right amount of physical and mental exercise is imperative to their health and well-being, and is completely dependent on you.