Dog owners sometimes struggle to understand why their dogs are misbehaving.
They might assume their dogs are simply being naughty, and that the best course of action is to punish them in some way.
However, there are often common reasons behind doggy misbehavior, so to simply assume they are being naughty is a misnomer.
So, if you are having difficulties with your dog, perhaps because you're a new dog owner in need of first-time advice, here are just some of the causes and solutions for the behavior problems you might be encountering.
Behavior Problem #1: Barking
Barking in and of itself isn't a behavior problem. This is the way dogs vocalize themselves, perhaps to warn cats and mailmen away, or to communicate with another dog who is barking at some distance away. Dogs will also bark when they are feeling anxious, when they seek attention, and when they are feeling playful.
So, don't assume barking is a behavior problem, as there is usually a logical reason behind the noise your dog is making. However, if it is driving you up the wall, or if your neighbors are complaining about the noise, it is possible to control your dog's barking by teaching the quiet command. Use it within the training sessions you have with your dog, and practice it whenever your dog starts to bark at home or in the street. If you are consistent with this, then barking should become less of a nuisance problem in the long-term.
Behavior #2: Begging
You know the scene, of course. As you sit down to eat a meal or enjoy a snack, you can almost guarantee that your dog will be by your side, looking up at you with those wide hungry eyes, possibly with a paw or two on your lap as well. This can be a real problem, not only because of the act of begging in itself, but if you do give in to your dog's behavior, you might be putting their health at risk if you give them something harmful.
So, why do dogs beg? It might simply be because they are hungry, so to resolve this, give your dog his food at the same time that you have yours. Your dog might also beg if you have given in to his behavior in the past. In this case, you have inadvertently created a bigger problem for yourself, so now is the time to stop giving in, as the begging behavior will continue otherwise. And your dog will beg simply because he loves nothing more to eat, but you can solve this by removing him from the room when you are eating.
Behavior Problem #3: Chewing
Dogs are naturally wired to chew, so this shouldn't always be considered a problem. However, it can become an issue when it's your slippers, furniture, and other household items becoming mangled up between your dog's sharp teeth.
There are common reasons behind your dog's tendency to chew, above and beyond his natural inclination. Sometimes, a dog will chew on something when feeling anxious. Especially when they have been without company for a long while, they might tend to chew on something to calm their nerves. A dog will also chew when bored, and again, this might be when they have had no company for an age. Dogs also chew to let off energy and to play. And at the puppy stage, dogs also chew when teething.
As a dog owner, you can protect your slippers and other precious items by keeping them away from your dog's reach. You might also confine your dog's movements when you are away from home. However, if you are absent from home for a long while, you should ask somebody to pop in to see your dog, as this will reduce their anxious feelings. Anxiety meds for dogs are also useful, no matter why your dog is feeling anxious. And, of course, a selection of chew toys will do much to distract your dog away from your slippers, shoes, TV remotes, and other household possessions.
Behavior #4: Toileting
Your dog needs to pee and poop as much as you do, so this isn't a problem in and of itself. Of course, it depends where your dog decides to go potty, as if it's on your living room carpet, then you obviously won't be very happy.
Now, this is an issue you will commonly encounter with puppies. When your dog is very young, you do need to housebreak your dog to teach them the appropriate place to do their business. As they get older, they will then be more likely to go to the toilet in the yard, or when they are with you on your daily walks together.
However, there are other reasons why your dog might go to the toilet inside. As discussed previously, it can be a sign of anxiety, as when your dog is feeling nervous and afraid, he may have an unfortunate accident. Certain medical causes, especially in older dogs, might also be the cause of the problem.
So, consider the age of your dog if this is becoming a problem for you. If you have a puppy, use our housebreaking tips, and if your dog is showing signs of age, see your vet for further advice. You should also see your vet, no matter your dog's age, if you suspect there is more to your dog's toileting than age and anxiety. And be sure to walk your dog regularly, or ask somebody to do so on your behalf if you are away from home a lot. You see, chances are, a lack of walks in the day could be the reason behind your dog's toileting 'problem.'
Behavior #5: Jumping up
This is another natural instinct in dogs, and they usually do it when they are excited to see somebody. They might also do it when they sense somebody has something good to eat, or when they suspect the person might want to play with them.
Still, while jumping up is usually playful and non-threatening, it can be hard to convince somebody of this point if they are afraid of dogs. And despite the friendly action, the act of jumping up can be dangerous, especially to somebody small or fragile who can't take the weight of a bigger dog.
To curb this common problem, there are a number of things you can do. Firstly, you could simply push your dog away, although this might not always work, especially if your dog is attention-seeking. Secondly, you could ignore your dog and walk away. He should then get the message that you won't give in to his attention-grabbing behavior. As long as you play with him later, he shouldn't be too upset by your actions. And when it comes to your dog jumping up at another person, you should use call and sit commands to gain control of your dog. Hopefully, you should then be able to manage the problem.
We have only discussed a few behavior issues here, but it might be that you are currently encountering others. For advice, read the relevant training articles on our website, and perhaps pay for training for your dog too, especially if you are having difficulty getting your dog to do what you want them to do. There is, of course, lots more advice on the internet, so Google search the specific issues that you are having with your dog.
In most cases, you will find the solution to your dog's behavior problem, so persevere. As long as you are consistent with the training and support you give to your dog, you should have little trouble managing them in the future. Speak to your vet and/or a dog trainer for other advice should you need it.