Category Archives: Dog Behavioural Problems

The Dog Delusion

Richard Dawkins wrote a bestselling book called The God Delusion.  I won’t get into that debate here, but I can talk about a sad modern-day problem:  the  ‘dog delusion’.

A delusion is a false belief which persists despite contradictory evidence.  And the dog delusion is the myth of the Perfect Dog (aka the ‘Disney Dog’).  The reason it matters is because, for those who suffer with this delusion, the reality of dog ownership can be a huge surprise.  When Lassie turns into Lawsuit,  the dog is on a one-way trip to the pound.

The Disney Dog


Sweet, loyal, always by your side. Ready to defend you with his life if needs be.  Can understand your tears and your words.  Steps in when the school bully is after you.  Even the ‘naughty’ Disney dogs, such as Marley and Beethoven, are adorable  in their naughtiness.

The Real Dog

Toilet training issues, problem barking, separation anxiety, aggression. These are serious problems, and thankfully, can often be remedied.

Unless we begin to see dogs for what they are, rather than some idealised version of themselves, people will continue to turn in their dogs to shelters when the cute puppy becomes a naughty adolescent.  Let’s stop the madness.  Be honest about your challenges with your dogs and then seek the help you need.  That way, when your naughty pooch turns into a well-trained and sociable one, you will feel like you’ve ‘earned’ him.  We don’t return naughty children to the womb , so why is it so acceptable to return a difficult dog?

Did you have any surprises when you first got your dog? How did you meet the challenge?

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Dogs

IMG_0504“It’s difficult to decide whether growing pains are something teenagers have – or are.”

Adolescence is a difficult time – for both canines and humans.  There has been research that has found actual brain changes in a teenager’s brain; it’s not a big leap to imagine the same occurs in dogs.

An adolescent dog (typically between 8 months and 3 years) is most at risk of being turned in to the dog shelters.   This is because this is the age where most ‘problem behaviours’ become apparent.  You may find your dog more stubborn, pulling on the leash, jumping on guests, testing you, or not obeying the commands he always used to obey.  The perfect dog you had is suddenly a mutant dog!

If you have a an adolescent dog, please don’t give up at this stage.  Get all the help you need.  Take your dog for obedience training.   Exercise your dog adequately to tire him out.  If you have not neutered your dog, do so.  Research “Nothing In Life is Free” (see link below). For serious behavioural issues, you need the help of a good dog trainer.

Most importantly, just ride it out.  Because if you can get past this time, you can have a beautiful and loving dog on your hands.

As well as looking at your dog’s behaviours, look at the environment in which your dog lives. Are you and your partner constantly fighting? Does your dog get little in the way of exercise or stimulation?  These sort of factors contribute to and exacerbate adolescent issues as the dog becomes more anxious.

Here are some links which might help:’s-all-about-adolescence

(another way to think about Nothing In Life Is Free is that it is teaching your dog to ‘say please’).

Did you have any challenges when your dog became an adolescent? What do you think helped?

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