At Bridge the Bark, i use the “whole dog approach.” I look at more than the unwanted behavior. I look for why the dog is misbehaving.
Understanding why the dog is misbehaving is crucial to behavior modification. It is crucial that a dog's basic drives and needs be met.
significant research has shown that dogs process thought and emotion, and rationalize situations much like a toddler. When a dog is misbehaving or being “naughty,” it is not malice. The dog is not "getting back at us" for something. The dog is communicating that basic needs are not being addressed. that their signals are going unnoticed or misdiagnosed, or they are lacking consistent leadership in the household.
As a society, our love for dogs has grown exponentially over the last 2 decades. Most of our companions are eating designer foods, from designer bowls, in designer sweaters, and rest after a walk on designer beds or our own furniture. This is not a bad thing. In fact I am guilty of allowing my dogs on the furniture, and one of them has sweaters to keep him warm in the cold weather. While I am thrilled that people are treating their dogs as family members, it is time to look beyond superficial needs and address core needs first.
Although we view them as family, dogs are still a different species. Dogs do not know that your expensive purse is not simply another leather chew toy, or that the soft throw rug is not a potty area. We can not expect our dogs to act appropriately in a human setting without first teaching them what "appropriate" is.
My approach, my philosophy and my mission center around the same common principal. If we teach a dog legal from illegal, appropriate from inappropriate, if we are consistent in our demands and set reasonable expectations, if we are fair but firm in those expectations, then the dog will willingly want to follow our lead.
I teach humans to be leaders, not dictators or tyrants. Humans and dogs can develop a mutual trust and respect for each other. from there everything else falls into place.
It is time to bridge the bark!