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Never Shout at a Dog

Posted on 24/08/2016

Man shouting at dogOf course this would seem obvious to most people, as they will think that if you love your dog enough then you wouldn’t be shouting at them anyway but then again, how many of us can truthfully say that we have never raised our voices to someone that we really love? Occasionally, frustration can get the better of us. However, there is a very important reason for not shouting at our dogs, particularly if we want them to be able to recognise us as the decision maker and consequently choose to work for us of their own free will, and this has nothing to do with how much we love them.  

The fundamental error of shouting at our dogs is most frequently made when a dog barks or howls after hearing a noise, seeing a stranger, or even detecting something unfamiliar. The fact is that the dog may see any of these examples as a real threat to either it or those it is protecting. The dog is very simply dealing with what it perceives as a danger, something that it thinks could influence whether the pack (family) will survive or not. Sometimes a dog may react to something he becomes aware of something that is beyond our limited senses but even when the cause of the dog’s concern cannot be identified by the owner, to the dog it is real and must be taken very seriously. Your reaction is of vital importance and the correct reaction will convince your dog that you can indeed be trusted to deal with this. However, the wrong reaction, in this case shouting, will convince your dog that his fears are completely justified, to the extent that you are actually joining in the “barking” process and supporting him in his panic. 

This is the reason that many owners, when trying to capture a dog that is barking or chasing someone, actually get nipped by their dog. The adrenaline charged dog is doing no more than warning the owner not to interfere and leave the important decision of how to handle this situation to it and then the dog will no longer need to worry about you while trying to deal with the 'danger'. Any loving parent, on seeing a suspicious person or situation, would tell their child to 'go in the house' out of harms way so they could concentrate on dealing with the possible danger. That same loving parent would almost certainly become frustrated with that child if it failed to do as it was asked, as the parent has to give their total attention to the possible danger. It is the fear of the threat that can cause a misunderstood reaction from the dog, a reaction that can be misconstrued as an unprovoked attack. 

We have to understand that perceived danger is one of the four key areas of survival for a dog and once we accept that what the dog perceives as dangerous is serious (to it) we can treat their reaction with a little more respect, instead of just annoyance. It would also pay us to remember that a dog’s senses are far more acute than ours and there may actually be a very real problem that we aren’t aware of. 

If you have Amichien® Bonding in place and your dog respects you as the decision maker, the next time it barks at perceived danger, simply and calmly say “thank you” (the words aren’t important just the tone you use), it will see from your reaction that you do not perceive any threat and it will begin to realise for itself that there is no danger. If a dog barks when it sees someone walk past your home and you calmly 'thank' your dog, before very long your dog will have learnt that a person walking past is not a cause for concern and it will simply stop reacting in a negative way.   

The result of shouting at a dog when it gives the warning alert, will be completely the opposite to what we are trying to achieve. What may start as the dog giving a low little bark when faced with something that it does not understand, can gradually escalate into hysteria at the slightest movement from anything and everything- if your reaction is consistently negative.
Obviously, the more you shout, the more distressed your dog will get and if you become angry or frustrated then this too will add to the whole problem.  

If you stay calm and keep your pulse rate down, your dog will soon regain its composure and return to a relaxed normality. When it does, you could call it over to you for a fuss, further demonstrating your lack of concern and reinforcing the calming effect. 

Even if you have made the simple mistake of raising your voice in the past, you can change everything around by adopting this Amichien® Bonding technique. Once you start to give the dog different information it can and it will change how it responds to any and every situation.  

Remember a dog will react instantly to any increase in your pulse rate, so if it is up and racing don't be surprised if your dog becomes extremely agitated. Remain chilled and they will happily follow your example.  

 

Jan Fennell