- Common dog behavior problems
- Tips for dog behavior problems
Common dog behavior problems
Some of these dog behavior problems do not have easy solutions. Continually barking or urine marking in your house are instinctual behaviors that will be very difficult to extinguish. In those cases, the advice in this article will lean toward realistic information and ways to manage the behavior you cannot change. Patience and the ability to keep control of your own frustration are the most important qualities in a successful trainer.
Tips for dog behavior problems
Before we get into the dog behavior problems themselves, I want to remind you of a few big-picture points that will keep you on track. Remember the following as you address the issues individually:
1-As always, consistency is key. For instance, if you don’t want your dog barking when the doorbell rings, but you sometimes let him do it just for the heck of it, you are not being very clear with your communication.
2-Control your dog’s surroundings for the first year of training—even longer if you’re experiencing one of the common dog behavior problems. If you always supervise your dog or make sure he’s in a contained area when you can’t watch him, he can’t sneak off to do something you don’t want him to do. This way, the unwanted habit is either stopped or not established in the first place.
3-If your dog isn’t acting as you want, then that’s on you, not him. He just hasn’t fully learned what you expect of him. Dogs have a lot to take in when learning our expectations and way of communicating. Please be empathetic.
4-If your dog shows the slightest sign that he doesn’t really understand how you want him to behave—usually when he does something you don’t like two or more times in a row—take a step back in training. This is particularly true when you change a variable on him, such as his surroundings.
5-Finally, know this: About 90 percent of unwanted behaviors happen because your dog is simply bored. That’s why they are common with higher-energy dogs. If a dog isn’t being stimulated both mentally and physically, he’ll use that pent-up energy some other way—for instance, he might dig up your yard or chew the pillows on your couch.
In fact, researchers at Bristol University surveyed four thousand people with dogs and found that, on average, the less a person played with their pet, the more common dog behavior problems the dog had. For many pet parents, making sure their dogs get adequate exercise will be a lifelong commitment, as it is the most practical, natural way to address most chronic, unwanted behaviors.
(A) Leash Aggression:
The first one of the common dog behavior problems is leash aggression. Many dogs grow up to become leash reactive, leash aggressive or serious leash pullers! Here are two great tips for preventing any leash related problems:
a. Teach good leash manners! All leash problems can be avoided if we teach your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash early. Don’t let your dog learn to pull you wherever he wants to go. If your dog starts pulling, root yourself in place! Then get his attention, call him to you and change directions, rewarding him for his attention and his loose leash!
b. On Leash on By! Leash issues stem from allowing dogs to sporadically greet or be greeted while leashed. Put a predictable rule structure in place early by never having your dog greet or be greeted while on leash. Teaching your dog that greetings with people or dogs occur only off leash allows them to focus on you while leash walking, instead of worrying about or trying to go see that passing dog or person!
(B) Jumping on People
The 2nd one of the common dog behavior problems is jumping on people. To solve this problem you should follow these steps:
Four on The Floor: To prevent jumping, teach your dog good things happen when all four feet are on the floor. If your dog jumps on you, turn around and ignore him and turn back around and reward with treats or attention when his paws are back on the ground!
The most important part of preventing unwanted jumping is to make sure jumping is NEVER rewarded. If sometimes your dog gets food, toys or attention for jumping, even occasionally, he is going to continue to jump. Make sure everyone meeting your dog has been told to completely withdraw attention and turn away if they jump.
Default Sit: Teach your dog that the way to get attention, toys or food is by offering a default sit. Use your dog’s meal as a training tool, walk up to your dog with the food, if your dog jumps on you, simply turn around and walk away. Repeat this pattern until your dog stops jumping up, and instead offers a sit (this will take between 3-5 tries) then reward your dog with a few kibbles and repeat.
You can do this using a tug toy also, only playing with your dog when they offer a sit. By not scolding or asking for a sit, your dog will learn that sitting automatically is always the fastest way to get what they want, always! If, after several tries your dog does not sit, ask for a sit once, and reward. Then go back to approaching and not asking for the behavior, the single prompt will teach your dog what you want.
Another solution for jumping on visitors problem:
Does your dog jump up on visitors? Teach her to wait politely on her pedestal and allow the visitor to approach her on their terms. Practice this strategy over and over with a friend.
- Ring the doorbell, send your dog to the pedestal, and give her a treat. You want the sound of the doorbell to eventually be a cue for her to get on the pedestal.
- While she is on the pedestal, practice opening and closing the door. Give her a treat while she is standing on the pedestal.
- Now practice with a friend.
- If your dog jumps off the pedestal to greet the visitor, the visitor should turn his back and ignore your dog. Your dog won’t like to be ignored and will learn to stay on her pedestal to get attention.
- If your dog stays on her pedestal, allow the visitor to approach her and give her a treat.
(C) Resource Guarding
The 3rd one of the common dog behavior problems is resource guarding. Becoming aggressive when approached by a person while in possession of something valued, typically food, chew bones or toys is called resource guarding.
To prevent resource guarding, regularly practice the tips below and your dog will be eager for you to approach them, no matter what they have!
a. Food Bowl Bonus: While your dog is eating, walk over and add some tasty treats to the bowl of kibble. b. Trade-Ups: When your dog is chewing on a chew-bone, approach and offer them to trade for an even tastier item such as a peanut butter stuffed Kong.
c. “Stolen” Item Prevention: If your dog takes something out of the trash or starts chewing on a household item and you rush over and snatch it away, they will quickly learn to growl to protect their treasure.” Practice good prevention to keep these items out of reach of your dog. When your dog does get into something he shouldn’t, offer a trade-up instead of taking it away by force.
d. Chew Toy Sharing: Sit on the floor with your dog and hold onto a chew bone or Kong for them while they snack. They will appreciate the help, and associate hands near their chew items as a great thing! Even better, stroke your dog’s head, neck and paws while they snack!
(D) Destructive Chewing
The 4th one of the common dog behavior problems is destructive chewing. To solve this problem you should follow these steps:
a.Prevention, Prevention, Prevention: It is important enough to say three times! Make sure to keep dogs in an area where they won’t be able to get any unwanted chewing items. Use baby gates, playpens and elevated storage, such as high shelves, to accomplish this.
Keep dogs out of “hot-zone” rooms with lots of tempting items. Prevent your dog from getting things they shouldn’t, if they repeatedly chew on inappropriate items, they will think they are chew toys! It is our job to teach them what is for chewing and what is not.
b. Good Chewing Habits: Make sure to teach your dog early what things are appropriate for chewing, and provide them with ample things to chew on. Dogs have to chew, so make sure you have a wide variety of chew items, including many “stuff able” chew toys such as Kongs and hollow bones available at all times.
Stuff these items well so your dog will be interested in them. Have chew bones stashed away, if your dog gets a hold of something he shouldn’t, trade up for a chew toy instead.
Another solution for chewing problem:
Some dogs (especially puppies) will chew destructively on your shoes, furniture, or other inappropriate items. Use these simple steps to manage this behavior problem.
- Don’t set your dog up for failure by leaving your shoes out and then punishing her for chewing them. Put your shoes away.
- If your dog has your shoe, do not chase her (as she thinks this is a fun game). Tell her “No, drop it” .
- Replace the shoe with something better, such as a chew toy. Say “good” when you give it to her.
- Your dog wants to chew, so give her something appropriate to chew on. Provide a variety of rubber and rawhide chews.
- To deter your dog from chewing on furniture, rub wintergreen oil on it. This is an essential oil with a strong, refreshing odor that deters dogs. It is organic with no dangerous chemicals.
(E) Separation Anxiety
The 5th one of the common dog behavior problems is separation anxiety. To solve this problem you should follow these steps:
a. Low-Key Come and Go: Long drawn out and hyped up exits and entrances cause anxiety. Make leaving and coming home no big deal to your dog, by being calm and quiet. Say goodbye and hello calmly, without creating an emotional tornado for your pup.
b. Prevent Boredom: When leaving your dog alone for a while, take care to prevent boredom by leaving plenty of appropriate chew items, stuffed chew toys or food puzzles to give your dog something to do in your absence, and keep those brains and jaws busy instead of worrying.
c. Crate Train: Done properly, crate training a dog will provide them with a safe and secure place they enjoy spending time in. A good crate will also prevent them from chewing inappropriately or having accidents in the house. Crate training, or play-pen training is a necessity for young puppies who are still house training but will also help to prevent the puppy from being anxious when left alone.
d. Teach Independence: Many people take time off from work or adjust their schedules when they bring home a new dog, to allow them to have more time at home initially with their new family member. This aids in the process of house-training and chew-toy training, but if not handled properly it can also contribute to separation anxiety.
If you spend the first week or two with your new dog or puppy, and then suddenly go back to work and leave your dog home alone for a few hours at a time, this sudden transition will be understandably scary.
When you bring your puppy or new dog home, take some time to crate or play-pen train them, and start practicing by leaving them alone, with ample chew toys and an empty bladder, for short periods of time in their crates or play pens. This process will help your puppy or dog learn to be comfortable spending some time alone and will prevent anxiety.
Another solution for separation anxiety problem:
Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their owner leaves. This can manifest as whining and barking, destroying furniture, relieving themselves in the house, or obsessive behaviors. Help your dog break this pattern of anxious behavior by giving her something else to focus on.
- Before you leave, hide treats all around the house.
- Your dog will be entertained and distracted while you are out.
- When you leave, don’t make a big deal of it. Hand your dog a peanut butter-stuffed Kong or food-dispensing toy to keep her busy while you make your exit.
- At first, practice returning home after just a few minutes. Don’t make a big deal with your entrance; keep it low key.
(F) Body Handling Fear/Aggression
The 6th one of the common dog behavior problems is body handling fear/aggression. Take time to get your new dog comfortable and happy about all types of body handling! Make sure your dog is having fun during these exercises, if you scare your dog they will be fearful or aggressive of handling in the future.
If at any point your dog seems scared or unhappy by a particular thing, take time to go through it slowly, with lots of treats and praise. If your dog is still fearful, seek the advice of a professional trainer or fear-free veterinarian to help you.
a. Take a little time every day to handle your dog, while giving treats or kibble to keep them fun. Look in your dog’s ears, lift their lip to check their teeth, handle all of their legs and paws, and tap each toe nail with your finger. After handling each body part, feed a treat or piece of kibble.
b. Practice gently restraining your puppy every day, to teach them to be relaxed with hugs and restraint in the future. Pick your dog up in your arms and gently “hug” them, hold them gently in different positions. If your dog begins to squirm, continue to hold them gently until they relax, before putting them down.
Never put your dog down when they are squirming, or they will learn to squirm more! If your dog seems nervous about this process, have someone else feed kibble or treats while they are held to keep it positive.
(G) Digging problem
The 7th one of the common dog behavior problems is digging. Is your dog digging up your yard? Some dogs want to dig, and it is futile to try to stop this behavior entirely. Instead, try one of these tactics to give your dog an appropriate place to expend her energy.
- Dogs sometimes dig to find a cool spot to lie in. Define an area where she is allowed to dig, and add water to make it extra appealing to dig in.
- To avoid muddy paws, make a digging spot filled with wood shavings or rubber mulch.
- Section off a part of your lawn with shade and lush green grass or sand, both of which are ideal for digging.
- An elevated dog bed will keep your dog cooler than a bed on the ground. This cool spot may stop your dog’s desire to cool off by digging a hole.
(H) Hyperactivity Problem
The 8th one of the common dog behavior problems is hyperactivity. When a dog is hyper, any attention (whether good or bad) can reinforce or escalate the behavior. Therefore, when a dog is overly excited, we use the “least reinforcing scenario” to calm the situation.
- When you play with your dog, there may come a time when she is too hyper, and you wish to de-escalate the situation.
- Stop the game, turn your back on your dog, and ignore her.
- Your dog will be a little unsure of what to do and will soon calm down and look at you.
- Once she gives you calm attention, the game can resume. The game is her reward for the calm attention.
Every time your dog is too hyper, remove your attention. And every time she gives you calm eye contact, reward her with your attention. With every repetition, your dog will learn this game and will be quicker to give you her calm eye contact.
(I) Barking problem
The 9th one of the common dog behavior problems is barking. If your dog barks while you are not home, there is not a lot you can do other than control the environment (such as closing the blinds so your dog can’t see out the windows). This section deals with the problem of your dog barking excessively while you are home. There are different reasons why your dog may be barking; address each one with its proper technique.
- Barking because she wants to go outside: Install some doggy doorbells and teach her to use them to alert you.
- Alert barking: If she sees something novel outside (a strange car or a squirrel) she may be trying to alert you. Go look, and assure her “It’s nothing, settle down.”
- Barking for attention: Don’t let your dog get in the habit of demanding attention from you by repeatedly barking at you. When she does this, REMOVE your attention.
- Barking to scare away people: As much as it is in your control, do not allow this to be an effective technique. Instead, engage your dog when she turns her attention back to you.
- Having your dog lie down should cause her to stop barking.
Some types of barking are easier than others to stop. Excitable barking will be very difficult to change unless you are incredibly consistent with your training.
(J) Puppy Biting, Nipping
The 10th one of the common dog behavior problems is biting, nipping. As puppies’ baby teeth grow in, they have the urge to bite on things, including your finger, nose, and ear. We gently inform the puppy (without punishment) that we don’t like this behavior.
- Puppies have control over how hard they bite. YOU decide what is an acceptable pressure.
- If your puppy bites too hard, say, “Ouch! That hurt! I’m not playing with you anymore,” and turn your back on your puppy.
- After about 10 seconds, go back to playing with your puppy. Keep repeating this process.
Your puppy values your attention and engagement. Your puppy will learn that every time he bites too hard, he loses you. He will learn to not bite hard.
(K) Begging at the Table
The 11th one of the common dog behavior problems is begging at the table. Does your dog pace, whine, and paw at you at the dinner table? Use these steps to easily train her to lie down.
- Have your dog lie down on her dog bed next to the table.
- Have a treat jar on the table. Every few minutes, give your dog a treat.
- If your dog wanders around, send her back to her spot.
- You’ll be surprised at how long your dog will hold her position in hopes of another treat!
This method is very effective and takes the stress out of dinnertime begging (for merely the cost of a few treats). Your dog is practicing self-control, and rehearsing the behavior of lying down politely.
(L) Lunging at Bikes Problem
The 12th one of the common dog behavior problems is lunging at bikes. Does your dog bark and lunge at passing bikes, skateboards, motorcycles, and cars? The more you allow your dog to engage in this predatory behavior, the worse it will become; interrupt the behavior with these steps.
- Create distance by moving away from the vehicle.
- Get your dog used to the object by having it be still and then gradually moving it back and forth. Your goal is to get your dog bored with it.
- Redirect your dog; when she starts to focus in on the vehicle, get her attention by having her do a trick or giving her treats or doing something fun. Ideally, you want to pattern her so that every time she sees a bicycle, she whips her head around to look at you instead.
Instinctual drives, such as a chase drive, are always difficult to control. These three exercises are the best ways to eventually reduce the drive, although it may take several months to see a change. Even if your dog has a good recall, it will be nearly impossible to call a dog off of an active chase. Better to interrupt the chase before it starts.
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