Statistically, the most common dog behavior problems are the main reason why many owners give up on their dogs. Knowing what type of behavioral issues to expect from your pet, how to prevent and fix them will help you develop a better relationship with the pup, so here's what you should know about them.

Even though some canines are easier to train than others, and some may not even require training for certain dog behavior problems, most will need special attention when it comes to preventing behavioral issues.

1. Inappropriate Elimination

Your pup urinating and defecating outside of the designated area can be very frustrating. Sometimes, this behavior can be caused by an underlying health condition, and in senior dogs in particularly incontinence is common, so if this happens often you may need to take your dog to the vet first to rule out any health problems.

If a medical reason is not behind this behavior, then inappropriate elimination is likely to be caused by territorial marking, anxiety, attention seeking or simply by the lack of proper housebreaking. It's one of the most common dog behavior problems seen in puppies and should be easily corrected with proper housebreaking techniques.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

After adopting a younger dog, timing will be crucial. Train your pooch on time and right away to prevent this behavior. If your dog has already been housebroken and still does this, then you need to address the reasons behind it while using dog pee pads to avoid the mess around the house.

Simply begin with retraining the dog and in most cases that'll be enough. Other times you must go through extensive behavior modification and even employ the help of a canine behaviorist to address this problem at its core. Your vet can also prescribe medication if retraining doesn’t work, usually in the form of antidepressants.

Separation Anxiety

2. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is the most well-known of dog behavior problems that manifests in a form of destructive chewing, vocalization, inappropriate elimination and other related, similar destructive behaviors. In some cases, the dog may even try to escape the home.

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is separated from the owner. Your pup will become anxious when he notices that you're preparing to leave and will engage in destructive behavior within the first 15 to 45 minutes after he is left alone.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

General dog training can help with separation anxiety. For example, crate training your dog can teach your pooch not to be too attached to you and even if he has an episode he will be safe in his crate. Ignore your dog when he seeks attention while you're about to leave, and don’t make a big deal about leaving him home – act normal.

Exercise and conditioning are good ways to deal with separation anxiety, while supplements and some anxiety aids can provide additional relief if training alone does not fix this. Getting your Fido used to a daily routine can make him feel secure and stable. Other products that can help with anxiety are anxiety vests and anxiety toys.

Extreme cases may require serious behavior modification, in which case it may be necessary to hire a professional dog behaviorist. This training book by famous canine behaviorist Patricia McConnell, PhD will provide valuable insight into this and other related dog behavior problems with very effective solutions.

3. Barking

Barking is the primary method of communication for dogs and each bark has a certain meaning. In that respect, barking is natural and normal for your pup; however, barking can become a problem if it is excessive or uncalled for, and a nuisance both for the owner and the neighbors.

Dogs that have this problem bark for a number of various reasons. There is territorial barking, alarm barking, compulsive barking and more. Some dogs bark to get attention or out of frustration or boredom. Barking is also a common sign of separation anxiety.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

It is nearly impossible to deal with this problem if you don’t know the reason why your dog is barking. You must know the reason for nuisance barking first to fix it. Then once you determine why your pooch barks, you can more effectively address this issue. In general, there are also a few things you can do to deal with barking related dog behavior problems regardless of the reasons behind it:

  • Quiet command. Teach your dog the “Quiet” command and to do this, you first have to teach your pup to bark on command. You can use “Speak” or “Talk” commands for it and once your dog learns this, proceed to train him to stop the barking on cue.
  • Your energy. Don’t yell at your pooch when he barks, because it will be counterproductive. Instead, talk softly and calmly to try and get him to calm down.
  • Exercise. If a dog is tired, he won’t have the energy to bark all the time. Take him for a walk or a run, or play more with him until he is tired.
  • No encouragement. Pet owners may accidentally encourage their dogs to bark at some things. If you don’t want the dog barking, you need to be aware of what you tell him to bark at, and stay consistent with those commands, or he will get confused.
  • Stop quickly. Don’t let the barking go on for a long time. The longer you let this and other dog behavior problems to go on, the harder it will be to deal with it later.
  • Consult. Take your dog to the vet to make sure that his barking is not caused by a medical condition or pain which he's trying to express. Next, you can also consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to see any issues that you may be missing.


4. Begging

Begging is not as frustrating of a problem as separation anxiety or barking for majority of pet owners because we all love those puppy eyes. However, this is still one of the more serious dog behavior problems that must be addressed, or it will lead to obesity, digestive and stomach problems or other dog behavior problems due to your encouragement.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

Never give your dog food when he begs. Simply ignore him and he will eventually give up on this behavior, realizing that begging behavior does not result in treats. If you can’t resist your pet's begging behavior or find it too hard to say no, command your pup to go to his “Place” before you get to your meal so he can’t stare at you. It might be necessary to confine him to another room. Reward your dog with a treat after you finish your meal, if he behaves well.

5. Chewing

Although chewing is a normal behavior for dogs, it can also become problematic if it leads to destruction of your furniture and belongings. Puppies will often chew due to teething or curiosity, while adult dogs chew on things when they are bored, have excess energy or feel anxious and stressed out. Medical problems can also lead to chewing, especially pica that causes them to eat inedible things, including poop.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

The best way to deal with destructive chewing is to not discourage chewing altogether but to encourage your pooch to chew on the right things instead of the wrong ones. Provide plenty of dog toys he can chew on; if it's a puppy, there are good teething toys to use.

While you're working on fixing the destructive chewing problem, keep your personal stuff away from the dog and keep him confined or crated when you are not home. This should be a temporary method while addressing the issue. Once again, exercise can also help since it will wear off your dog’s energy and deter him from chewing.

Resource Guarding

6. Resource Guarding

Resource guarding or possessive aggression is another one of the dog behavior problems that consists of growling, barking and otherwise threatening or aggressive behavior that dogs exhibit toward other dogs or humans when they want to protect “their stuff”, such as food or toys. Although resource guarding is considered normal for most canines, if the dog is too aggressive it will likely to become a serious problem and be dangerous.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

Teach your dog “Drop” or “Give” command. Start with boring things and objects that he isn’t interested in and reward him with a treat when he listens. Then, gradually move toward using these commands with things that he cares about, like his toys or food.

Don’t chase your dog. He will take it as a sign of play and you will only reinforce this dog behavior problems. Don’t yell or punish your dog for resource guarding. Dogs that display possessive aggression can bite if they feel threatened.

If you have multiple dogs and one is guarding his resources, particularly food, feed the two dogs separately and try to teach your dog to share his food and toys with others.

7. Digging

Digging is an instinct that all dogs have but some breeds are more prone to it, especially those used for hunting. Dogs dig for many reasons: in addition to their hunting instinct, it could be mainly out of boredom, anxiety, fear and due to excess energy. Some dogs dig to hide their toys or bones, or to cool off in a hole. Although dog's digging is quite normal among the rest of dog behavior problems, it can still be frustrating for owners since it can destroy their gardens or yards.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

It is important to discover the reason why a dog is digging around in order to address this issue. Work on your dog’s training and provide more exercise for him to tire him out. Provide shade in the yard and play with him often to avoid boredom and reduce stress.

If you can’t get your dog to stop digging, install a sandbox in your yard and let your pup dig there. You can either teach your dog to only dig in the sandbox, teaching him it's his safe place, or put a fence to prevent him from digging elsewhere.

Pulling on the Leash

8. Pulling on the Leash

Walking a dog while he pulls on the leash is a nightmare if your dog large and strong, but the pup isn’t doing that to make you miserable. Dogs pull on a leash because they have a naturally faster pace than humans, because they get distracted by external stimuli and because they are not trained to walk beside you. This is one of the more common dog behavior problems that often is left unaddressed, but that's a mistake.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

Training your dog to walk calmly beside you takes time and lots of rewards. While you're working on leash pulling training, always carry a treat with you and reward your pooch occasionally when he walks beside you instead of pulling.

Never let the dog pull. If he does it and you feel the leash go tight, stop walking and come to a complete standstill. Your pooch will stop as well to see why you stopped. Call him to come to you. It may take a while, but your dog will eventually understand that pulling on the leash results in this annoying stopping.

Finally, you can get a front-clip harness, also known as no-pull dog harness. This harness will give you better control on walks and also prevent the dog from hurting himself.

9. Jumping Up

Even though most dogs jump up to greet people, some do it to exert dominance. Whatever the reason may be, some owners do not mind these dog behavior problems that look cute, but the truth is that this is an issue that must be addressed as it can be dangerous and also foster other related behavioral problems.

How to Avoid and Fix It:

The best way to stop the jumping behavior is to ignore your dog when he does it. Don’t acknowledge him until he puts his front paws on the ground. Grabbing his paws or pushing him away might work for some dogs, but it usually sends the wrong message since your dog is getting the attention he was looking for and it looks like play. Teaching your pooch the “Sit” command is also a good way to stop him from jumping up.


10. Aggression

Aggression, which in some cases can also lead to biting, the most dangerous of these dog behavior problems. Although any dog can become aggressive, those who have dogs with abusive histories and those bred from dogs that have aggressive tendencies have a greater chance of exhibiting aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people.

Aggression has been studied extensively in canines, and it's a complex issue. Aggressive dogs will behave in such a manner to assert dominance or to protect their property. They can also be aggressive due to predatory instinct, fear or pain. Usual signs of aggression include snarling, showing teeth, growing, lunging and biting.

How to Avoid or Fix It:

If your dog doesn’t have a history of aggressive behavior, it could be due to a medical issue. Take your pooch to the vet first to determine the cause of his aggression. If a medical problem is not the reason for aggression, consider getting an opinion and help from a professional dog behaviorist. Unlike with other dog behavior problems, this one is more dangerous for an inexperience owner to address and it's best to use a professional.

READ NEXT: Most Effective Dog Training Methods According to Science

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The 10 Most Common Dog Behavior Problems (and How to Fix Them)


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