I don’t really watch too much TV, but just looking at the daily television listings of shows I see that there are quite a few versions of the CSI series. Every so often my wife lures me into to watching one and I’ve quickly learned that the CSI team can uncover any mystery by doing three things. The formula is always the same and I think it’s applicable for just about any unsolved problem, including issues with our beloved pooches. Those three key ingredients that the CSI team relies on in every episode are investigation, observation and questioning.
As a dog behavior consultant I use these skills in every single session I do and they are skills that you should employ when trying to understand why your dog does some of those unexplained things. I have cracked many of my cases wide open by interviewing my clients and going over details of their home environment and their dog’s daily activities. The more questions I ask, the more information I gather and the more I’m able to watch the dog, the clearer the puzzle becomes.
This is especially important when your dog does something that is out of his usual character or behavior patterns. Once you see a behavior problem begin where before there was none, something must have changed to cause the shift in behavior. You need to do some investigating to begin to uncover the reason for the new behavior problem.
Nothing happens “out of the blue” or for no reason. There is always an underlying cause that has triggered the dogs new behaviors, we may just not be aware of them yet. That’s why you really need to sit down and think about the issue from all angles and take a number of external factors into consideration. You need to think about what is going on in your environment and look for possible triggers that may have put the behavior in motion, and/or are continually reinforcing the troubling behavior.
As you make your observations and do you’re investigating you have to remember that dogs think differently and have very different motivations than we do. So you need to try to put aside your human way of thinking and get inside the mind of your dog. Try to understand his perspective and remember that even though he’s your furry little guy, he still behaves according to canine patterns.
You should also question all family members even if you think that they are in no way involved with the behavior issue. They are possible witnesses and even suspects (that may be unknowingly contributing to the behavior) that need to be questioned. The more digging you do, the closer you will get to understanding what’s really going on.
This three step process of investigating, questioning and observing is the systematic approach I use each and every time I work with a behavior problem. And although I may not have the high tech equipment of the TV CSI team or the witty one-liners of the stars, I’ve been pretty successful in solving quite a few unsolved mysteries using their same formula.
Make your own CSI team and start to investigate the perplexing cases with your own dog and see if you can uncover the real reason for any new issues and then you can accurately work toward making them right.
As for me, I’ll continue my relentless cold calling of the television networks pitching my CSI: Canine.