There is often talk of certain behaviours which dogs show meaning they are trying to dominate us. But, we are human, they are dogs, it really isn’t a thing. And if you think about it, we feed them the best foods, send them to the groomers, give them pedicures, wash their beds, buy them ridiculously expensive soft beds and toys for them to destroy and pick up their poop! So really? Who dominated who? Can’t see your boss at work doing any of that for you, can you? I won't bore you with all the research, you can google that!
Typical misunderstood behaviours and the reasons
Humping - over excitement or anxiety (unless of course a girl is in season)
Cocking their legs - anxiety or over excitement
Stealing your food - Hungry! Opportunist!
Guarding their toys/food - scared you're going to take it off them....again!*
Pulling on lead - they've learnt thats what they should do.
Mouthing- over excited, tired, hungry.
Growling or snapping when being picked up - how many of us enjoy rollercoasters? Or being disturbed when we're resting? Could there be a pain issue? *
Its all about what they've learnt and all about them just being dogs and cohabiting in a human environment.
Dachshunds are fiercely loyal to their people or person. They are incredibly smart and learn things very quickly, usually things we really wish they didn’t learn! They are incredibly sensitive to what is rewarding and what is not and will seek to avoid the nots in particular! Remember rewarding is their interpretaton....not yours!
People say, they’re dachshunds they bark! But why? Should they? Can you imagine they’re on a hunt, and see their prey and bark? Not exactly going to have a successful hunt are they? They tend to use their barks to flush prey or to report to the hunter they have found it. But they shouldn’t bark ALLLL the time. So why do they?
Because they have learnt it achieves a goal. Barking makes things go away. Barking means they get let off the lead faster. Barking means you get up and get that chew. Barking means the squirrel in the garden runs so they can chase it. Barking means something.
How do you train them then?
Dachshunds love their ego’s being fed. If you look at that face and give them a genuine smile right now and say “you’re a good boy/girl” look at their reaction! Now think about it, how often do you say that? Now think about the behaviours that annoy you? How much attention do they get for that?
Another thing to think about, have you taught them what behaviour you do want? When you start a new job you are taught how to do it before being expected to fly solo…..have you taught the dogs in the same way? Its not too late. Teach them. Practice. Make it easy for them to learn and most importantly make it rewarding. They will always repeat behaviour that is rewarding to them.
Next thing to think about….associations. I associate webs with spiders. I associate the dentist with discomfort. I associate high heels with sore feet! I associate chocolate with......mmmmmmm yummy! Why? Some things just come with the other, and others are a learnt behaviour. I have learnt that high heels hurt my feet, or I fall over, so I avoid them. We won’t discuss the webs....or the chocolate! Dogs are the same, except what we think they’re making associations with they may be associating with something different. So look at your reactions to certain behaviours and consider all the various ways that could be creating a behaviour. If enough people came running up to me and started getting in my face I would start expecting that of all people. Some people would love the attention, but me personally, I’d start avoiding social situations and if I can't.....I might get tetchy! I avoid busy parks for the same reasons. All those “friendly” dogs joining me on a walk is not something I enjoy so I avoid it or I get grumpy! Instead, set up scenarios which are enjoyable. Create a situation where they will offer the behaviours you like and reward it. Set them up to succeed.
Another thing to think about, is food. We are obsessed with their physical weight. We all complain about BMI in humans don’t we? But yet we have the 10lb weight stuck in our heads for the mini’s. We are told their weight is perfect, but is it? Remember they are all so varied now, and thus their physical weight will vary. It is just as bad to be underweight as it is overweight. And, as with humans, either will have an impact on their behaviour. I see far too many young dachshunds who are far too lean. These dogs are often hyperactive, anxious and over reactive. Feed the dogs in front of you, if they are hangry they are going to be hard work. If they are hangry and their body condition is what is should be look at the brand you are feeding, is it a good brand, or is it marketed as one but isn’t? Try adding low calorie bulk to their meals. If their poops are big, try feeding across 3 meals rather than two. And I would certainly advise against free feeding (food down all the time) for various reasons. If they are a bit chubby use their dinner as part of their training treats. If they are underweight use training treats as their extra calories.
So there we have it. Feed their egos. Feed their tummies. And let them think its their idea!
Remember all behaviours take time to create. If you trying to undo certain behaviours then its more of a challenge so you need to try and find a way to manage those behaviours you don't like so they don't keep practicing them whilst you practice the ones you do want.
Train with a smile
Enjoy them again
Teach them to be the dachshund you want them to be!
*Please seek a professionals advice as soon as possible as this behaviour can escalate. First point of contact should be a vet to rule out any underlying medical issues