ISSN 2398-2969      

Disobedience

icanis
Contributor(s):

Karen Overall


Introduction

  • Usually due to ineffective training, not because spiteful to owner.
  • UK: dogs that are 'dangerously out of control' may be seized and euthanased under Dangerous Dogs Act.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Inadequate training.

Predisposing factors

General
  • Unrealistic owner expectations.
  • Dog not been fully trained.
  • Weak owner-dog bond.
  • Dog's attention focused elsewhere.
  • Owner quick to punish dog.

Pathophysiology

  • Dogs do not inherently know what their owners want.
  • Dogs do not respond to commands if not paying attention → attention focused on stimuli which arouse them → owner's command must be sufficient to interrupt this focus of attention.
  • Commands must be learned. Failure to occasionally reinforce (rewarded in some way) → become extinct → disobedient.
  • If several possible responses, dog will go for the greatest perceived benefit, eg must be more motivated to come to owner than chase rabbits. This is possible with a strong dog-owner bond, built up as a result of suitable intermittent reinforcement from the owner to the dog at other times.
  • Learning usually proceeds in several stages; apparent disobedience may be the consequence of the learning not being established at the level required:
    • Learning specifically what behavioral action is required in a specific context (environment).
    • Generalizing the response to other environments.
    • Repetition of the behavior lowers the threshold of the behavior, thus increasing the likelihood of the behavior in a more distracting environment.
  • Dogs adapt to the normal level of stimulation in their environment. This is largely determined during puppyhood. Dogs which are not in their optimum environment may be disobedient as they seek a suitable level of stimulation.
  • If commands are given in situations where they are not obeyed and cannot be enforced, then the command word becomes meaningless; so obedience to the command at other times may be lost.
  • Initial disobedience punished long afterwards → not impact disobedience but weakens dog-owner bond → obedience less likely in future.
  • Owner requests may be unreasonable for autogenic stage, contextual circumstance, or in general.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Landsberg G, Hunthausen W & Ackerman L (1997)Handbook of behavior problems of the dog and cat.pp 65-78, 185 and 187.
  • Askew H (1996)Treatment of Behavior Problems in dogs and cats.pp 245-246.
  • Myles S (1991)Trainers and chokers - how dog trainers affect behavior problems in dogs.Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract21(2), 239-247 (Emphasises the importance of having a good trainer associated with a practice).
  • Spreat S & Spreat S R (1982)Learning principles.Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract12(4), 593-606 (Good introduction to the principles of learning. Does not cover disobedience specifically).

Organisation(s)

  • British Instiute of Professional Dog Trainers, Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
  • Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, PO BOX 46, Worcester WR8 9YS, UK. Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1386 751151; Email: apbc@petbcent.demon.co.uk; Website: http://www.apbc.co.uk.

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