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Dogs + Behavior

  • While most cases of coprophagia appear to be purely behavioral, there are indeed numerous medical problems that can cause or contribute to coprophagia. These problems must first be ruled out before a purely behavioral diagnosis can be made.

  • Sometimes it is necessary to use a special type of collar to prevent your pet from attacking a particular area (e.g., a wound or bandage dressing). They take two forms: Elizabethan collars and tubular collars.

  • There are numerous reasons that a dog might soil the house with urine and/or stools. Determining the specific reason is essential for developing a treatment program. Dogs that soil the home continuously or intermittently from the time they were first obtained may not have been properly house-trained.

  • Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become distressed when separated from their owners and cannot relax while being home alone. Many dogs with separation anxiety follow the owner from room to room in the home and rarely spend time alone outdoors.

  • For submissive and fearful urination, it is important that the owner and all visitors interact with the pet in a less assertive or threatening manner. Approaches and greeting should be consistent and a loud tone of voice, sudden movements, reaching and direct eye contact should be avoided.

  • Dogs “mark” by urinating on upright objects. Leaving a scent mark with urine is a normal dog communicative behavior. Marking is most likely to occur on or near new or novel odors, especially the urine left by other dogs.

  • Dogs are a wonderful part of many children’s lives. However, fearful or aggressive dogs pose an enormous risk to a child’s safety. Children can behave erratically, move in unpredictable ways and make a host of loud and sudden noises. Children are often very interested in dogs and may want to touch them even when they are showing signs of fear or aggression. Children are at greater risk because they are at the same level as the dogs due to their height and because they are often interested in similar things (toys, food).

  • Conflict-induced aggression is a term that recently has been used to describe what was previously known as dominance motivated aggression, a term that is overused and may be an inaccurate diagnosis for why the dog is behaving aggressively toward family members.

  • If your dog has threatened or displayed any signs of aggression, then the problem is likely to continue until appropriate steps can be taken to identify the cause and modify the pet’s behavior. Therefore, a necessary first step is prevention and avoidance of further incidents. Not only is this essential to ensure safety, but each aggressive display may actually serve to increase the chances that the aggressive behavior will continue.

  • Dogs are social animals whose evolutionary history makes them willing and able to live in groups. Group living enabled the dog's ancestors, wolves, to work together to obtain food, raise their young and defend their territory. It would be counter-productive for members of a group to fight with each other and risk injury.

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