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Superstitious Behavior

Have you ever encountered a dog that seemingly was deathly afraid of some random object with no apparent cause for its fear? This type of dog suffers from what is known as superstitious behavior.

Superstitious behavior is when a dog associates a negative consequence with something and then tries to avoid that object at all costs.

There are a variety of reasons that can make a dog superstitious of an object, sometimes this is due to a bad experience that the dog has had in the past with that object, additionally dogs just naturally have a fear of things that they are unfamiliar with and if that fear of the unknown is strong enough it can develop into superstitious behavior.

Therefore, it is important to create a dog that has social neutrality and desensitize the dog to as many different sights smells and sounds in early puppyhood.

“Superstitious behaviors can occur in dogs at any age of life and it often happen suddenly.”

Sometimes superstitious behavior can occur on accident, many a dog has run into a sliding glass door before and now tip toes its way through it being ever so careful as to not hit its head. Perhaps a dog walked by a lamp on a table and the lamp fell on the dog, now the dog refuses to go near the lamp.

Dogs that have slipped on a laminated kitchen floor now self-exile themselves to the living room. These are instances where the dog has experienced a negative consequence and then attributed that negative consequence to the object that they thought created it.

Superstitious behaviors can occur in dogs at any age of life and it often happen suddenly.

For the most part these superstitious behaviors are at most a mild inconvenience to dog owners that either accept the dog’s superstition or simply remove the object in question.

However, there are some rare cases in which superstitious behavior can be drastically detrimental to the life and wellbeing of the dog and owners.

A dog who refuses to go outside due to superstitious behaviors will quickly frustrate its owners when it continually has accidents in the house.

Superstitious behaviors can become extremely challenging situations for both the owners and the dog to live with.

No matter how big or small these superstitious behaviors are they can be worked on using either counter conditioning, replacing the negative association with a positive association, or flooding, exposing the dog to the object that they are afraid of in order to show them that it is not going to hurt them.

Incorporating these into a training plan can greatly reduce the superstitious behavior that the dog is displaying.

Although superstitious behavior is generally seen as a bad thing that people should try to avoid with their dogs there are a few practical ways to utilize superstitious behavior.

By creating superstitious behaviors around the snake scent the hunter can trust that the dog will avoid going anywhere near a snake.

One of the most useful and lifesaving ways to use superstitious behavior is by creating superstition around the smell of snakes.

Many hunting dogs are trained to be off leash and away from their handlers, due to this unsupervised separation, hunters want to make sure that their dogs steer clear of any potential dangers such as snakes.

By creating superstitious behaviors around the snake scent the hunter can trust that the dog will avoid going anywhere near a snake.

This application can be used in a variety of ways to make the dog avoid a variety of different dangerous animals or objects.

Dogs that counter surf have the potential to get into various toxic foods that could kill them or at the very least cost the owners a very expensive and frightful vet visit.

Purposefully creating superstitious behavior for when a dog jumps on the counter can prevent situations like that from occurring.

Invisible dog fences operate in a very similar fashion as they make the dog superstitious of the white flags that surround the yard, thus keeping them contained within the property.

Purposefully creating superstitious behavior can be very useful to prevent certain unwanted behaviors from happening, however doing it correctly without causing any negative side effects takes skill and experience and should not be attempted without the guidance of a professional.

“Understanding superstitious behavior can help us to utilize it to our advantage in the appropriate settings and also help us to resolve any unwanted superstitious behaviors that our dogs may have.”

Superstitious behavior is something that is not talked about much in dog training and its understanding is almost completely absent among dog owners.

Understanding what causes such behaviors can help dog trainers and owners avoid accidentally creating superstitious behaviors in their dogs. This is especially true with puppies who go through various fear stages in their development and do not necessarily have to experience a negative consequence with an object in order to suddenly develop superstitious behavior.

Understanding superstitious behavior can help us to utilize it to our advantage in the appropriate settings and help us to resolve any unwanted superstitious behaviors that our dogs may have.

Our dogs are with us for their entire lives but only a short part of ours, it is our responsibility to keep them safe and secure for that precious time that we have with them.

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