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Guilty Dog?

I cannot count the number of times I've heard someone tell me a story like this: “I came home to find a mess and started yelling at the dog. She acted so guilty. She just knew what she’d done was wrong.”

No, no, no, no, no. That behaviour is not that of a guilty dog. The dog didn’t know what she did was wrong. The dog wasn't guilty, she was simply freaked out by the fact that her beloved person walked through the door and started yelling like crazy.

Put Yourself In Your Dog's Paws For A Moment

Think about it: suddenly your poor dog - so excited to see you coming home! - finds herself being screamed at for no apparent reason.

You must understand that the (supposedly) naughty thing your dog did is waaay in the past for her - she doesn’t correlate the mess she made beforehand with the freak out you have when you walk through the door. All she knows is that she's happy to see you, but that you're screaming your head off, for no reason comprehensible to her.

The way she responds to your behaviour is not guilt. Your dog is simply freaked out by your freak out, and that's why she responds the way she does.

The Solution? Don’t Freak Out!

Your dog might be displaying destructive behaviour for a number of reasons:

  • If you've adopted a young dog, she's still learning and doesn't yet know better. Be patient, and don't expect her to magically know the rules. Teach her.

  • If you've adopted a dog not in the puppy stage, she either was never taught the rules of living in a house with humans, or she's stressed out because of being abandoned and rehomed. Again, be patient. Help her.

  • If your dog is destructive only in your absence, this could be a sign of separation anxiety. Consult a professional behaviourist. Once more: be patient, and use the tools the behaviourist gives you to help your dog.

  • If your dog is destructive whether you're there or not, this could be from pent-up energy due to lack of adequate exercise. Step up the exercise routine. (Incidentally, that's what Little Dog In A Big City is all about - it's free eBook so it'll cost you nothing but some time. Read it!)

Guilty Dog? I Don't Think So!

No matter the reason for your dog's destructive behaviour, screaming like a maniac is an immature and inadequate response, and will never fix anything.

Remember, when your dog responds to a freak out of yours, that is never the response of a guilty dog. Your dog doesn't feel guilty when you yell - she's just scared. Your dog needs you to be patient, not to shout. She's depending on you to teach her what acceptable behaviour is. Don't let her down.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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