Understanding dog behaviour and getting help in Appleby Magna

July 21, 2022

Dogs are very complicated animals that have a lot of emotions. It can often be very difficult to fully appreciate exactly how your pet may be feeling and what can sometimes trigger unwanted dog behaviours. The team at STAR Vets have some helpful advice on dog behaviour below including where to seek help in Appleby Magna.

The first port of call if you are seeing unwanted dog behaviours should be your Vet. They will give your dog a full health check to see if there are any medical issues that could be a factor. Book a consultation with one of our Vets here in Appleby Magna.

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What your dog is trying to tell you

Facial expressions and body posture can say a lot about how a dog is feeling in a scenario. This is a good place to start when trying to understand your dog better.

Take a look at the Guide (link below) created by the RSPCA; you can see that when a dog sits with a relaxed body posture, smooth hair, mouth open and relaxed, ears in a neutral position, a wagging tail and eyes in a normal shape, they are happy. With a few subtle changes, such as a lowered head, ears back, tail tucked in and not making eye contact, the dog is worried.

Download the RSPCA’s Guide to Dog Behaviour

By understanding these expressions and postures and the subtle changes between them, you can get the best picture of how comfortable the dog is and how you should then approach them.

Unwanted dog behaviours

Vet Caroline Ward advises that whilst understanding posture and emotions of pets is important, there are behaviours that may be dangerous or unwanted such as:

  • Food aggression
  • Barking aggressively at other dogs/people approaching
  • Jumping up
  • Fear of certain things
  • Reactive at other dogs in different scenarios
  • Not wanting to be handled in certain ways

The list of unwanted behaviours can be extensive and subjective as behaviours can be interpretated and tolerated differently. This will depend on who you are, your lifestyle, and what your expectations of your pet are.

Sometimes, a bit of help can be needed to make sure that behaviours are not becoming uncontrollable and causing a pet distress, and to train your pet to behave in a more desirable way.

Getting help for your dog in Appleby Magna

Pet owners may start by looking for help from a behaviourist or a dog trainer – two very different professions. It is important to understand the differences between both to understand who you may need help from. A behaviourist is looking at why an animal performs a certain behaviour, often a behaviour that is unwanted and if left could cause further complications later. A trainer is looking to teach a dog how to do certain behaviours, this could be anything from the basics of ‘sit’ and walking on a lead, to more advanced commands.

If your pet is doing something that concerns you then you will most likely need to seek a behaviourist. However, it is very important that your dog is assessed by a Veterinary Surgeon first before seeking a behaviourist’s services. This is because many unwanted dog behaviours such as reactivity and aggression can start because of pain or another type of medical issue. For example, if your dog knows they have sore elbows and a dog coming near them to play will cause them pain, your dog may become reactive because of this.

Contact us to book a Vet consultation for your dog at our Appleby Magna practice.

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Once your pet has been assessed by one of our Appleby Magna Vets, a decision can be made on whether the problem behaviour is truly a learned behaviour, or if there is any indication of a medical issue behind it.

If you do need to search for a dog behaviourist or trainer in Derbyshire it is important to understand that these professions are not regulated. Therefore, you want to be confident that whoever you are taking your dog to is adequately qualified and experienced.

The Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) are good places to start as their members are certified and accredited to a certain level.

Ultimately, it will be extremely beneficial to you and your dog to make sure you understand what they may be trying to tell you. Simple expressions can show you when a situation could escalate.

If you ever have concerns about your dog’s behaviour, book an appointment with one of the Vets at our Appleby Magna practice to get initial advice. It is best not to leave these things to fester as problems can become worse down the line and cause further stress to both you and your pet.

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