Why isn’t my dog’s behaviour improving?

1. The dog’s internal environment isn’t at optimum.

To support future learning our dogs need to be:

✅ Pain/Discomfort free (Skeletal, Muscular, Skin and Digestive issues)
✅ Low Stress. Positive or negative, too high levels of stress have a big impact on the body and mind.
✅ Well Rested. Your adult dog needs 12-16 hours of quality rest and sleep a day! It’s during sleep that stress levels lower, the body regenerates and repairs and memories are formed.
✅ A healthy attitude and reliable intake of quality food.
The brain needs energy to process information, this unsuprisingly comes from their food!. A poor attitude towards food may be indicative of a health issue and/or too high stress.

2. Your dog’s external environment needs to set them up for success.

🏡 Their home needs to support a healthy sleep/rest routine, low stress haven and an overall feeling of safety, including their relationship with you and all other individuals (of all species). The home should be a minimal ‘conflict’ zone. The home alsoi needs to be set up to reduce the performance of undesired behaviours. For e.g, a stair gate to stop jumping at visitors, adhesive film on windows to prevent barking at passers by.
🌳 The walking environment needs to be as low stress (positive or negative) as possible, setting training up to succeed (low stimulus intensity). For e.g, avoid road side walks if your dog barks or startles at traffic or not letting your dog run riot after wildlfie.

3. Are you and everyone else being consistent?

We can’t say something is or isn’t working if the advice isn’t strictly applied for a long enough duration that allows us to assess efficacy. We can’t expect our dogs to figure out wishy washy information. It has to be clear cues and consequences (communication).

4. The intervention, protocols and/or overall ‘diagnosis’ isn’t correct.
For E.g, removing food bowls mid eating or moving hands towards a dog with a resource will likely make guarding worse. Removing a frustrated dog from dog society because they are mistakenly considered to be fearful may infact lead to escalation of frustrated behaviours.

Sometimes, a dog’s genetics, internal & external environment and owner resources (time and energy) can make it challenging for progress to be made. Creative problem solving is needed. A second opinion (vet and/or behaviour professional), blood tests, faecel screen, diet review, a pain relief trial, secure fields, driving to remote locations, dog walkers, a holiday with your dog in the ‘right’ environment to start again, a holiday without your dog to give you a break from eachother to to help you start again to assess whether the relationship is salvagable.

Sometimes the best outcome for the dog is beyond your scope 🙁 We should always remain honest about our dog’s welfare. If you’ve slogged away relentlessly to improve things with no success, rehoming isn’t ‘failure’ if the end result is a happier dog and happier humans.

When there are this many variables involved in training and behaviour modification success- avoid anyone who promises you positive outcomes. Work with accredited and/or qualified professionals who only work via vet referral. Check out professionals with PACT, IAABC, ABPC, ABTC, COAPE and ASAB.