Help with 8 Common Dog Behavioral Issues
Below is our list of the most common types of behavioral issues dogs tend to display.
Housetraining and crate training your dog is usually one of the first priorities upon bringing them home.
Some dogs learn the rules in as little as a week. Others may need a couple of months before they understand where the new bathroom is located.
How long it takes to housetrain your dog will depend on a number of factors, like how old they are and what their previous living situation was like (if they had one). Of course, it also depends on the trainer Like any new skill you try to teach your pup, housetraining takes dedication and patience on your part.
By far, the most recommended method for housebreaking your canine-companion is with crate training:
Place your pup in their den while you’re away and you shouldn’t have to worry about any accidents upon your return. That’s because your dog doesn’t want to soil their den. Just be sure that, once you get home, you let your dog out right away, so they can finally use the bathroom where you want. Then, upon doing so, give them positive reinforcement. Dogs want to please their pet-parents, which is why approval goes a long way (treats always help, too).
The other great benefit of this training method is that, as your pup becomes comfortable with the crate, it will be easier to transport them in the car.
If you need help with housetraining or crate training, here are some fantastic articles on the topic:
- How to Potty Train a Puppy: A Comprehensive Guide for Success
- Crate training 101
- Clicker Training for Dogs
3. Fear and Aggression
Some dogs become extremely passive when they’re scared and will even avoid being in the same room as other people. This often happens when dogs are adopted after living in an abusive environment. Usually, they’ll come around once they get comfortable and realize you’re they’re new best friend and not a threat.
Other times, dogs deal with fear and anxiety by doing just the opposite: they become aggressive. Even with the best of intentions, pet-parents often make matters worse because they don’t understand the reason behind their dog’s behavior.
Usually, the problem isn’t between pups and their parents. It’s that they’re territorial and don’t like strangers.
If that’s the case, try inviting friends over and immediately handing them your furry-friend’s favorite treat. They should then crouch down to offer it making sure to look away. Aggressive dogs may take direct eye contact as a threat.
Using treats to show your dog that there’s nothing to worry about from new people might take some time, but repetition will pay off.
If this method doesn’t work, though, here are some other very detailed resources to help with aggressive or over-anxious dogs:
- 6 Things to Remember When You Have a Fearful Dog
- Ben: An Aggressive Dog Case Study (the power of clicker training )
- What Do I Do When My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Children?
- My Dog is Aggressive Around Strangers
4. Issues with Your Other Dogs
It’s perfectly normal for some dogs to be a bit wary of other canines. Sometimes, they may even voice their concerns – literally. While other dogs absolutely love seeing another pup while they’re out for a walk or at the park, some are simply a bit timid about making introductions.
That’s fine as long as they never become aggressive or display other behavioral issues that could cause harm to themselves, another dog, or you/another person.
There’s no one reason for this kind of behavior. Your dog may have had a bad experience in the past, so their adverse behavioral is really a defense mechanism. Other dogs just don’t know any better because they’ve never been properly socialized.
If it’s a lack of socialization, doggy kindergarten and puppy playgroups may be just the thing to help ease their anxiety about being around other canines. Sites like Meetup.com are a good place to check for these kinds of groups or simply do a Google search of your local area.
You can also structure a playdate if you have a friend with a dog who doesn’t suffer from the same issue. This kind of deliberate approach makes it much easier to ensure a successful meet, as opposed to situations when your dog suddenly sees another canine (e.g. during walks).
If this advice doesn’t apply to your situation, these articles may help:
- 7 Easy Ways to Train a Dog to Get Along with Other Dogs (for stranger dogs)
- 10 Things You Can Do to Get 2 Dogs to Get Along (for two dogs in the same house)
- How to Train an Aggressive Dog to Be Nice to Other Dogs
5. Separation Anxiety
Have neighbors complained about your dog barking excessively when you’re gone? Do you come home to find that they have made a mess of your house, even ruined some of your belongings? Are they housebroken but only as long as you remain in the house?
These are all signs of separation anxiety in your poor pooch. Although the symptoms differ widely across dogs, the silver lining is that this is an extremely common problem and therefore one that many pet-parents have been able to solve.
If you’ve only recently brought your pup home, their separation anxiety may be temporary. They’re simply not accustomed to you leaving and returning, but with time, they’ll get used to this routine and relax.
The same sometimes happens after moving to a new home or when pet-parents change their normal schedules.
Other times, it’s more difficult to pinpoint what’s triggering the anxiety.
That said, the most reliable solution for this problem tends to be crate training. With practice, your pup’s crate will become a comfortable place where they feel safe, the perfect location for them to wait until you return.
If your dog begins their anxious behavior the moment you start getting ready to leave, place them in their crate to see if this doesn’t help. Again, it may take some practice before they learn to settle down and wait calmly until you return.
Here are some helpful resources about crate training and other methods of training your pup to relax while you’re away:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Crate Training
- How to Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
- 7 Separation Anxiety Myths
6. Destructive Behavior
Nothing is quite as frustrating as a little ball of fur you can’t help but love who also can’t help but destroy your belongings. They might compulsively chew up your shoes, gnaw against the legs of your furniture, or simply test their jaws against just about anything they can find.
If you have a puppy, chances are that they’re simply teething. This is to be expected. Fortunately, there are a number of chew toys designed specifically for puppies going through this stage.
Full-grown dogs can also display destructive behavior, though. If it only happens when you’re gone, take a look at the section above as your pup probably has separation anxiety.
Otherwise, the problem is often caused by boredom, frustration, and/or anxiety.
Are you giving your dog enough exercise? That’s a good place to start as a dog with pent-up energy needs to find a way to vent it.
For many dogs, destructive behavior actually results from a lack of mental exercise. Obedience training, teaching them to do new tricks, and bringing them new places could all help to give their overactive brains an outlet.
Don’t forget about crates, dog gates, and simply closing doors while you’re working through this problem. The fewer opportunities your dog has to practice bad behavior, the easier it will be to break these habits.
Here are some other articles to help curb your canine-companion’s destructive tendencies:
- How to Train Your Dog Not to Destroy Furniture
- How to Stop Your Dog’s Destructive Chewing in 9 Days (ish?) Steps
- Common Dog Behavior Issues: Destructive Chewing
Dogs use their mouths for all kinds of things. A lot of times, all they want to do is give you a big, wet, sloppy kiss.
Other times, they still have equally affectionate intentions, but they get a bit nippy instead. To be clear, this is not the same as biting. It’s not being done out of aggression. Mouthing generally occurs when dogs are happy or excited. Sometimes, it’s because they’re overstimulated or stressed, but it’s never because they’re intentionally tying to hurt someone.
Nonetheless, you want to train this out of puppies ASAP. They mean well, but as they get older, mouthing on a stranger could result in dire consequences.
If your adult dog is mouthing, then it’s time to tackle the problem right away before someone gets hurt. Until they learn to quit doing it, keep them away from others.
Anytime your dog mouths you during play, make a high-pitched “yelp” and let your hand go limp for a moment. This should catch your furry friend off guard, which will grab their attention. Then praise your pooch for stopping and/or licking you.
The strategy is to help your dog understand that their mouthing causes you pain. This is usually something dogs learn by playing with other dogs. They get bit. They learn it hurts. They don’t do it to their pet-parents.
However, if your doggy hasn’t figured this out yet, this is how to teach them.
These articles about mouthing are also very instructive:
- Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
- Arousal Biting: How to Stop “Mouthing” Behavior in Older Dogs
- Living with “Jaws”: A Survival Guide for Puppy Mouthing
8. Puppy Problems
Puppies may be the most adorable things alive, but they can also be a lot of work. It’s completely natural to get a bit frustrated with them at times. Some days, you may even get frustrated more than once.
A common reason for puppies misbehaving is just that they’re not getting enough attention. They’re inquisitive and curious and have plenty of energy, so if they’re not engaged, problems may result.
The solution is a combination of playing with them and taking them out for some exercise. As puppies, even 10 minutes here and there can be enough to help them settle down.
If you’re dealing with housebreaking issues, we cover that in more detail above. Otherwise, here are some really excellent guides on dealing with typical puppy problems: