The Four Reasons Dogs Misbehave

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The four reasons our dogs misbehave


1. Lack of understanding

Some communication is so unclear that it is a miracle that dogs are able to meet any of our requests!

Sometimes they simply have no clue what we want of them.

And generally we keep asking the same thing, only with a louder voice, and more forceful actions, not realizing that the explanation needs to be delivered in a different way.

2. Lack of motivation

The dog is not motivated to do it. Lack of motivation can come from a variety of reasons.

My favourite that I like to pick on clients for is plain and simply “owners are boring”. Dogs have too many rules, and are never actually allowed to be dogs. The owners are incredibly dull, always trying to suppress their dogs from actually being dogs. Because of the constant and non-stop rules, when the dogs finally get a taste of freedom, you will lose all control.  Your dogs have never been taught to listen when they get excited or in their own zone. Rather you have prevented them from ever being excited or being mentally free in their own zone. Please remember that the entire purpose of giving rules is to give freedom.

Other reasons are rewards are predictable and always present. If you ask your dog to come ten times, and each of the ten times he gets a piece of cheese, it won’t take him long to realize the food is always there, so skipping an occasion to chase a rabbit won’t starve him. But if the food is only sometimes there (variable reinforcement schedule) then he has a reason to find out if maybe this time he will get something. We want to turn our dogs into little gamblers. It is worth coming, just to find out if this time something might be given.


In addition to this, our rewards themselves are dull. Cheese? Every time? Nothing is good every single time.

How about having boring kibble, some cheese, a few pieces of hot dog, and three meatballs in your pocket? If the first reward is kibble, the second is a meatball, the third nothing, fourth nothing, and the fifth a hot dog – wait and watch the speed of your motivated dog. Keep them guessing - the best part of ripping open a birthday present is finding out what it might be.  Keep that same mystery about the contents of your pocket!

Having diverse treats at your disposal boils down to organization. On treat cutting days, you have seven zip-lock bags, and you put some of each in each bag. Toss the bags into your freezer, and grab a bag for each training session or walk.

For all of your diligent treat preparers, once in a while pull your zip-lock out of your freezer, have it on you, and don’t dispense one single treat.Teach them that while the food might always be there, it doesn’t mean that receiving will always happen.  If they want rewards, they need to give you better and better responses.

Feeding treats should not be an expectation your dog has of you. It is a reward given, only when deserved. Second commands never get fed. Mediocrity does not get fed. Only brilliance does. And brilliance means ten times better than last training day!

3. Lack of Respect

Quite simply, your dog won't comply because he does not respect you. Would you take advice from someone that you think is an idiot? Well, neither will your dog.

First he must care what you think before he actually chooses to follow your instructions. So many of the dogs that I see are self-indulged spoilt brats, and the saddest part is they are unhappy.

Your dog deserves to be happy. He deserves to have rules and boundaries so that he can be successful with his responsibilities. Don’t become a pez dispenser for treats in an attempt to fake respect. A pez dispenser is exactly that – and you will have no relationship with your dog at the end of pez-dispensing. When your treats run out, so does your dog’s interest in you. If you find yourself stuck here, come to my January Pet Manners class and I will whip you into shape. This really is not the dog’s fault, but your own.

4. Relationship problem

Handler issue…. This was Camille Fernandez’s brilliance. This is when your dog is a rescue, and your connection is not happening due to the dog’s previous baggage. Or sometimes our expectations of our puppy Labrador Retriever are to be exactly the same as our thirteen year old Labrador that just died.

We tend to forget in these moments how naughty the thirteen year old was when he was ten months old and we get irritated with the young dogs for behaving like a young dog (not a geriatric).

Happy Training Everyone. And have a wonderful New Year.

Monique Anstee
The Naughty Dogge

The Naughty Dogge is a dog training school located in Victoria, BC.  We truly are dog-trainers and competitors, bringing out the best in any dog, regardless of breed and issues. That means we teach competitive agility, Freestyle Dancing, Competition Obedience, Retrain Dog Aggressive Dogs, Teach Puppy Classes and Pet Dogs to be perfect citizens, and work with behaviour problems. There is probably not an issue that we haven't retrained! This newsletter is copyright to Monique Anstee, April 2010 and may be reprinted with full credit given to Monique Anstee You can contact us at 250.590.2664



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