Dogs and Mental Health
dog training
 

Dogs and Mental Health


A happy dog is obviously a healthy dog, but a healthy dog need not be a happy dog. Most dog owners gloss over the need to pay attention to their dog's mental health. They believe that providing the basic necessities are enough to ensure the dog's mental health. But thankfully, as people become more and more aware of the behavioral patterns of their companions, they are also becoming increasingly concerned about their dog's mental health.

Aggression and dominance are perhaps the most common dog mental health problems that owners complain about. There may be many reasons for this. Physical discomfort or pain can cause some dogs to become generally mean and irritable. Fear - of a new situation, bigger dogs etc can also cause an otherwise calm dog to become aggressive. Dominance aggression takes place when two equally dominating aggressors are trying to prove themselves the leader. This situation is potentially dangerous. Cage rage is common in dogs that have been shut up in a cage for too long. They look upon the cage as their territory and become very aggressive. Obedience training is a good way to treat this dog mental health problem.

Aggression usually breeds aggression. The best way out of aggressive behavior is to establish yourself as the leader. Do not allow your dog to dictate when he needs to play, eat or drink. Pet him only when you are ready. Make him sit before he eats, or sit before he walks through a door. You should be able to establish your supremacy over the dog for him to look upon you as the leader. This is very important for ensuring good mental health in your dog.

Many dog owners blame their dog when they come home to tattered bits of rag, furniture, too much barking or complaints from their neighbors. Most owners do not realize that this is an intrinsic dog mental health problem. This is called separation anxiety. While some dogs are willing to wait quietly till you return, most dogs fall into the "panic" mode. They react by destroying things that belong to you, in order to get you to come back. Desensitizing the dog to separation is the best solution. Crate training is also very effective in dealing with this dog mental health problem.

Tying a dog to a chain or a leash all day long also causes dog mental health problems. The dog is a pack animal and cannot sustain loneliness. After some time, the dog feels very neglected and starts becoming aggressive because he cannot have his freedom. This frustration turns to anger and the dog will soon become a "biter".

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is another distressing dog mental health problem. This is an odd kind of behavior addressed at external objects or towards the dogs themselves. This dog mental health problem is mostly seen in dogs that are anxious, stressed or bored. If caused by boredom, OCD can be avoided by upping the activity level of the dog. Increased activities, fun and play will pull him out of this harmful mental health problem.

Other than separation anxiety, a dog's mental health is also affected by noise anxiety as well as social anxiety. Dogs that are afraid of loud noises, like a gunshot or a bursting firecracker, will try to escape. Social anxiety is a kind of dog mental health problem occurring in dogs that have not been socialized properly when they were young. Thus even small groups of people tend to scare away this kind of dog.

Besides the obvious causes, sometimes dog's mental health deteriorates due to physical causes. Infections, pain, loss of appetite, tumors lead to depression and anxiety. The tired dog is not the best of companions and if he feels irritated by his own weakness, he will become aggressive. Some dogs become aggressive with children. To detect and cure any of your dog's mental health problems, first visit a vet so that you can safely rule out any of the physical causes. Love, warmth, play, fun and attention are what most dogs need for good mental health.

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