GENERAL FIRST AID ADVICE FOR ALL BEHAVIOUR CASES
ASPECT OF DOG'S LIFE
Owner understanding of the problem
If the dog is exhibiting inhibited (shaking, hiding, avoiding) or aggressive (barking, growling, lunging, snapping) behaviour
Owner's general behaviour
Owner response to unwanted behaviour
Owner response to desired behaviour
Different family members respond differently to the behaviour
Owner's response to the dog in any environment
Many problem behaviours may be natural behaviours e.g. digging, jumping up to greet visitors, licking people or barking at stimuli - explain this. Ensure that the owner understands that the dog isn't being 'bad' or trying to 'dominate' them.
Explain that the dog is misinterpreting situations as threatening and hence it is failing to cope. Ensure that the dog isn't exposed to environments that initiate the behaviour.
Avoid all triggers to the problem behaviour - don't expose the dog to people, animals or situations that trigger the problem
STOP all punishment - physical or verbal - no stern or raised voices, no pointing fingers, physical contact or use of 'correctional' aids e.g. rattle cans, water sprays, citronella collars, choke collars or slip leads. Also ensure that no other response is made that may inadvertently reinforce the behaviour - owners should remain neutral and move away.
Any behaviour that is desirable should be reinforced by giving the dog something that it likes - food, vocal praise, a short game BUT if the desirable behaviour is 'resting/calm', ensure the reward doesn't excite the dog.
Gather the family, explain the implications of not resolving the behaviour (often re-homing or euthanasia) and develop an agreed series of first aid strategies that everyone can follow. The dog needs a consistent and predictable environment.
If safe, use small, tasty rewards to teach the dog a small array of co-operative behaviours e.g. 'look at me', sit, lie, calm and re-call. Practice these throughout the day and in a variety of environments. Use these to give the dog guidance in situations, rather than leaving the dog to come up with a solution!