The Star-Herald

Curing a dog’s misbehavior

We would like to thank all those families who stopped by to have their picture taken with Santa Paws last Saturday.  The day was a great success and it was wonderful to see so many pets and owners stop in for a visit, photo and enjoy the refreshments that were served. We truly appreciate all the community support that we receive.

A new dog in your family may encounter situations that at first are confusing and something he may not understand. He may chew stuff, eat anything he finds, pee on absolutely everything, bark at guests or even chase things. And when you catch him in the act, you yell, “No, no.”   While this can interrupt the behavior, in the real sense, it does not prevent it from happening in the future.

Fear, stress as well as anxiety are the main culprits that cause problems in dogs’ behaviors — and sometimes, your training techniques can directly affect your pet’s actions. And, if stats are anything to go by, many dog owners are unaware of this. Consequently, they tend to blame their dogs for that “bad doggy” behavior.

If you want your dog to behave properly, reform and revise your training strategies.  Avoid the following three common mistakes if you don’t want to cultivate that bad behavior in your dog.

Mistake number 1: don’t ignore your dog’s body language. Most dog owners do not know what their dogs are “saying.”  Your four-legged companion might decide to use simple body language to request something. And if you decide to ignore him, he might consider resorting to issuing more pronounced warnings, such as growling or hissing, to get the message across. And failure to heed his warning can result in a bite or scratch. So, instead of waiting until he lashes out, learn the signs of anxiety and stress so that you can tailor your behaviors accordingly.

Mistake number 2: Don’t push a pet to face his fears; don’t repeatedly expose your pet to a frightening situation.  This is a high-risk strategy that can escalate the panic and fear in your dog. While there is a possibility that he may eventually learn to put up with the scares (like loud noises, bright lights or small kids), he is unlikely to completely disassociate them with fear and anxiety. Moreover, force and punishment-based training techniques are likely to heighten anxiety as well as aggression and eventually weaken the bond of trust between you and your dog. Instead, count on reward-based techniques for they can successfully help a pet learn how to manage stress in terrifying situations.

Mistake number 3: Don’t force your dog to comply with care; never force a dog to accept care, which might be scaring or upsetting him, like nail trims or grooming. They can be both emotionally and physically dangerous. Remember, an upset dog might struggle to handle a physical fight and resort to biting just to get away. Worse still, he might injure himself. Also, he might turn violent to his caregivers like vet officers, who are likely to compromise his ability to receive the necessary vet care. Instead, it is better to teach him that cooperation leads to handsome rewards like treats and food.

You can find more tips at

If you are looking to adopt a pet, please check out the Central Aroostook Humane Society.  We are located at 24 Cross Street, Presque Isle. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch 12 to 12:30.  Please be responsible; spay and neuter your pets.

Did you know: The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius … the “Dog Star.”

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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