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Dealing With Common Pet Misbehaviours

Our canine friends usually do all they can to please us, but sometimes slip. Here's how to rein them in.

A dog is typically a gracious, loyal friend for life, and does what will please its owner. However, there will be times when it veers off-track and exhibits "doggone" behaviours.

What are hassled owners to do when their dogs go out of control? Thankfully, there are ways to keep them in check.


Common Dog Misbehaviors

1. Barking

All dogs want to be heard in some way and express their need through barks, howls, or whines. Issues set in when the barking becomes excessive. Before you can get your dog to stop speaking so much, get to the heart of why he does so in the first place.

Dogs bark mostly due to a need for attention, for play, because they want to respond to other dogs or are just inquisitive because of anxiety. We will address barking behaviour in another section of this article.

2. Chewing

Dogs chew by instinct; it's part of their genetic makeup. It's typical to find them gnawing on their favourite bones or toys. That said, problems set in when the chewing become excessive. Dogs chew because of boredom or want attention. At other times, they may be famished. Teething (if your pet is a pup) may also explain why your pet tends to chew.

4. Digging

Give a dog a garden, and it will dig; like barking, digging is part of the Canine makeup. Dog breeds such as terriers are more prone to digging because their progenitors dug to hunt. Dogs will dig to expend their energy or because they feel anxious. Some want to hide their bones from other dogs or to gain access to different areas.

5. Separation Anxiety

This behaviour ranks among those that trouble dog owners the most and makes performing routine tasks difficult. It is common among puppies and senior pets. You know that your pet is suffering from separation anxiety when it refuses to allow you to leave home. It will also start whining or chewing on your favourite items excessively.

6. Inappropriate Eliminating

Inappropriate urination and defecation are among the most frustrating dog behaviours.

A wet, stinking stain on an expensive cashmere rug is every owner's nightmare. Inappropriate elimination can be destructive and makes you and your pet unwelcome visitors. Dogs typically urinate because they are anxious, want to mark territory or want attention.

7. Begging

Begging is a negative habit that many dog owners encourage without realizing it because they find the behaviour adorable. Unfortunately, giving a dog food at inappropriate times or just because they ask for it can lead to obesity or poor digestion. The "just once" mentality can lead to unexpected issues, and owners send the wrong signals to their pets by feeding them at the table.

8. Chasing

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Dogs are animals and, more than that, natural runners. They are born to chase moving objects; you may find your pet drawn to them and doing so constantly.

Playing an occasional game of chase is fun, but the natural tendency to go after moving objects, especially those that pose danger, can be worrisome. A hassled owner needs to find a way to rein in his active dog.

9. Jumping Up

Jumping as a form of greeting is typical and natural canine behaviour. Puppies greet their mums by doing so. Like us, our canine buddies jump to grab things that are beyond reach. They may jump when they feel the excitement of seeing someone or something new. While the behaviour is endearing to pet lovers, others may not find it so apt. It may also pose a danger to toddlers or children who are smaller-sized than dogs.

10. Nipping/Biting

Dogs will bite for a variety of reasons. Puppies may nip because they are teething. Some adult dogs, such as my Westie, may nip out of frustration because of separation anxiety. Others do so to show fear. Whatever the reason is, owners have to prevent inappropriate nipping by teaching bite inhibition.

Dealing with Common Dog Misbehaviours

1. Controlling Excess Barking

Many hassled owners have little idea how to get their pets to stop being chatterboxes. The constant vocalizing can be an annoyance to neighbours, so teaching it to respond to the 'no speak' command may be a must.

Look your pet in the eye and say 'no speak' when it barks. Put your finger on your lips at the same time. Have a treat ready, and reward your pet once it responds correctly.

2. Surviving Excess Chewing

Prompt your dog to the right things to chew. Provide lots of chew toys, and if that fails, give him one of your old slippers whenever he chews anything that he should not. Of course, you should keep valuable items away from your pet. When on walks, take him to areas where he will be less likely to chew on or ingest the things it shouldn't

Create a sharp sound to distract your pet when you catch it chewing on the wrong things. Then, give your pet a chew toy or old slipper in place of the chewing item. If your pet chews out of boredom, it may lack exercise. Please give it a good run so that it will expend its excess energy and avoid chewing.

3. Preventing too much digging

The last thing any owner wants is ruined aesthetics; a yard with a huge hole can look very unappealing. Determine why your pet digs, then work to eliminate its reason for doing so. If your pet is digging because it feels boring, exercise it to help it expend its energy. Also, give it an area within your yard to dig freely and allow it to di there only.

4. Managing Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a behaviour that takes extensive behaviour modification and, if severe, the help of a specialist. That said, there are things an owner can do to manage a clingy dog.

If possible, start by not spend too long a time apart from your pet. If distance allows, return in the afternoons to spend time with or feed it. Leave soothing music on when leaving home until your pet understands that you’re not going to abandon it.

5. Eliminating Inappropriate Elimination

Many new homeowners struggle to teach their pets to eliminate properly, and this is understandable; inappropriate puppy elimination is unavoidable. But every pup is trainable if owners take a few measures.

If you have a small pup, isolate him in the general area you want him to eliminate. Block the pee tray with cardboard boxes. As he eases himself, he will leave his scent behind, and it will stay ( a dogs sense of smell is far stronger than ours) even after you clean up the area. He will eventually start to use it.

6. Stopping Your Pet from Begging

Before you sit down to eat, tell your dog to go to its place, preferably where it will not be able to stare at you. If necessary, confine your dog to another room. If it behaves, give it a special treat only after you and your family are finished eating.

7. Stopping the chase

If you have a pet that loves to romp after a car or live close to a road, you may want to spend time making sure that it responds immediately when called.

Teach it the 'come' command. Leash your pet and have a treat ready. Call its name and say the word 'come' in a cheerful voice. Reward it with the treat once it comes all the way to you. As it becomes familiar with the command, slowly wean it off the leash.

8. Preventing Jumping

There are many ways to stop jumping behaviour, including grabbing a pet's paws or pushing it away. However, instant actions like these send the wrong message to the dog. A dog will likely feel that any response from its owner is an acknowledgement of its behaviour.

The best way to discourage a dog from jumping is to ignore it totally. Turn your back to it and walk away. The lack of attention to your pet will tell it that it's not supposed to jump.

9. Halting Nipping

Mother dogs often teach their pups not to give in to their instinct to bite by teaching them Bite inhibition, which is a step-by-step process.

The first of these steps is to teach your pup to bite softly. You can yelp if the puppy bites too hard. Yelping will let it know that it has gone too far.


Dogs will go off the proper behaviour track on occasion, but most will respond appropriately after positive conditioning and reinforcement from their owners.


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 26, 2021:

Pets are restless at times and make us feel that too. Your hub is interesting and informative about pet behaviors.

I learned a lot from your hub.

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