Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Pet Videos > Dog behavior – Stop assuming and start asking questions

Dog behavior – Stop assuming and start asking questions

Recently, Debbie Jacobs from Fearfuldogs.com shared a video demonstrating how we can misinterpret a dog’s behavior.

Is your older dog suddenly refusing to sit on command? Maybe it’s arthritis.

Is your dog suddenly afraid to go outside? Maybe those new wind chimes you placed outside is scaring them.

Does your dog suddenly stop and refuse to move on a snowy street during your walk? Maybe the salt the city put down is hurting their paws.

Our dogs are telling us something all of the time, we just have to take the time to listen to them. I think the biggest mistake we (myself included) make when it comes to our dog’s behavior is not taking the time to understand the “why” behind it. Is it because there is something of higher value to them in their environment? Possibly. Did he have a bad experience in this environment that is affecting his ability to do something now? Could be. Is what we are asking of our dog confusing? Very likely.

It’s so easy to scold our dogs and assume they are refusing to obey us because they don’t want to do it or they don’t want to listen, but before we jump to the easiest, and most often the incorrect, conclusion we may want to take time to really listen to what our dogs are telling us.

Before making a judgement about their behavior we should… Watch. Look. Listen.

Here is that video Debbie shared. Take a look and let me know what you think.

  1. February 7, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Great examples, not super obvious.

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      I thought so too Natasha. I have missed simple cues like these before too.

  2. February 7, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Mel, you are so right. I actually have a post in the works on a similar subject: great minds? Maybe I don’t have to write it now! I have been frustrated with Shiva lately on our walks as it seems she has been regressing to her crazy pulling days. Almost every walk lately she has been charging ahead, pulling me down the street. Not good with so much ice on the sidewalk. I was so annoyed with her until we had a brief warm spell last week when she started walking normally again. This week has been freezing and the pulling behaviour started back up. I am so ashamed to admit that it took me three weeks to realize Shiva wasn’t regressing at all, she was just cold! Poor puppy. 😦

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Oh no Kristine! Write it! I think you’re insight is such a great example! I would have missed it too. I think you’re smart to have figured it out. It’s times like that that I wish dogs could talk. I love your story!

  3. February 7, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    This is a great video. And so true.

    We expect dogs to be simple and don’t look far for explanations when we don’t understand their behavior. But dogs are amazingly complex. And trying to see life from their point of view doesn’t only help them have their needs met but helps us have a much better relationship.

    Now if only I could have a behaviorist/trainer sitting on my shoulder when I realize Honey is trying to tell me something but I can’t figure out what it is.

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      So aptly put Pamela. Yes. They are definitely more complex than we give them credit for. Can I borrow that angel too? 🙂

  4. February 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    This is an informative post. I’m sending this blog info to my Parents who have an older miniature schnauzer. He doesn’t like to do certain tricks anymore and I believe it could be due to arthritis. Thanks again:)

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Thanks for your comment David. I am so glad you found it helpful. Arthritis often brings a lot of behavior changes in dogs.

  5. Amy
    February 7, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Great video and great post, thanks. I am working hard at understanding my dogs – sometimes it is not so easy, and there is SO much to learn! I think dog training is as much about training me as it is them. I have to agree with SomethingWagging – I too would like a behaviorist angel sitting on my shoulder helping me figure it out! 🙂

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      Same for me Amy. I try, but sometimes daily life takes over and I forget to pay attention. I agree with Pamela too. I want one of those angels too!

  6. February 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    The post has brought the situation to my conscious of what is happening in our dog’s actions. With my dog getting older, i have become aware of a change in his behavior and this video reminds me to stop, look, and listen to BJ’s actions.

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      I am glad I posted it then BJ. I forget to do it too. Debbie sharing that video was my reminder.

  7. February 13, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Mel, this is a fantastic post. It’s so important to think about what might be causing your pup to act a certain way. There can be underlying health problems or other things going on, and it’s not helping anyone to overlook that stuff!

    • Mel
      February 14, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      Thanks AJ! I forget sometimes too. I think dogs are so much more complex than we give them credit for. We don’t always make assumptions that certain people are bad based on their behavior. I wonder why we do so often with dogs?

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