Bad dog behavior can sneak up on you and before you know it, you’ve got a dog that is out of control. Sometimes innocent thinking on your part can be the culprit and you are not even aware you did anything.
You may be thinking dogs love to be outside and my dog is fortunate to have a big back yard in which to play. This is where dog behavior problems can develop if you are not careful.
What do I mean by this?
A fenced in back yard can be a great playground for your dog as he enjoys a game of fetch or tug or maybe a great dog obedience session with you in the back yard as you begin his distraction training.
But – on the other hand, especially if he is an excitable type of dog.
His back yard activities can wind up causing dog behavior problems as he develops the “Back Yard Blues” trying figure ways to fill his time alone.
I have found that most problem-prone dogs are the excitable type. As barrier frustration (fences and gates) builds in the dog, it creates stress. The dog then begins to react to stress with outward behavior like barking and lunging.
Here are just a couple of bad dog behaviors very likely to develop once your dog gets the back yard blues.
Territorial aggression in dogs
Many dog owners are unaware that without structure, rules and boundaries in and around the house, their dog can develop territorial aggression in the back yard.
Here’s what can happen:
Many ongoing opportunities are available to a dog left in the back yard to rehearse this territorial aggression every day – even if only left out for an hour each day.
Opportunity is created to run the fence line and bark at the dog on the other side of the fence.
Dogs outside the fence have also been known to dig into a dog’s back yard providing opportunity for the home dog to challenge the intruder. Now you have a dog fight.
Many dog owners have iron gates across their driveway providing additional opportunities for their dog to bark and lung at people and dogs walking by the house.
Many times this behavior can then be transferred inside to include doorbell rings; thus fueling their aggressive behavior in the house.
Fear of kids
As you know, kids (not yours of course) often lack understanding about how to treat dogs and without their parent’s supervision, they can poke fun at a dog inside the gate or fence
Sometimes the badgering can get worse. A dog can bite a child or a child can harm a dog.
Barrier frustration can build up in the dog leaving the dog no options to relieve the anxiety except for barking, growling and lunging at the gate. This can eventually lead to fear of kids.
What’s the solution?
The solution is not complicated but will take a little time and thought on your part. The solution is in structure, supervision, obedience training and environmental enrichment.
Put structure in your dog’s daily life by requiring him to earn everything with a simple sit – even to go out in the back yard!
Supervise your dog’s activity outside. A supervised dog allows you to control his encounters to avoid these bad behavior opportunities.
If kids are present outside the gate or on the other side of the fence, remove your dog from the yard.
Train a top notch recall to come away from the gate or fence to your back porch or door using high value food treats at first. You may have to use a long line at first to reinforce the command.
Also remember that the repetition of simple sits and downs in and around the house can create a better listener in your dog and will eventually improve his come command.
Enrich your dog’s back yard environment with his own approved sand box in which to dig.
Lay a scent trail with dove or quail scent for him to find and follow.
Want more ideas? Check out this link to my article on environmental enrichment for dogs. These environmental enrichment ideas are great for preventing digging and chewing on your patio furniture or other inappropriate things.
Keep in mind these ideas are not a substitute for exercise.
Plan routine walks with your dog as well and don’t be afraid to branch out to parks, nature trails or the beach when you can on weekends.
Remember, your dog is a pack animal. He really wants to socialize with you so don’t leave him alone for long periods of time in the back yard.
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from. I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Comment below, I’m here to help.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to an out of control, bratty dog. Grab them now.
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.