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Why Does My Dog

Bark so furiously at the post man?

This is probably a mix of something called “prey drive” and your dog’s sense of territory.  When the post man approaches your house, your dog instinctively barks to warn its pack members (you) that someone is entering your territory.  He also barks to try and chase the carrier away (prey drive).  As soon as the mail is delivered, the carrier leaves, therefore your dog believes that he has fulfilled his objective.  Allowing the carrier to meet your dog under your supervision may help.  Keep an eye on your dog when you expect the carrier to come.  Praise your dog for alerting you, but then tell it that that’s enough.  It’s not the dog’s duty to initiate the chase away.  You could also offer the carrier treats to give to your dog.  One way to satisfy your dog’s prey drive would be to sign up for a course such as flyball.

Jump up on me...?

Your dog is being a dog.  A dog is actually showing submission by trying to reach your face to lick it, however their nails or their sheer size can make this a very uncomfortable for you.  The best thing to do is to command your dog to sit or lay down when you greet him.  Once he does that, then lavish a lot of affection on him.  Or, if it’s convenient, ignore your dog until he calms down, then command him into a position and give him his affection.  Not everyone likes dogs licking their face, however a controlled “kiss” may be better than a kiss and run.

Wet on the floor when we come home...?

This is very common in puppies.  Urination is one of the most extreme forms of submission, which is a dog’s way of showing that he means no harm.  Many puppies follow this routine until they mature a bit. Another cause is sheer excitement.  Many puppies simply cannot “hold it” when they are excited.  This too is due to physical and mental immaturity.  Fortunately most pups grow out of it.  The best thing to do is to keep everything as quiet as possible when you arrive home, or in situations where the pup may be excited.  Don’t scold the puppy, he is only doing what comes naturally and it simply cannot help it.  As well keep a lot of deodorizer and paper towels on hand.

Destroy things when I leave the house to run some errands...?

This is known as separation anxiety.  Most breeds suffer from this, some breeds more than others.  Dogs and wolves are very social animals who thrive on attention of their pack members.  When they are isolated, they become very worried.  Destroying things is a way to ease the anxiety.  Chewing especially can be very calming to a dog.  To save your home it may be best to crate or confine your dog.  In many cases this is the safer route for your dog.  Give the dog a couple of its favorite toys that have been rubbed in your hands, as your scent will help him relax.  As well, start training your dog by doing practice leaves from home.  Leave for ten minutes and return with a normal routine.  Do the same for progressively longer lengths of time and do so for quite some time, just to let your dog  know that the world doesn’t come to an end with your closing the door behind you.  Exercise will help to relieve their stress too.  Do not scold your dog for making a mess, as it will only confuse him—they cannot associate past crimes with the present.

Mark its territory on trees...?

Wolves in the wild establish territory.  The most prosperous pack gets the territory with more prey and better facilities.  The way they alert other packs that this is theirs, is by “marking their territory.”  Basically, they do this by urinating on key items.  When you walk your dog, he is alerting other dogs he is doing the same thing.  He has to sniff every post to try and learn what sort of dogs have been there and then feels obligated to leave his message behind.  Urine is coded with all sorts of messages to a dog such as the general health, gender etc.  Instead of trying to stop this instinct, it’s best to try and channel it, or avoid it.  Discourage urination on personal property and have a general area where your dog can mark territory to his heart’s content.  Walk briskly down the streets so your dog does not have a chance to stop and smell the roses.  Neutering can help alleviate some of this as well.

Run behind me when we meet other dogs...?

Your dog is most likely frightened of  other dogs.  This is very common in younger dogs, especially on their first few times out and your dog is looking to you for protection.  It is very important to socialize your dog with other dogs.  If your dog is frightened, do not push him towards the source of his fear, but help him combat his fear by walking up to the other dog and greeting it nonchalantly.  Encourage your dog to do the same thing.  Do not make him feel trapped or forced, as this can result in some fear aggression.  Most dogs will come around to the source of the fear if you work on it enough.

Nip at my heels...?

If your dog is a puppy, this is very common.  All puppies’ love to play and nipping at ones heels is one of the doggie ways to initiate playtime.   Don’t give in though.  You are top dog and you have to initiate playtime.  Tell your pup a stern “no” and  give him/her an alternative thing to play with.  Make sure your pup gets enough exercise as well.  Although do not overdo it.  Always remember to give your dog an alternative thought.

Have the embarrassing habit of sniffing people in all the wrong places when he meets them...?

Dogs sniff to identify each other.  Dogs, humans, cats and many more creatures have scents that are exclusive to them produced by the anal region.  Indeed this is embarrassing, but it is doggie etiquette.  Most of the time, you will find that it is the larger dogs that do this just due to size and being able to reach these areas.  Let your pooch know that in human etiquette this is quite rude.  When he meets people have him sit or lay down.  Then ask the people that he is meeting to allow him to sniff their hand.  The sweat and oils produced there also carry an individual scent and this should satisfy him.  Then proceed with the meeting and greeting.

Roll in dead or disgusting substances...?         

This is instinct once again.  In the wild wolves have to hunt for dinner.  This includes being able to get within a decent distance of the prey.  But the prey that wolves like, have ultra sensitive noses and can detect wolves from a great distance.  To improve their chances of not being detected, wolves often roll in substances to disguise their scent.  If you have smelt your dog after a couple of years with no bath and running in the wild all day long, you’ll know that it may take quite a bit to cover up the scent.  So wolves often roll in decomposing organic material.  This ranges anywhere from leaves to dead animals.  Often there’s not many ways to modify instinct.  Although we have succeeded in making instincts work for us, we still have to live with the sights, smells and habits of our canine companions call of the wild.