Dog Behavioural Problems

Here’s some helpful tips on behavioural problems in dogs.

Aggression – When dogs are aggressive, it’s usually because they’re afraid or nervous. If your dog is aggressive, work with a professional trainer to learn how to teach your dog to rely on you in a healthy way. Never leave an aggressive dog alone with children or unfamiliar adults, even if you think they’re not likely to hurt anyone.

Barking at the Door – To cut the barking, teach your dog a new habit. Pick a spot within sight of the door. Then teach them to lie down and stay when you say, ‘Go to your spot.’ That will help your dog stay calm and give them something to do while they wait to be greeted. Have a friend with a treat come to the door, but only open it when your dog’s quiet. Do this enough and they’ll learn to be quiet to get the treat.

Begging – You can prevent this by never giving your dog food from the table. If you don’t give them tid-bits, they won’t learn to beg. Take them out of the room while you eat or teach them to go to a special spot while you eat.

Biting – Any dog can bite if they feel threatened or nervous. Socialising a dog early teaches them to feel relaxed around people. Gradually expose them to different settings so they will feel safe. Spend a lot of time with them so they learn to trust people. Always watch for signs that your dog is uncomfortable and then do what you can to make them feel secure. Be especially careful around children and food.

Constant Barking – Some dogs bark at things most dogs ignore. Some bark when they’re frustrated. Don’t yell at your dog when they bark. That may make it worse. Obedience training can help fix frustration barking. If your dog learns to sit before doing something fun like going for a walk, they learn to control their impulses. If your dog is outside all day, changing that may help compulsive barking.

Chewing – Dogs, especially puppies, explore the world with their mouth. They like to chew because it calms them. But it’s destructive and could lead to them eating things that they shouldn’t – like dish clothes that could block their intestines. Break the habit straight away. Make sure your dog has chew toys, and give it to them when they chews things they shouldn’t.

Digging – Dogs like to dig, and they’ll need training to get them to stop. You need to catch your dog in the act to stop digging. Say ‘no’ and distract them with a toy. Scolding them after they’ve already dug a hole won’t work – this is all about being consistent when they’re digging, not afterward.

Jumping – It’s natural for a dog to greet people by jumping up, but its not particularly good manners! Don’t give your dog attention unless they have their front paws on the ground. Then you can greet them. Alternatively, tell them to sit. Then wait until they do before petting them. It also helps to keep your greetings low key. That helps your dog learn to control their own excitement.

Not Coming When Called – Always praise your dog when they come to you, whether or not you’ve called them. That way they learn that coming to you is good. If they fail to come, don’t chase them. Call again whilst moving away. Say ‘come’ or ‘here.’

Pulling on the Leash – Help your dog learn to walk calmly beside you. Never let them pull. Otherwise they learn pulling sometimes pays off. Keep the leash short but loose. Stop whenever you feel it go tight. They’ll stop to see why you aren’t moving. When they come back, reward them and keep walking. After a few days, your dog will learn that pulling gets them nowhere fast.

Separation Anxiety – If your dog gets upset when you leave, teach them that you’ll always come back. At first, leave them alone for just 5 or 10 minutes. Stay away a little longer each time. Give them a chew toy or chewy treat. Be calm when you go and return so they know that being alone is OK. Crate-training your dog can prevent separation anxiety, but can be trickier with an anxious older dog.

Whining for Attention – Does your dog whine?  If you pet them, look at them, or do anything except ignore them, teaches them that whining works. To stop it, turn your back when they whine, fold your arms and look away, or leave the room. Pet and play with them when they’re not whining.

Tip: Give them a sandbox where they can dig. Then bury some favourite toys and watch them have fun digging them out.