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There is a distinct difference between Dog Training and Canine Behavior Management. Dog training involves teaching a dog to DO something---sit, down, stay, come, roll over etc. The possibilities are endless. Canine Behavior Management is about observing and evaluating problem dog behaviors, such as barking or digging, and then controlling a dog’s environment and routine to manage or suppress behavior problems. Some dog behaviors are easily resolved, others require on-going and consistent management practices to suppress the behavior, without a permanent ‘fix’. Assessing a dog’s behavior requires time and direct observation of the behavior and the environment in which the behavior is occurring. Each dog is different and each home environment is different. There is no ‘one quick’ way to resolve chronic poor behaviors and simple dog training will not always fix the problem.
In my experience I have come to realize that each and every dog has at least 3 awkward behavior traits that are ‘hard-wired’ to that individual dog. These idiosyncratic traits are part of the dog’s character. This aspect is very frustrating for many dog owners. I frequently hear this comment “I love my dog, he’s perfect, except for….”. Frequently the issue can be resolved, but sometimes, it is just part of the dog’s DNA to behave a certain way, despite training and intervention. The key to success is ACCEPTING these individual qualities in your dog and focusing or managing them as necessary.
As humans, we are asking our dogs to conform to OUR lives and OUR homes, but this is not always the best thing for a dog’s security and happiness. We set high and sometimes unreasonable expectations for behavior and don’t give the dog what HE needs so he will display the behaviors WE want. Dog owners get frustrated and take it personally when the dog displays a poor or embarrassing behavior. It is critical to understand that the behavior is a SYMPTOM. The dog isn’t a BAD DOG; he’s frustrated and needs support and direction. It is not personal, it’s JUST A BEHAVIOR! The behavior doesn’t define the dog. It is our job as the dog owner, to give the dog what he needs so poor behaviors disappear and your dog can live and thrive.