top of page

How to successfully change unwanted behaviour

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

I hear it so often from people: How do I stop my dog from pulling on the lead? How do I stop my dog from barking at everything? How do I stop my dog from reacting aggressively towards other dogs? Here is how to start.

Being a dog owner can bring so much joy into everyday life. Going for lovely walks together, playing fun games and enjoying cosy cuddles. Unfortunately, the reality for many dog owners is often different. Everyday life can become extremely stressful and frustrating, when behaviour issues start to occur. Dogs putting other animals or people at risk or simply pulling on the lead so strongly that the owners health could be impaired. It can make dog ownership feel daunting and not enjoyable at all, which is a real shame. Furthermore, the life quality of the dog decreases. And in my opinion, that's very sad.

Before stopping any of those unwanted behaviour though, the key question one has to ask, is not how to stop a behaviour, rather: What caused the behaviour?

If we understand the cause of the undesired behaviour, we can help dogs and their owners so much better. Dogs learn with every interaction and are constantly reinforced through intrinsic and environmental factors. Understanding dog psychology, dog body language and dog communication are key elements to creating a sustainable change in a dog's behaviour.

When did the behaviour first occur? Did it gradually get worse? Is the dog healthy? How often is the dog getting physical and mental exercise? Is the dog looking happy? How was the breeder like? Did the dog get socialised?

As you can see, there are so many questions to ask before one can even get started. Each dog and owner are different and each situation should be individually assessed.

Trying to change a dog's behaviour without understanding why the behaviour is happening, is not fair to the dog. An animal is in your care and its physical and mental wellbeing and happiness is your responsibility.

Once the true cause has been found, a suitable training plan can be put in place. Most issues I come across, are often due to people subconsciously missing subtle dog body language cues or just not knowing enough about dog psychology and behaviour. Meaning, that most behaviour problems have been created due to a lack of communication and understanding.

The main goal should always be that the dog should 'want' to show a behaviour rather than 'having' to show a desired behaviour. The relationship should be the key motivator for a dog to show desired behaviour. Only then a successful and sustainable behaviour change will be achieved.


bottom of page