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Some dogs get upset at the slightest provocation, others prefer to withdraw immediately. If dogs behave conspicuously in one way or another, this can lead to very different problems. The article separates the three levels of problematic behavior from each other, explains the background, and gives tips on what owners can do with attention-seeking, aggressive or anxious dogs.

What is problematic behavior in dogs?

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There are different degrees of problematic behavior. Technically, there are three levels.

Unwanted behavior

Undesirable behavior in dogs is generally part of normal dog behavior. However, this behavior deviates from what owners expect or want from their dog. Typical unwanted behaviors include eating feces, chasing other animals, or jumping up when greeted. Unwanted behavior is the mildest form and can usually be controlled with consistency and training.

Problem behavior

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Problem behavior is defined as conspicuous behavior that is generally disruptive and above all restricts the dog, but can also have an impact on the people around it. Typical problem behaviors in this category are anxiety and restlessness. But also physical causes. Pain reactions that lead to uncontrolled release fall into the second level of problem behavior. Here, too, regular training and consistency are required, and the support of veterinarians is required in the case of physical causes.

Behavioral disorders

Behavioral disorders deviate from the norm and can generally be classified as pathological. If behavioral disorders occur, there is usually no trigger that could be derived, for example, from an ethnological perspective. This means that other dogs in the same situation would exhibit different, natural behaviors. Occasionally, a behavioral disorder is so abnormal that owners see no way to help the dog with standard training methods. Here it goes e.g. For example, dogs running in circles for hours without a reason or inflicting wounds on themselves.

Important to know: Dogs react to stimuli

Any behavior that dogs exhibit is a result of the internal and external stimuli to which the animal is exposed. When dogs exhibit behaviors that frighten us or are dangerous to us, the animals have no intention of taking revenge or harassing us. They behave this way because they cannot do otherwise. This also applies to positive behaviors. In principle, dogs are concerned with covering their own needs and avoiding damage. When either target is compromised, they respond in their own way. Examples:

When dogs are hungry, they try to get food in their own way. This can happen, for example, through aggressive or particularly friendly behavior.

When cornered, dogs protect themselves in their own way. Some dogs go into attack mode, others hide.

When stress in the dog leads to knee-jerk actions

Stress in dogs, like in humans, is a hormonal reaction. The main player is cortisol. If the organism pours out a lot of cortisol, the dog is put into the highest willingness to perform. This is the protection system for him because under the hormonal excess he becomes faster, stronger, and more reactive. This is where part of the problem lies. If the dog is taken by the hormones, the behavior is literally fully automatic. Thinking falls away completely and so there are actions in effect. When dogs are completely untrained and unable to recall a well-established positive solution strategy, skip actions are even more likely to occur.

Relieve stress and ensure regular regeneration

Dogs need significantly more sleep than humans. Experts state that young puppies sleep up to 20 hours a day, large and older animals need 16 to 18 hours a day. Healthy dogs in their prime need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day. However, this need for sleep is not always met, many dogs get far too little sleep. The result is a reduced ability to concentrate and, as a result, a reduced ability to learn.

Relaxed, well-rested dogs are more resistant to stress and have the ability to concentrate and learn. If you want to break the habit of problematic behavior in your four-legged friend, you should first ensure optimal conditions and meet your dog’s individual need for rest. CBD oil is ideal for dogs as natural support, which can have a positive effect on nervousness, anxiety, and restlessness. It often ensures more balance and increased well-being, which is a basic requirement for relaxed sleep, higher stress tolerance, and optimal learning ability.

What to do with fearful, aggressive, or attention-seeking behavior?

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There are countless behaviors that people do not appreciate in dogs and want to break them. Anxious, aggressive, and attention-seeking behavior will now be considered a little more closely.

The dog constantly seeks attention or is aggressive

When dogs constantly seek attention, they constantly pressure their owner. If they don’t get what they want, they will wrestle, bark protractedly, or become aggressive to satisfy their need.

In order to manage a behavior problem like this, the dog owner needs to be clear about where the behavior is coming from. Then a solution through training is quite possible. The training is not suitable for animals that react very aggressively. In such a case, working with an experienced dog trainer is essential.

The solution: If the dog shows undesirable behavior (seeks attention or is aggressive), it is ignored. Don’t touch, don’t look, and don’t speak to them is the motto. Aggressive dogs are leashed for this purpose. If being ignored leads to even more stress and aggression, please use it in moderation. At the same time, the desired behavior is reinforced. This can be done with rewards that mean a lot to the dog. If the dog spontaneously behaves well, it receives the reward. It is important that dogs are not punished. Instead, the rule of “work before play” applies.

The dog is often frightened and behaves anxiously

First of all, it is important to recognize early on when a dog is afraid. Typical body language includes a tucked tail and an overall crouched posture. The dog flattens its ears and avoids eye contact. Sometimes the dog trembles, pants heavily, licks its nose, or snout. Also typical of anxious dogs is that they hide, nibble, destroy things or become aggressive on the defensive. Physical reactions to anxiety include oversized pupils, diarrhea and vomiting, increased salivation, and loss of appetite.

The solution: Anyone who knows the trigger can solve the problem at the root. Dogs can be afraid of noise, afraid of separation, afraid of strangers and other dogs, afraid of strange things and situations, or afraid of a new living environment. There are relatively simple strategies for reducing stress. One way is to avoid a stressful situation. The following stress reduction methods are also recommended:

Keep quiet yourself to signal calm

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In the event of acute fear, do not ignore the dog, but give it conscious and measured attention so that the fearful behavior is not intensified. A few soothing words or a scratch behind the ear, for example, are allowed.
Master fearful situations together with the dog and stay calm at his side.
Enabling a lot of exercises, for example with dog sports, to reduce stress hormones
We allow species-typical dog behavior e.g. B. running, sniffing not chasing
Treat yourself to undisturbed sleep phases in a sheltered place in a quiet environment.
Reward desirable behavior, do not punish undesirable behavior
Keep the dog busy and challenge and stimulate it according to its abilities.
Anxiety, attention-seeking, and aggressive behavior severely affect dogs. If it is not possible to reduce the problem to a healthy level on your own initiative, an experienced animal trainer can help.