How severe or extreme is the misbehavior? Has it been a constant problem, or is it something your dog only started doing recently? And finally, how much time and effort can you personally put into rehabilitating your dog?
By “extreme,” I mean two different things. A behavior can be considered extreme if you have difficulty correcting your dog to make it stop — for example, excessive licking of paws that you cannot stop with sound alone. The other kind of extreme behavior is anything that is potentially dangerous or destructive, from tearing up the furniture or chewing personal items to showing aggression toward other dogs or people.
In the case of a constant, ongoing problem, you need to ask how you’re failing to fulfill your dog’s needs. Most behavioral issues happen because the humans in the household are not providing strong and consistent pack leadership. That’s why I say, “I rehabilitate dogs, but I train people.”
Now, what if your dog has been perfect, but suddenly develops an issue? First, have there been any changes in the household or routine? A different work schedule, a new significant other or baby, or anything else disruptive or different from the norm?
If not, and especially if the misbehavior is atypical of your dog, this is a good time to consult your veterinarian — for example, obsessive behavior can be a sign of neurological issues, and sudden aggression could indicate that your dog is in pain.
If your dog’s issue is not medical or extreme red zone aggression (which does require immediate professional help), I suggest you consider getting some training for yourself. Professional trainers can be very helpful, but they won’t be there with you and your dog 24/7. It’s up to you to learn to become the Pack Leader for your dog.
Fortunately, anybody can learn how to be a Pack Leader, and I’ve seen that firsthand in my Training Cesar’s Way courses at the Dog Psychology Center. People who come in with dog behavioral issues end up leading eight or more dogs on a pack walk. Along the way, they learn my techniques and philosophy, how to assess a dog’s behavior, and how to develop their own calm, assertive energy, ultimately discovering a richer and more balanced relationship with their dog.
I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback from participants in my Fundamentals of Dog Behavior and Training I program, with comments like these on the feedback survey:
“I came home learning as much about myself as I did about working with dogs!”
“The experience changed my life for the better.”
“What I got was a confidence I have NEVER had before.”
Like I said — I rehabilitate dogs, but I train people. Most dogs (but not all) can be rehabilitated, but I believe that all people can be trained, and there’s no substitute for hands-on experience like my Training Cesar’s Way courses, whether you bring your own dog or work with one of ours at the DPC.
And the best part? For me, it’s seeing my courses change the lives of people — and their dogs — for the better.
The newest session of Training Cesar’s Way is now open to the public for the first time. The session will run May 8th – 13th at the Dog Psychology Center. For registration information, please visit: TrainingCesarsWay.com.
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