Will My Dog Grow Out of Problematic Behaviours?
“Don’t worry, they’ll grow out of it!”
But will they really?
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people delay getting professional help for their dog’s problematic behaviours because they were assured, usually by well-meaning but uninformed individuals, that their dog would eventually outgrow it.
❌ Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for most undesirable behaviours that dog owners encounter.
While it is true that puppies, adolescent dogs, and adult dogs may exhibit different behaviours at various stages of development, we shouldn’t simply hope for the best and expect unwanted behaviours to disappear on their own.🙅♀️
Let me explain using the example of puppy chewing and mouthing.
Common Mistakes in Managing Undesirable Behaviours
Puppies naturally chew and mouth a lot—it’s a normal part of their development.
While it’s true that a young puppy may eventually grow out of excessive chewing and mouthing, how you, as a dog owner, manage and respond to this behaviour plays a crucial role in their future behaviour as an adult dog and in your relationship with them.
Some of the biggest mistakes I see people make include:
➡️ Telling the puppy off for chewing and mouthing
➡️ Yelping in response to puppy biting
➡️ Failing to provide appropriate chewing opportunities
➡️ Ignoring the importance of sleep and relaxation for puppies
➡️ Failing to recognise over-arousal and stress, which can lead to an increase in mouthing behaviours
Nearly everyone I’ve worked with has, at some point, either punished their puppy for chewing and mouthing or struggled to recognise that their puppy was biting out of tiredness, over-arousal, or fear.
This can easily happen, as everyone does their best with the resource and knowledge they have at the time.
Consequently, they struggled to create an environment that promotes calmness, relaxation, and safety for their puppy.
Potential Pitfalls of Mismanaging Unwanted Behaviours
Mismanagement of your puppy’s biting and inappropriate responses can lead to multiple problems, including:
✅ Suppression of behaviour: Telling off or punishing a puppy for mouthing might temporarily stop the behaviour, but it won’t address the root cause, nor will it provide the puppy with an appropriate outlet. So whilst stopping your puppy from biting by telling them “no”/punishing them for it might seem like a great idea, it’s likely to lead to further issues (plus it would be unpleasant and unfair for your puppy).
✅ Escalation of behaviour: If the puppy doesn’t learn how to appropriately express this behaviour early, such as chewing on edible chews and toys instead of hands and clothes, they may become stressed and exhibit even more biting. It’s crucial to guide puppies and teach them how to express normal behaviours appropriately and safely with kindness.
✅ Increased over-arousal and frustration: Especially if the puppy isn’t getting enough sleep and rest or their environment doesn’t promote a calmer state of mind.
✅ Disruption in the relationship between owner and dog: If you’ve been punishing and telling your puppy off, they may become fearful of you. This could harm your bond and trust with them.
✅ Unmet needs of the dog: If a puppy doesn’t have an appropriate outlet for their normal behaviour, and when they perform it inappropriately, they don’t get guided on how to do it appropriately, their needs could go unmet. This can compromise their overall welfare and happiness.
In light of these challenges and potential pitfalls in dealing with undesirable behaviours, I hope you can see how crucial it is to recognise the value of seeking help early on.
Why Getting Professional Help Early is Important
Instead of relying on the assumption that problematic behaviours will simply disappear with time, consider reaching out to a professional dog trainer or behaviourist – it can make a world of difference for you and your dog.
As responsible dog owners and caregivers, we must prioritise our dogs’ welfare and well-being and do the best we can to meet their needs.
You can gain valuable insights into your dog’s development, behaviour, and needs by seeking professional guidance.
Early intervention not only prevents behaviours from escalating but also lays the foundation for a strong and happy relationship with your dog.
🆘 Remember, there is no shame in seeking help.
Every dog is unique, and navigating their behaviours can be challenging and tiring, even for experienced dog owners.
Qualified and experienced professional trainers and behaviourists have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with tailored solutions and help you create a conducive environment that promotes desirable behaviours and overall happiness and well-being.
⏳ Don’t delay seeking assistance until issues become overwhelming or harmful.
Taking proactive steps and seeking help early can give you and your dog the best chance to have a happy and fulfilling life together. 🌈
So, next time you find yourself thinking, “They’ll grow out of it”, consider
reaching out to a professional for support — your dog and your relationship with them will benefit from it. 🤝🏼
I Want Help With My Dog!
This blog has been brought to you by Giulia, the owner of My Kinda Dog.
Giulia is a qualified and experienced dog and puppy trainer covering Bristol and surrounding areas.
She offers private puppy training sessions, private dog training sessions, and scentwork classes.
Giulia is passionate about helping people understand, communicate, train and thrive with their dogs.
You can see her here with Ruby, her beloved canine companion.
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