Simple explanations for dog behavior

Michigan Dog Training, Belgian Malinois, Kaboom, Happy Halloween

 

Is Michigan Dog Training haunted? This was a question I amusingly asked myself the other day when I saw a Halloween Pumpkin Ornament disappear and reappear. Ohhh.

Michael Burkey, Michigan Dog Training, dog behavior, simple answers to dog behaviorFor the holiday, my staff hung a Halloween Pumpkin ornament light in between two Ghost ornaments on our kitchen windows (pictured above). The next day while providing private dog training lessons, I glanced over and saw the Pumpkin had disappeared. I assumed that one my staff members took it down to put up somewhere else in the building. However, the next day I noticed it had reappeared in-between the two ghosts. So I amusingly thought that Michigan Dog Training must be haunted because the Halloween Pumpkin disappeared and reappeared like magic.

Obviously, the simple explanation was that the sticker which hung the Pumpkin on the window had come loose causing it to fall to the floor. On the following day, someone spotted it laying on the floor and reattached it to the window. This whimsical analogy made me think of the times that dog parents often times put human emotions on their dogs and come up with complex explanations for their dogs’ behavior. When in actuality, there are really a lot more simple explanations as to why dogs do what they do.

One time, I had a client tell me convincingly that their dog was upset with him because he was watching the Super Bowl game rather than paying attention to his dog. So naturally, his dog ripped out the cable cord that was attached to the house. The client seriously thought his dog had done this to avenge him. I explained that a simpler solution was that his dog found a wonderful tug toy attached to the side of the house and since he was unsupervised, he was determined to remove it because that’s what some dogs do.

Another client told me that their dog tore up the couch pillow and when they entered the room, they could see their dog knew it was wrong to do. I asked them what that looked like to them that their dog looked guilty. I already knew the answer to my question because it’s a common one. They said their dog slinked downward toward the floor as he made an attempt to get around them and escape out of the room. I asked if it was possible that the dog knew they were upset with him. They responded, “yes of course because we were very upset, we yelled at him and he exited the room quickly. He knew he was guilty” I suggested that the dog really only knew that the owners weren’t safe to be around at that moment.

They believed the dog knew he was wrong and therefore acted guilty upon the owners walking into the room. A simpler explanation is that as the owners walked into the room and saw the cushions ripped apart, the dog sensed that the owners were upset without understanding the “why”. Thus, a human emotion of guilt was placed on the dog.  The dog was simply being a dog tearing apart a stuffed toy (in the dog’s mind).

Another owner believed their dog urinated on their bed to spite them. A much simpler explanation is that the dog had been corrected previously for laying on the bed. Thus, the dog was fearful as the owner approached and Jessica Bawol, Michigan Dog Training, Halloweentherefore the dog was unable to control his bladder at that moment.

There are many more examples of dogs performing undesirable behaviors and the stories we attach to dog behavior. There are made up stories of how we perceive things and then there are “just the facts”, as famously said by Detective Joe Friday of the TV Series “Dragnet”. So rather than assuming that Michigan Dog Training is haunted, I quickly entertained other possible explanations for the disappearance and reappearance of the Halloween Pumpkin such as the ornament simply fell to the ground.

I encourage you to look beyond your dogs presenting behavior and entertain plausible explanations as to why a dog did what it did rather than going with your first perceived complex explanation. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Halloween. Oh, and to be clear, Michigan Dog Training isn’t Haunted.      : )