Common Dog Behavior Problems: What they usually mean.

Common Dog Behavior Problems: What they usually mean.

Do you ever think that everyone else’s pet behaves, but yours is always getting into trouble?  I love my doggie girls more than one can imagine, but I do realize that they aren’t quite perfect.   When they do something annoying like barking, barking, barking to go outside, I do cringe.  I know it is excitement, but Zoe goes overboard with the excitement.

I am trying to break this habit by ignoring her – sometimes turning my back on her – and being patient.  Well, you know what?  This behavior didn’t happen in a vacuum.  We encouraged it in the beginning and even tried to get her excited.  We didn’t know what our behavior would encourage – it just seemed cute at the time.

There are ten behavior problems that seem to be the most common.  Hopefully, you have the perfect pet, but if you recognize one of these behaviors in your Phydeaux, then you’ll know you aren’t alone.  A good reference that I found, Top Ten Dog Behavior Problems,from Dogs goes into much more detail than I am able to do in this little article and I encourage you to check out the information.  There are links to other issues as well and it seems to be a very good reference link.

1. Barking:

These are the most common types of barking:

  • Warning or Alert
  • Playfulness/Excitement
  • Attention-seeking
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Responding to Other Dogs

If this barking is excessive, one way to correct this behavior is to teach simple “bark/quiet” commands.  The best way to do this is to start early in the pup’s life.  And, don’t forget EXERCISE!

2. Chewing:

Chewing is a natural action for all dogs – it’s just a part of the way they are wired. In spite of this, chewing can become very destructive.  The most common reasons dogs chew are as follows:

  • Puppy Teething
  • Boredom / Excess Energy
  • Anxiety
  • Curiosity (especially puppies)

To counteract some of the dog’s chewing, provide appropriate toys for the dog to chew on.  My Sable thought that everything in the house was made for her to chew.  She chewed normal things like shoes and clothes plus the arm of a sofa and pillows.  The pillow incident ended with me spending an hour and a half picking up those foam stuffing nuggets which stick to anything and everything in the surroundings.  She was a German Shepard/ Great Dane mix so you know that the bigger a dog is the longer she does puppy things.  Finally at about two and a half, she outgrew this bad habit.  By the time Zoe came to us, we had learned to crate her and she rarely chewed things up.

3. Digging:

Every dog I’ve ever known has done some amount of digging – it’s a matter of instinct. I understand that some breeds are more 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

This can be both frustrating for you and dangerous for the dog if she tries to dig under a fence to escape.  Exercise can help with this situation and spending more time with your dog can help, too.  I have a friend who used to cut up pieces of bar soap and put it along the fence line where his dog liked to dig.  It didn’t really work, but there may be other “home remedies” that work – I just don’t know.  One thing that seems to make sense is to provide a designated area where the dog can dig.  Our Phaedra loves to dig when we are at the beach.  She would be a perfect candidate for a sand-box.

4. Separation Anxiety:

My “Grand-Dog, Franklin” has serious separation anxiety.  His behaviors include persistent barking and chewing.  Other issues can be inappropriate urination and defecation, and other forms of destruction that occur when a dog is separated from his owner. Signs of true separation anxiety are:

  • 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

Training, behavior modification, and desensitization work can help, but it takes dedication, time, and lots of patience.  For Frank, medication is given to him every day.  Since he has just lost his “sister”, Bean, his issues have ramped up quite a bit. If you think your dog is experiencing anxiety, talk to your vet or a dog trainer right away.  Stepping in quickly may help deal with the issues.

5. Inappropriate Urination:

Anytime this occurs, consult with your veterinarian.  There can be several physical issues that can cause urination problems.  My dog Cuddles would sometimes urinate while she was sleeping and that turned out to be a hormonal imbalance which was treated and corrected within a couple of days.  Dogs can get urinary tract infections, drink excessive amounts of water as a symptom of an illness, or have some sort of injury which makes them lose feeling and control, so rule physical conditions out right away.  Here are some types of inappropriate urination:

  • Submissive/Excitement Urination
  • Territorial Marking
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-seeking
  • Lack of proper housebreaking

Remember, puppies under the age of 12 weeks do not have control so just be watchful and act as soon as your puppy seems to need to go out.  It’s almost like training yourself.  But, it works!

6. Begging:

This is a difficult problem for dogs.  If their people give in to them, obesity may be in their future.  Perhaps establishing a spot for your dog to sit during mealtimes will help.  Also, getting people in line with you regarding no to feeding from the table will help greatly!

7. Chasing:

Dogs love to chase moving things.  It  is dog-nature and a display of predatory instinct. Many dogs will chase other animals, people and cars. All of these can lead to dangerous and devastating outcomes!  One of our wonderful dogs, Joy, loved to run and run and run.  She would chase anything.  One day, she escaped from our fenced-in backyard and ran out onto a busy street where she collided with a car and died.  I don’t know if there was anything we could have done to prevent this tragedy, but most often there are things you can do which keep your pet safe.

While you may not be able to stop your dog from trying to chase, you can take steps to prevent disaster.

  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times (unless directly supervised indoors).
  • Train your dog to come when called.
  • Have a dog whistle or noisemaker on hand to get your dog’s attention.
  • Stay aware and watch for potential triggers, like joggers.
  • Also, teach your dog the “stay” command so that for some reason or other you shouldn’t use the “come” command, you could perhaps use the “stay” command to insure your pup’s safety.

8. Jumping Up:

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.  More often than not, the traditional ways we think to stop this behavior such as putting up your knee only give the wrong message.

9.  Biting:

Biting in never acceptable and needs to be addressed from the very beginning.  In fact, I think that this behavior may be one of those which requires help from a certified dog trainer who specializes in behavior modification.  The motivation to bite or snap typically comes from the following:

  • Fear or Defensiveness
  • Protection of Property
  • Pain or Sickness
  • Dominance Assertion
  • Predatory Instinct

Socialization, proper training, and good breeding practices can be interventions which help from the very beginning.  If you are buying a puppy or dog, make sure you aren’t dealing with a “puppy mill” because this is a situation where all the animals are at best neglected and at worst abused.  It does not foster healthy dogs.

10. Aggression:

Dog aggression is exhibited by growling, snarling, showing teeth, lunging and biting. It is important to know that any dog has the potential to become aggressive, regardless of breed or history. However, dogs with violent or abusive histories and those bred from dogs with aggressive tendencies are much more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior towards people or other dogs. Reasons for aggression are basically the same as the reasons a dog will bite or snap, but overall canine aggression is a much more serious problem. If your dog has aggressive tendencies, consult your vet first – it may stem from a health problem. Then, seek the help of an experienced dog trainer. Serious measures should be taken to keep others safe from aggressive dogs!”

I hope your dogs have none of these problems,but if they do, don’t despair.  Get help from your vet, books, and perhaps a dog behavior specialist.  Your pet is worth it!


One Comment

  • Aaron Jones on Jun 17, 2013 REPLY

    There’s some really great information here especially about separation anxiety and digging. Thanks for sharing.