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Preventing Fear & Mistrust In Your Dog

Preventing Fear and Mistrust In Your Dog

Dogs become fearful when the owner's correction is too abusive. For a correction to be effective and convey accurate information to the dog, it must fit the transgression. A puppy that is teething and nips does not need, and will not understand, a correction fit for the dog who has just bitten someone because the person's hand touched his food dish. Unnecessarily abusive corrections will inhibit the dog from developing an outgoing, joyous, companion personality.

The owner who finds a day-old pile of feces left by the 10-week old puppy and reacts by beating the puppy until he cowers has only taught the animal to be very fearful and mistrusting in his owner's presence when feces are on the floor. Beatings and physical abuse only produce fear and mistrust. Abusive treatment of any living entity is inhumane, cruel, and not to be tolerated for any reason. If any canine behavior, perhaps other than a deliberate act of aggression, can elicit enough anger in a pet owner to result in a severe beating, then ownership of a dog should be seriously reevaluated and professional advice sought. A trusting relationship cannot develop or flourish in an abusive atmosphere.

Furthermore, a dog may also learn to mistrust an owner who delivers untimely corrections or discipline. Specifically, a correction must occur immediately following the behavior or during the enactment of an undesirable behavior. The dog will not connect a correction with the undesirable behavior if the correction occurs several minutes after the event. The puppy who was beaten after the owner came home to a dried up mess on the floor associated the punishment with the owner coming home rather than the accident on the floor. The dog associates punishment, and praise for that matter, with the last event or action that occurred prior to the consequence. A correction must occur during or immediately following the behavior for the dog to connect the punishment with the undesirable action. On the other hand, if the owner should unintentionally lose control of his or her temper once or twice in the relationship, a dog is a very forgiving animal. Depending upon how traumatic the temper tantrum was, the dog may eventually forget and forgive.

Communication problems also develop when the owner credits the dog with too much ability to comprehend messages. Such an owner expects the dog, frequently without the dog receiving formal training, to automatically know what or what not to do. When the dog does not respond as expected, the owner becomes angry and punishes the dog. The owner who truly believes the dog inherently knows which behaviors are wrong neglects to teach the dog right from wrong. The dog, who in spite of the owner's claims cannot read minds, does not know what behaviors deserve the punishment or how to avoid a reprimand, and therefore becomes mistrustful and confused.

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