Dogs start doing new things to push boundaries when they are not clear. Dogs often doing things we don’t like for many of the same type of reasons. I hear all kinds of stories like digging holes in the back yard, eating numerous house -hold items, counter surfing, bolting out the door, tearing holes in the couch, eating trim off the walls, digging holes through the walls (Yes, I have seen this with two Shepards), eating mulch and trees, and how tasty, eating poop. Some issues like fear or aggressive problems can seem to start from no where as well.
There are several things listed here and I am sure you can try to explain reasons why dog could start doing all of them, but the first reason is that there are not clear enough defined boundaries. If you raised a child and never gave them guidance, just food and toys, what would it look like? But we do that with dogs, don’t we? So all dogs need training and need to start dog training at a very early age. Most dogs should start in some training around 8-12 weeks old. I often see a dog come into the shop who needed the guidance much earlier and would have avoided issues if they started 8-12 weeks old. Realize that not training is training and the dog learns if you take the time to train it or not. The beautiful thing is that we recommend usually just 3 times a day for 15 minutes, so effective training of most dogs does not take forever and is not that hard. However, just like a kid exploring and learning, a young dog will do whatever they can do and exploring with their mouth eating or chewing is really fun. If it works, they will do it again. Digging down to cool soft earth is full of new smells and feels great. That dog had no idea that you worked two years just to get that sod conditioned to grow like that. Without supervision and a way to constantly have influence your dog may do many things like that, exploring their new world.
One big shocker to new owners of puppies is just how much time that new pup needs in the crate. If you are not using a developed skill set to have the dog hold a command, you need to use a management system like a crate. It is just like potty training and for the same type of reasons as potty training. Your puppy is either 100% supervised, on a leash, in the back yard or run, in a crate or getting into trouble. That goes with peeing and with destruction. If you take the time to train your dog with the understanding of boundaries you can slowly give that dog more freedom as they demonstrate that they don’t eat the remote, your phone, or dig a hole through the new carpet you just had installed.
So, why is your dog doing that? Because you didn’t train them not to do it. When you have a 5 year-old dog with problems, that dog learned it from the home it grew up in. Dogs are learning either way, but it takes a little time to teach them the right way.
I have now covered most of all that there is something we can do something about. Things that are learned are easier to deal with than a defect the dog was born with. The rest of the issues involve genetic defects in breeding dogs that should never have been breed. Genetic issues can include fear, nervous, anxious issues and mental issues like the inability to focus and yes, some aggression. Really good training can cover up some of these or diminish them and in the case of aggression add control to varying degrees. If your dog has aggressive issues you need to contact a professional who has dealt with the issue immediately. Not only is it a problem for the dog, but you could be surprised as so many of my clients have, when the dog runs across the street and mauls a small dog (or worse). The shock of that situation does not get better when the other party involved feels you are responsible and you should pay.
The bottom line is this: you must take the time to teach your dog to be the dog you want and not expect them to know what is right or wrong without you showing them. See our article on remote collars and see our videos on SitMeansSit.com