Common Dog Behavior Problems: Tips and Solutions

common dog behavior problems solutions

There’s no denying that the best companions in the world are the ones with four furry paws, but what no one tells you is that owning a dog takes a lot of hard work. Sure, anyone can walk into a pet store or dog breeder and purchase a dog, but creating a companion that you can trust around your loved ones and others takes a lot of consistency, determination and training. And here’s the thing: dogs need to be taught how to act respectfully, safely and appropriately. They’re kind of like toddlers in a way, where you have to teach them what is okay and acceptable. Otherwise, they will continue to do the exact same behaviour that is causing you to pull your hair out. Unfortunately, taking your dog to a local training class can be super expensive, which likely explains why as many as 75% of dogs never receive professional training.  

Recent studies show that the average cost for obedience dog training costs up to $75 per day. That price then increases depending on the style of training, the trainer teaching the classes, and the difficulties your dog is having. And sure, you probably think the other alternative is to train your dog at home and perhaps you can, but it can be an excruciatingly frustrating process without the right techniques and lessons. The good news is that you don’t have to pick between having an untrained dog or dishing out a couple of hundred dollars for professional training. Online dog training is the perfect solution, and no, I’m not talking about the random articles or videos you can find online and from some guy with zero training experience. Instead, I’m talking about a high-quality, strategic, systematic training system created by a professional who has the proper techniques for effectively training your dog at home.  

Common Dog Behaviour Problems

All dogs need to be taught how to act appropriately – some more so than others. For example, some dogs are corrected by their parents long before they become part of your family and need minimal work once in your home, whereas other dogs have a quirky personality or weird obsession with your favourite pair of shoes. Some breeds are more prone to having specific types of dog behaviours as well. For example, there are “yappy dog breeds” and “protective dog breeds”, “dominant dog breeds” and so on and so forth. Sure, they’re based on the generalization of the breed and you may get one out of the bunch that isn’t as yappy or as dominant, but typically, they’re quite accurate. And on top of that, you then have the individual dog’s unique personality that can bring on cute, but incredibly frustrating problems. And if we go back to the toddler analogy, if they aren’t taught that these behaviours aren’t appropriate, they will continue displaying them.

While every dog is different, some of the most common types of dog behaviours are: 

  • Aggression
  • Begging for food
  • Being anti-social
  • Being overly protective of family or property
  • Biting (or mouthing)
  • Chasing things (cars, animals, etc.)
  • Destructive chewing
  • Digging
  • Disobedience (not listening to commands)
  • Eating poop
  • Escaping
  • Excessive Barking
  • Fear of noises (thunder, cars, fireworks, etc.)
  • Humping
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Jumping (on people or furniture)
  • Leashing pulling or aggression
  • Pulling on leash
  • Rough play
  • Running away/escaping
  • Stealing things
  • Separation anxiety
  • Unruliness
  • Whining

While some of these may seem cute and even harmless right now, they can quickly lead to worse problems. And the worse the problem, the harder they typically are to fix. So, it’s imperative that you jump on the first signs of these behaviours now before they start wreaking havoc on your finances, relationship and mental health.

What Your Dog’s Behaviours Mean

It can seem like you just have a crazy dog that likes to do this or that. However, many dog behaviours have a cause or reason behind them. For example, your dog may be pulling on the leash or digging up the backyard because it’s their instinct to do so, or perhaps their hyperactivity is because they aren’t getting enough exercise. Some dog behaviours are learned or are bad habits they’ve developed over time, whereas others may be a sign of aggression or insecurity. Understanding what the behaviours your dog is displaying could possibly mean will help you understand why your dog is doing them and determine the most effective solution for correcting it.

Typically, the meaning behind common dog behaviours fall within the following categories but do keep in mind that this isn’t a definitive guide. In other words,  just because your dog’s behaviour falls under the “aggressive” category doesn’t necessarily mean that that is definitely the problem. It is possible that a dog displaying these types of behaviours is bored or experiencing a potential health problem. So, it’s highly recommended to take the following as a general guide and to also speak with your vet to eliminate any possible health risks.

Instinctive Behaviours

Despite your furry companion quickly becoming the most favourite family member, it’s important to remember that they’re your baby; they’re still an animal. And with every animal comes instinctive behaviours that are passed through the breed. Some instinctive behaviours you may notice your dog doing include digging, chewing, chasing, enjoying dead animals, or rolling in dirt, mud or poop. Gross but instinctual. They’re completely natural behaviours that your dog has to survive out in the wild.

Solution: Instinctive behaviours can amongst the most difficult ones to fix because, well, instinctive! This means that your dog has been born with these habits. The best way to minimize or correct these behaviours is to seek professional dog training, whether it’s in-person or online.

Bad Habits

Just like humans, dogs can have bad habits too! And just like humans, these bad habits can be hard to break ‘cold turkey’ or rather, without some proper guidance and training.

Common behavioural problems in dogs include jumping on guests, guarding the house or people, being clingy, begging for food, jumping on furniture, taking over your bed, barking at the door and so on and so forth. These are often behaviours that stem from puppyhood and, when not corrected, worsen with time as they quickly turn into habits.

And not to point fingers or anything but often times, these bad habits are the result of the owner not correcting them at first sight. In some situations, some owners even encourage them without knowing the potential risks (letting the dog sleep in the bed).

Solution: Set clear boundaries and be consistent! Provide your dog with a safe, comfortable environment with enough food and space so they don’t feel like they have to fight for it, and correct the behaviour every time you see it. Yes, every single time!

Health Issues

While it’s easy to mistake some dog behaviours as obedient problems, think: aggression, growling, biting, eating poop, excessive licking and using the bathroom indoors, health conditions can actually cause them. And it isn’t always a physical problem. For example, separation anxiety is one of the main problems within this category and it pertains to your dog experiencing mental health struggles. However, some behaviours can be caused by health issues, or can be a sign of an injury or illness.

Solution: Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to eliminate the possibility that are any potential health problems.

What is Your Dog’s Body Language Trying to Tell You?

Learning how to read your dog’s body language is one of the most important things you can do as a dog owner. It can help you identify the early warning signs of unruly or potentially dangerous behaviours, or spot a potential health problem before it turns into more. And when you know what you look for, you have the ability to step in and find a solution quickly before it worsens.

Here’s what your dog may be trying to tell you based on their body language:

Shy or Nervous Behaviour

The common body language associated with a shy or nervous dog include yawning, licking of their nose, shaking, moving to hide behind you, or having their ears back and flat against their head. Being able to spot these signs can help you take proper action to let your dog know that they are safe and ultimately, to reduce their shy behaviours and anxiety.

One thing to take note of is that a dog may display these behaviours all the time or when triggered. For example, you can have a nervous dog or a dog that gets nervous when [insert trigger].

Fearful Behaviour

Similar to the prior, fearful behaviors can look much like the prior or they can appear as more aggressive behaviours, such as their neck and back hair raising into a “Mohawk”, body stiffness, pulling back, growling or barking.

Anxious Behaviour

Anxious behaviours can also appear as shy or nervous behaviours, or as fearful aggressive behaviours. They can also be any of the prior, amplified. For example, instead of your dog simply hiding behind you when triggered by something, they can display behaviours anytime they aren’t in their comfort zone or with you. This can lead to several separation anxiety and many potentially dangerous problems in the future.

Stalking Behaviour

Your dog may have a stalker-like appearance with a goal to chase after things or running away whenever possible. Common signs of stalking behavior can appear as your dog bowing with a stiff tail, legs bent, and/or eyes fixed on a target.

Playful Behaviour

Not all dog behaviours come from a negative place. Sometimes your dog just wants to love you, cuddle you and get you up off your feet to play. The problem isn’t necessarily the behaviour but that they haven’t received the training needed to express how they feel in an appropriate way.

However, playful body language in dogs can be mistaken as them being disobedient and even aggressive, and can appear as loud barking or a stance similar to stalking, only with a more relaxed, wagging tail.

Now What?

With the information provided in this article, you should be able to identify the potential behaviours and triggers your furry companion is experiencing, and why they’re having them. Next, you’ll want to start correcting the behaviours. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Be consistent
  • Establish clear rules and boundaries
  • Keep your dog exercised
  • Start with basic commands
  • Don’t leave your dog unsupervised
  • Give your dog plenty of things to play with
  • Practice redirection
  • Never use aggressive techniques
  • Reward positive behaviour

Using an online dog training program designed by a professional dog trainer can ensure you have the proper steps needed to tackle all issues quickly and effectively. One of our recommendations is the Brain Training for Dogs Program.

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