If putting a human, by nature a social being, in jail or solitary confinement is intended as punishment, then surely, isolating, chaining or tethering a dog will have the same effect on the canine soul. Dogs are domesticated, the most domesticated animal there is. Bred by humans to be companions and work partners, we have selected and bred dogs with highly social genes. Because of this selective breeding, dogs now have personality traits that need our attention, our time and our kind leadership. If our attention and participation in their lives is missing then dogs become lonely and bored. This loneliness leads to frustration and stress that in turn leads to behavioral problems. Excessive barking, pacing, self-mutilation and other destructive behaviors are all symptoms displayed by a dog that is not having its mental and physical needs met.
Dogs are not only social beings they are also very inquisitive and enjoy exploring. They need to interact with their environment and with other dogs. From these interactions, dogs benefit from the mental stimulation of new challenges, sights and sounds. If they are restricted from companions or there life is reduced to a tedious, limited environment then they can suffer mental stress. For a dog, loneliness is abandonment.
Many dogs find themselves reduced to a life isolated from their human pack because they lack basic behavior and social skills that are needed to live peacefully in the human environment. Below is an example of the downward spiral we see in a dog’s behavior when it does not receive the training, exercise and social interaction required:
- Dog enters the home as a puppy or young dog – Owners are excited, dog is a bundle of fun but no management plan for the puppy is put in place.
- Dog is not housetrained correctly - Accidents continue to occur so owners become frustrated.
- Dog is not leash trained – As puppy grows, leash pulling becomes annoying and dangerous to the owner.
- Dog is highly active – The dog has no leash manners so outings are reduced resulting inadequate exercise for the dog increasing its energy and frustration levels.
- Dog becomes destructive – With excessive energy from lack of exercise, the dog is more frequently left alone to find its own mental and physical outlet. Chewing and destructive behavior results.
- Dog’s behavior becomes worse – The owners become increasingly frustrated. The dog is punished and the relationship breaks down. The dog is seen as an inconvenience by the owners.
- Dog is reduced to living in the yard with minimal contact with the owners.
- Dog now digs holes, chews at fencing or attempts to escape.
- Dog is now restrained to control its behavior.
Solutions - Invest in some dog training lessons right off the bat whether you bring home a puppy or a mature dog. Teach the dog the basic skills that will ensure your dog will positively integrate into your life. Take the time to socialize and housetrain your dog. Teach your dog solid ‘sit’/’down’/’stay’ behaviors and some nice leash skills then your dog is set up for a successful life sharing your home. Contact a reputable trainer, one who is affiliated with NADOI or the APDT. To reach your local DogSmith Certified Dog Trainer visit www.DogSmith.com or call 1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)
© Niki Tudge is the founder and owner of DogSmith Franchise Services, a Dog Training and Pet Care company based on positive learning theory with a commitment to socially responsible business practices. Niki’s rare combination of skills, coupled with her passion to improve the pet-human relationship, leaves her uniquely qualified to help others improve their relationship with their pets or develop their own pet business. Niki is widely published on topics of dog training and animal behavior. She also holds business degrees from Oxford University and is a Certified Dog Trainer and Dog Behavior Counselor.