Is Your Dog's Behavior All Your Fault?
Who doesn't love sharing a funny story about a naughty pup's antics? Case in point: The new uber-popular Dogshaming website where dog owners post pics of their guilty looking pooches with signs stating the pets' discretions. But we're guessing the gigglers wouldn't find it quite so funny if they saw the recent study showing that a dog's personality--for better or worse--is mostly reflective of the relationship between pet and owner.
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Researchers from Hungary questioned dog owners about their pets' personalities to come to the conclusion that there are only slightly detectable differences in personalities between different breeds. So what does account for differences? It's more of a matter of nurture than nature.
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"There really isn't much connection between the historical functions of the breed and its current behavior anymore," says Janis Bradley, a writer for the National Canine Research Council and owner of the Dog Training Internship Academy. "The way that you live with the dog is really trumping a lot of genetic inclinations."
In other words, if you're the kind of person who tends to get overly excited about every little thing, it shouldn't be too surprising that your miniature schnauzer can't help but pee on the floor the second you walk through the door. Here are three keys to raising a well-behaved Fido (i.e., one that's not bound for Dogshaming):
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Do unto your dog. "The more the dog bonds with people, the more it looks to people for guidance instead of doing its own thing," says Bradley. So if you want a dog that behaves calmly and predictably, the simplest most efficient way to ensure that is to have your pooch live in your peaceful and orderly home, she says.
Give classes a shot. The first step to fixing bad doggie behavior is admitting that sometimes you can't do it alone. "Puppy classes are a great way to help your dog get used to socializing with other dogs, so it doesn't become dog-aggressive," says Bradley. Not to worry if you have a troubled senior pup on your hands; it's never too late to try obedience classes.
Rethink your pooch picking strategy. Despite popular opinion, the research shows that there really isn't a big innate difference between dog breeds. So the best way to gauge a potential pet's personality? "If you're really set on predicting behavior, look for an adult dog that's been fostered," says Bradley. "The foster parent will have a wealth of information on how that dog is around children, other dogs, and its overall personality." Check out PetFinder.com to find your new--well-mannered!--best friend.
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--Nina Elias, Prevention