Many dogs do not manage the environment well and generate a lot of anxiety. This accumulated anxiety can turn into stress if an escape valve is not achieved and with the passage of time it becomes residual stress that is the cause of many more or less serious behavior problems.
Symptoms of not knowing how to manage the environment
To become excessively “nervous” in many different situations (what we humans always interpret as “being happy”). Encouraging that “getting nervous” only causes residual stress. This is the main symptom of a dog that does not know how to properly manage the environment. It generates stress continuously and as it never resolves those situations, it is always increasing … increasingly nervous … and more nervous. And in the end this can only lead to behavior problems (including aggression). We want the dog to be happy, without a doubt, but rules are needed that teach “self-control” the dog to learn to manage the activating environments without generating residual stress.
Be attentive to all changes in the environment and experience it with nervousness (positive or negative changes). This makes dogs especially susceptible, dogs that seem to be never really calm.
Generation of expectations continues due to an unclear environment. Continuously attentive to the signs of the environment.
Being afraid of situations (noises-people with hats-bicycles, etc.) that in principle do not have to be scary.
To advance in the education of a dog we must think and meditate the rules that we want to be fulfilled before implanting them, how we are going to achieve it and the degree of involvement to which we are willing.
they can achieve certain emotional states with some dogs (difficult dogs, with a poor socialization, nervous) without first raising the question of implication and limits. Because some dogs require a lot of work and a lot of involvement on the part of the family and without that involvement it is not possible to really advance. It is not enough to love the dog, it is certainly important but it is not enough to educate. Different dogs will need substantially different education depending on factors such as race, socialization stage, early education received, etc. Based on these factors, education will be more or less simple and will therefore require more or less involvement and commitment.
Pillars of education
Dogs need to be guided in education since by not living in their natural community (among dogs would always know how to behave, the rules of the group would be clear and consistent) need to show them the way to maintain a healthy coexistence.
The rules must meet certain characteristics:
Clear rules → that the dog understands, very important! Sometimes for that understanding to arrive we need time to teach it (and meet the other standards). The dog always wants to please us and in his attempt to do so can generate a lot of stress if he does not understand what we want from him.
Consistent rules → that are always the same, that they are fulfilled in the presence of all the members with authority over the dog and that it is very important to comply with the norm. In a simple, consistent example it means: if the norm is “not approaching the table while eating”, it must always be fulfilled, when the owner is there, when the owner is, when the eldest child is … always! the dog is much clearer and understands much earlier and does not generate expectations of “oh, tonight if you will leave me” … If sometimes we enforce it and sometimes not, (in animal learning it is called intermittent reinforcement) we should know that afterwards it will be much more difficult to change that behavior because the dog will always generate expectations of “this time not, but the next one … or the next one, or the next one …” or “manolito no but with so-and-so” .
Fair rules → although it seems a lie this part is the most difficult to understand. In the example that I have put before, if we want to implement the norm “do not approach the table while you are having dinner,” we can not begin to teach him by scolding him when he approaches the first few times. It is not fair that we reprimand him for doing something that we have NOT taught him yet. With great patience we would have to throw him out (but without punishing = shouting, getting angry, etc.) so that he understands the norm “when they are seated – I have to go to my place or I have to go away”. That is to say, when we reprimand the dog it must be for something that we are sure we have taught and that the dog knows not to do, otherwise we are only generating fear to fail and what we want to generate is desire to do it well (the nuance emotional is very different).
In short, the clearer your surroundings the easier it will be for the dog to understand what is expected of him and the less anxiety and stress he will generate in this regard. That is why it is important to be first aware of what we want from the dog to transmit it in a clear, continuous way, without emotional ups and downs (today I get very angry, not tomorrow) and consistent with our lifestyle. We can not ask him to be quiet and soon alter him without meaning … playing abruptly with him … we must harmonize our emotional states as much as possible.
What else can we do?
Enrich the environment of the dog
Work with the dog to stimulate your mind: every so often we can teach you different tricks (sit, turn around, give us the leg, etc.) VERY IMPORTANT: you have to learn the method as well as possible and work with the dog in a calm and clear. The clearer the way to work, the easier it will be for the dog to manage it correctly. If we work badly what we are doing is making the problem worse (it is preferable not to move forward and continue to do so in a clear way than to advance in an unstable way). Dogs are very smart when it comes to capturing regularities with what if the regularity they capture is the irregularity of the owner, or its instability, bad.
Interactive toys: toys that serve to stimulate your mind while facilitating self-control and stress management. See: Interactive toys
Smell games, of increasing difficulty but always easy enough not to generate anxiety. The owners tend to say “as you already know how to do this, I’m going to make it more difficult for you, and then, harder, and more …”. With a dog that mismanages the environment this is a mistake … We do not want to generate excessive anxiety because we do not know how to solve the problem, we want it to solve problems that generate a bit of anxiety so that it learns to solve and self-control in these situations. See: Smell games
Perform physical exercise: chase a ball, play space, look for a toy … These games must always have clear rules to learn self-control that we will see as we progress in learning. See: How to play with the ball
Socialize with friends who, in addition to being healthy, spend a lot of energy. This option is the best but it is not always so easy to achieve. It requires that he be a sociable dog and have regular playmates with whom to share his walks.
All these tips are aimed at facilitating a positive emotional state in your dogs and at fostering a healthy relationship with them.