Frequently Asked Doggy Questions
- Why does my dog bark at the letter carrier?
This is probably a mix of something called "prey drive" and your dog's sense of territory. When, for example, the "mailman" approaches your house, your dog instinctively barks to warn its pack members (you) that someone is entering your territory. He also barks to try and chase the carrier away (prey drive). As soon as the mail is delivered, the carrier leaves, therefore your dog believes that he has fulfilled his objective.
Socialize your dog. Allowing the carrier to meet your dog under your supervision may help. Keep an eye on your dog when you expect the carrier to come. Praise your dog for alerting you, but then tell it that that's enough. It's not the dog's duty to initiate the chase away. You could also offer the carrier treats to give to your dog. One way to satisfy your dog's prey drive would be to sign up for a course such as flyball.
- Why does my dog jump up on me?
Your dog is being a dog. A dog is actually showing submission by trying to reach your face to lick it, however their nails or their sheer size can make this very uncomfortable for you. The best thing to do is to command your dog to sit or lay down when you greet him. Once he does that, then lavish a lot of affection on him. Or, if it's convenient, ignore your dog until he calms down, then command him into a position and give him his affection. Not everyone likes dogs licking their face, however a controlled "kiss" may be better than a kiss and run.
- Why does my puppy wet when we come home?
This is very common in puppies. Urination is one of the most extreme forms of submission, which is a dog's way of showing that he means no harm. Many puppies follow this routine until they mature a bit. Another cause is sheer excitement. Many puppies simply cannot "hold it" when they are excited. This too is due to physical and mental immaturity. Fortunately most pups grow out of it.
The best thing to do is to act calmly and keep everything as quiet as possible when you arrive home, or in situations where the pup may be excited. Don't scold the puppy, he is only doing what comes naturally and simply cannot help it. As well keep a lot of deodorizer and paper towels on hand.
- Why does my dog destroy things when I leave the house to run some errands?
This is known as separation anxiety. Most breeds can suffer from this, some breeds more than others. Dogs and wolves are very social animals who thrive on attention of their pack members. When they are isolated, they become very worried. Destroying things is a way to ease that anxiety. Chewing especially can be very calming to a dog. To save your home, it may be best to crate or confine your dog. In many cases this is the safer route for your dog. Give the dog a couple safe (indestructible) toys that have been rubbed in your hands, as your scent will help him relax.
As well, start training your dog by doing practice leaves from home. Leave for ten minutes and return with a normal routine. Do the same for progressively longer lengths of time and do so for quite some time, just to let your dog to know that the world doesn't come to an end with your closing the door behind you. Exercise will help to relieve their stress too. Do not scold your dog for making a mess, as it will only confuse him -- they all cannot associate past crimes with the present.
- Why does my dog pull on the leash?
Most animals are not born to love being under restraint. In many areas though, the leash serves a useful purpose in making sure our dogs are kept well away from the traffic. However the leash can translate into a very powerful medium of discussion between you and your dog. Many younger dogs like to pull on the leash and walk out in front. Some breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes were breed to pull sleds and as a result tend to try to pull you around instead! In this case, it is just the dog's desire to work. It is important to continually remind your dog in a gentle, firm and consistent manner that you are the boss and in both situations training classes can help sore arms and egos.
- Why does my dog chase cars and other moving objects?
Chances are, your dog needs some more exercise. Most dogs, especially sporting and herding dogs, have an instinct to chase moving targets. This is called the prey drive. This originates from wolves chasing prey. Through the years breeders have modified this into specific groups and breeds. Some of this prey drive may have been molded more into the hunt, which is seen in the sporting group. While some may have been molded into organized chasing as with the herding group. Providing an outlet for some safe chasing at dog parks, herding, agility or flyball trials may help alleviate this problem. As a primary objective, prevent your pooch from chasing dangerous targets such as vehicles.
- Why does my dog like to roll in dead or disgusting substances?
This is instinct once again. In the wild wolves have to hunt for dinner. This includes being able to get within a decent distance of the prey. But the prey that wolves like have ultra sensitive noses and can detect wolves from a great distance. To improve their chances of not being detected, wolves often roll in substances to disguise their scent. If you have smelled your dog when he's gotten wet, after a period of time without a bath, you'll know that it may take quite a bit to cover up his scent. So wolves often roll in decomposing organic material. This ranges anywhere from leaves to dead animals. Often there's not many ways to modify instinct. Although we have succeeded in making instincts work for us, we still have to live with the sights, smells and habits of our canine companions call of the wild.