Your Dog Must Cope

How psychologically fragile is your dog? Is she happy-go-lucky or does any little change rattle her? Every living thing has it's own threshold where stability ends and panic begins. If your dog does not know precisely what you expect of her, under every situation, she will exhibit all the behaviors you dislike in order to get your participation in answering her questions.


You do not teach her to dig holes or chew destructively or potty on your carpet. You do not teach her to jump the fence and run away or bark excessively.  You certainly do not teach her to kill the little poodle down the street or bite the neighbor's child or turn on yourself. These, and many other problems are ways in which the dog copes with anxiety.


Coping usually occurs from three to ten days following a change in your dog's life. This is not performed at random intervals. Your dog will always cope on the same coping day. A third-day "coper" will act out on the third day. For example, if you bring a new kitten into your home your dog will act out on her coping day by digging a hole or chewing your garden hose or pottying on your floor. Some dogs only act out once or twice over a situation; however, there are dogs who cope for months or years after a change has occurred in the household.


The list of coping mechanisms available to your dog seems to be endless. Depression, over-eating, picky-eating, self-mutilation, phobias, fears of certain people that develop instantly, failure to thrive, and strange "she's never done that before" behavior, are on the list.


©  Shannon Schaefer