Behavioural Problems in Dogs
Humans are not the only ones afflicted by noise phobia, depression and panic attacks. Cats and dogs can also suffer from these conditions. Psychoactive drugs can play an important role in the treatment of acute episodes. “In individual cases psychoactive drugs may lay the foundations to create a receptive patient open to other courses of action”, says Dr. Barabara Schöning. The animal behavioural therapist at the Baden-Baden Small Animal Practice Continuing Training Seminars, emphasized that psychoactive drugs alone cannot “cure”. They can only supplement and support any required behavioural modification therapy.
If a dog is aggressive towards his owner, this will not necessarily mean that the dog has a serious behavioural problem. Aggressive behaviour is part of the normal behavioural repertoire of any dog. Fear and anxiety are the most common triggers of aggressive behaviour. Man’s best friend instinctively wants to safeguard his resources to ensure his own survival and that of its young. “Situations where dogs react aggressively are situations in which resources, from the dog’s point of view, must be defended”. In this respect, a classical example is the fight for the food bowl, the couch or social partner, explains the behaviourist. Owners often do not notice the conflict until the dog shifts a level towards more aggressive behaviour and starts growling or biting. The president of the Hamburg Board of Veterinary Surgeons considers conflict avoidance as one of the most important therapeutic actions. This means the dog owners should avoid all situations where the dog could potentially become aggressive.
You affect your dog’s behaviour
But of equal importance, is the owner’s behaviour towards the dog which should not convey any aggressiveness. An appropriate human response to threatening behaviour of the dog is “demonstrative ignoring“. This involves the owner pulling back the dog slightly in a calm manner, look demonstratively past the dog for two to three seconds and then walk away without a word or look. In this way the owner signals, similar to the alpha male wolf to its lower-ranked pack, that he as the boss is above getting provoked by the aggressive behaviour and has no need to respond by growling.
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