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Symptoms vs. Problems

Your Energy
The personal energy and vibe that you project to your dog is the most important tool in your arsenal. Always try to send a message of calm confidence and natural leadership. That gives your dog the confidence and reason to follow you. Once they decide to do that, you are well on your way to the behavior and relationship that you want with your dog. I always like to take a moment for a deep breath, close my eyes and think calmly about what I want to see happen. Once calm, I simply move forward and create the same calm moment with the dog. When the dog is calm along with me, joining my energy, we move forward with our work.
The Plan
Okay, you have taken your dog through the decompression process. You have observed them throughout, and have truly come to know them as an individual. You have either seen serious improvement in their behavior already, or you have uncovered and discovered much in the process.  You have either accomplished control and became the leader, or you are still working at it. You have taken control of your personal space, mastered the walk, or you still have some work to do. If you still have work to do, you will know it by the symptoms that your dog is displaying.

You know what the symptoms are, but like in medicine, you don't want to treat the symptoms. The symptoms, lead you to the core problem or problems, that are causing them. You treat the problem(s). It's time to Diagnose.
Example - Your dog pees in the house. That is a symptom, not a problem. The reason why your dog pees in the house is the problem. It can be, that your rescue peed in their kennel, or on pee pads, wherever they were and has never been truly house broken. It could be medical and your vet should be consulted. It could be dominant marking, or claiming the house or area as theirs, and they mark it with their scent. The plan should be designed to proactively go after the problems. Design it, execute it!
The plan is everything. Stick to your plan, or alter it by design, but never alter it out of complacency.
Symptoms and Where They Lead Us
Being able to define and differentiate symptoms from problems, is key to a correct diagnosis and developing a plan that gets to the heart of the behavior issues that you're facing.
Humans tend to view the things that annoy us, or disrupt our order, as being problems. We attempt to fix them, thinking that's the answer. When it comes to your dog, not so. No more than it is possible to cure the Flu virus with NyQuil! NyQuil masks the symptoms and gives you temporary relief from the runny nose, watery eyes or whatever. As long as you have the virus, you will exhibit the symptoms. When your body has shed the virus, the symptoms leave with it. In other words, the problem represents the virus. Dog behavior works in a similar fashion.

Many of you may notice a significant difference in your dog's behavior already. The decompression process has addressed a real problem. The intense physical and mental exercise that you have given them has burned off all of that stored chemical physical energy and frustrated mental energy. That in itself will make a world of difference in many dogs. Getting to know your dog more as an individual through observation, has allowed you to provide things that truly satisfy them. That certainly adds satisfaction to their lives and the happier and more satisfied they are, the more balanced they are going to be. Many other dogs will continue to exhibit a varying degree of symptoms and the problem or problems that are fueling those must be addressed as well. I get phone calls and emails often that read something like this...I want you to teach them not to pull on the leash.  I want you to teach them not to jump up on people. I want you to teach them not to pee in that same spot by the door.  I want you to teach them to leave my kid's shoes or clothes alone. I will often reply if there anything else that you want them to learn?!   "No, that about covers it, we pretty much have the rest." I always have a silent chuckle at that point. You see, none of these behavior issues are problems. They are symptoms of a larger growing problem. The person may or may not be addressing other symptoms, but clearly the problem is not being addressed. That is why you are still seeing all of these symptoms.

One of the key factors in many dog behavior issues being misdiagnosed or misunderstood, is the fact that the same trauma or situation can cause one dog to exhibit fearful or timid symptoms, and will cause another dog to exhibit more aggressive symptoms. An example could be the simple approach of a stranger. Say you have two dogs.  They both, for some reason unbeknownst to you, negatively imprinted or formed a negative association with a stranger approaching you. After that, every time they are with you and someone approaches, one dog will hide behind you and shake while the other will be straining at the leash barking or growling. The same exposure caused opposite responses in two different dogs. This again goes back to individuality in our dogs and how important it is to understand them as the individual that they are.  
See a list of a few, but certainly not all, common symptoms below.
-pulling on or being hard to control on a leash - difficulty socializing with people or other dogs - stubborn - demanding - begging - sitting in high places, seeking elevation - counter surfing - always going through doorways first - laying in doorways - redirection - excessive licking - claiming items or places as their own - separation anxiety - having issues around or with their food - going ballistic at the door bell or knock. These are but a few symptoms that we see in dogs. These can all go back to one or multiple problems and they lie in the relationship between the dog and it's owner. Resolve the relationship issues, establish new rules and you will be well on your way to getting the behavior that you want.
Problems and Specifics
1. Medical (very low percentage that I've seen )
2. Human's general lack of knowledge and understanding
3. Neglect
4. Lack of leadership
5. Lack of physical exercise
6. Lack of mental stimulation
7. Specific trauma, physical and mental

It has been my experience, that you can point the finger at one or multiple combinations of these seven problems, to be at the root of most all unwanted behavior in our dogs. If you have a new rescue, they brought the baggage with them and you need to right the ship. If the dog has been with you a while you need to look hard at number 2. Think of each one of these seven items as a separate bottle of liquor. If you just have a shot of one you may be just fine. If you have one each, of a few of these, chances are its going to affect how you behave. We wake up and unknowingly feed our dog shot after shot, day after day and don't understand why their behavior is not up to par. Bottom line, is their needs are not being met, or they have suffered in one way or another, in one or more of these seven area's. I can really boil this list down to 2. Can You?
NOTE- None of these are the dogs fault!

Until such time as I have fully developed more lessons in this area, I ask that you contact me by email or phone, to discuss your dog's specific symptoms. This will help us to correctly diagnose specific problems, so we are on track to form your plan.
I will ask questions to identify if you are following the previous steps and have completed the foundational study. There are no short-cuts. If you want my help and I am happy to give it, be worthy by doing the study. You will be amazed at the results and what you can achieve.

Quick Tips
1. If your dog gets distracted by passing joggers, bikes, cars and the like, remember dogs are single minded animals and can not focus deeply on more than one thing at a time. Try increasing the pace of your walk or jog, to force the dog to pay closer attention to their feet on the ground and not any other stimuli. 

2. Always feed yourself or have coffee, before feeding your dog in the morning. Pack leader always eats first. Send the visual message. Make sure they know it's you.

3. Give your dog 15 minutes to eat and then pick it up if they have not eaten it. Leader of the pack controls the food and says when everyone eats. Send the message of who is in control. Be the leader, control the food. They will quickly get the message.

4. Never start using pee pads in the house. If it is too inconvenient to take the dog out, you should not have one. If your mobility is an issue, seek help with this if at all possible. It is many times very difficult to break dogs of this habit once it starts.  I can't tell you the number of dogs that have come to me over the years, who peed on every throw rug they walked over and could not visit other homes because of it. In the end, it teaches them to pee in the house. It will limit their lives socially and make their worlds small. That's the last thing that you want. 

5. It is not a dogs responsibility to know how to interact with your kids. It is your job to teach your kids how to properly interact with a dog. That means that you need to know. Educate yourself and then teach the kids.

6. In working with fearful reactions in your dog, whether it's sound or objects. Always bring the dog to the object or sound, never bring it to them. If it is coming to them, it can be perceived as attacking. If the dog is going towards the stationary object or sound, they will feel more in control and less threatened.

With early success comes the human instinct to relax a little, DONT! That is the time to dig in and ask for more. To demand and get more. To expect more and don't be surprised when they give it. Get the whole enchilada and don't give in until you get it. Complacency has no place in your behavior work with your dog. This work is a mountain with no top that always must keep improving.  

Rehabilitate                   Contact - Allen Dye

Retrain                           Phone -  321-508-7551

Reintroduce                   E-mail - wadye@juno.com



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