Canine Behavioural Tips

Top Ten Behavioral Tips for Dogs

Jacqueline C. Neilson, DVM, Diplomate ACVB, Animal Behavior Clinic, Portland .Oregon

• Make a diagnosis: Make a preliminary differential list based on the presenting complaint.Treatment can be targeted once the motivation for the behavior has been found.

• Stop and smell the roses: With their powerful sense of smell, dogs live in a different sensory world from humans. Synthetic pherorhones can be helpful, particularly when treating anxiety-related conditions.

• An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: There are no conclusive studies on puppy temperament testing. If possible, clients should find out about a puppy's parents before adoption. Puppies should also be socialized to future stimuli between 3 and 16 weeks of age.

• Punishment is hard to do: Punishment can increase behavioral problems if used inappropriately. In cases in which punishment might be appropriate for a particular behavior, 3 criteria must be met: immediacy, consistency, and efficacy.These criteria are difficult for most people to meet and, therefore, punishment should be used infrequently as a treatment.

• Haste makes waste: Lasting behavioral changes take time. Clients should be counseled on this and have realistic expectations.

• Let sleeping dogs lie: Many behavioral problems are due to anxiety. A structured interaction system with owners can benefit these dogs.

•Atireddogisagooddog:Emase can help reduce stress and may release beneficial hormones

• Give directions: Rather than just telling a dog "no," have owners give their dogs direction to do an appropriate alternative behavior.

• Dose drugs correctly: It is common for dogs to be put on sub-therapeutic doses of psychotropic drugs for an inadequate time.

• Ignore the bad, reward the good: The most important take-home message for clients is to ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior