Many people believe their dog's behavior problems are due to lack of training. In some cases this is true. Dog training involves teaching the dog to perform specific behaviors on cue. Teaching the dog to sit, lie down, stay, come when called, are all examples of dog training.
Dogs that become stressed when they are left alone, behave aggressively (growl, air snap or bite), engage in repetitive behaviors or dogs that exhibit fearful behavior are some examples of dogs with behavior problems. These kinds of problems require more than training in order to be resolved. In fact, many of our clients have dogs with behavioral problems that are actually well-trained. Consider this: a dog might walk beautifully on leash, sit and lie down on command, but still panic when left alone, or still growl at anyone who enters the home. Addressing a behavior problem successfully requires assessment of the dog's history, the dog's relationship with his/her owner, the dog's environment and ensuring that health problems are ruled out by a veterinarian.
In many cases there is overlap between behavior and training. For instance, a dog might be pulling on leash because he is afraid, stressed out, or not listening to his/her owner because he is too anxious to do so. Dogs that are very stressed (like people) have difficulty learning new skills. In a case like this the solution may involve addressing the dog's overall stress level as well as incorporating additional basic training techniques. Regardless, each case is unique, and requires a comprehensive analysis of the dog's behavior and customized recommendations.
Steps to addressing a behavior problem may include additional training, however, changing a behavior problem also often involves implementing routines to facilitate control, techniques to reduce the dog's stress level and establishing a leadership relationship. Counter-conditioning or desensitization may also be needed to change the dog's underlying emotions about a situation.
At Cooperative Paws, our Certified dog trainer and behavior consultant has credentials in both fields: dog training and dog behavior consulting. We work with residents of Northern Virginia, Washington DC and portions of Maryland to train their dogs and also solve behavior problems. We can help you identify the type of problem your dog has and address it using a comprehensive approach. We are also happy to refer our clients to reference material written by credentialed behaviorists, trainers, veterinarians and other professionals.. Contact us to learn more. Also read: How to find a qualified Animal Behavior Consultant.