Do you often come home to chewed slippers or broken furniture? Does your pup seem to never get tired of barking? If your dog is exhibiting behavioral issues, you might need to look into canine behavior solutions. Behavioral problems in dogs are quite common, but many owners don’t know how to properly address them. The first step to solving these issues is understanding them and knowing what causes them in the first place. Look into this guide for tips on how to keep your dog’s behavior in check! What Are Common Behavioral Problems in Dogs? Dogs may exhibit one or several behavior issues. Some owners may think it’s normal and choose not to pay attention to them, but in reality, they need to be addressed as soon as possible. To know if your pup needs dog behavior modification, take a look at the most common dog behavioral problems listed below: Aggression: Some dogs may show aggression, not just towards strangers but also their owners. They might growl, lunge forward, or bite a person when they perceive a threat. In most cases, they might be trying to protect their territory or guard their food. Barking: It’s natural for dogs to vocalize, but excessive barking is considered a behavioral issue. If your dog barks at the slightest noise or movement or just to seek your attention, you might need to seek treatment from a dog behaviorist. Separation Anxiety: Dogs can become anxious, especially when left alone for long periods of time. Separation anxiety can manifest through excessive vocalization, licking, chewing, urinating and defecating, and other forms of destructive behavior. Chewing: Dogs love to chew, especially as puppies. However, it can be troublesome for owners if they chew on almost anything. This behavior can be due to teething, boredom, anxiety, or curiosity. Begging: Another bad habit in dogs is begging. Many owners encourage their dogs to beg for food or treats. Even when done only once, this can send the wrong signals to your pup and be a problem in the long run. Chasing and Jumping: A dog’s desire to chase moving objects and jump on people comes from its natural instinct. However, these behaviors can be dangerous and may cause unwanted accidents. Digging: Due to their hunting instincts, Beagles, Terriers, and certain dog breeds love to dig. This might also be their way of burning excess energy. For owners, it can be quite frustrating if their dogs spend hours digging in their yard. Does your dog show signs of any of these alarming behavioral issues? If yes, it might be the time to consider learning canine training techniques or book a consultation with dog behaviorists. Why Do Dogs Develop Behavioral Problems? When dogs develop an undesirable behavior, it’s important to know what is the root cause. You should look at different factors, including genetics, environment, training, medical conditions, and possible trauma. Firstly, there are certain dog breeds that are predisposed to developing some unusual dog behaviors. For instance, Doberman Pinschers are more prone to develop flank sucking, a type of canine compulsive disorder (CCD). Another example is Chihuahuas. Despite their size, Chihuahuas are notorious for being aggressive dogs. They can be very loyal and loving to their owners but show hostility towards strangers. However, not all Chihuahuas show aggressiveness. It’s also essential to look into environmental influences on dog behavior. Routine changes, the loss of a family member or having a new member in the household can significantly impact the way they act. You may observe that your dog is more aggressive or seeking more attention. The amount of training received as a puppy can also shape your dog’s demeanor. Lack of training can result in unwanted behavior such as excessive barking, chewing, and other destructive activities. Additionally, some owners use negative reinforcement in the form of yelling, physical abuse, and other unpleasant consequences for an action. This is not an effective method of training since it can cause your dog to feel anxious and become fearful, leading to behavioral issues. On the other hand, positive reinforcement for dogs can also be a problem if owners reward begging or jumping on people. It’s important to know which actions should be tolerated to avoid developing such behaviors. Moreover, you should rule out medical conditions that may cause your dog to behave a certain way. For example, excessive licking can be a sign of an injury or infection. In this case, you should take your pup to the vet. Lastly, if you own a rescued dog, trauma from their previous owner can be the root cause of behavioral issues. If your pup is always on guard, aggressive, or afraid to socialize, this might be a sign that they are emotionally traumatized. How Can You Identify Behavioral Issues in Your Dog? Identifying behavioral problems in your dog should start early into puppyhood. Early behavioral signs in puppies can give you a clue on what to work on during dog obedience training. Now that you know some of the common behavioral issues in dogs, you can determine if your pet is exhibiting signs of aggression, biting, anxiety, excessive chewing, and others. When socializing with people and other animals, observe your dog’s general behavior towards them. Does your dog snarl at house guests? Is it hesitant to approach? Does it chase nearby animals? Remember that a healthy and psychologically sound dog should show eagerness to interact with people and animals. It will generally exhibit a cheerful personality and display interest in everyday activities. Keep tabs on their behavior throughout the day and record them daily. Note the frequency of the unwanted action (e.g. urinating inside the house) and observe any changes in its pattern. After this, you can take the next step in finding appropriate canine behavior solutions for your dog. The best way to confirm your suspicions is to consult your veterinarian who shall conduct a behavioral assessment of your dog. Make sure not to leave out any details and be transparent about the dog’s environment and living conditions. You can also talk to an experienced dog trainer or animal behaviorist to know what you're dealing with and what effective measures to take. You should read our newest post, Therapy Dog Training: How to Prepare Your Dog for Canine Therapy Programs, it's very insightful. What Are Effective Solutions for Behavioral Problems? Once you identify your dog’s specific behavioral issue, you can start searching for the right solution. This may include training and seeking professional help from your veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behaviorist. Training Techniques for Better Behavior Training your dog early into puppyhood is proven to curb unwanted behavior in the future. But if you’re dealing with an adult dog, positive reinforcement techniques are still effective in achieving better behavior, especially in managing dog aggression. When training your dog, instead of telling them what they shouldn’t do, tell them what you want them to do. For example, say “sit” instead of “don’t jump.” You should also praise your dog whenever they are lying quietly or walking on a leash. Try experimenting with different rewards. Aside from food or treats, you can do a quick play session or just show lots of affection. Start with short training sessions and remember to make it fun! If you’re dealing with a prolific barker, you can try using our Dog Bark Corrector to effectively control your dog’s barking tendencies. It has a no-shock design and can be used alongside positive reinforcement training. To prevent your dog from jumping, greet them calmly and don’t react when they start to jump on you. You can tell them to sit, and once they calm down, you can give them attention. In this way, your pup will learn that jumping is unnecessary to get what they want. Crate training is also effective when your dog is constantly jumping or begging. You can put your dog in a crate when there are visitors or while preparing their food. Once they’re calm, you can let them out. If your dog likes to chew on your belongings, give them chew toys instead. Your teething puppy can benefit from a Puppy Toy Mat from HoundGames, which includes chew toys that are safe and appropriate for their age. When dealing with a dog that loves to dig and chase, you can provide mental stimulation and exercise. Giving them Dog Puzzle Toys can help eliminate the boredom that often leads to these unwanted behaviors. When implementing these training techniques, it’s important to be consistent and have enough patience to ensure a well-rounded pup. Creating a Supportive Environment Your dog’s journey in correcting behavioral problems starts at home. It’s important to create a supportive environment to make sure your dog feels safe and cared for. This is especially effective in reducing anxiety in dogs. The first step in providing the ideal home for your pet is by making their space as safe and comfortable as possible. In doing so, you should consider your dog’s specific needs and sensitivities. If your pup gets jumpy over loud noises, make sure that their area is quiet and free from hazards. In this case, you should consider dog-proofing your house. When you leave for work or need to run an errand, make sure that it has toys to play with. You can even leave a blanket with your scent on it to lessen their anxiety. If you are unable to come home during their meal times, use an automatic feeder. Dogs love routine. As an owner, you should create schedules for feeding, playing, and relaxation. Try to walk them at the same hour every day, preferably in the morning and afternoon. Allocate some time to play with your pooch. You can use toys and puzzles that will keep them engaged. If you recently taught them a new trick, practice it every day. It’s important to give them enough attention to develop a sense of security. Make sure that all family members are aware of your dog’s needs and teach them how to handle your pooch correctly. When to Seek Professional Help Consider professional help if new training techniques and a supportive environment don't resolve your dog's behavioral issues. Initial Step: Veterinary Consultation First, consult a veterinarian to rule out medical conditions that might cause the problematic behavior. Option 1: Hiring a Pet Trainer If no medical issues are found, consider hiring a pet trainer. A professional trainer offers effective training methods for better behavior. Ensure affordability but verify the trainer's credentials before hiring. Option 2: Seeking an Animal Behavior Specialist If a trainer isn't suitable, explore options like a behavior counselor, a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB), or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. A behavior counselor diagnoses behavioral issues in dogs. A CAAB has certification from the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). Option 3: Consulting a Board-Certified Veterinary Behaviorist For official behavioral conditions like anxiety, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist can prescribe medication. This option is ideal for more severe behavioral issues. Depending on the severity of your dog’s behavioral problem, you can seek the help of any of the mentioned professionals. However, you must be prepared to pay for the required fees. Maintaining Good Behavior in Dogs: Long-Term Strategies After the successful behavioral modification, you might be wondering how you can maintain your dog’s good behavior. After working hard to train your pup or hiring a professional, you should look into long-term dog care strategies. Training doesn’t end after your dog’s last day in doggy class. Your pup will continue learning throughout its lifespan and it’s only vital to keep applying what they trained for in real-life settings. You should continue using positive reinforcement by rewarding good behavior on a daily basis. Your dog should be properly socialized and exercised every day to be exposed to different people and stimuli. If your dog exhibits its former behavior in certain situations, remember to go back to the basics of obedience training and reward them when they comply. To promote mental stimulation and further discipline, you can try teaching your dog new tricks. Dogs love a good challenge while also having fun in the process. You can work with simple tricks at first, and if your dog is responsive, you can move to more complex ones. Remember, you can always reach out to your dog’s previous trainer or veterinarian for help when things become unmanageable. Conclusion: Building a Stronger Bond Through Understanding Building a strong bond with your furry friend starts by understanding its emotional needs. Dogs may develop behavioral problems without proper training, socialization, and consistent care. They thrive better in a loving and stress-free environment. It’s important to observe your canine’s behavior as a puppy to mitigate any signs of behavioral issues early on. If you’re dealing with an adult dog, several training techniques can help eliminate unwanted behavior. If training at home is not enough, professional trainers, certified behaviorists, and veterinarians can help you understand how to handle your dog better. They can provide a tailored solution or medications if necessary. Once you address your dog’s behavioral problem, it’s vital to continue implementing the training techniques you’ve learned to ensure a lifelong relationship filled with harmony and trust.