Having a dog is freaking awesome. Your cute ball of fur is always happy to see you and the feeling is mutual. But sometimes, your four-legged friend misbehaves. Why is that? Plenty of reasons — some natural, others not so much.
We’re here to help you understand the different kinds of dog behavior problems, why they occur, and how to correct them.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What Dog Behavior Is Normal and What Isn’t
- How to Deal With Excessive Barking, Destructive Chewing, and More
- What Causes Dog Behavior Problems
- Aggression Types and How to Deal With Them
Most Common Dog Behavior Problems
What’s the most significant issue when your pet does bad stuff?
Misunderstand your dog’s intentions or using punishment, which only makes things worse. Digging, chewing, play biting, barking, and chasing after moving things are all normal puppy behavior.
It’s in its DNA. Besides, resisting instincts is challenging. You struggle to defy your sexual and social urges, and it’s the same for your pet.
So, some dog behavioral problems are normal. Others can get out of hand. Let’s dig into the minds of our furry pals.
What’s Normal and What Isn’t
There’s something we need to understand as dog owners. Most, if not all, of the listed behavior problems are typical for dogs to a degree. That said, if you wish to reduce or stop this behavior, you can do so in many ways.
Why are standard actions like chewing or play biting such a massive issue? If they go unchecked, they can get extreme. You’ll see what I mean in the examples below.
Let’s go over the most common dog behavior problems, starting with everyone’s favorite — barking.
While we use words to communicate, dogs bark to greet others, warn of intruders, alarm the owner, get attention, or express anger.
Canines are home protectors. Our living space is their territory, and seeing anyone unfamiliar triggers a response, usually a vocal one like barking. It’s them saying: “Hey, back off, pal, this is my turf.”
Barking is a way to greet someone that enters your home. We don’t usually consider it as bad dog behavior, but it can escalate.
How to Deal With Excessive Barking
What to do if your puppy woofs too much? Follow our advice.
Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Bark No Evil
Territorial, alarming, excited, or socially facilitated barks all come from the same place. The reason is that your pup can see or hear other people, animals, or cars.
What’s an easy solution? Fence areas that prevent your pet from perceiving the outside world.
Another option is teaching it that it should wait at a specific place if someone enters the house. It has to be silent and patient until you allow it to greet the guests.
It’s simple yet highly effective. Your animal companion needs to know when to zip it.
“Hush,” “Quiet,” or even “Stop” all communicate the same — no more barking. It’s common behavioral dog training, so say it whenever you feel necessary. When the dog obeys, give it some love and treats. Basic dog commands can also help.
Teach your pet that obedience and rewards go hand in hand. That’s how it will continue being a good boy.
Give It the Cold Shoulder
What happens when you combine barking and attention-seeking?
A problem, especially if you let it slide.
It’s normal for your furry pal to bark and stare at you when it wants head pats, belly rubs, and treats. You can’t say no to those adorable puppy eyes. But you need to learn not to reward this behavior.
You can correct this kind of bad dog behavior quickly. What’s the opposite of giving attention? Ignoring it.
Turn your back, cross your arms, or just leave the room once the barking starts. When it stops, reward your furry pal. Do this until it stops woofing for attention.
Howling is similar to barking — another form of communication for our furry pals. They do it to get attention, contact other dogs, and announce their presence. Some also howl when they hear a high-pitched sound like a car alarm, siren, or instrument.
Deal with howling the same way as barking — with some good old behavioral dog training. If your pet does it for attention, use the “cold-shoulder” treatment. Otherwise, try the “quiet” training to create an association between silence and rewards like head pats and tasty snacks.
Dogs need to chew. Unlike humans, they do it for many reasons — relieving stress, anxiety, frustration, cleaning the teeth, and keeping their jaws strong.
Our canine buddies explore the world and its many wonders with their mouths. Is that a new shoe? Time to chew and see if it’s tasty! You won’t have dog training problems with this type of behavior as it has one lethal enemy — exciting chew toys.
How to Deal With Destructive Chewing
Don’t freak out if your puppy gnaws everything in sight. Teething hurts, and chewing helps alleviate pain. To redirect that, you need to:
- Dog-Proof your house and keep any items you don’t want to be destroyed away from the puppy’s reach
- Apply chewing deterrents to all types of clothing and fabric
- Rotate chewing toys so the dog never gets bored
- Give it chewable snacks like pig ears and skin rolls, or rawhide bones
Remember, you can’t stop chewing, only redirect it.
Food or Resource Guarding
Now, this can be a real pet problem. Back in the day, dogs had to fight for food and guard it against intruders. That’s utterly unnecessary today, but they can’t understand that.
In most cases, food guarding isn’t an issue. Leave your pup to eat in peace. You wouldn’t like someone bothering you with a mouth full of meat, right? It’s the same with them if a bit more extreme.
This problem escalates when you have kids at home. Some dogs only growl if approached when eating. Others bite hard. Your best move is to feed your dog in a separate room.
How to train a bad dog that’s food guarding? Use special treats. Approach your pet while it’s eating, but don’t go too close. Slowly bend your knees, and toss a treat in its bowl. Do this a couple of times. If it doesn’t work, stop and consult a dog behaviorist.
Puppies mount from a young age and take pleasure in thrusting objects, their playmates, or our legs. No one is safe from a horny dog.
Mounting is perfectly normal for doggies. That’s how they prepare for mating later in life.
Even if it’s one of the natural dog behaviors, it’s still a problem if it gets excessive. Not just for us— canines don’t like being mounted either, so your horny four-legged friend can get in trouble if it tries humping the wrong dog.
The best way to reduce this behavior is to neuter your puppy to decrease its sexual urges. Vets also recommend prevention training. When you see your dog preparing to hump something, tell it to sit, give it a chew toy, or even some treats.
Mouthing, Nipping, Play biting
How to correct dog behavior problems that can get dangerous, like mouthing?
First, let’s see what this means.
Mouthing occurs when a dog places its teeth on your skin but doesn’t bite down. It can nibble you without piercing the skin.
From a very young age, puppies bite each other playfully. At one point, one of them bites too hard. Then, the victim yelps, and the attacker gets stunned. That’s how they know the difference between play biting and inflicting pain on their buddies.
Adult dogs that aren’t aware of this cause problems since they don’t know the power of their razor teeth.
To solve this issue, do what puppies do — offer your hand to an inexperienced dog. As soon as it hurts, yell and let your hand go limp. Pull it back, wait a bit, and repeat. It’s one of the common dog behavior problems, but it’s easy to fix with proper training.
Your little furry angel quickly falls from heaven once you leave. It pees everywhere, bites everything, barks loudly, and even tries to escape.
Then you come back home to see the devil horns turned back to a halo. If that’s the case, your dog has separation anxiety. Is your dog following you around everywhere? That’s another sign of this issue.
No worries, unlike our version of it, it’s a bit easier to deal with your pet’s. Such dog problems can turn into a big issue in more severe forms. If that’s the case, talk to a veterinarian or dog behaviorist.
The solution is simple — make your doggy fall in love with being on its own. Train your furry pal by leaving it for short periods and increase the time slowly. Repeat regularly, and soon your dog will handle better the moments without you.
We also recommend puzzle toys stuffed with chewy frozen snacks. But remove the food as soon as you return to teach your pet that delicious snacks appear only when you’re gone.
As another type of communication, whining is also among the normal dog behaviors. Pups do it to attract attention, express excitement, anxiety, or pain, and appease their owner.
Your furry pal can whine about pacifying a perceived threat or telling you that it’s looking to play. Figure out the cause. If you can’t tell from its behavior and body language, discuss the issue with a vet or behaviorist.
You can decrease whining with training in the same way as barking and howling. Follow the steps above, and you should be fine. If the issue persists, it could be a symptom of a bigger problem, like severe separation anxiety, depression, or a chronic disease.
Digging is among the most straightforward dog behavior issues to resolve. Our animal companions were excellent hunters. That’s one of the reasons why we tamed them. So, even if most dogs don’t hunt today, the urge remains.
If you have a yard, you’ve probably seen your furry friend digging like their life depends on it. Among the reasons for this behavior are boredom, excitement, getting to cold soil for cooling down, or burying their toys and chewables.
As a simple yet effective solution, design a digging spot. Put some treats in that area, and then bring your dog there. It’ll smell and dig out the treats. Repeat a few times, and your pet will focus the digging on that spot.
I get it. Those puppy eyes hypnotize you into sharing a piece of chicken. But giving in to this kind of bad dog behavior even once sets you back a lot.
Remember, feeding your dog with scraps now and then damages their health and leads to obesity. There’s specific food for them, and everything else is unnecessary.
Teach your dog to stay in the crate, a special waiting spot, or another room until you finish your meal.
Not Responding to Calling
Disobedience can be a troublesome dog behavior issue because it can happen for many reasons. That said, if your puppy doesn’t answer your call, you have a problem.
Luckily, you can teach it that coming to you means treats. Call their name. If that doesn’t work, pick them up and bring them to your spot for a snack. After that, return them to their previous location and try again.
Later, you can use their favorite chew toys or head pats instead of treats.
Pulling on the Leash
Ah, we’ve come to one of the most widespread dog behavior problems.
Do you know why dogs pull on the leash? Because you didn’t teach them not to. Here’s how to deal with this.
First, get a no-pull harness to prevent injuries. Then, go out with your four-legged friend. Move quickly since dogs aren’t fans of slow walking, to begin with. When you feel it pulling, stop altogether. Once the pup stops, too, give it a treat. Repeat this all the time during walks.
One more thing — don’t excite your puppy before going out. Put its leash on. Then go do something else to let your dog calm down. After that, you can go on your walk peacefully.
Canines like to sniff faces and butts as a way of greeting. It’s one of the many reasons for jumping, but humans usually aren’t too fond of this. Like all dog behaviors that revolve around excitement, it’s time to teach it how to stay calm.
When someone arrives, and the pup starts jumping, tell your guest to cross their arms and turn around. Once the dog calms, tell your friend to give it with some treats and head pats.
Rewards come to good boys that know how to behave.
Inappropriate elimination is an annoying pet problem that can come from anxiety, marking unfamiliar territory, inadequate housetraining, or medical issues.
First, make sure your puppy knows where to do its business. Get an in-house doggy potty and notice when your furry friend needs to go. Then, take them to the appropriate place, and give them a treat once they’re done.
Second, elimination out of anxiety or submission is a whole other story. In that case, help your dog build confidence. Play with it more, introduce it to some friendly pups, or do fun activities with other dog owners. If this doesn’t work, consult a behaviorist.
A dog peeing in the house may also mean that it’s marking unfamiliar territory or objects with other animal scents. That’s also standard practice for canines, so make sure to monitor your pup. If it tries to mark a place by raising one leg, quickly step in and take them outside. Male dogs are the biggest offenders, and neutering them helps significantly with this issue.
Hyperactivity and Unruliness
Cases of sudden dog hyperactivity or even attention deficit disorder are rare, and few studies explore this. In most cases, dogs that got a lot of attention adapt to such behavior.
So, what’s the dog training used for behavior problems like this one?
Once again, the cold shoulder comes in handy. When your pup acts hyperactive, turn around and ignore. After that, give it a tasty reward.
If your furry pal can’t keep calm after lots of exercises or the training suggested above, visit a vet. You can also increase the physical and mental activities and spend more time with your pup.
Our adorable four-legged pals need to chase moving things like cats, squirrels, cars, joggers, and even small children. After all, these animals were once predators. It’s one of the most common dog behavior problems owners struggle with.
Thankfully, it’s easy to fix with some basic training. Most owners already teach their dogs voice commands like “Sit” or “Stop”. If you haven’t, now’s the time. Try training outside where your pet can see that moving objects are a normal part of the world.
What Causes Dog Behavioral Problems
Bad pup behavior often means that the owners didn’t correct it on time. In the worst case, some even encourage it unconsciously.
Most, if not all, of these behaviors, are instinctive. So before you freak out and look frantically for ways to stop dog behavior problems, remember — canines don’t see them as something terrible.
When you bring your pup home, start training it immediately.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t respond to attention barking, howling, or whining.
- Dog Proof your house and move any items you don’t want to be destroyed away from your pet’s reach.
- Show your pup that it doesn’t need to guard its food by giving treats when it eats or dedicate a special place for it to feed alone.
- “Sit” training helps with most dog problems like mounting, jumping on people, or pulling on the leash.
- Use exciting chew toys right before you leave to teach the association between alone time and rewards.
- Give your pet a treat when it answers your call, so it learns that obedience comes with rewards.
- Always monitor your pup in new places so it doesn’t inappropriately eliminate.
- Make sure your dog gets enough physical and mental exercises regularly.
- If nothing helps, try a humane dog training collar.
Even after everything we discussed above, there are more reasons for your dog behavioral problems.
To some extent, genes dictate behavior — hunting dogs like chasing stuff, while watchdogs tend to bark more.
It’s vital to know the breed’s characteristics before you get a dog. For example, Basenjis handle being alone well, so they’re suitable for people that aren’t home often. On the other hand, Anatolian Shepards aren’t great household pets since they’re used to no human contact for long periods.
Dog training for behavior problems is hard if you have a puppy or an older dog.
Here are the problems that come with different canine age groups.
Puppies under 12 weeks old have a problem with inappropriate elimination, so it’s normal if your dog is peeing in the house. Dog diapers are the solution.
At that time, they also grow teeth, so they need to chew all the time. It will stop once they get older.
Playful biting is also common. Keep in mind that if your pet doesn’t have a companion, this behavior can become a problem when it grows up.
Having fun with biting is cute when a puppy does it. Yet, an adult pup may shred your hand. Follow our instructions above if your big canine friend doesn’t know how to be gentle.
Once our pups get old, more dog behavior issues arise. They develop a fear of noises, small children, and other dogs and might act aggressively. House soiling also becomes a problem.
It’s hard to deal with the misfortunes of old age. But you can try an age-appropriate diet, regular exercises, vet checkups, and, most importantly, a lot of love and support.
Among the common dog behavior problems and solutions, aggression is the most significant issue. It’s hard to figure out why it happens, but you need to know if you want to correct it. Keep in mind that some breeds are more aggressive by nature.
Signs of Aggression
Pups show signs of aggression before they act. A dog won’t just attack without warning its target first.
Look out for these signs of aggression in your four-legged friend:
- Stiff and rigid body posture
- Showing teeth
- A guttural and threatening bark
- Muzzle punch
- Wild mouthing
- Biting that doesn’t damage the skin
- Quick biting that tears the skin
- A strong bite causing a puncture wound
- A gripping bite and shaking the victim
Let’s explore the various aggressive dog behavior problems.
When pups are afraid, they don’t resort to aggression immediately. But if a dog can’t escape the threat, it’s going to try quick bites. That said, you won’t suffer a lot of damage since a scared dog uses a combination of biting and running away.
Does your pet get grumpy when someone approaches their food, favorite toy, or spot? We already talked about food guarding, and you can use the same approach in all of these cases.
So, how to deal with dog behavior problems of possessive aggression? Try leaving your pup to enjoy alone their most prized possession. If it bothers you, talk to a dog behaviorist.
When puppies play aggressively, give it a timeout. Once your pet settles down, it can resume playing. Having a leash is also a great idea, so you can immediately pull the dog away when needed.
It occurs when a canine can’t direct its wrath toward its target. So the dogs are scuffling, and right before your pup gets to bite their prey, you pull it away. That’s when you become the target.
It’s one of those aggressive dog behavior problems that’s hard to fix because you’re not the original source of wrath. Try using a leash instead of picking up a hostile dog with your own hands to avoid redirected aggression.
Irritable, Conflict, and Impulse Control Aggression
We can tell someone to piss off when they’re annoying. Dogs let us know that with body language, which we don’t understand most of the time.
Once you learn to see the signs of aggression, it won’t be an issue.
Aggression Toward Other Dogs
If your pet doesn’t spend enough time with other pups, it can develop behavior issues. This problem escalates when it grows up.
Imagine having a dog at home and bringing in another furry cutie. It’s probably going to end up badly.
In this case, you should look up a dog behaviorist immediately for assistance.
That’s not one of the dog behavior problems, per se. It’s more of a killer instinct. Since our pups are distant relatives of wolves and coyotes, hunting moving objects is part of their nature.
The issue is that predatory aggression comes with no warning signs. After all, the hunter doesn’t want its prey to know what’s coming.
Make sure to keep your pup on a tight leash.
Pain-induced and Medical Causes of Aggression
A dog in pain becomes aggressive out of nowhere. Since they don’t know we intend to help, any advancements toward them are a threat.
A female dog protecting its pups, or toys resembling pups, can become aggressive, and it’s one of the common dog behavior problems.
Once her hormonal state normalizes, or the puppies are weaned, the problem usually disappears. That said, maternal aggression can mean killing or cannibalizing her offspring, which is more common after the first litter.
Some owners don’t see protective aggression as an issue. It’s normal for a pup to safeguard a new family member, like a baby. But it can get problematic once our four-legged friends start seeing everyone outside the family as a potential threat.
How to train a bad dog that’s territorially aggressive?
Like wolves and coyotes, canines are very protective of their space. They’re quick to bark at any unwanted person stepping on their territory.
It turns into an issue when a dog starts biting intruders, which in their eyes can be anyone — from a random passerby to their owner’s friend.
Most canine troubling behaviors can be solved if your pet’s young. That’s why we recommend thorough research to inexperienced owners.
Teach basic “Sit” and “Quiet” commands right from the start as it can help with many future problems.
Remember, when it comes to good behavior, rewards do better than punishment.
Hopefully, you can now distinguish between dog behavior problems, tell why they occur and deal with them.