Most experienced dog owners are familiar with common dog behavior problems, but some may wonder why dogs exhibit these behaviors. Barking, biting, chewing and many other common dog behaviors are often misunderstood and mishandled by dog owners. Perhaps you are new to dog ownership, considering getting a dog, or just wish to better manage your dog's behavior problems. Thoroughly understanding the most common dog behavior problems is the first step to solving and preventing them. A solid foundation of obedience training will help you prevent or better control common dog behavior problems.
1. BarkingMost dogs bark, howl and whine to some degree. Excessive barking is considered a behavior problem. Before you can correct barking, determine why your dog is vocalizing in the first place. These are the most common types of barking:
- Warning or Alert
- Responding to Other Dogs
2. ChewingChewing is a natural action for all dogs - it's just a part of the way they are wired. However, chewing can quickly become a behavior problem if your dog causes destruction. The most common reasons dogs chew are as follows:
- Puppy Teething
- Boredom / Excess Energy
- Curiosity (especially puppies)
3. DiggingIf given the chance, most dogs will do some amount of digging - it's a matter of instinct. Certain breeds, like Terriers, are more prone to digging because of their hunting histories. In general, most dogs dig for these reasons:
- Boredom or Excess Energy
- Anxiety or Fear
- Hunting Instinct
- Comfort-Seeking (such as nesting or cooling off)
- Hiding Possessions (like bones or toys)
- To Escape or Gain Access
- Dog becomes anxious when owner prepares to leave
- Misbehavior occurs in the first 15-45 minutes after owner leaves
- Dog wants to follow owner around constantly
- Dog tries to be touching owner whenever possible
5. Inappropriate EliminationInappropriate urination and defecation are among the most frustrating dog behaviors. They can damage areas of your home and make your dog unwelcome in public places or at the homes of others. It is most important that you discuss this behavior with your veterinarian first to rule out health problems. If no medical cause is found, try to determine the reason for the behavior, which can come down to one of the following:
6. BeggingBegging is a bad habit, but many dog owners unfortunately encourage it. This can lead to digestive problems and obesity. Dogs beg because they love food - but table scraps are not treats, and food is not love! Yes, it is hard to resist that longing look, but giving in "just this once" creates a problem in the long run. In a pack setting, a subordinate would never beg from alpha dogs without reprimand. When you teach your dog that begging is permitted, you jeopardize your role as pack leader. Before you sit down to eat, tell your dog to stay, preferably where he will not be able to stare at you. If necessary, confine him to another room. If he behaves, give him a special treat only after you and your family are completely finished eating.
7. ChasingA dog's desire to chase moving things is simply a display of predatory instinct. Many dogs will chase other animals, people and cars. All of these can lead to dangerous and devastating outcomes! While you may not be able to stop your dog from trying to chase, you can take steps to prevent disaster.
8. Jumping UpPuppies jump up to reach and greet their mothers. Later, they may jump up when greeting people. Dogs may also jump up to exert dominance. A jumping dog can be annoying and even dangerous. There are many methods to stop a dog's jumping, but not all will be successful. Lifting a knee, grabbing the paws, or pushing the dog away might work for some, but for most dogs this sends the wrong message. Jumping up is often attention-seeking behavior, so any acknowledgment of your dog's actions provide a reward! The best method: simply turn away and ignore your dog. Do not make eye contact, speak, or touch your dog. Go about your business. When he relaxes and remains still, calmly reward him. It won't take long before your dog gets the message.
9. BitingDogs bite for reasons that can be traced back to instinct and pack mentality. Puppies bite and nip on other dogs and people as a means for exploring their environment and learning their place in the pack. Owners must show their puppies that mouthing and biting are not acceptable by teaching bite inhibition. Beyond puppy behavior, the motivation to bite or snap typically comes from the following:
- Fear or Defensiveness
- Protection of Property
- Pain or Sickness
- Dominance Assertion
- Predatory Instinct