How to Curb These 8 Dog Behavior Problems & Have a Well-Behaved Companion

owner with dog outside

Understanding why dogs behave the way that they do is a key part of getting to the root of the problem behavior. If you’re new to sharing your life with a dog, considering it for the future, or just want to manage any bad habits that your dog has picked up on then this article could be helpful for you. The first step that every dog owner should take is to teach their dog basic obedience. There are many ways of going about this; group training classes, one-on-one sessions with a professional trainer, or how-to videos that you can utilize at home. Once your dog has a solid foundation it gives you a good starting point for preventing problem behaviors and mastering other skills as well.

1: Chewing
To your dog, chewing is as natural as any other instinct they have. A problem is certain to arise when a dog’s chewing is directed toward household objects like sofas, electrical cords, or shoes.

Here are the most common reasons why a dog will chew on an object:
– Boredom
– Anxiety or stress
– Puppy teething
– Curiosity (very common in puppies)

To direct your dog’s attention away from the things that they aren’t supposed to chew you should provide optimal toys for them to sink their teeth into. Depending on how strong of a chewer your dog is, research the different types of chew toys and choose one that is appropriate. There are specific chew toys for teething puppies, light chewers, and strong chewers at many retail stores.

It’s also important to keep items prone to chewing away from your dog by storing them in a secure location; picking up socks and clothing, covering electrical cords, or putting shoes away in a bin or closet. When your dog is not under direct supervision you should keep him in a crate to prevent any destructive behavior.

If you catch your dog chewing on an inappropriate item you can distract him by making a sharp noise and then replacing the inappropriate item with one of the chew toys. This teaches him that he should be chewing on his toy instead of the other item. To prevent future chewing it’s important that your dogs gets an ample amount of exercise. This will help keep his energy level down and keep his mind stimulated from a healthy activity.

2: Barking
There are many ways that dogs communicate and barking is one of the more obvious ones. Every dog makes noise to some degree, but barking excessively is a behavior issue that can cause headaches in more ways than one. As with most behavioral problems, getting to the reason why your dog is barking is important to figuring out how to prevent it.

Here are the most common reasons why a dog will bark excessively:
– Playfulness or excitement
– Attention-seeking
– Warning or alerting
– Answering other dogs
– Anxiety
– Boredom

Many cities have noise ordinances and keeping control of your dog’s excessive barking can prevent any potential trouble with your neighbors. Being patient with your dog is a very important aspect to managing barking and keeping things consistent will help teach him when it’s inappropriate to do so.

1. If your dog begins to bark you first need to find what he is barking at. When you’ve identified why he is barking, grab a toy or treat and hold it in front of him.
2. Once he gives his attention to you and stops barking you may reward him with it. Repeat this process several times, waiting for longer periods of silence from your dog each time before giving the reward.
3. When he has remained quiet a few times you may start introducing a command that you’d like to use for quieting him down.
4. If your dog is barking use your command in a firm and upbeat voice while holding the reward. When he stops you may give him the reward. Continue to do this until he has associated the command with the reward.
5. After further training you should be able to give the command for him to quiet without holding a reward in front of him.

3: Jumping
A dog who jumps on people can become an annoyance over time, but can also be a potential danger. When puppies are still with their mother they jump up to reach and greet her, which is a trait that they sometimes continue when they are taken home by their new human parents.

Teaching a dog to stop jumping up on people can come in many different methods; not all of which will be successful. If your dog jumps on you and you try to lift your knee, grab his paws, or push him away it gives him attention, which is the main reason why a dog jumps up in the first place.

The most effective method in curbing your dog’s jumping behavior is to ignore him and turn away. Don’t speak to him, pet him, or give any eye contact. Continue with whatever you were about to do and only reward him calmly when he has settled down and no longer tries to jump on you. This teaches him that his jumping behavior receives no reward from you (your attention) and sitting or standing calmly does earn him a reward.

4: Chasing
Some dogs are born with a higher prey drive than others and unwanted chasing of objects or other animals can be a hazard for your dog’s well-being; if he chases a squirrel into the street he may be hit by a car, for instance. To keep your dog as safe as possible it’s important to teach him restraint.

It’s best that your dog already knows basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “come” to really work on this behavior modification. When outdoors it’s best to always keep your dog on a leash and under your surveillance. If your dog is triggered by a moving object, a person, or another animal have him sit by your side and give the “stay” command. It’s likely that he will be very excited and it may take a few tries to get him to listen. Once he has done so, you may calmly reward him with a training treat. It’s important to use a high value reward, like a treat, in situations like this.

Another important factor is to always be alert, as an owner, and watch for potential triggers while you are out with your dog; like joggers and other animals. A small but effective tool to use if your dog is off-leash is a whistle. A high-pitched noise should catch your dog’s attention and draw him back to you when necessary. It’s important to work with him in a safe area with the whistle so that he learns to come to you or bring his attention to you when you use it.

Sophie Elvis

5: Digging
It’s a natural instinct for dogs to dig and some breeds, like terrier-types, are more inclined to dig than others. Digging can turn into a problem when your dog starts to destroy your yard or digs out of a fenced area and puts himself in danger.

Here are some common reasons why a dog will dig:
– Hunting instinct
– Boredom
– Anxiety or fear
– Hiding toys or bones
– Nesting or seeking a cool place to rest
– To escape an area or gain access to an area

First, as with most behavioral issues, you must determine why your dog is digging and then work to get rid of the cause. Exercising your dog more and working on training will keep him active and his mind working, which will reduce boredom. You may need to install more secure measures around a fenced area if he continues to dig out. If curbing the digging behavior proves to be more challenging than first thought, you can provide an area where it’s acceptable for him to do so, such as a sandbox. Reward him when he digs in this accepted area. You can do your best to moderate unwanted behavior, but natural instinct cannot be completely undone.

6: Begging
Pet obesity is on the rise in the US and many dog owners encourage begging by giving table scraps as “treats” to their beloved companion. Not only does that weekly, or even daily, treat of human food put on extra pounds, but it can also cause medical issues. Obesity in dogs can cause arthritis, liver disease, diabetes, and heart failure to name just a few.

Dogs are opportunistic eaters and what better time to try and grab an extra snack than when you sit down at the dinner table? It can be hard to resist the puppy dog eyes that they give you but you should remember that feeding him that little bit of your dinner can cause serious consequences.

To keep your dog from begging while you’re enjoying your meal it’s best to have him go to his kennel or another room. If he’s not sitting in front of you and begging with that sweet face you’ll be less likely to give him a bite of your food. If he behaves until you are finished, you may reward him with a dog treat and let him out.

7: Inappropriate Elimination
Potty training a puppy is one of the most trying times of having a dog. There is a lot of time that needs to be devoted to that precious little pup and he will need to be taken out every few hours for the first few months of his life. But it’s in this vital stage that he must learn where it’s appropriate to relieve himself. This problem can also be an issue with adult dogs as well, but can sometimes be because of a medical issue and not a behavioral one.

Here are the most common reasons why a dog will eliminate in the home:
– Submissive or excitement induced urination
– Anxiety
– Territorial marking
– Improper potty training

The first step is to assess why you think that your dog is eliminating in the home. If you notice that he is dribbling urine and trying to urinate frequently it’s recommended that you take him to be examined by your veterinarian; this could be a potential urinary infection or other medical-related problem.

– For a dog that urinates when excited or acting submissive, it’s best to approach him without eye contact and to step toward him from the side.
– When petting him you should scratch under the chin and not the top of the head.
– When you first arrive home don’t speak in an excitable voice and keep things calm until you’ve been able to take him outside to relieve himself.
– If he eliminates in the home don’t make a huge fuss over it, it may frighten or stress him more, and simply clean the mess up. Take him outside and reward him with an excited tone, a treat, or some pats when he eliminates in the accepted area.
– It’s best to keep a routine for when you take him out to potty. For puppies, this means walking them every few hours. A puppy’s age in months directly correlates to how many hours he can go before he needs to be walked. For example, a 2-month-old puppy will need to be walked every 2 hours. As the puppy grows older he will be able to control his bladder longer.

8: Separation Anxiety
There are two types of separation anxiety when it comes to dogs. Simulated separation anxiety is a learned behavior where the dog vocalizes or acts out and thus receives attention from the owner for acting in such a way. Even if the owner verbally reprimands the dog for its behavior, it is still seen as a negative reward in the dog’s eyes. He acts out because he is away from you and knows that you will give him a form of attention if he does so. Common behaviors associated with simulated separation anxiety may be vocalizing, chewing, eliminating in their kennel, and other types of destruction.

True separation anxiety is when a dog experiences real stress when away from the owner. Common signs of true separation anxiety may present as:
– Becoming anxious when the owner is getting ready to leave for the day
– Vocalizing or destructive behaviors occurring in the first 15 to 45 minutes after the owner leaves home
– Wanting to follow the owner around everywhere
– Trying to be in physical contact with the owner whenever possible

If your dog has true separation anxiety you should be prepared to go through rigorous and dedicated training regimens, behavior modification, and efforts to desensitize him. In some cases where true separation anxiety is extreme, medication may be necessary and prescribed by your veterinarian.

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