This section covers Dog aggression & biting, barking & growling, jumping up & chewing along with separation anxiety & whining and what to do about them
Common Dog Behaviour Issues, Their Causes & Solutions
Dogs are faithful companions, however, they are animals and hence there are many dog behaviours that are undesirable. Some are simply annoying but others can make your pet dangerous to others. For these reasons, it is important to get familiar with some of the most common behaviour problems, their signs and what should be done about them.
Dog aggression is a major human concern because at least 5 million people are referred to the hospital each year in the USA alone for treatment of dog bites. Some dogs are born aggressive whereas other are made that way. Any dog can become aggressive under certain conditions.
If your dog bullies you and others, barks excessively, rushes or sneaks upon those who enter his territory, bites, snarls or growls at others, he/she shows signs of aggression. Physical abuse, being separated from its mother before 8 weeks of age, harsh punishment and abusive training also fuel this type of behaviour problem.
As a responsible dog owner, you should never tolerate aggressive behaviour in even the youngest puppy. Not only is this disorder upsetting and disruptive, but it is dangerous too. What’s more, if you don’t try solving this issue as early as possible, the behaviour can grow into a more serious issue as your dog grows older.
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to help a dog with this kind of behaviour disorder such as obedience training at an early age.
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Barking is a dog’s way of communication, but sometimes it can be too much and develop into a habit if you respond in a way that encourages more barking. Excessive barking can be very annoying and even become a social nuisance for neighbors. Most dogs will bark excessively due to a number of reasons such as:
- Pain – if your dog is injured in some way he may bark to let you know
- Discomfort – your dog may sometime bark if something like too much noise is irritating his ears
- Seeking attention – since dogs are very social pets, they will bark a lot just to get your attention
- Being left isolated for long periods
Luckily, every dog owner can solve all barking problems with easy approaches. You just need to choose one method that you are comfortable with and continue to perform this method all the time but with lots of patience.
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About four and a half million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year, and twenty per cent of them end up needing medical attention for those wounds. Children under the age of thirteen are the most common victims with roughly fifty per cent of the bites being reported among them.
Most bites occur while interacting with the dog, and thus there is need for the pet to be well trained on how to handle itself. It is always worth keeping in mind that any dog breed has the capacity to bite and that by understanding the reasons why dogs bite it is possible to prevent them. Some five main causes of this dog behaviour include:
- Pain – If your dog has chronic injury, otitis or dysplasia it may become snippy and bite.
- Maternal Instincts – Even the best-trained dog can become a biter when she has puppies; that’s what mothers do to protect their puppies.
- Prey Habits – Let’s not forget that a long time ago dogs came from the wild and once in a while they tend to run after prey. Driving, jogging or cycling near the dog may incite the dog to bite.
- Dog fear – dog fear is usually directed towards unfamiliar situations and strangers. This problem is quite common among dogs that are not properly socialized.
Chewing is a natural dog behaviour – it is just a part of the way they’re wired. Dogs seem to like chewing unusual things like your hair. For young dogs, it is a way to relieve pain caused by incoming teeth while for older ones; it is nature’s way of keeping their teeth clean and jaws strong. However, chewing can quickly become a behaviour problem if your dog causes destruction or even injury and this can end up costing you lots of money.
Your dog will chew your furniture, clothes among other things when suffering from separation anxiety, when frustrated or stressed and to release energy. Learning how to stop dog chewing bad behaviour is a chance to get to know your pet better in all aspects.
Therefore, it is important that you stop your dog from excessive chewing before it becomes a bad habit. One way to do this is to redirect his inappropriate chewing by exchanging the chewed items with a favorite chew toy.
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When your dog is growling, it can sound very frightening. However, it is important to know that most of the time growling is a symptom of aggression. For this reason, it is imperative to understand the underlying issue first before the problem gets out of hand. According to experts, growling is usually a form of communication. Your dog is not able to tell you when he is unhappy or uncomfortable, so instead he may growl to alert you on these.
One of the main reasons for dog growling is territoriality. Sometimes pets growl when they feel the need to defend their environment. Normally, the dog will growl if they sense that you are invading their personal space. But besides that, possession aggression may be a cause.
Some dogs growl as a way to send the message “This is mine, and I am not sharing.” But fear may also cause a bit of growling. A good example is where the dog sees potential danger it may want to say “Back off” – and this of course necessitates a bit of growling.
In worse off cases, the dog may growl due to the pain of an illness or injury. In this event, you may want to be cautious of possible unexplained pain going on in your pet’s body. Quite often this is followed by veterinarian poking and prodding which means that besides the pain, the dogs are experiencing a significant deal of confusion.
Eventually, the dog may associate the people trying to help it with the pain and fear. Growling in that case usually translates to “I’m afraid, I’m in pain” and you therefore need to stop hurting the dog.
Yet another of the destructive dog behaviour is inappropriate jumping. Unlike other problems such as biting, aggressiveness and nipping, jumping creates the most danger to the household. Your untrained pet could easily knock someone down or rip expensive clothing apart. But why do dogs jump in the first place?
- They jump when they’re excited to see the owner or other visitors approaching
- When the dog wants to establish authority over those entering the compound
- When he is just bored
The downside of all the jumping fun is that some people may get injured in the process. dogs live for attention; any attention. So when they jump to welcome you back home, and you reward them with a snack, then you are unknowingly encouraging this issue. With time, the pet will associate reckless jumping with praise – and it gets quite puzzling when you reprimand them on other occasions.
It is therefore important for the dog to be trained on what to do during play time (and what not to do as well).
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Dogs are social animals that form strong bonds with people, so it’s not surprising that they may suffer from separation anxiety once separated from their social group or from you (the owner). Dogs that develop this disorder are often young dogs.
However, it’s widely held that dogs with a dysfunctional background (that is dogs adopted from pet stores or shelters or dogs that have had traumatic handling early in life or multiple owners) tend to be more prone to separation anxiety. dogs suffering from separation anxiety may howl, bark, engage in destructive behaviour activities or whine when left alone so as to reduce the tension.
This problem may sometime be confused with other separation-related behaviour issues that occur in the owner’s absence. Therefore, if your dog shows behaviour changes such as excessive barking and other nuisance behaviours, you should never come to a conclusion that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. This is because the lack of stimulation also leads some dogs to engage in different behaviour issues.
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All dogs whine but some are more whiney than others. Whining is a common dog behaviour problem that most pet owners have to deal with. Though whining is normal (used as a communication device to express a number of different emotions and desires), it becomes a problem if your dog does it too often or at inappropriate times like when everybody is sleeping.
The condition can be almost automatic and may arise in response to certain situations. Some dogs will whine excessively when interacting with people and other dogs. Others will whine as a result of separation anxiety, to seek attention because of boredom, pain or appeasement behaviour. Nothing can be as annoying as sitting down to dinner and having your dog whine hence it is important to correct this dog behaviour disorder.
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Any dog behaviour problems that your pet may have do not necessarily have to be permanent. Therefore, as long as you have the knowledge of identifying them before its too late, you can turn them around. The important thing is to correct the issues as soon as possible before they get out of control.