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Dog Behavior Problem

Common Dog Behavior Problems & What To Do About Them

What humans view as undesirable behaviors from their dogs do not always have clear-cut solutions. To help change your dog’s behavioral problems, you have to get to the bottom of what is causing them before you can make any changes.

Some behavioral problems are relatively easy to fix, while others might require professional help to solve. If your dog is exhibiting undesirable behaviors, professional dog training can help.

Trained professionals can help bring peace and order back into your home. The main goal is to understand your dog’s issues and where they are coming from so that you can help to alleviate the issue.

To learn more about common canine behavior problems and how you can help to resolve them, keep reading!

The Seven Most Common Dog Behavior Problems

Dogs can display a number of behavioral issues throughout their life, some that pop up seemingly out of nowhere in adulthood and some that start from a very young age. Curbing those behaviors as soon as possible can help bring you peace of mind and avoid bigger ones from developing.

It’s also worth noting that some behaviors that your dog exhibits might not be concerning to you as it is to others. For instance, some people may not want their dog jumping up onto them as a greeting, while others might think it’s cute and encourage it. Your dog doesn’t know any better until you teach them, so you have to decide what you’re willing to tolerate.

Once you notice a problematic behavior, begin working towards changing it immediately so that it doesn’t progress and gets harder to fix.

1. Excessive Vocalization

Barking is a very common dog behavior. You can’t completely stop a dog from barking since it’s a natural instinct. However, excessive barking can be undesirable and problematic if it’s not addressed.

If your dog barks excessively, you need to understand why it’s happening to be able to fix it. Your dog might be trying to alert you, get your attention, or maybe they’re responding to another dog or sound. They might feel bored or have anxiety. If you can identify what is triggering the barking, you might be able to eliminate that stimulus and see results quickly.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

The best way to fix this problem is by teaching your dog a bark/quiet command. This tells the dog when it’s appropriate to bark and when it’s not. When your dog begins to respond to your quiet command, reward them with a treat. This can take a lot of practice and commitment as barking is instinctual, but with time you can work towards appropriate levels of barking.

In older dogs, excessive vocalization might be more of a pet health concern than a pet behavior concern. Older adult dogs could possibly experience sun-downing syndrome or canine dementia. Pet parents should contact a vet for how to best treat their canine family members who are entering their golden years.

2. Destructive Chewing

As with barking, chewing is a natural behavior that most dogs do for a variety of reasons. As a puppy, chewing can help with the aches they feel from their puppy teeth, so you might find that excessive chewing starts young. Start by teaching your pooch what is appropriate to chew on and what is not.

What To Do: Refocus Your Dog’s Attention

Provide plenty of chew toys and keep your pup confined to a safe area when you’re not around. As soon as a dog gets bored, they start to cause trouble.

If you catch them chewing on inappropriate items, such as shoes and furniture, make a loud noise and swap that item out with an appropriate chew toy. You can avoid destructive chewing by ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercises to tire them out when left unattended and providing teething toys for puppies.

3. Inappropriate Elimination

As puppies, potty training may mean a few accidents before getting it right. This is a common behavior that doesn’t always result from an underlying issue but rather a lack of knowledge about right and wrong.

What To Do: Check Pet Health and Troubleshoot

If your dog is potty trained and begins inappropriately using the bathroom in your house, first check for medical issues or health problems. Ask a vet about possible health issues — the AskVet team is here for you day and night. If you’re wondering what’s normal behavior and what’s a health concern, chat with a veterinary expert available 24/7!

If there is no medical reason for urination or defecation in your house, it might be a behavioral issue. Your dog might be urinating when they get super excited, in which you should work towards doing greetings outside until they learn to control their bladder. If your dog is marking in the house well after puppyhood, it is a more complex behavior to fix and may require professional intervention.

You might place pee pads down to help keep your floors from getting damaged. If your dog starts to use the bathroom, make a loud noise to distract them and bring them outside to finish the job. Additionally, reward your dog when they signal they need to go outside to use the bathroom. This alert can be a noise or bark, standing at the door, or ringing a bell placed on the doorknob.

4. Jumping on People

You may think that your dog jumping up onto you is cute, but it’s a pretty bad habit. Especially for young children, older people, and people with disabilities, having a dog jump up on them could be dangerous. If your dog is going to be around a lot of different individuals, you might want to consider curbing this behavior before they get big enough to scratch a person or knock a person over.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

One common way to teach your dog not to jump is to turn away and ignore them when they exhibit the behavior. Interacting with them by putting a knee up or grabbing their paws and placing them down might send the wrong message to your dog. If you physically ignore the dog and don’t reward them until they stop jumping, your dog will pick up on what is expected of them.

You can also teach your dog an “Up” command, giving them the opportunity to jump up onto you when prompted. Without this command, the action should be off-limits.

5. Leash Pulling

Dogs can get very excited when they are on a walk. It usually starts when the leash gets taken off the wall that a dog starts building up this excitement. Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and training status, there are a number of different collars and harnesses that can be appropriate for your dog, and it is best to consult a professional to determine what is best for your dog.

Starting leash training as a puppy can help you to have better control over your dog as they become more confident, larger, and stronger.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

Going on walks is a necessity for most dogs, but it’s also a privilege. You want your dog to pay attention only to you when walking on the leash, but this can be a challenge when there are so many stimulating things on your walk.

Work on using treats to help keep your dog by your side, rewarding them when they walk next to you with a loose leash, and not giving into their pulling by turning in a different direction. This shows your dog that you are in charge and you decide how the walk will go.

6. Aggression

Aggressive dogs exist in all shapes and sizes and usually as a direct result of their genetics, history, and environment. Socializing your dog from a young age is essential so they can meet a variety of stimuli, like other dogs, people, noises, and objects, with confidence as they grow into their paws.

What To Do: Seek Professional Training Help

Serious intervention is usually needed as your main goal is to protect yourself, others, and your own dog from any harm. Your dog might be experiencing anxiety or fear that encourages them to act out, thinking they need to protect themselves. Working with vets, dog trainers, and animal behaviorists can help to better understand your dog’s needs and keep them safe.

If your dog is growling, nipping, or lunging at you or other dogs, seek help immediately. There could be a medical problem that needs to be addressed, especially if the aggression seems to happen out of nowhere. Consult your local veterinarian or the 24/7 veterinary experts at AskVet, immediately.

Keep in that mouthing is also a way dogs play — review the differences of rough play to know if it’s just young dogs acting goofy or something to be cornered about.

7. Separation Anxiety

Many of the behaviors listed above can result from separation anxiety. This condition might manifest in other troublesome behaviors like excessive licking, destruction of household items, eating poop, and inappropriate elimination. They could even develop aggressive behaviors towards humans or other animals.

What To Do: Behavior Modification

Building up your dog’s confidence can help keep them safe and happy, but this can be difficult if they become anxious and agitated when you leave. Most of the time, intensive training, modifying anxiety-inducing situations, and desensitizing your dog can be extremely helpful. Since separation anxiety can be a very complex issue, contacting a pet professional can often be best in these circumstances. Additionally, your vet might recommend that you put your dog on medication to help limit their anxiety as well.

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Dog Training Resources: Where To Get Started

When you have a question about your dog’s behavior, consider using AskVet to get an answer. With AskVet, you have access to experts that understand animal behavior and want to help you get to the bottom of it.

Our Certified Pet Coaches™ (CPC) can provide tips and tricks to help curb these bad behaviors and help to come up with a personalized behavioral plan for your dog’s specific needs. You can schedule a virtual session with one of our Certified Trainers™ to learn more about how AskVet can change you and your dog’s life!


A Review of Domestic Dogs’ (Canis Familiaris) Human-Like Behaviors: Or Why Behavior Analysts Should Stop Worrying and Love Their Dogs | NCBI

Behavioral Problems of Dogs – Behavior | Merck Veterinary Manual

How Can You Tell if Dogs are Playing or Fighting? | AKC

Senior dog dementia | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Canine Separation Anxiety: Strategies For Treatment And Management | NCBI


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