The basis for all prevention is a good relationship between dog and owner. The relationship should be built on trust and provide for an environment in which the dog knows its place in the family and the structure of his life. Many dogs live in anarchy; the owners do not provide rules and the dog is left alone to figure out on his own what the rules are. Soon, he realizes that there are no consistent rules and he may find himself confused over many behaviors that are, sometimes, safe and reinforcing, and other times dangerous or punishing. This is not fair for the dog. Most dogs love structure and we can set a good structure by using the concept that ‘nothing in life is free’.
This concept simply says that the dog has to work for everything he/she receives. It is very simple to out this system into practice. All you need to make sure is that the dog does something for everything he gets. He needs to sit for petting, wait at doors, sit for food and treats, etc. it is very important that all individuals in the household apply this system with the dog. Mixed messages are unfair and will confuse the dog. With a new puppy, you can also hand feed the puppy’s food once a day for the first couple of weeks. This practice has a tendency to strengthen the bond between owners and dog.
I have seen many dogs that live in anarchy. They bark, chew, jump, and generally keep trying the world out and see what works for them. They have never been told, in a consistent manner what always works. After ‘fixing’ the relationship between dog and owner, these dogs usually become much more relaxed and content. It is as if they are saying “finally, I know what is expected of me”. So let your dogs know what the rules of the house are and be generous when they understand it. They will thank you for it.