Why is My Dog So Demanding?!
It must be said, all dogs are different. They have individual moods in much the same way as people. Sometimes, however, mildly annoying behaviour can escalate into something more challenging. Being a demanding dog, can land many in the local rescue centre.
But, does it need to be this way? How can we build that perfect, dog-human bond? Holidays4Dogs offers some tips and advice.
Perhaps the first question to ask is how does demanding behaviour in dogs develop in the first place? Are some dogs just more rambunctious than others? Or, are we as owners, doing something wrong?
There are no bad dogs.
Often, it’s a combination of these two things. This doesn’t mean to say that owners of challenging dogs should blame themselves. Dogs soak up the world around them and most are very clever at negotiating the human world. Dogs are good are learning positive things. However, they can also learn things we may not want, but which we have subconsciously taught them. We then sometimes blame our dogs for this.
Most bad habits our dogs learn, start off in small ways. For example, your dog whines, or yaps to go out, so you let him out. Your dog paws at your lap for a titbit, so you give him a treat. You see your dog asking to go out as good thing, so you encourage it. Most people wouldn’t think this could become problematic in the future. Usually, it isn’t – but sometimes it can create a bit of a bossy pooch.
How problems sometimes escalate.
However, when the context changes, but the behaviour is the same, things can build into something more of a problem. To complicate matters, if you ignore your dog, but give in after five minutes – next time your dog will try harder. He may beg, bark, or pester for ten minutes to get what he wants.
This is usually for some sort of attention, for food, or he may be asking to go for a walk, or to play. If you give in after ten minutes, he may try for fifteen minutes and so on and so forth. Eventually, you end up with a dog who just won’t give in before you do! He has become a demanding dog.
Likewise, your dog can quickly learn to be ‘pushy’ in other ways. He may literally push through doorways, leaping out of the car dangerously near a road or, not come back when called. Many of these behaviours happen only because we allow them to, not because the dog is being difficult. The dog does not know any better. He is just being a dog.
Once this stage is reached, owners may be so irritated, they try shouting at the dog to cease the behaviour. If this doesn’t work, they may physically push their dog away, or use aversive techniques such as rattle cans, or water sprays.
By now, everyone is confused and frustrated. Side effects can develop that are then more serious than the original problem behaviour. This might mean the dog snaps, or growls, for example. It can also damage the bond between dog and owner. As a result of all this, it makes other things harder to teach, such as recall training.
So how should we help the demanding dog?
It is important to try and not let this happen in the first place and the best way is to create a good routine. Make sure your dog has plenty of toilet breaks, (especially when he is a puppy), but also try to create an enriching environment. You may, for example, unexpectedly play games with him. Exercise is also important. A dog with pent up energy, will almost certainly be more demanding around the house.
If you have to be away from him, or are busy doing other things, provide him with a suitable chew toy. This could be a Kong stuffed with tasty treats to keep him occupied.
A good routine will help your dog to understand when to settle down and when to play. This way, you will both be on the way to building a mutual bond.
If your dog is already quite demanding, all is not lost. You can go back to basics and teach your dog through positive reinforcement. A good training class, or even an an on-line course with Holidays4Dogs will help you to understand how this works. Positive training teaches your dog to understand that he gets what he wants only by being calm and patient.
A positive and calm approach will help even the most challenging behaviours. If you need extra support, enlist the help of a trainer, or behaviourist to guide you. With some consistency and patience you can have a dog that is a pleasure to be with.