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Dogs are one of our most loyal and beloved companions. Just like us, however, they experience notable shifts in mood and behaviours, affected by the changes in their daily routines and environments. As a kennel owner, I’ve experienced working with lots of friendly, happy dogs, as well as those who are more difficult and unpredictable to manage. To best care for your pup, we need to identify and understand which behaviours that reflect their current mood. The following are my 5 essential tips for dog owners to help protect both you and your best friend.
When first approaching your dog, calmly and gradually move towards them with an outstretched hand for them to smell. Depending on their disposition, their response will indicate to you what they’re currently feeling and how you should interact with them.
A happy dog will generally react to you enthusiastically by jumping and/or licking. If they’re anxious or distressed, your pup may mistake your outstretched hand for aggression and attempt to either bite, bark loudly, or pull back from you altogether. Dogs who are afraid or uneasy may keep their distance. Remain calm and offer treats until they are more comfortable approaching you.
While it’s essential to establish trust between you and your dog, it’s also important to understand if your pet wants to be left alone for the time being. Be patient and always first approach with caution.
As a dog owner, another great way to understand your pooch is to carefully observe their body language. Below are some common dog body language and what they mean.
Frequent yawning can indicate a deeper problem beyond simply fatigue and hunger. Instead, your dog could be showing signs of distress and fear.
Panting Without Reason
Panting is often a normal behaviour after exercise, but if your pup is huffing and puffing without a clear reason, they may be overly anxious and need time alone to relax.
When your dog’s body is tense, this means that they may be too agitated or excited. To ease them back to a more relaxed mindset, move them to a quieter, calmer area.
Growling & Showing Teeth
When a dog growls and/or bares their teeth, it could signify extreme fear or aggression. Any actions or activity performed during this time must cease immediately to protect both you and your furry friend.
Recognizing and studying your dog’s daily routine and overall behaviour can help prevent certain existing habits from becoming permanent.
If your dog spends most of their time alone, and away from you and other dogs, that may mean that they are scared or anxious. You can help resolve these issues through tested solutions, such the use of thunder jackets (dog anxiety wraps) or dog-appeasing pheromones (DAP), as well as providing safe, quiet, and calm spaces.
While some canine breeds are more excitable than others, it is important to distinguish whether or not your dog is too agitated. Puppies who often communicate through biting may become fully-grown dogs with the same bad habits one day. If you notice that your dog is developing this habit, then it’s best to correct their behaviour with proper training from a certified dog trainer or a veterinary behaviourist.
Your dog’s overall health should be maintained and checked regularly, especially if they interact or share a kennel space with other dogs. To do this effectively, you need to proactively look out for signs of sickness in your dog. Below are some of the common signs to look out for.
Head pressing is a condition where animals press their heads against a corner of a room for no apparent reason. This could mean that your pup may be suffering from a metabolic disorder, a tumor, head trauma, lead-exposure, or an infection. If you see this unusual behaviour in your dog, book an appointment with a veterinarian right away.
Dogs may pace and circle for several reasons, ranging from low to high priority medical conditions such anxiety, ear infection, liver disease, dementia, or cancer. If you notice circling symptoms coupled with confusion and changes in routine or behaviour, please consult a veterinarian immediately.
Dog scooting is when your dog drags their itchy bottom across the rug. This unusual behaviour is caused by issues such as clogged anal sac ducts, allergies, worms, or cancer. A trip to the vet can help check for signs of swelling and to also identify any possible tumors within their anal glands.
Classifying animal behaviours helps both owners and dogs define possible threats, causes, and consequences to provide solutions of behavioural problems. We are able to find the root cause of these issues that may avoid lasting aggression. Some of these problem behaviours include:
- Separation anxiety
- Noise phobia
- Destructive behaviour
The main goals of every dog owner is to maintain the health and safety of their loyal companions. By taking the time to understand your pet, you will definitely be rewarded with a loving, dedicated, and well-adjusted best friend.
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