Don't worry, there is hope to learning how to better and effectively understand and communicate with your dog. A team of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB and John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB, with Steve Dale) have just published a new and enlightening book called "Decoding Your Dog".
Let's face it, every dog is different and many of them have "issues", just like people. My dog included. Shiner's issues include aggression, anxiety, and obsessive behaviors. All of these topics are covered in Decoding Your Dog, so I couldn't wait to dive in and learn more about why my dog does some of the things she does.
Shiner has had issue with food and toy related aggression for several years. I learned from this book that it's called "resource-guarding". She shows no aggression towards me, but will give a warning growl if the kids go near the things she feels are valuable to her. It's as though she's worried that they are going to take them from her. She eats her meals in the laundry room by herself and is only allowed toys when there are no kids around.
One thing I learned in the Aggression chapter of Decoding Your Dog is that taking away these items from your dog can actually make things worse. The reason she guards these items like this is because she is worried that they can be taken away at any given time. And I have done just that quite often. Needless to say, I will be working on making a few changes to the way I handle these situations if they ever arise. For the most part, I try to avoid them all together.
My dog, along with many other dogs out there, has some minor anxiety issues. She seems to be most affected by thunderstorms or being left alone. Shiner's anxiety is not as bad as many other dogs', however. I have met dogs who have jumped through glass windows because they were left at home alone.
The chapter on Separation Anxiety was also enlightening to read. It includes the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety and contains tips on how to cope with it. The authors also debunk a lot of myths related to separation anxiety in dogs.
After reading through the chapter on Compulsive behaviors, I realized that Shiner's obsessive licking is again much more manageable than some of the things that other dogs might do. I think her licking may actually be a "repetitive behavior" and not a true compulsive disorder. This chapter clarifies the difference between all of the obsessive behaviors in dogs.
Learning to Better Communicate With My Dog
The chapters above are just a glimpse at what's included in Decoding Your Dog. What I really like about this book is how it gives real examples and scenarios, contains easy to read charts, debunks myths, and reviews each topic at the end of every chapter.
I have not read every chapter yet, as I find this type of book to be more of a reference personally. Although I did find it surprisingly hard to put down once I started reading different topics. While reading the book, I had a lot of moments when it felt like a light bulb was going off in my head. I have no doubt that people who read this book are going to understand their dog much better afterwards.
Which is awesome because behavioral problems in dogs are one of the main reasons they end up at shelters. By learning to communicate with our dog, we could be saving their life and making it an enjoyable one too.
Does your dog have any behavior issues? Please share in the comments!
This post is sponsored. Through the BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Decoding Your Dog, but Pawsitively Pets only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers and all opinions expressed here are the truth!