One of the most important things I want to get across is that dogs are animals, not humans.
Many times the solutions we use for humans are totally wrong for solving a dogs issues. For example, when a human sees a scared or nervous dog he or she will first offer comfort and consolation. In the animal world this would never happen because it enforces unstable behavior. I find it ironic that the human in this situation can make the problem worse instead of better.
To refocus your dogs behavior, you must challenge him physically and psychologically.
Challenge Him Physically
All dogs require exercise to lead balanced, healthy lives. Just because a dog is small doesn't mean he needs less exercise. The breed type can give an indication of the dogs energy level but the final judgment must be made on the individual dogs needs.
As your dogs pack leader you must help him to expend his energy in a productive way. For most dogs this means a daily walk.
Master the walk and your dog will relate to you on a primal level. Remember that dogs are animals, and animals love to travel and discover the world. Just like Columbus or Magellan, dogs possess an innate need to cover new ground. A big back yard is no substitute for a good walk.
Challenge Him Psychologically
The canine pack leader requires his followers to work for food and water. This work is mostly psychological and comes in the form of waiting; for example, waiting to eat or waiting to travel.
A good way to refocus your dogs behavior is to ask him to wait a moment before he eats. Only when he achieves a calm, submissive state do you put down the bowl of food.
The same is true for daily walks. Put the leash on your dog and have him sit and wait a moment. Only when you say OK is it time to begin your journey out into the world.
These simple exercises provide excellent mental stimulation and help your dog ease into a calm, submissive state of being.
Next month: How Humans Create Behavioral Issues for Dogs