Eliminate Bad Dog Behaviors
Most people who have been around dogs for a period of time can identify some familiar
behavioral problems. Some are more serious than others. Some problems can be traced
back to a genetics and normal canine behavior gone astray. Others are caused by the
environment, either through poor socialization as a puppy, trauma, or simply through
owners who have unwittingly encouraged behaviors that eventually become problems.
Unless pet owners have been trained, the average dog owner may recognize the problem
but have little idea where the problem originated or how they can help their dog overcome
or even eliminate the problem. If you are one of those owners, relax, you are not alone.
Most people misunderstand and mishandle their dog’s behaviors. There are 10 common
dog problems that most people will experience with their dogs at one point in their life:
Almost all dogs bark, howl and whine to some extent. However, excessive barking or
nuisance barking is considered a behavior problem because it is disruptive and annoying.
Before you can correct the barking, one must decide why the dog is vocalizing in the first
place. These are the most common types of barking:
• Warning or Alert
• Responding to Other Dogs
There are ways to curb excessive barking. A complete analysis can be found on our page,
Barking. Click for More Information.
Chewing 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 the dog chews on objects not meant to
be chewed, shoes, furniture, electrical wires and so forth. Again, there are commonly
recognized reasons why dogs chew. The most common reasons dogs chew are as follows:
• Puppy Teething
• Boredom / Excess Energy
• Curiosity (especially puppies)
You will never be able to eliminate all chewing in dogs, and of course you would not want
to. But you can encourage appropriate chewing. Methods for helping a puppy/dog
overcome a destructive chewing habit can be found on our Chewing page. Click for More
4. Separation Anxiety
If given the chance, most dogs will do some amount of digging, it is part of their instinct.
Certain breeds, like Terriers, are more prone to digging because of their hunting histories.
In many cases, we have bred certain dogs to dig. In general, most dogs dig for these
• Boredom or Excess Energy
• Anxiety or Fear
• Hunting/ Prey Instinct
• Comfort-Seeking (such as nesting or cooling off)
• Hiding Possessions (like bones or toys)
• To Escape or Gain Access
A dog that digs holes in the back yard can be frustrating. A dog that digs their way under a
fence to escape can create a very dangerous situation. There are ways to eliminate this
behavior. Click on our Digging Page for More Information.
5. Inappropriate Elimination
Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly discussed dog behavior problems. This
disorder manifests itself in excessive vocalization, chewing, inappropriate urination and
defecation, and other forms of destruction that occur when a dog is separated from his
owner. Not all of these actions are the result of separation anxiety. Signs of true separation
• 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
True separation anxiety requires dedicated training, behavior modification and
desensitization exercises. Medication may be recommended in extreme cases, but this
should be a last resort Click on our Separation Anxiety page for More Information.
Inappropriate urination and defecation are among the most frustrating dog behaviors for
their human families. . 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
• Submissive/Excitement Urination
• Territorial Marking
• Lack of proper housebreaking
Inappropriate elimination is unavoidable in puppies, especially before 12 weeks of age.
Older dogs are another story - many require serious behavior modification to rid them of
Another common problem associated with elimination is coprophagia, or the eating of
feces. This is a common problem but thoroughly revolting to human. Starting in puppy-
hood it can become a habit that is difficult to break. Click on our Inappropriate Elimination
page for More Information.
Begging is a bad habit, but many dog owners unfortunately encourage it. This can lead to
digestive problems and obesity. Worse yet, it can undermine your role as Alpha or the pack
leader. There are ways to curb this behavior and we will discuss them at length on our
Begging Page. Click for More Information.
8. Jumping Up
A 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. There are ways to prevent this behavior. Click on
our Chasing page for More Information.
Puppies 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. These methods are often
considered Old School and newer ways seem to work better. Click on our Jumping Page for
Dogs 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
Some breeds bite more than others, but biting can be control through proper training. Click
on our Biting Page for More Information.
Dog aggression is displayed by growling, snarling, showing teeth, lunging and biting. All
dogs have the potential to become aggressive, irrespective 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, one which can be dangerous to
humans as well as the dog. Click on our Aggression Page for More Information.