The Blog

Stop Dog Behaviour Problems With Good Health Practices

The first step to solving a behaviour problem with your dog is to make sure that it’s not a health problem. For example, a dog who starts throwing fits when you try to brush out the mats that form in the feathery hair behind his ears may have a painful ear infection. Two more examples: Some kinds of chewing can be attributed to nutritional deficiencies, and some house-soiling problems can be the result of a urinary-tract infection.

Don’t just guess at the problem and throw a home remedy at it. See your veterinarian. You’ll probably save money in the long run, and you’ll certainly spare your pet some misery. After your dog checks out OK on the medical front, you need to start addressing the other necessities of his life:

Mental Exercise

Training is for life. Your dog needs to keep learning, and keep using all he has been taught. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to make formal obedience sessions a permanent part of your life. Think, instead, of creative ways to expand your dog’s working vocabulary and integrate the skills he has learned into your life together.

For example, make him do a “sit” or “down” before you take the ball from him. Put him on “stay,” throw the ball, and then send him. Have two family members play recall games with him in the house: One calls and praises, and then the other does. These games keep him engaged, and they also help enforce his place in your family, which makes him feel confident and secure.

Physical Exercise

Probably one of the biggest contributors to dog behaviour problems is that dogs don’t get nearly enough exercise. (Lack of exercise is also a big contributor to health problems: Too much food and not enough exercise make dogs fat.) By enough exercise I don’t mean a walk around the block, stopping and sniffing at every shrub, street light, and fire hydrant. These outings are important, too, for your dog’s mental health, not his physical one.

Instead, your dog needs 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise that gets his heart pumping, and he needs it three or more times a week to stay fit, burn excess energy, and alleviate the stresses of modern life, which for many dogs starts with being a latchkey pup. This kind of exercise is especially important for dogs with a working heritage such as sporting or herding breeds. They need to move!

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My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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