25 Most Common Dog Behavior Problems

Hyperactivity and unruliness

Most Common Dog Behavior Problems
This is Photo: Don DeBold

More often than not, the reason your dog is too energetic, unruly and hyperactive is because they're lacking stimulation or find themselves bored. Depending on the breed, size, age and upbringing, dogs will have different levels of activity, and some of them will 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, dog owners must address it in several ways to find the best solution:

  • Don't give into the game. If this is not something you're comfortable with, avoid encouraging his sudden energy outbursts and ignore them completely for a while.
  • Ensure sufficient exercise. You need to know exercise requirements of your dog breed. Make certain they get enough training, walking, running and playing on a daily basis.
  • Try clicking. While this technique doesn't always work with hyperactive dogs, you should still try clicker training for calm behavior.

Stealing things

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Photo: Sarah

This is probably the most common one of dog behavior problems. Dogs will usually steal anything that interests them and what can be reached. This isn't even as much of a problem as an understandable animal behavior. Obviously, when you're preparing to have a pet in your home, you should immediately consider things that they will reach out for when you're not around.

How to fix it? Obviously, when you're preparing to have a pet in your home, you should immediately consider things that they will reach out for when you're not around. Exchange the “bad” stuff with the “good” stuff – put down plenty of dog toys for your dog to chew on, or anything else that you think will not harm your pet and you don't mind having canine saliva all over.

Rough play

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Dogs love to play with other dogs as well as with people; however, sometimes this play time can get out of hand very quickly and transition into something that can hurt you or your pet. Rough play in dogs must be stopped immediately once you feel that your pooch is out of control.

How to fix it? Whenever your Fido starts being rough with you during play time, stand up immediately and raise yourself above their level. Stop interactive with your dog, making sounds, moving around and reacting to your dog's actions. Freeze completely and keep your arms close to the body. Your pet will soon realize that the game time is over.

Another part of these most common dog behavior problems is when they play roughly with other animals. If you spot this, stop the play time without hesitation and grab your dog 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

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

How to fix it? Although biting comes from the fact dogs are still animals, 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.

Chasing moving things

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Photo: WickedVT

Another part of dog's instincts are their predatory habits which they can hardly control. Chasing after moving things is one of those common dog behavior problems that majority of canines will have. Your Fido probably loves to chase either cats, cars, bicycles or any other animals for no apparent reason. While this is a normal behavior, this can lead to some dangerous consequences.

How to fix it? Dog behaviorists know that there is no way trying to stop a canine from chasing things, but you can try to prevent anything bad from happening as the outcome of your pet's need to chase.

  • When outside in the environment that pose potential dangers, make sure to keep your dog on a leash.
  • Train your dog well to listen to obedience commands, and especially “come” when called.
  • Always be on the lookout for any possible triggers that will set off your pooch: bicycles, joggers, cars, etc.

Inappropriate elimination

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Here's a common dog behavior problem which is universally agreed upon as one of the worse – 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 can't take control of this are preventing you from taking them out as well more often to new places, too.

How to fix it? Understand that inappropriate elimination in dogs can be not only a behavioral problem but a medical conditions. Therefore, it's vital for you to discuss this case with your veterinarian as soon as you discover it. Once your vet has definitely ruled out any health problems as the reason for your dog's inappropriate elimination, there is only one thing you need to do to fix this difficult issue – training (or retraining) your dog.

Inappropriate elimination is a simple lack of understand from the dog why she cannot relieve herself anywhere she wants. You would need to go back to housebreaking basics (same ones as those used for training puppies), and go through with your older dog about appropriate ways of elimination. Remember that for puppies under the age of 12 weeks, inappropriate elimination is normal and is difficult to “fix” instantly.

Jumping up on people

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Photo: Grace

When dogs meet other dogs, they greet one another by sniffing each other's faces. Dogs would like to do the same thing with humans, but human faces are inconviently located all the way at the top of our bodies. Jumping up on people, for dogs, is simply an attempt to behave according to normal doggy etiquette. Unfortunately, that behaviour is not welcome by people.

How to fix it? To resolve this one of the most common dog behavior problems, ignore your dog when you come home until she stops trying to jump up at you. Do not shout, do not call for your dog and do not push her away either. Any of those behaviors will excite your pooch, and encourage jumping even more. Start petting your dog as soon as her feet land back on the ground, so that she learns that her jumping up was the reason you were ignoring her.

Separation anxiety

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A sad dog behavior problem which affects pet owners in a same way is separation anxiety, which is very common in all canines. This very often discussed issue includes a combination of many other problems listed on here, such as inappropriate elimination, destructive chewing, excessive barking and any other forms of expression that dogs use to relieve themselves from separation anxiety.

How to fix it? This issue requires a lot of constant training (in very extreme cases, vets even recommend using dog anxiety pills). The best way to start dealing with this dog behavior problem is teaching your pet that you will always be back: start with leaving for 10 minutes and always extend time frame based on your pet's reaction. Use chew toys 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. When dogs have their own den, they spend less time stressing with separation anxiety and rather do things in their den – playing with toys, chewing on things, or simply sleeping when you're away. Finally, if nothing works, do talk to your veterinarian about this problem.


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Photo: Toshihiro Gamo

Barking isn't always a problem behavior. Dogs bark for many different reasons. Some of these reasons might 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. Whether a dog is or is not allowed to bark will depend on the owner. In all cases, however, you will want your dog to stop barking when instructed to do so.

How to fix it? This is yet another case for effective obedience training and training of new habits in your dog. To resolve unwanted and/or excessive barking, you must first establish what situations make your dog bark, and then teach your pooch how to handle those situation more appropriately. 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

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Photo: Matt McGee

Aggressive behavior in dogs doesn't always need to come in the form of an attack. This common dog behavior problem is very often a subtle demonstration of aggressiveness in your dog. However, because your dog doesn't attack, that doesn't mean that any tendency for aggressive behavior in them is appropriate, especially if this aggression is often shown towards the owner.

How to fix it? You must 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. Also, evaluate your pet's diet because some foods or dog supplements can cause certain dog breeds to behave more aggressively.

Finally, 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 as well as 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.

Begging for food

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Your dog begging you for food is definitely one of the most common dog behavior problems that pet owners face on a daily 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. So naturally, whenever our pets start begging us for food, this pressure is difficult to resist and eventually we cave in!

How to fix it? To resolve problem of your dog's begging, simply teach your canine that begging for food will not work. Always ignore your dog and do not give him any food when you are eating. Be patient and consistent. Do not reprimand your dog for begging, as the attention he receives will reinforce the behavior. Remember that this is an ongoing process, and even after a long-term practice, if you cave in – the process will need to be started from the beginning.

Jumping on Furniture

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Photo: Patrick

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. Forbidding furniture to your dog is a matter of choice, although there are situations when it might be advisable. If your dog is aggressive over furniture, or simply has other behavioural issues, then forbidding furniture access may be helpful in establishing that you are the dominant one in your relationship.

How to fix it? If you're trying to train your dog not to jump onto furniture, provide him with a comfortable dog bed instead (there are also indestructible dog beds designed for aggressive chewers). When still training, reward your 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 for pets.


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Photo: :mrMark:

Mouthing is another one of common dog behavior problems, but it should not be confused with biting or aggressiveness. Dog mouthing behavior is when your pooch puts his mouth and teeth around your hand or finger but doesn't actually bite. While a lot of dogs develop this behavioral problem, mouthing is mostly observed in puppies and younger dogs. Nevertheless, this behavior still 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 to a great effect. 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


25 Most Common Dog Behavior Problems
Photo: patchattack

Digging is not only one of the most common dog behavior problems, but it's also another natural instinct of your domesticated animal which cannot be simply “fixed.”

How to “fix” it? Dogs dig for a variety of reasons, and the first step to resolving this problem is to figure out why she's digging in the first place.

  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

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Photo: Daphné

Dogs use their mouths like humans use their hands to explore and interact with their world. Chewing is a natural behavior in canines, but can be problematic when it is destructive. Sometimes, dog behavioral problem of excessive chewing stems from medical issues. Check this with your vet.

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.

Excessive licking

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Photo: Guillermo Salinas

Dog's behavioral problem of compulsive, excessive licking is one of the more difficult ones to fix. That is most because of how hard it is to notice and assess whether this is a problematic behavior, or something normal. A good sign of actual excessive licking problem in dogs is when they lick everything: from their paws to your furniture, you, carpets, cars, etc.

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.

Showing a fear of noises

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Photo: Michael Gil

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 will generally aggravate the fear. If the sound is unavoidable, such as thunder during a thunderstorm, maintain an air of 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 over the course of 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.


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Photo: Topato

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 to be ineffective – it's time to ask for a professional's help. Fixing this behavioral problem is important and should be done effectively.

Being overprotective of family

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Photo: André Gustavo Stumpf

Dogs sometimes develop overprotective behaviors of their owners. This common dog behavior problem can lead to aggressiveness and 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 intetions are good, you must let your pooch know that this is inappropriate behavior. Practice obedience training and positive reinforcement, too.

Leash pulling

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Photo: Sangudo

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 very frequent walking sessions with your dog on the leash. Dog experts recommend to 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 to always 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.

Whining for attention

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Photo: Sylvia McFadden

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.

Being overprotective of property

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Photo: Kyle May

Similarly to dog behavior problems of being overprotective of their owners, dogs can also become overprotective of items. Usually, this indicates that your dog is insecure. 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.


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Photo: Matt Deavenport

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


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Photo: Harold Meerveld

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 obvious: when outside of your supervision and not in a safe environment, a dog can get herself in all kinds of dangers very quickly.

How to fix it?

  1. 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.
  2. Some dogs may be afraid of something in the yard. In this case, figure out what is scaring them and resolve the issue.
  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.

Eating poop

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Photo: Sue B

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


  1. My four year old Scottie has developed a bad habit. When we are out for a walk , if a vehicle passes by , he lunges at a wheel. He is always on a leash , but this afternoon I was not holding very tightly. He very nearly run over. Luckily we walk down country lanes, with my other two, my Westie and my Smooth hair Wheaton. They walk along with no problems. I cannot figure out why this has started.


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