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25 Most Common Dog Behavior Issues: Habits and Problems That Are Not Normal

25 Most Common Dog Behavior Problems

Domesticated dogs today are much better today than 10,000 years ago at behaving the way humans wish for them to behave.

Even so, there are many dog habits that are instinctive to them and may become an issue for pet owners, whether it's an inconvenience or even dangerous.

The below are 25 most common dog behavior problems often experience by owners and how to fix them (with demonstration videos).

25 Most Common Dog Behavior Problems

1. Hyperactivity and Unruliness

More often than not, the reason your dog is too energetic, unruly and hyperactive is because they're lacking stimulation, exercise and playtime, or find themselves bored.

Depending on the breed, size, age and upbringing, dogs will have different levels of activity.

Some active breeds always feel the need to release all the extra energy or fight boredom regardless of location or situation.

How to fix it:


Because every dog is different, in order to fix this fairly common dog behavior problem, pet owners must address it in several ways to find the best solution:

  • Don't give into the dog's game. If this behavior is not something you're comfortable with, avoid encouraging your pet's sudden energy outbursts and ignore them completely for a while until they understand that they won't get what they want.
  • Ensure sufficient exercise. Be aware of exercise requirements of your dog's exact breed. Make certain your pooch gets enough training, walking, running and playing on a daily basis to release that pent up energy throughout the day.
  • Clicker training. This is one of the more effective training methods for many other dog behavioral problems. While this technique doesn't always work with hyperactive dogs, using a clicker can help you calm the dog down every time they show signs.

Dog Stealing Things

2. Stealing Things

This is probably the most common one of dog behavior problems. Our canine companions will usually steal anything that interests them and what can be reached.

This isn't even as much of a problem as a general understandable animal behavior.

All dogs “steal” and it's hard to prevent this, so when you're preparing to adopt a pet, consider things that they will reach out for when you're not around and dog-proof your home.

How to fix it:


When you're just preparing to bring a dog into your home, especially if it's a young puppy, consider things that they will reach out for when you're not around.

Use redirection to attract the dog's attention and away from things that shouldn't be touched.

Exchange the “bad” stuff with the “good” stuff – put down plenty of dog toys for your dog to chew on, or anything else that won't harm the dog and you don't mind having canine saliva all over.

Dog Rough Play

3. Rough Play

Dogs love to play with other dogs and people; however, sometimes, this playtime can get out of hand quickly and transition into something that can hurt you, other pets or your kids.

Rough play in dogs is fine between canines in most cases, but it must be stopped immediately once you feel that your pooch is out of control among other animals or people.

It's also important to distinguish a play from “almost a fight” and approach it more carefully if the two dogs are fighting.

How to fix it:


Whenever your Fido starts being rough with you during a playtime, stand up immediately and raise yourself above the dog's level.

Stop interacting with the dog, no making sounds, moving around or reacting to the dog's actions.

Freeze entirely and keep your arms close to the body.

Your pet will soon realize that the game time is over.

This needs to be done immediately after rough play starts, and possibly followed with the command “No!”

Another part of these most common dog behavior problems is when they play roughly with other animals in your household, like a cat.

If you spot this, carefully stop the playtime between the two without hesitation and block your dog from the other animal/play while trying not to interact with or excite him.

At this point, your pet needs some time off from socialization, so breaking any contact for a while is a good idea.

Constant Biting in Dogs

4. Constant Biting

There are many different reasons why dogs have the behavioral problem of biting.

Dog experts agree that this is mostly due to their instincts of living in packs.

Young dogs, on the other hand, bite everything and everybody as a means for exploring the world, understanding the environment and learning about their own place.

Nonetheless, this dog behavior should be prevented when possible, especially in puppies, because it's likely to become a much bigger problem as the dog grows.

How to fix it:


Although dog biting comes from the fact canines are still animals that use their mouth the way we use hands, regular proper training and socialization can fix this.

Spending time with your pet and letting them socialize with other animals and strangers will help in fixing this problem the most.

Expose your dog to different settings, places and new things and whenever you'll see your pooch getting uncomfortable, don't ignore it and attempt to switch that around.

In short, this is a habit that can be changed with some constant supervision and work.

Dog Chasing After Moving Things

5. Chasing After Moving Things

Another part of a dog's instincts are their predatory habits which they can hardly control.

Depending on the breed's prey drive, chasing after moving things is one of those common dog behavior problems that majority will have.

Your Fido probably loves to chase after cats, cars, squirrels, bicycles, little kids or any other animals or human for no apparent reason.

While one of the normal dog habits, this can sometimes lead to dangerous consequences.

How to fix it:


Canine behaviorists know there is no way to stop a dog from chasing things completely, but you can try to prevent anything bad from happening as the outcome of your pet's need to chase.

You can also slightly decrease the need for the dog to chase and desensitize them to certain distractions.

  • Socialize your pet to desensitize them to the daily world and the environment. Get your dog comfortable to be around all these “moving things” so that your pooch understands they're part of the environment they're living in.
  • When outside in the environment that pose potential dangers such as cars or other animals, make sure to keep your dog on a leash (and that he's leash-trained).
  • Train your dog basic commands and to be good at listening to obedience ques, and especially “No”, “Stay” and “Come” when called.
  • Always be on the lookout for any possible triggers that will set off your pooch: cats, wildlife, bicycles, joggers, cars or other attractive and quickly moving distractions.

Inappropriate Elimination in Dogs

6. Inappropriate Elimination

Here's a common dog behavior problem which is universally agreed upon as one of the worst – inappropriate urination or defecation of dogs. Not only does this ruin furniture and carpets at home as well as spread unpleasant odor all over the house, but pets who cannot control their elimination behavior are preventing you from taking them out as well more often to new places.

How to fix it:


Understand that inappropriate elimination in dogs can be not only a behavioral problem but a medical condition too, especially as incontinence in senior dogs.

Therefore, it's vital for you to discuss this case with your veterinarian as soon as you discover it.

Once your vet has ruled out any health problems as the reason for a dog's inappropriate elimination, there is only one thing you need to do to fix this difficult issue – training (or retraining) the dog.

Inappropriate elimination is a lack of understanding by the dog why they cannot relieve themselves anywhere they wish.

You would need to go back to housebreaking basics, same ones you've used for training a puppy, and go through with your adult or senior dog about appropriate ways of elimination.

Remember that inappropriate elimination is normal for puppies under the age of 12 weeks and is difficult to “fix” instantly.

In the meantime, you can use dog diapers to limit the amount of soiling your pet does.

Jumping Up on People

7. Jumping Up on People

When dogs meet other dogs, they greet one another by sniffing each other's behinds and faces.

Dogs would like to do the same thing with humans, but human faces are inconveniently located all the way at the top of our bodies.

Jumping up on people, for dogs, is often an attempt to behave according to normal doggy etiquette.

Sometimes, however, this can be a sign of dominance.

Either way, this problematic behavior is rarely welcomed by strangers and should generally be fixed before it becomes dangerous.

How to fix it:


To resolve this common dog behavior problem, ignore your pooch when you come home until she stops trying to jump up at you. Do not shout, do not call for your dog to stop, and do not push her away either.

Any of those behaviors will likely excite the dog, and encourage jumping even more because it looks like a play to them.

Start petting and praising your dog only after her feet land back on the ground so that she learns that her jumping up was the reason you were ignoring her.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

8. Separation Anxiety

An extremely common dog behavior problem isn't exactly a behavior problem but rather a mental health issue for dogs – separation anxiety.

This commonly discussed issue is often the cause of many other canine behavioral problems, such as inappropriate elimination, destructive chewing, excessive barking and other forms of expression that dogs use to relieve separation anxiety.

How to fix it:


Separation anxiety can be extremely uncomfortable for the dog, much more so than for the owner.

This issue needs to be addressed with training at first, but if that doesn't work, help of a professional behaviorist might be needed, as well as anxiety aids in the form of medication (some even suggest Prozac, the one prescribed for humans, as an effective medication) which are very effective at calming dogs down, and then anxiety vests to relieve the discomfort and other methods.

In terms of training, the best way to start dealing with this common dog behavior issue is teaching your pet that you will always be back: start with leaving the room for 5 to 10 minutes, then come back; extend this time frame based on your dog's reaction.

In the meantime, use toys for separation anxiety to avoid having your dog destroy your shoes.

You can even leave the TV or radio on for your pet.

Another way to fix this common dog behavior problem is to get an appropriate dog crate and crate-train your pet, gradually.

Just note that crates aren't ideal for every dog with separation anxiety, and you must observe your pooch whether crating is helping with SA or actually does the opposite.

With some dogs, when they have their own “den” it helps them feel safer and they spend less time stressing out due to separation anxiety.

Dog Excessive Barking

9. Excessive Barking

Barking by itself is not a problem behavior in dogs – they bark for many different reasons and it's a natural way of communication for them.

Some reasons for barking in dogs may even be useful to you as an owner.

For instance, you may want your dog to bark to warn you that somebody is lurking in the backyard. Excessive barking is when this becomes a truly problematic behavior when your pet continues to bark constantly and consistently without any good reason (obvious to you) to do so.

How to fix it:


This is yet another case where obedience training, redirection and training of new habits in your dog is the most effective tool.

To resolve unwanted and excessive barking in your dog, you must first establish the cause of it and what situations make your dog bark.

After that, try to eliminate those causes first if possible.

Then, teach your pooch how to handle those situation more appropriately and/or desensitize the dog to those triggers.

For example, if your dog barks when someone is at the door, turn that behavior into a productive behavior: teach the dog to bark a few times, and then wait quietly by the door to see who's there.

Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

10. Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior in dogs doesn't always need to come in the form of an attack.

This common dog behavioral issue is very often a subtle demonstration of aggressiveness in your dog through showing teeth, growling and barking.

And because your dog doesn't attack and bite, that doesn't mean that any tendency for aggressive behavior in them is appropriate, especially if this aggression is often shown towards the owner or the family.

How to fix it:


First of all, you should never deal with an aggressive dog by yourself – if possible, hire a trainer with experience.

If that's not possible, approach it very carefully.

Demonstrate to your dogs that they're not in control of the situation and set the limits of how caprice they can get. Ignore their poor and aggressive behavior and use positive reinforcement.

Monitor the progress of your pet's aggression and if none of the obedience training, setting limits, reinforcing positive behavior methods work to deal with this behavioral problem, talk to the vet and a professional dog trainer.

You might need to get your dog to understand how to live among people, and only a professional will be able to do that.

Dog Begging for Food

11. Begging for Food

A dog begging you for food is definitely one of the most common dog behavior problems that many pet owners face on a regular basis, possibly even multiple times a day.

This is just an unfortunate side effect of loving your own dogs to an extent that you would like to give them everything that they ask for, and the more you do it, the worse this behavior will become.

Dogs know that people cannot resist puppy eyes, and they use it to manipulate us.

How to fix it:


To resolve your dog's begging problem, teach your pet that begging for food will not result in food.

It's as simple as that.

You must ignore the dog when they're begging, and do not give him any food when you are eating at the table. Be patient and consistent.

Do not reprimand your dog for begging, as the attention he receives may reinforce this behavior. Remember that this is an ongoing process, and even after long-term practice, if you cave in – the process will need to be started from the beginning.

Jumping on Furniture

12. Jumping on Furniture

Most dog owners do not want for pets to spend too much time on furniture, especially when they are left to roam free outside or ruin your sofas out of separation anxiety.

Unless you have a dog-friendly couch, forbidding furniture to your dog is reasonable and doable.

For dogs with dominance issues, forbidding furniture can also be used as a way of training them to stop being dominant and establish their position over the dog.

How to fix it:


If you're attempting to train a  dog not to jump onto furniture, provide him with their own pet bed instead first.

When still training, reward the dog for using his own bed instead of yours, either verbally or with a treat.

Then, if you catch your Fido on the couch, make him come off immediately and with strict command.

If necessary, block off access to the furniture when you aren't around or use furniture repellents that's non-toxic to dogs.

Dog Mouthing

13. Mouthing

Mouthing is one of very common dog behavior problems in young puppies, and it should not be confused with biting or aggressiveness (even if they may start similarly).

Dog mouthing behavior is when your pet puts his mouth and teeth around your hand or finger but doesn't actually bite.

While a lot of dogs develop this behavioral problem at some point, mouthing is mostly observed in puppies.

While this behavioral issue may seem harmless, it actually poses potential danger for an accidental bite and should be fixed.

How to fix it:


Bite inhibition is the most common dog training method against biting as well as mouthing.

Many dog experts use this technique on young puppies with great results.

In addition to bite inhibition, you should also work on your dog's mouthing habit:

  • When mouthing occurs, find a dog toy to substitute for your hand
  • Use positive reinforcement and treats when dog stops mouthing
  • Encourage less rough games with your dog
  • Practice obedience training and let the dog know once he does something wrong

Dog Digging

14. Digging

Digging is not only one of the most common behavior problems in dogs but it's also a natural instinct of your domesticated animal which isn't always easy to fix and completely remove from the dog.

Most dogs love digging to one degree or another, and usually, it's best not to stop this behavior but instead redirect them away from inappropriate digging places and onto where it's safe and okay to dig.

How to “fix” it:


Dogs dig for various reasons, and the first step to resolving this problem is to figure out the cause of digging and what the dog attempts to accomplish by digging.

  1. Some dogs out of boredom, or to get your attention. In this case, your dog needs more exercise and more playtime.
  2. Your dog may well be hunting burrowing prey. If this is the case, deal with the prey.
  3. Some dogs dig to lie in the cooler dirt below, or to hide from wind or rain. In this case, reduce your dog's time outside, or provide your dog with a dog house.
  4. Finally, some dogs dig to escape under fences. Block off access to the fences, or reinforce the ground below the fences.

Once you figured out the reason for your dog's digging habits, address it appropriately using the most effective ways that have already been mentioned: correction of your dog's habits and positive reinforcement.

Destructive Chewing in Dogs

15. Destructive Chewing

Dogs use their mouths like humans use their hands to explore and interact with the world around them.

Similar to barking and digging, chewing is a natural behavior in canines, but can become problematic when it is destructive.

Sometimes, dog behavioral problem of excessive chewing stems from medical issues or severe separation anxiety, which is when a veterinarian's or canine behaviorist's help may be needed.

How to fix it:


Make sure your dog has plenty of access to appropriate chewing outlets, like interesting and tasty chew toys.

Block off access to wires, cords, papers, or anything else your dog might have been using as an inappropriate chewing outlet.

If your dog still ends up chewing the wrong things, it might mean he is bored or under-exercised.

Dog Excessive Licking

16. Excessive Licking

Dog's behavioral problem of compulsive, excessive licking is one of the more difficult ones to fix, primarily because of how hard it is to notice and assess whether this is a problematic behavior, or something normal.

One of the signs of excessive licking problem in dogs is when they lick everything: from their paws to your furniture, you, carpets, cars, and more.

How to fix it:


Since excessive licking in dogs can be caused by many different reasons – from psychological like anxiety to actual medical conditions (including allergies and injuries) – the first and most important step to fixing this behavioral problem is accurately determining the reason.

Monitor your dog's licking habits as well as any other common behavior problems they have and start defining the problem through the process of elimination.

Once you have a good idea of a few potential reasons, it's time to talk to a professional and see if this condition can (or should) be fixed.

Dog Fear of Noises

17. Fear of Noises

Dogs can become afraid of certain noises, either because the noise itself is loud and scary (like thunder), or because they associate the noise with an unpleasant experience.

Resolving these phobias that are now considered as dog behavior problems can be truly difficult, and sometimes avoiding exposure to the sound is the only viable solution.

Exposing a dog to a sound it fears will not desensitize it to the noise and generally aggravate the fear.

If the sound is unavoidable, such as thunder during a thunderstorm, maintain confidence.

Do not address your dog's fear, as you will probably just reinforce the idea that the fear is justified.

How to fix it:


You can try obtaining a recording of the noise and playing it to your dog on very low volume in a calm, safe setting. Slowly increase the volume throughout many sessions, and your dog may eventually overcome his fear.

Again, do not go too fast! Forcing your dog to face its fear will not work, and will probably be counter-productive.

Another great technique is using calming music such as classical tunes or white noise machines to distract the dog away from the “bad” noise and onto a calming noise instead.

Dog Disobedience

18. Disobedience

One of the most frustrating common dog behavior problems is disobedience. When dogs do not listen to their owners and do not come when called, this can become a root to a multitude of other behavioral issues.

Dog experts separate disobedience issue into two categories: passive and active.

Passive disobedience is when your dog couldn't care less for the fact that you just asked him to come, and active disobedience is when dogs enjoy not listening to you, which is a major problem.

How to fix it:


To start the battle against your dog's disobedient behavior, you must go back to obedience training basics and go through the whole process again.

Do not chase after your dog, do not punish your dog, and do not try to bribe them either.

When it comes to this type of misbehaving, be strict with your canine and establish your dominance.

Most of the time, negative reinforcement will not work on a disobedient dog, so if you find your training methods ineffective – it's time to ask for a professional's help.

Fixing this behavioral problem is important and should be done effectively.

Dog Being Overprotective of Family

19. Being Overprotective of Family

Dogs sometimes develop overprotective behaviors of their owners due to jealousy.

While cute at first, this less common dog behavioral problem can lead to aggressive behavior and thus must be resolved quickly.

Canines can learn to relax by understanding that they don't need to defend their owners.

In other words, overprotective dogs need to be re-socialized, like a new puppy.

How to fix it:


Start by socializing your dog in easy social situations: one new person at a time, or a person and their friendly, well-socialized dog.

Slowly work up to more complicated social situations.

At all times, maintain an air of confidence.

If your dog senses that you are worried, he will conclude that you are in danger, and will try to protect you.

Even though their intentions are good, you must let your pooch know that this is inappropriate behavior.

Practice obedience training and positive reinforcement, too.

Dog Leash Pulling

20. Leash Pulling

Being able to walk calmly with your dog on a leash is important for a pet owner.

If a problem of your dog pulling on a leash occurs, you must address this by teaching your pooch on how to walk beside you.

Before you take any action though, understand that dogs aren't doing this on purpose.

Canines simply do not know how to walk on the leash the way you want them too.

Once you teach your dog how this should be done, the problem will go away.

How to fix it:


Start by purchasing a no-pull harness to prevent injuries to your dog from pulling.

Then, do frequent walking sessions with your dog on the leash and harness.

Keep these sessions short and fun for the dog. When training against leash pulling, never allow your dog to do what you don't want him to do.

Try to keep your dog leash short but loose enough so as not to hurt your animal.

The best way to go about training your dog to walk alongside you is always to have a bunch of tasty dog treats and use positive reinforcement.

Also, try walking on faster pace and do go jogging with your dog on the leash.

All of these methods will make the dog understand where you expect him to be when on a leash.

Dogs Whining for Attention

21. Whining for Attention

Whining is simply another way for your pooch to communicate, and this most often happens your pet wants some attention, is anxious or trying to guilt you into something.

While majority of dogs express this type of dog behavior problems through excessive barking, some canines will choose to whine instead.

How to fix it:


To stop your dog from whining, the first thing you should do is ignore her.

Do not react, do not pet, do not talk to your dog unless you know there might be a specific reason which requires your attention (such as a medical one).

Once your dog stops whining, start reacting to their suddenly changed behavior: pet your pooch, play with her or otherwise interact.

Your dog must understand that whining didn't do anything, yet once she stopped, you reacted.

Dog Being Overprotective of Property

22. Being Overprotective of Property

Similarly to dog behavior problems of being overprotective of their owners, dogs can also become overprotective of items such as food – it's called resource guarding.

Usually, this indicates that your dog is insecure and/or aggressive, and dominant.

You need to teach your pet that giving up their favorite toy when asked to do so does not mean losing it forever.

Instead, make your dog understand that dropping the toy means a treat right now, and that the toy will come back later anyway.

How to fix it:


Start training your dog to let go of items that you are sharing, like tug-of-war ropes. Begin by playing tug for a while, and then tell your dog to ‘let go' or ‘drop it'.

Present a very tasty treat in your other hand. When she lets go, give her the treat and praise her.

Eventually, move on to toys you aren't sharing. This is also a good way to teach your dog to play fetch.

Dog Humping

23. Humping

Even though such common dog behavioral issue as humping can draw a laugh from some, this is an issue that dog owners must deal with and try to fix.

Humping is a sexual expression of dogs; however, some dog experts say that canines might be doing this for other reasons, such as a sign of dominance or reaction to excitement.

But not to worry, because dog humping is a normal behavior that can be treated and fixed.

How to fix it:


First, consider that the only reason you should fix dog behavior problems like humping is only if they bother you or someone else.

If this normal for dogs behavior doesn't affect anybody, you really shouldn't worry about it.

If, however, mounting behavior in your dog is excessive, there are a few things you can do:

  • Always distract your dog. Once you see what your canine is about to do, find something else for him to play with
  • If your dog is intact, consider neutering him. Even though it doesn't stop from humping, it will reduce his motivation
  • React appropriate to your dog's mounting: push away, ignore, sit him down and use commands to control your dog

Dog Escaping

24. Escaping

There are plenty of situations when dog's desire to escape and run away from wherever she is can cause dangerous consequences.

This problem will usually be caused because your pet is looking for a mate, was scared by something, needs socialization, dislikes the environment, wants to roam and explore, and for many other reasons.

The bad thing about it is evident: when outside of your supervision and not in a safe environment, a dog can get herself in all kinds of danger very quickly.

How to fix it:


  1. Dogs may be afraid of something in the yard or at home. In this case, figure out what is scaring your pet and resolve the issue by removing the trigger.
  2. Some breeds are very curious, and prone to wandering off in search of adventure. Make sure your yard is well-secured, and consider restricting yard time to when you are available to supervise.
  3. Other dogs may escape out of boredom or to seek social interactions. In this case, giving your dog more time to socialize with you, your family, and other people and dogs may reduce the problem.
  4. Finally, getting your dog spayed or neutered may help reduce the desire to wander off in search of potential mates.

Dog Eating Poop

25. Eating Poop

Coprophagia is an act of dogs eating feces, either their own or other animal's.

Even though dog experts still do not know exactly why canines engage in this behavior, but coprophagia is considered to be normal among many animals, including dogs.

How to fix it:


Stopping your dog from eating poop is another one of the most difficult dog behavior problems to correct.

This is mostly because dogs sniff everything all the time, and teaching them that sniffing is okay but eating is not will be challenging.

Best way to deal with coprophagia in dogs is to:

  • Ensure an environment where there's no other animal's feces
  • Clean up after your dog immediately
  • Provide your pet with toys and games; play with them regularly
  • Check with the vet for any medical conditions, and provide a good diet

Most Common Dog Behavior Problems – Closing Thoughts

No matter what breed, you're going to run into different dog behavior problems across the board.

Some of these are just normal dog habits, while some are learned through positive or negative encouragement.

Just like babies, for dogs, attention is attention, positive or negative. It's important to remain neutral when dogs act out even if it is frustrating.

Let us know in the comments below which problem you all have encountered with your dog. Make sure you share how you solved it, so we can continue to educate the community!

READ NEXT: 20 Tricks for Crate Training a Puppy

Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.