When Good Dogs Go Bad

Dogs are opportunistic creatures. That's what has helped them survive all these years. It takes a lot of training to get them to ignore their instincts.

I hate when people say their dog is “bad” or “naughty.” Most of the time, the reason the dog is “bad” is because he behaves like a dog. What a surprise! Unless you train them otherwise, dogs will behave in ways that are appropriate for their kind but not necessarily acceptable in human society. Dogs do what works for them. If it gets them what they want, they’ll do it!

For a dog, it’s completely normal to snatch whatever food he can find (even if it’s not sitting out in the open). Dogs greet face-to-face and human faces are up high so they often jump up to reach us. Pooping, peeing, marking, sniffing, digging and barking are all natural behaviors. If a dog is uncomfortable, he may growl to warn you (or another dog) to stay away. Pulling on lead is normal too since most dogs walk at a faster pace than humans. Besides, if pulling makes him go foward, there’s no reason not to pull!

As humans, we expect certain things from our dogs. We’d like them to listen to us. We’d like to enjoy walks and not be dragged all over the park to sniff everything and see all the other dogs and people there. We’d like to sit down to a meal and not have to guard our food from quick canine mouths. We’d like to be able to have guests over without them being decorated with muddy paw prints. Humans have very high standards for dogs. The thing is, dogs don’t come knowing those things. You have to train them.

I think statements like “When good dogs go bad” are completely misleading. A dog doesn’t “go bad.” A dog who is “bad” by human standards is simply a dog who has not been taught how to appropriately behave in human society. Dogs don’t start out well-behaved angels knowing all the human rules and then, out of nowhere, decide they have forgotten their etiquette. Besides, a statement like that places all the blame on the dog not on the human who failed to set boundaries and define the rules.

Training doesn’t have to be hard and it can be a lot of fun. Through training, you develop a strong bond with your dog. And, when Fido isn’t tearing up the pillows or snatching your sandwich the second you walk out of the room, you feel a lot better about your canine companion!

So place the blame where it belongs if you feel your dog is out of control. Find a trainer whose methods are sound and jive with your beliefs and get to work. Your dog will thank you for it when he knows what’s expected of him.

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
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