Raising a rambunctious and mischievous puppy into a well-behaved and mannered adult dog is pretty much like raising a child — it takes time and effort. Instilling good habits from an early age is critical for preventing unwanted behaviors.
Luckily, even if your dog is already manifesting bad dog behaviors, there are ways to curb them.
This article will talk about the most common bad dog behaviors and give a possible solution to stop each problem.
Top 10 bad dog behaviors
Before assuming your dog has a behavioral issue, schedule an appointment with your trusted veterinarian. Sudden behavioral changes are often due to underlying medical conditions.
If the vet determines your dog is physically healthy, you can assume the problem’s origin is purely behavioral.
Here are the most common bad dog behaviors and their potential solutions.
Chewing, chewing, and more chewing
Chewing is the most annoying and common bad dog behavior. You need to understand that chewing is natural for dogs.
Although for different purposes, both puppies and adult dogs chew instinctively.
Solution: You cannot stop your dog from chewing. What you can do, is focus the behavior toward acceptable objects. Namely, you need to provide your dog with various chew toys. Rotating the toys helps prevent boredom.
Barking is a normal part of canine communication. However, excessive barking is annoying for everyone. Barking can be an issue or a sign of other bad dog behaviors.
Solution: Find the barking trigger and remove it. For example, if your dog barks when the UPS truck drives by, close the curtains. If this is not possible, try minimizing the dog’s exposure to the trigger. It is also helpful to teach your dog the “quiet” command. You can also teach your dog to fetch toys – it is hard to bark while holding something in the mouth.
Having a dog that pulls relentlessly is no fun – it is embarrassing, and more importantly, it can be dangerous. When we say hazardous, we mean for both you and the dog. Pulling the least can lead to injuries and is considered bad dog behavior.
Solution: The sooner you start correcting the behavior, the better. You need to invest in a high-quality, no-pull leash and harness. Then, you should firmly hold the leash every time your dog starts pulling. You can also switch directions if your dog starts pulling. Be sure to give a reward every time your dog behaves.
Digging is an instinctive habit for dogs. Dogs are genetically wired to dig — to make shelter and hide food. However, the drive seems to be more pronounced among certain dog breeds.
Solution: If your dog is an excessive digger, you may not be able to stop the behavior. Instead, consider designating a digging area in the yard for your dog.
Having your dog jump on you as a form of greeting can be cute when your dog is small. However, it can be bad dog behavior to people coming to visit. It also can potentially injure someone or cause clothes damage.
Solution: Teaching your dog the “sit” and “stay” command is helpful in general and can help stop problem jumping. If your dog is prone to jumping, don’t make a fuss when you return home. The more low-key you are, the less excited your dog will get.
Separation anxiety is a growing issue among modern dogs. Although more common in certain dog breeds, separation anxiety can develop in any dog. Separation anxiety is emotionally challenging for the dog and usually results in destructive behavior
Solution: Behavior modification combined with positive reinforcement training is the perfect solution. Also, remember that music is soothing for dogs with separation anxiety. Reducing your dog’s separation anxiety takes time, but it is possible.
Mounting and masturbation
Mounting and masturbation are typical male dog behavioral issues. They can be accompanied by indoor urine marking and frequent efforts to escape. Such bad dog behaviors are expected in intact male dogs. Whether the dog has been bred or not doesn’t eliminate these issues.
Solution: The only permanent solution would be to have the dog neutered (surgically or chemically). Talk to your vet about which option is more suited for your dog’s case. Keep in mind that surgical castration is permanent.
A hyper dog does not equal an energetic dog. Energetic dogs have higher stamina but get tired. True hyperactivity is when a dog does not switch off and becomes manic.
Solution: You need to help your dog burn excess energy. Also, dogs cannot eat caramel, candies, and other high-sugar foods as they fuel hyperactivity. To satisfy its sweet tooth, learn how to give sweet potato to your dog.
Aggressiveness is a severe behavioral issue in dogs. The common warning signs of aggressiveness include snapping, snarling, growling, lunging, and challenging stance. Biting is the culmination of aggressive behavior, especially if unprovoked and out of nowhere.
Solution: If dealing with an aggressive dog, it is best to seek professional help. The problem evolves quickly and requires prompt management. Plus, the consequences of failed managing attempts can be grave. In such a case, contact a licensed trainer.
Learn to eliminate bad dog behaviors
Training your dog is a significant investment in terms of time, effort, and money. However, it pays off. Curbing bad habits and behaviors is easier for dogs who have completed obedience training.
We understand that dealing with bad dog behaviors can be challenging. If the process is overwhelming, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Licensed canine trainers and behaviorists have the skills and experience to help you manage all sorts of “bad dog” issues.
Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville, Kentucky, who writes about pet care and the veterinary industry. You can find her on LinkedIn.