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Struggling with a badly behaved dog? Take heart: As many as 90 percent of all dog owners report some behavioral problem with their dog. If you’re lucky, you will be faced with a simple nuisance behavior. If you’re not so lucky, it will be something more serious that will disrupt his — or your — life.
Socialization and learning don’t end with puppyhood. After the novelty of owning a puppy wears off, it’s easy to put your dog’s learning and activity needs on the back burner. But since many behavioral problems don’t emerge until the time of social maturity, at about two years of age, the more you can interact with your dog, the sooner you can detect the beginnings of problems and deal with them. Far too many dogs are surrendered for behavior problems when they reach social maturity, so it is an especially critical time to maintain a good relationship with your dog.
Common behavior complaints include hyperactivity, irrational fears, barking, fighting, chasing, running off, digging and aggression toward humans. When your dog has a behavior you consider problematic, first try to find out why he's doing what he’s doing. Does it happen only in one situation or place, or only at one time of day? What life experiences could be influencing his behavior? Is this simply a normal canine behavior that you consider a problem? If your dog's behavior changes suddenly, it's always a good idea to check in with your veterinarian, since some medical problems can cause changes in behavior or attitude.
Some seemingly problematic behaviors are normal dog behaviors. Dogs naturally tend to dig, bark, explore, and roll in disgusting things — all behaviors that make owners crazy. You can work to guide your dog to better behaviors, but don't expect a dog to come pretrained not to act like a dog.
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