On ABC Nightline they showed a number of dogs with behaviorial problems. Mostly anxiety disorders. A few of the professional dog trainers and animal behavior specialists opined on a few issues that might have attributed to the animals “bad” behavior.
One of the causes briefly touched upon was how the owners interact with their pets. Primarily, pets are not humans. Some people forget that and treat their pets as if they are children. This can fuck up a dog. Not a cat, cause lets face it, cats are naturally vindictive and you can’t really tell when a cat is misbehaving or just being a cat.
When you have a dog and you talk to it in a baby voice, let it eat off your dinner plate, make it wear hats, dresses, sweaters, etc, you can cause some serious emotional problems that manifest in bad behavior. Dogs will piss, shit, tear things apart, scratch furniture and themselves, bark, whine and cause general mayhem in your home if you forget for even a moment that they are animals and not human.
The first step in stopping any of these problems in your dog is about dominance. Not punishment but exerting dominance over your dog. See, dogs are pack animals. ALL dogs (sorry, I just made a generalization) will respond positively to a pecking order. Simply put, you have to take control of your pack. Do this by exerting your will on the dog. This doesn’t mean beating it into submission but showing it that you are the “top” dog in the pack. The pack is your real family… husbands, wives, children all should be higher on the pecking order than your family pet. If it is just you and the pet in the household, then you’re the alpha and the dog is the beta.
The next thing to do if your dog’s misbehave when you leave them alone is to combat the impulse to act out by offering a more powerful impulse. Food. The easiest way to distract your pet from misbehaving is to give him food in such a way as that it occupies all his/her faculties in pursuit of that food. The TV show had a good method (one my old trainer suggested but I never needed since my dog was perfect 😉 which was to stuff food into a KONG (a toy that is a godsend to any large breed dog owner).
Bottom line is that dogs aren’t human. You treat them like humans and they’ll behave like humans which is to say they will act out when they feel threatened or ignored.
Oh, and you should never dress them up in little outfits. Want to play dress up? Have a child or pull out your collection of barbies.