I can’t count the number of people who come to me with a behavior problem that has been happening for months or even for years and years–it’s most often a life-change (a move, a new schedule, a new person in the home, or the desire for a new pet in the home) that causes them to seek help. What makes it so hard is that they have a dog with years and years of experience doing the undesirable behavior and they don’t realize the time and effort needed to fix the behaviors.
My suggestion to people, and particularly to owners of new dogs or puppies, is to not rest on their laurels. If the dog is displaying an undesirable behavior, seek help to fix that minor problem before it becomes a bigger problem. The most effective way to solve a problem is to try and fix it before it becomes a dangerous habit. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true even with dogs–the more they practice the unwanted behaviors, the better they get and the more difficult they become to resolve.
This is certainly a lesson I have learned the hard way and something I’m still dealing with. 13 years ago my dog Tazzie would rush the boundary line to see dogs/people who walked in front of our yard. This over aroused greeting evolved from an annoying problem into running the fence line. We tolerated this without big issue for two years without any issue… then we brought home a puppy Bandit. As Bandit got older he learned this bad habit and with both dogs being highly aroused, this “fence running” behavior turned into fence fighting. After Tazzie passed away, Bandit taught Shayne how to fence fight ….and they both eventually taught Rio. Now, with years and years of practice under their belts, it’s quite the challenge to address this issue.
With lots and lots of work, Shayne and Rio are getting better and are controllable for the most part (we are by no means DONE but at least they are under control) but Bandit… well let’s just say he’s still a trouble maker. If I had stepped up 13 years ago to stop Tazzie from her over-aroused fence rushing, I would have saved myself years of work. Now that all the dogs (except Rio) have had multiple years of practicing this behavior it is quite the challenge to fix it. We are getting there and come spring when more people are walking their dogs, we’ll get back to work but I certainly wish I had put a stop to it in the first place.
If your dog is displaying behavior that is mildly annoying… a little dangerous… a bit concerning, don’t wait until it becomes a habit or an even bigger problem. Fix it when it’s small.