Your Dog is not it’s Behaviour

One of the many things I learnt back when I studied and worked in early childhood education and behaviour, was the theory that behaviour is not personality. More commonly summed up as “it is not the child you don’t like, it is the child’s behaviour”.  This philosophy serves me well as a Canine Educator.

When I am told that a well meaning friend, family member or dog professional has labelled a dog as ‘bad’ or being ‘naughty’. I try to remind people that those labels are not their dog’s personality. It means that their dog just needs some help and support to fit into our society.

I see many new clients who are concerned about fully detailing the problem they are experiencing with their dog’s behaviour due to emotive labels.  Despite undesired behaviours, my clients still love their dog and value their contribution as part of the family.  They want help to help their dog overcome its problem behaviours.  Or getting back to the original statement –  “it is not your dog you don’t like, it is your dog’s behaviour”.

Most people love their dogs regardless of behaviour.

Dog behaviour can be good or bad, desired or undesired, typical or atypical, funny or frustrating.  I work with people to help modify, manage or extinguish behaviours that we don’t want in our homes and societies. All the while encouraging behaviours that we do like.

So here it is:

Your dog’s personality is not the sum of its behaviours.

A dog’s personality is something that develops over time and is separate to behaviour.

A dog’s personality is something to work with in order to enhance behavioural modification and rehabilitation techniques.

Good Canine Educators want to enhance and harness your dog’s personality traits to help with behavioural modification, not turn your dog into a robot.

We have a responsibility to teach our dogs how to live in our society, while also showing respect for your dog’s ‘dog-ness’. He or she still needs to be allowed to behave like a dog.

Remember: we are the ones who domesticated dogs – and they allowed us to do so; we are in this together.  Teamwork is important.

The goal of a good canine educator is to help you understand your dog. Increase desired behaviours, decrease undesired behaviours and create a bond of trust, understanding and mutual respect for each other’s different needs and wants in life.  When assessing a dog I always start from a position of unconditional positive regard.

Labelling a dog as a behaviour simply labels the dog. It is little practical use when you are wanting to modify or rehabilitate behavioural concerns.

If your dog has behaviours that concern you and you are not sure what to do here’s my advice:

  1. Stop for a moment.
  2. Give your dog a scratch under the chin or a tummy rub.
  3. Tell your dog what a good dog she or he is, then;
  4. Seek help from an experienced and non judgmental canine educator who you feel understands you, your dog, and your lifestyle.

Formal Dogs offers in home consultations to help you and your dog work together on having a happy and harmonious life together. To enquire about how we can help you to help your dog contact us here.  Or on 0438 423 230