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Which Button Do I Press?

Posted on 27/11/2014
Filed under: Dog Training Gadgets Behavioural Issues

dog with bark interpreterThere is no quick fix that will truly resolve a canine behaviour problem overnight, no buttons you can press to effect an imediate result, despite most shops and some 'trainers' offering just that. From the gadget that promises to stop a dog pulling on the lead to the natural remedy that is designed to calm a frightened animal. These can only be the equivalent of papering over the cracks as they are treating a symptom, not the cause. 

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will have some experience of the lure of an instant fix and will also know that the bewildering array of products that promise dramatic results, all come with the proviso that those results will only come - when combined with a sensible eating plan and exercise. This is something we all know anyway but when we are desperate; common sense seems to goes out of the window and we are blinded by what we really know are impossible promises. 

So why can’t we get instant fixes for our dogs' problems? 

In a dog, undesirable behaviours have usually taken time, often years, to develop and even those behaviours that do appear to happen 'suddenly', can be the end of a long line of confusion and fear; their manifestation is usually 'the final straw' for the dog. 

Unfortunately, it is usually us that are responsible for the undesirable behaviour we see in our dogs because we have been sending them the wrong signals over an extended period of time; we have slowly and surely been gradually influencing their thinking about their (and our) place in the family group. Consequently, their thinking is firmly entrenched and there is no gadget we can point at our dogs, or wrap around their bodies and necks, that will undo such extensive programming overnight. 

Many owners do not understand how their dog will continually look for, and interpret, the signals they are constantly being given but unfortunately, most of the signals they receive give them the wrong message. It’s understandable that owners get it wrong because they adopt many everyday practices that they see are so common amongst other dog owners, so they can be forgiven for assuming those practices are correct or acceptable.

Any owner can inadvertently create negative behaviour by adopting some of these “normal” and harmless practises. An example of this would be the growing habit of having a dog on an extended lead (usually because the owner has had no recall success); walking way out ahead of the owner clearly indicates to the dog that going for a 'walk' is its responsibility, not the owner’s. A dog does not automatically defer to its owner and allowing the dog to make decisions when exposed to the potential danger in the outside world, will at best, cause it confusion, at worst, result in challenging behaviour. 

One reason some behavioural issues get out of hand is that problems are not spotted early enough or correctly interpreted. Many aspects of a dog’s behaviour are not believed to require attention because owners (understandably) believe that their everyday experiences with their dog are in some way “typical” of dog behaviour; examples of this are hyperactivity, barking excessively, rushing up to strangers and other dogs etc and so forth. All of these issues show different degrees of stress and indicate that a dog needs assistance, however, it is usually only when this behaviour escalates and becomes a real problem or embarrassment for the owner that any action is taken. Usually it’s when there are serious and negative consequences of a dog’s behaviour (such as complaints from neighbours or the intervention of a local authority) that an owner will seek corrective help and because things are now out of hand, they then want an instant solution. This type of pressure from desperate owners, and the commercial opportunities it creates, has led to the invention of some terrible corrective items, all promising to instantly cure undesirable behaviour and indeed, many of these gadgets are actively promoted by many pet shops. 

The very real devastation  when the 'cure' is not immediate can then lead to more frustration even anger from the owner, who wants nothing more than to get on with their lives as before, without the irritation of a dog that won’t “conform”. 

To work successfully with a dog first requires honesty with ourselves, only then can we avoid putting ourselves and our dogs through unnecessary misery. If a behavioural problem has got to the point when you are days away from legal intervention or some drastic action being necessary, then I’m afraid you have left it too late to seek help. Certainly, whatever it is, the problem can be successfully addressed with Amichien Bonding but it requires a lifestyle change and the understanding that it entails undoing years of incorrect programming. Yes, patience may indeed be required, as work begins on reprogramming a dog’s thinking process, but I can assure you there is no alternative to patience, persistence and consistency, if you are attempting to successfully resolve a serious behavioural issue because no matter how far you look; you will not find a magic bullet that will take away your dog’s issues by the time you wake up tomorrow morning. 

We are all dog lovers and want the best for our animals. When we make the decision to home a dog, we have to accept the responsibility that comes with that and realise that if our dogs have problems then we have to work together to resolve them, dogs don’t come with buttons to switch certain patterns of behaviour on and off. 

If you are lucky enough to have been using Amichien Bonding from the start of your journey together, not only will you have been giving the correct signals from the start but you will be able to understand any subtle changes in your dog’s behaviour and address them before they become a major issue. You’ll understand that just like any good relationship, the one between you and your dog has to be worked on, situations coped with, feelings taken into account and the welfare of the other to be given equal importance. 

We know (or should) that a human relationship experiencing difficulties cannot be instantly fixed with a £3.00 bunch of wilting flowers, bought from the garage on the way home; we accept that any relationship that is important to us deserves a little more expenditure in time and effort. In the same way, if we value our relationship with our dogs then we must care for it, be prepared to invest some time in it, work for it and enjoy the process itself, as well as the rewards it will bring. Once we understand that, we won’t be wasting our time looking for, or falling for, promises of an instant fix.


Jan Fennell


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