Hounds 'n' Harmony

That's Just What Dog's Do... Or is it?


I often hear owners dismissing their dog's behaviour as ‘that’s just what dogs do’ but is it really?


When our dog goes crazy at the sound of the doorbell, barks at other dogs, or act like they haven’t seen you for a week, when you’ve just been in the toilet, we tend to think of this as ‘normal’ dog behaviour. But it’s not!! That should be a relief to some of you, or maybe a shock to others.


A happy and contented dog will do nothing more than relax and sleep for most of the time. Interjected only by brief moments of interaction and play.


Whilst it’s true that some breeds are more active than others, the majority of this so called ‘normal’ behaviour, is due to our dogs carrying out a role that we have inadvertently given to them. Which leads to us getting upset and angry when they don’t stop barking, jumping up or reacting to certain stimuli.


When we bring a dog into our family (at whatever age), it needs to know where it fits within that unit, and if this is not made clear to the dog, it will make up its own mind and thus begins the unwanted behaviours, which will escalate and change over time. An example of human behaviour would be when we have visitors staying over. Our visitors don’t generally behave how they would in their own home, as they are respectful of ‘our’ rules and boundaries and would not let their children run riot through our homes. The same applies to dogs, we need to set boundaries as to what they can and can’t do, and we do this by learning to speak to them in a language they understand, which is canine.


Dogs make associations to things that are repeated, as do we. So if you react in blind panic whenever your dog starts barking at the postman, what your dog sees is you getting upset about the postman, and not their barking. The next time the postman or delivery person comes calling, the same thing happens, which reinforces the association the dog has made to your behaviour. The dog believes he is doing a good job, as the postman leaves when he barks, which again reinforces the association, and before you even become aware of it, your dog is barking at every single noise, in a bid to stop you from getting upset.


Another example of association is the one that dogs tend to make when the owner brings out their lead, which in many cases tends to be over excitement. Many years ago, my own dogs made an association to the East Enders theme tune, as that was when I would take them for a walk. Thus, whenever they heard that music, they would jump up and run to the front door with excitement, and I would feel obligated to take them for a walk, which just reinforced their behaviour.

When our dogs are clear of the ground rules, they do not bark at every noise, they do not take you for a walk, they do not react to other dogs; they are simply more relaxed and content, as they know that you are dealing with daily life, so they don’t have to.  To find out more click here  https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour