When Good Dogs Do Bad Things
Suddenly it happens! Without warning, a seemingly well adjusted dog growls while waiting in the lobby of the veterinary hospital. At a family picnic, a usually playful dog seems to become agitated and lunges towards a relative. When a guest arrives at the door, a seemingly friendly dog runs forward, barking and baring their teeth. At these moments owners are shocked and bewildered, torn between a love for their canine pal and worry about what type of behavior might be displayed next.
There are many reasons why normally good dogs behave badly, and most stem from nervousness about unfamiliar environments or situations. It might be natural and appropriate for a dog to growl at another pack member in the wild, but it is not acceptable in the reception area of a veterinary hospital. Nor is it acceptable for a dog to lunge at humans, or to charge and bark at guests when they arrive at the door. Dogs can be taught to deal with stress in more acceptable and predictable ways.
Teach your dog some positive behaviors to replace the lunging, growling and barking. "Sit" and "Down" are great commands to help your dog to focus on you, and to take their thoughts away from what is causing them stress. Ask your dog to watch your eyes, or to walk beside you. These are excellent ways of giving your dog "a job to do". Use food treats and praise to reward your dog. This will strengthen their understanding that you are the leader. Be kind but firm. Let them know you are in control. Your confidence will help them to relax and to behave.Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists