Having a cute furry pooch is so enchanting and a look at him can give you a feeling of happiness. However, sometimes it can place you in an awkward situation by behaving badly. The need to understand the instinct of a dog is necessary because misunderstanding a dog’s behavior can only make it worse.
There could be many reasons for misbehaving, let’s get deep learning on what are the normal behaviors and what are problematic, what are the reasons behind common dog behavior issues, and how to correct behavioral issues in the dog.
What Are the Normal and Problematic Behaviors?
Normal or intrinsic behaviors are those that are naturally in-built. For example digging, chasing behind moving objects, and chewing are normal behaviors. These behaviors can only be minimized by proper training. However, if a dog is not properly trained in their puppyhood, these behaviors can become problematic.
Here is the list of common dog behavior issues with their solutions. Let’s start with aggression- a common problematic behavior.
Talking out about the aggression can give a snapshot of a biting dog, but that’s not exactly what the aggression is. It is a variety of behavior such as biting, growling, showing teeth, and nervousness. Sometimes aggression is also the manifestation of jealousy, and possessiveness about their place, environment, and food. This behavior can be annoying especially if it shows up for the pet owners and families.
How to Fix Aggressive Behavior?
The key rule is never to make eye contact with an aggressive dog, nor uses harsh words it can trigger the situation. Approach the dog carefully, ignore their aggressive behavior, and use positive words to calm an aggressive dog. This behavior can be managed by using obedience training and positive behavior methods at the early age of a puppy.
Barking is a way of communication in dogs and they bark to alert their owners about the arrival of a stranger or any suspicious thing. But the unnecessary barking is an annoying and problematic behavior particularly when the reason for barking is not obvious.
To resolve excessive barking behavior you need obedience training, desensitization, and developing the new habits that can be effective. Desensitization of the trigger can help your dog to handle the situation for example when a knock on the door teach your dog to bark once or twice and then wait patiently for you to come and see who is there.
Separation anxiety is when a dog gets upset about separation from the people they are attached to or their pet parents. Other possible causes are changes in the adoption family, food schedule, or residence. Sometimes, the new addition of a family member shifts the owner’s attention and causes separation anxiety. Manifestation of separation anxiety includes destructive chewing, urination, defecation at inappropriate places, whining, and growling.
It can be corrected by a training called counter-conditioning, which is done by associating any of the dog’s fear or situation of being alone with a treat or delicious food that a dog loves. Through this association, dogs will learn to predict good things.
Desensitization is also another way to counteract it. It can be done by separating your dog from their favorite thing for a very short time and when a dog gets used to this duration, increase it gradually. In case of any medical condition distressing your pup, you need to consult a veterinarian.
Hyperactivity and Rough Play
Each dog has different requirements for activity according to its breed, age, and size. They need proper exercise, and playtime to utilize their energy accurately. Hence the lack of proper stimulation can make a dog hyperactive and your pooch becomes uncontrollable while playing. During this rough play, your dog can hurt himself, other pets, or the kids around them.
How to Fix It?
A pet owner must know the exact exercise requirement according to the breed and give them a daily walk, and playtime to spend their energy. Try clicker training, as it is best to avoid hyperactivity and helps in calming a dog. Rough play is usually common in dogs but it should be stopped if it is approaching to fight. To impede rough play you need to get quiet and stop the interaction. Separate your dog and make him feel that game is finished, and they also need to stop.
An annoying behavior common in dogs is disobedience. When you call your dog and they do not pay attention nor come to you, or you went for a walk and your dog keeps on pulling the leash or trying to escape.
To fix disobedience behavior you need to exercise the obedience training basics. Ascertain your dominance strictly. Pulling on the leash needs to be taught to your dog. It can be reduced by using no-pull harnesses and short fun walk sessions with your dog can reduce their curiosity to escape and wander off.
Mouthing and Biting
Mouthing is common behavior in which a puppy does not bite, just puts his mouth and teeth around the hand or arms of a pet owner. Skin is not pierced, dog only nibbles. It is a normal behavior in puppies particularly when they do playful biting. Though it is harmless but can cause a chance of biting and unknowingly can hurt others.
How to Solve It?
Dog training for bite inhibition and obedience can also work for mouthing. Give your dog a teething toy instead of your hand, and do not encourage rough play during which dogs usually do mouthing. Use treats to encourage good behavior in your dog.
Protectiveness or Over Possessiveness
Most dogs have a behavior called resource guarding in which a dog becomes over possessive about their owner, place, and food. A dog who does not like to share its environment indicates an aggressive, insecure, or overprotective dog.
Fixation of Over-Possessive Behavior
To fix this behavior, start socializing with your pup at an early age. Another way is to take away the favorite toy of your dog or ask him to drop it while playing. Give him a treat right after the toy is taken and after a few hours return the toy.
This will teach a lesson and make him understand that dropping the toy does not mean losing it forever. Rather, it means treats are going to be offered and the toy will also come back again. Playing throw and fetch with their favorite toy is also a good way to reduce possessiveness.
Eating poop is also called Coprophagia. Though eating poops either their own or of other animals seems disgusting but it is normal behavior in dogs. The exact reasons for coprophagia are not known. Dogs are sniffers, particularly young puppies who have the habit of sniffing and putting everything in their mouths. Hence, preventing your dog from eating feces can be a difficult task.
The only way to deal with coprophagia is to: ensure feces-free surroundings, clean the poop immediately after your dog is done, and provide nutritionally rich food as deficiency of some mineral or presence of parasites can also develop this habit.
Chasing After Objects
Chasing after moving objects is a natural predatory instinct of dogs. They love to chase behind every moving object like people, animals and even moving bikes or cars. Though it is normal behavior it can lead to serious accidents and there is no way to completely stop it but can be minimized by desensitization.
The possible ways of desensitization are: introduce your dog to the surroundings and moving objects around to consider them a part of their living environment. Train your dog in some basic commands like sit, stay, and calm, and use them according to the need. During the outside walk always watch out for possible triggers like squirrels, and bicycles and place your dog on a leash to avoid any hazard.
Canines greet each other by sniffing faces and butts. Dogs want to greet humans in the same way but the human’s face is located too far for the dog and inconveniently they have to jump up for sniffing. The main reason for jumping is dogs trying to fulfill their normal doggy greeting etiquettes.
On the other hand, humans usually find it uncomfortable and don’t enjoy the dog’s excitement; also a dog can hurt humans by scratching their nails.
To resolve this behavioral issue a few steps need to be taken. Like, you need to ignore your excited pooch on arriving home, until he settled down. Then pat him on the back and give him treats. This way a dog will learn that owner ignored him because of the jumping. Don’t shout or use harsh words to stop, or push him away, as these behaviors can cause negative reinforcement. Do not encourage jumping over you even during playtime.
Chewing is an important natural way of exploring the world by dogs. For young dogs, chewing can be a way of relieving pain while teething, and in older dogs, normal chewing can help to keep the jaw strong. Dogs chew bones for fun and teeth stimulation.
However, destructive chewing is a behavioral issue and can have numerous underlying causes. Destructive chewing is eating furniture and other stuff that a dog should not eat. Several causes of destructive chewing are separation anxiety, hunger, fabric sucking, and boredom. Nutrients and a caloric deficit diet can cause a dog to find some additional source of sustenance. Fabric sucking and chewing is a common behavior observed in dogs that are weaned off at a very early age.
Fixation of Destructive Chewing
When a dog-directed his chewing behavior to some unsuitable bits and pieces, then providing the right toy only would not help. Rather they need to be trained in a gentle way about what to eat and what not. First of all, give your dog nutritionally dense food, sometimes fill the toy with some food or some brain-stimulating toys to keep him distracted and busy.
Keep an eye on the waking hour of the dog and give the strict command of ‘no’ if planning to chew an item that he shouldn’t. Place the important things out of the reach of your dog to avoid inappropriate eating. Use chewing deterrent spray to discourage it, dogs usually don’t like its taste and spit it out.
Help your dog to learn the difference between chewable things but avoid the use of confusing items for learning. Do not scold or punish for ruining things.
Digging is an instinct in dogs. Although it’s a natural hunting behavior, it can destroy your beautiful backyard. It is impossible to completely remove but can be reduced by identifying the possible cause and addressing it. Some dogs dig to hide their hunting prey, in case of hot weather some will dig to lie in the cooler dirt, and some will dig just out of boredom and get the attention of an owner. In either of the situations deal with this destructive habit with positive reinforcement.
You are enjoying your food but that continuous longing looks of your dog makes you uneasy and you offered a piece of food. Since then it’s a continuous habit of your pooch that irritates you a lot. Not only you but many other owners face this behavior on daily basis. Some may also steal the scrap food from your plate.
To avoid the problem of dog begging take some precautions. Don’t get manipulated by that ‘puppy eye’ look and keep them away from the food table. When you are eating food ignore your begging dog and never offer them any food. Giving a little attention while eating can encourage this behavior.
Inapt Urination and Defecation
This behavior is the most frustrating for a pet owner, as a dog can ruin the areas of your home, and you cannot take your dog to someone else place. This can be due to some health issues like digestive or kidney problems. Otherwise, it can be due to anxiety, territorial marking, submissive urination, and lack of house training. In young puppies aged one to two weeks, it is difficult to eliminate, but in adults, we can potty train them by using litter boxes.
Most of the dog’s behavioral issues are due to boredom, lack of socialization, and training. These issues can be corrected by proper training at an early age of a puppy. Teaching your dog the basic commands and practicing them on regular basis can save you from such behavior-related problems.