A common piece of advice we hear from dog enthusiasts is that dogs showing behavioural problems (like barking, destruction, aggression and escaping) must be suffering from a lack of exercise. Therefore they must be regularly exercised to the point of exhaustion in order to curb these signs.
What worries us is that this advice is often given out (by well-meaning people) without taking into account what the actual CAUSE of the behaviour problem is.
Whilst increasing exercise would certainly be helpful if the animal is in fact suffering from a lack of physical exercise, it would not be helpful in cases where the behaviour is driven by a training problem, physical problem or mental health disorder.
It’s a bit like recommending insulin for a dog who is urinating too much, without first diagnosing the cause of the frequent urination (which could be caused by anything ranging from a completely normal behaviour, to a UTI, to diabetes).
Excessive exercise and exhaustion can also cause irritability and an increase in anxiety and aggression. Think about how grumpy you sometimes feel after a long day on your feet!
In summary: please try to determine the cause of the problem before you recommend a ‘treatment’!
Welcome to the very first installment of ‘Pet Behaviour Mythbusters’!
First up is a response to one of the most common myths we come across:
“I don’t want to reassure my dog when it is scared because it might reinforce its fear”
As there’s no point in reinventing the wheel, here is a link to a great post written by Eileen Anderson (eileenanddogs.com) who explains this concept in greater detail.- Dr Jo
As a veterinarian, one of the most common topics I am asked about during a standard consultation is behaviour. Sitting somewhere at the top of the list of commonly asked questions is this one: Why does my dog do so well at obedience training, but still wreak havoc at home?
Read more Why obedience training won’t fix your panicking pet