The Top 3 Problem Behaviours In Dogs

You may be new to owning a dog or have had some for a few years, but have you ever wondered why your cherished companion exhibits some of the behaviours it does?

The first step to overcoming a problem behaviour is to try and understand why they are exhibiting it as many behaviours are often misunderstood and consequently mishandled by dog owners.

Here are a few key tips to take the first steps to better manage your dog’s behaviour problems.

1. Barking

Many dogs will bark at some point, however excessive barking is a problem for many owners and their neighbours! It’s important to try and understand why your dog is barking as the first step.

Could it be:

  • Warning you that someone is coming
  • Over excited
  • Fearful of another dog or person
  • Seeking attention
  • Bored or frustrated

It’s vital that you remain calm and consistent when dealing with barking and you’ll need to fill up that bucket of patience over and over again. Remember that just shouting or saying ‘stop it’ will often simply appear as barking back and exacerbate the situation.

Firstly, has your dog had enough exercise and outside stimulus / socialisation? A dog with too much energy will often bark excessively, whereas a tired dog will be naturally calmer and less inclined to bark.

If your dog is warning you that there is someone at the door, ‘thank’ it for the warning and then either ensure it can greet the person at the door nicely or put it on the lead until it learns what behaviour is expected of it. Never however let the barking get out of control and the moment it barks stand to the side, cover it’s muzzle and say ‘quiet’ softly and calmly.

If your dog hasn’t been well socialised then meeting other dogs or people can cause it to bark out of fear. This can be very stressful for both the owner and the dog and I would suggest contacting a local dog trainer who can help you and your dog overcome this issue.

2.  Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the most common dog behaviour problems that causes stress to both the dog and owner. It can vary in degree and usually manifests with the dog whining, howling, chewing or generally being destructive when left alone. Signs can include:

  • The dog becomes anxious when the owner is getting ready to leave
  • The dog will be destructive in the house once the owner has left
  • The dog may follow the owner around the house constantly

Again, before trying anything else, ensure your dog has had sufficient exercise as this can help eliminate separation anxiety. If that doesn’t work then a trainer who has worked with this behaviour before should be called on to help.

3. Digging

Digging is a natural instinct for many dogs, so if given the chance most will want to do it at some point. Some hunting breeds will be more likely to want to dog than others, but generally most dogs will dig for some or all of the following reasons:

  • Boredom
  • Excess energy
  • Anxiety and a need to get out / to their owner who has left
  • Cooling off
  • Hiding bones or toys

Digging can be really frustrating and cause a huge mess, so if you can understand why your dog is doing it and try to eliminate it but if that doesn’t work one option is to create a an area where digging is allowed and train your dog to only dog there. You could try setting up a sand pit area for this.

As with all of these behaviours try giving your dog enough exercise and stimulus first and hopefully this should eliminate 80%, if not all of the unwanted behaviours.

If you’d like me to work with you as your dog walker I cover Thirsk, Northallerton & surrounding areas and can be contacted on 0797 2581530.