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Behaviour & Training

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What Your Dog's Body Language Says About His Mood

What Your Dog's Body Language Says About His Mood

It’s easy to interpret a dog’s behaviour the same way you might interpret a friend’s. But it’s important to remember that dogs and humans aren’t the same, and it’s worth getting to know the way dogs communicate.

FRIENDLY

You can tell a dog is in a friendly mood when his ears are relaxed, his tail is flat, with plenty of wagging, and he makes gentle eye contact.

FEARFUL

A fearful dog is usually crouching with his tail between his legs. He will also avoid looking you in the eye. He may roll over on his back or urinate while lying down. Be careful around a fearful dog, as he may bite if he feels threatened.


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What Your Dog's Body Language Says About His Mood (pt2)

What Your Dog's Body Language Says About His Mood (pt2)

ASSERTIVE

If a dog’s ears and tail are standing up and he is staring intently, he is showing assertion. He may put his paws on another dog’s back or be pushy with the dog or with the owner.

AGGRESSIVE

If he stares and holds his tail motionless, growls, and holds his ears forward, he may be a threat. Watch out for this behavior in a dog.

PLAYFUL

When a dog pushes his chest to the ground and holds his rear and tail in the air, he is trying to initiate play.


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Is Your Dog Behaving Badly?

Is Your Dog Behaving Badly?

PULLING ON THE LEASH

When your dog is on his leash, ask him to heel, and then move forward while the leash is loose. If he pulls on the leash at all, stop right away and don’t move. When your dog turns to look back, call him back to heel position and start again. If he pulls on the leash, stop and repeat the process. Move forward only when the leash is loose.

GOING TO THE BATHROOM WHERE HE SHOULDN’T

If your dog is suddenly going where he shouldn’t, consult your veterinarian. He may have a health issue.

Even well trained dogs sometimes have accidents or go where they shouldn’t. Clean the area with a pet odour neutraliser so your dog won’t be tempted to repeat his mistake. Avoid making sudden changes in your dog’s diet and giving your dog late night snacks. Make sure he also spends enough time outdoors.


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Is Your Dog Behaving Badly? (Pt 2)

Is Your Dog Behaving Badly? (Pt 2)

EXCESSIVE BARKING

There are many reasons why your dog might be barking separation anxiety, loneliness, protecting his territory or even just inviting you to play. If you suspect that his barking is due to a larger problem you need to address that issue. Engage a dog behaviourist to identify the cause of his barking and teach you ways to improve it.

CHEWING AND DIGGING

If your dog chews on something that is off-limits, say “no” or “eh” in a low voice, then immediately give your dog a safe chew toy. Don’t use household items like old shoes, because they could encourage him to chew on new shoes as well.

During the summer months, if your dog digs a hole to cool himself, provide a cool location for him during the day in the shade. Make sure that fresh drinking water is always available to him. Ideally, a fence should fit tightly to the ground or be buried a few centimetres underneath it in order to prevent a dog crawling or digging out from under it. You can also provide a “digging area.” When your dog digs in this designated area, praise and reward him with attention or a treat. If your dog digs outside this area and is caught in the act, a firm “no” is usually enough of a deterrent.


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Is Your Dog Behaving Badly? (Pt 3)

Is Your Dog Behaving Badly? (Pt 3)

RESOURCE GUARDING

First, evaluate how generalised the situation is. Is your dog always trying to protect resources, is he just protecting a specific toy, or is he acting this way only during mealtimes? If fights break out only around mealtime or when a certain toy comes out, a simple management solution may be the answer.

A suitable management option may be to feed the dogs in separate areas or rooms of your home. If tension occurs only when playing with a specific toy the dogs should enjoy their individual toys in separate areas and be reintroduced to one another only after the toys have been removed.

If the problem is more generalised, or if the intensity of the guarding behaviour is high, you may have to consult with a dog behaviour expert.