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A house is not a home without your dog, but what happens when your pup isn’t such a good boy anymore? You are not alone, behavioural issues are a top complaint from pet parents and include a wide variety of things including chewing, jumping, and not playing well with others, to the more serious anxiety, fear, and aggression. Dog behaviour is very complex, and sometimes it can be very hard to understand what might be going on.
If you are curious about why your mate is misbehaving, read on to learn more about dog behaviour and explore the range of dog behaviour treatments at FirstVet.
Sometimes it seems you have a very good boy one day, and a naughty one the next! Just like humans, dogs can have a variety of personalities and their behaviour changes naturally throughout their life, from playful puppies and naughty teenagers to relaxed senior citizens. If your dog is a rescue animal, then this can be even harder, as adverse events in puppyhood can really affect a dog’s confidence, and how they approach problems later in life.
Many behaviours that we identify as a problem can stem from anxiety, fear, or stress. Dogs are creatures of habit and sometimes changes in their environment can be a trigger, such as moving house, visitors, or a new pet. They also naturally live in packs, and when they feel unsafe or lonely, they can display new behaviours, such as excessive vocalising, separation anxiety, fearful aggression, or inappropriate toileting. Boredom and frustration can also manifest as disobedience, escaping or unwanted destruction of your house and yard. Bad behaviours can be frustrating and sometimes make living conditions difficult at home.
Engaging your veterinarian, behaviourist or trainer can help to shed some light on why you have a mischievous mutt on your hands. Underlying health issues, especially in older pets, can lead to changes in demeanour, so it is a good idea to get a clean bill of health first.
The best place to start is by ensuring they have a good diet, regular exercise, environmental enrichment to prevent boredom, and consistent training. Many behaviours that we consider annoying, such as jumping or barking, can be improved by using positive training techniques and helping them learn a better way.
Dogs who are anxious or scared of certain things or situations may benefit from dog behaviour treatments that make them feel more confident. There are many products that use dog pheromones to help create a relaxing environment. Dog calming diffusers or plug-ins can help if your dog fears storms or loud noises. Dog calming sprays can be applied to their bed or favourite blanket, and Adaptil transport spray can help relieve anxiety in the car or travel crate. In addition, there are great calming supplements that can help relax your dog when they need some extra help.
But what happens if none of this works? Then it is time to speak to your veterinarian about behavioural modification therapy or medications. Severe behaviour changes such as fear-biting or escalating aggression are serious issues that need professional help, and it is best to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.