Tag Archives: social issues

3 Keys to Reduce the odds of social issues

3 keysCurrently my case load of work with dogs that have social issues is double its normal volume. Social issue are really difficult on the owners of these dogs as well as the dogs themselves as quality of life becomes limited with this problem.  There are 3 keys to avoiding this problem but many people are minimizing the degree to which this is important. This is a problem and I could use your help with it.  Before I explain how you can help, let me give you some background.

In most cases social issues are avoidable.  It  requires owners to be proactive in providing their dog with quality, controlled experiences very early in life, avoidance of using aversive training techniques and continued support and exposure through the first 3 years.  All of this is easier said than done but there are some basic rules that can make it easier.  You can help reduce the likelihood of social issues by sharing these rules with anyone who has a dog (friendly, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and yes the person you pass on the street).

3 keys to avoiding social issues

  1. Start early – As report in a study conducted by Rachel A Casey and Published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 152, 52– 63, puppies who attend just 2 puppy socialization classes prior to 12 weeks of age have 1.4 times less chance of social having issues directed towards people entering the house and 1.6 times less chance of social issues directed towards strangers outside of the house.  You can encourage everyone you know with a puppy to start classes at 8 weeks of age. 
  2. This same study shows dogs that receive aversive training techniques, defined in the study as  – physical punishment (hitting the dog), verbal punishment (shouting), electrical or citronella collars, choke chains and jerking on the leash, prong collars, water pistols, electric fences and so forth have a 2.9 times the risk of aggression directed towards family members and a 2.2 times increased risk of having aggression issues directed towards strangers.  You can help by encouraging dog owners to adopt a proactive positive approach to their training.  They will need the help of a trainer who does not use aversive training techniques.
  3. Behavior is not stagnate, is requires continued influence from us.  Encourage dog owners to have continuing education for their dogs.  They can take refresher courses, advanced fun classes and continuing education classes.  While in classes  their dog will receive quality socialization.  Encourage owners to continue taking classes with their dog.

Using and sharing these 3 keys to avoiding social issues will greatly affect your dog and the dogs around you.  Share them far and wide.  Spread the word and watch as dogs become more socialized and owners get to enjoy their dog more.

References: Rachel A. Casey, Bethany Loftus, Christine Bolster, Gemma J. Richards, Emily J. Blackwell (2014).Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): Occurrence in different contexts and risk factors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 152, 52– 63

Prevent Social Issues From Getting Worse

prevent social issuesOne thing all social issues have in common is there is something that either maintains the dog’s emotions at the present level or causes them to worsen. Behavior is not stagnant; it is either getting better or getting worse.

When your dog interacts socially, it experiences either pleasant or unpleasant emotional reactions. Those emotional reactions can be observed through the dog’s body language. When the dog experiences unpleasant emotions, what happens immediately after rewards the dog’s behavior. It might be the dog wants the stimuli to move further away or it might be the adrenaline rush the dog experiences.

To make it so your dog no longer receives these rewards we need to control and manage the dog’s environment.

Prevention will not solve the problem, but it will reduce your dog’s stress increasing the likelihood that training will be successful. 

Social Challenges to People who live at the house
If the dog has issues with a person who lives in the house coming into the room,  the person the dog has issues with should toss the dog treats every time they come into the room.

If the dog only has problems around food or chew items, then have the dog eat and chew in a location where no one can approach the dog. When the dog is done eating or chewing entice the dog out of the room with treats.  Close the door and when the dog is distracted with something else go in to the room to remove the chew item or bowl.

If the dog gets upset when people grab its collar, tell it to get off furnature etc. instruct people to not touch the dog and instead use treats to manipulate the dog into doing what ever you want the dog to do.

Social Problems Directed Towards Other Dogs Living In The House
This problem is really stressful for dogs and owners. Separating the dogs into different parts of the house or yard making it so they do not have access to each other is one way to prevent the negative emotional reactions from occurring. Separating means a door keeps them from having access to each other. Dogs on each side of the room are typically still stressed out making it so body language will be questionable.

Some dogs only need to be separated at certain times

  • meals
  • with chew objects
  • around toys
  • during play
  • homecomings etc.,

Other dogs need to be separated at all times. How do you do this? Lets say one dog is outside and the other needs to go out. The indoor dog is shut into the bathroom. The dog that is outside comes in and gets locked into a bedroom. The dog in the bathroom is let outside and the other dog is now allowed to roam around the house.

Social Issues Directed Towards Dogs Or People That Do Not Live At Your House

In Public
This is so much easier; simply don’t take your dog anyplace it is going get close enough to social stimuli that it would display the unpleasant emotions. If you have to take your dog to the vet, leave it in the car, with you parked well away from the door. Have office staff come to the car to let you know when it is your turn. Ask staff to clear a way to the exam room before you bring your dog in.

Doggie Goggles
Doggles are great for those times in which you have to take your dog places but you might not be able to keep you dog a distance away from things (vet office, car rides). You can order one at shop.doggles.com The smoke lenses will minimize your dogs visual stimulation while making it look adorable. The silly tongue is not included.

At Your House
When you have company over, secure the dog in a crate, behind a closed door before the company arrives and until they leave. You could also put your dog outside, in the garage, in the car etc. Just make sure doors are locked so no one can go into that environment.

At Fences, Gates, Windows
In the book, How To Right A Dog Gone Wrong: A Road Map For Rehabilitating Aggressive Dogs author Pam Dennison asks, “Why does your dog aggress at windows and barriers?” Pam’s answer is “because he can’t get to and investigate what’s on the other side and frustration builds” (19). To minimize reactions at window, fences and gates, cover the lower portion of window with brown paper and fences or gates with Tarps.

Used properly a dog crate is a great way to control your dog’s environment. During the day a dog can be in the crate no more than one hour for each month of age and never longer than eight hours. The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, and turn around, but you do not want it to be so large that the dog can eliminate in one end and sleep in the other.

Baby Gates
Baby gates can be used to control access to the environment making it possible for the dog to move around more.

It is my sincere goal is to increase your quality of your life while changing your dog’s emotions. Will you let me help you? Call 541-603-6868 if you have questions.

See information on our Changing Dog Emotions Program

See how my clients have benefited from this training