Don’t worry, we’ve all thought it. That moment when your dog runs into the room...
Don’t worry, we’ve all thought it. That moment when your dog runs into the room and barks at the wall for no reason. Or when he jumps up out of a deep sleep and races through your house as if someone’s just pinched him. Trust me, we’ve all had those moments. And if these scenarios play themselves out in your home, chances are your dog is just fine. Sometimes they can see, hear and sense things that we never can―but it does make them look a bit silly to us.
But, what if you really think there is something wrong or if your pet’s behaviors are more damaging or serious. There are many behavior problems that manifest themselves in pets―particularly dogs. These problems can range from anxiety to destructive behaviors to aggression and all should be taken seriously.
As someone who has a dog with pretty serious behavior problems, I know exactly how it feels. You wonder if there really is a problem and if there is, what you did to cause it. You ask yourself what you could have done differently and sometimes ponder whether or not you are the right owner for your pet. Believe me, I’ve thought it all. But, thanks to some research and training I’ve discovered that my dog, Mingus, has special needs and I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is work hard to make him happy and less stressed―which also makes me happy and less stressed.
The first thing I did was consult my veterinarian to determine if there really was a problem and rule out any medical issues that may have caused Mingus’s anxiety and aggressive behaviors. Once that was done and we determined there were no illnesses, I asked to be referred to a Veterinary Behavior Specialist. It’s the best thing I ever did.
The veterinarian and his associate had us complete an in-depth history report and asked a range of questions about our lifestyle, Mingus’s behaviors and our level of training and exercise. They then visited our home to witness Mingus in his natural environment. We talked for a couple of hours about how dogs brains work, how they think and how to modify unwanted behaviors. It was one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve ever had. I discovered that I’d been doing a lot right (yeah!) but that there were many things I could be doing differently to help solve the problems (yeah!).
The doctor developed a personalized treatment and training plan for us and stayed to help train us to work with Mingus more proactively. He gave us reading materials and equipment that would help us move forward in our training. At the end of the visit we felt something we hadn’t in a long time―hopeful. For the first time since discovering Mingus had behavior issues we felt like it was something we could manage and even improve.
That visit was over 1 year ago now, and we still work daily to encourage positive behaviors and try to eliminate those that are less appealing. While Mingus is far from perfect, we feel like we have a different dog. He is happier, less stressed and exhibits those aggressive behaviors far less frequently than before. And as a result, we are living a much happier and less stressed life.