Updated: Apr 12
As much as we love our furry friends, sometimes their behaviour can become a bit of a problem. Dogs, like humans, have their own unique personalities, and sometimes they can develop habits that cause issues for their owners. Fortunately, many common behaviour problems in dogs can be addressed and resolved. In this post, we'll look at a few of the most common dog behaviour problems and discuss how to start to fix them.
1. Excessive barking
Dogs bark, that's a fact. Barking is a natural form of communication for dogs, and it's how they express themselves. However, excessive barking can be a nuisance to both you and your neighbours. Here are some of the reasons why dogs bark excessively and how to fix this common problem.
Why Do Dogs Bark Excessively?
There are several reasons why dogs bark excessively. Some of these reasons include:
Boredom: Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time may bark excessively out of boredom.
Attention-seeking: Dogs that want attention may bark excessively to get their owner's attention.
Fear or Anxiety: Dogs that are afraid or anxious may bark excessively in an attempt to alert their owner of potential danger.
Territorial Behaviour: Dogs that feel the need to protect their territory may bark excessively to ward off perceived threats.
Separation Anxiety: Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety may bark excessively when left alone.
Ways to Fix Excessive Barking
Now that we've identified the reasons why dogs bark excessively, let's discuss ways to fix this common problem.
Determine the Cause: The first step in fixing excessive barking is to determine the cause. Once you understand why your dog is barking excessively, you can take steps to address the underlying issue.
Exercise: Exercise is crucial for a dog's physical and mental well-being. A tired dog is less likely to bark excessively out of boredom.
Training: Training is an essential tool for modifying a dog's behaviour. Teaching your dog basic obedience commands like "quiet" and "leave it" can help curb excessive barking.
Environmental Enrichment: Provide your dog with toys, puzzles, and interactive games to keep them mentally stimulated and less likely to bark out of boredom.
Professional Help: If you've tried everything and your dog is still barking excessively, it may be time to seek professional help. A qualified dog trainer or behaviorist can assess your dog's behaviour and recommend a plan of action.
In summary, excessive barking is a common problem among dogs, but it can be fixed with patience, consistency, and understanding. By identifying the underlying cause and taking steps to address it, you can help your dog become a happy, well-behaved member of your family. If you're going to do anything definitely EXERCISE your dog! The first step to addressing most behaviour problems is ensuring your dog has an outlet for mental and physical stimulation, and no a 20 min lead walk once a day for a high energy breed like a border collie will ever be enough. If you have a dog with recall or dog reactivity issues give your dog the freedom they deserve (without the fear of something bad happening to them) by hiring your very own PRIVATE space in one of our fully fenced dog exercise areas at Leisure Space Perth
Jumping up on people is another common behaviour problem in dogs. This can be especially problematic if your dog is a large breed or if they jump on children or elderly people. To fix this behaviour, it's important to teach your dog that jumping is not allowed. This can be done through training and positive reinforcement. Whenever your dog greets someone without jumping, make sure to reward them with a treat but you should over praising with too much excitement as an exciting dog will only want to jump more.
Why excessive jumping should never be allowed
It's always great to have an enthusiastic dog who greets you with excitement, but excessive jumping can become a problem. Maybe not when they're small and cute but instead when fully grown. Not only can it become an annoyance to guests, but it can also pose a danger to elderly or young visitors who may not be able to handle a jumping dog. If you have a dog that just can't seem to stop jumping, don't worry - there are ways to fix it.
Most people will say you need to 'Ignore the jumping'. Here's why it doesn't work for many people. The first thing to understand is that all dogs with a jumping problem were encouraged (and even taught) by you or whomever raised them. So, if you have allowed such a behaviour to go on for a long period of time you better be prepared to do more than just 'ignoring the jumping' as you will need to commit to a new set of rules when training your dog. This is because if you have an existing dynamic in where your dog generally doesn't listen to you then you HAVE to earn your dog's respect BEFORE you have any chance of them listening to you! I`d suggest my phase one group training classes which really is more of a 'human training' course. If you struggle in any way with your dog listening to you there is more to it than just 'ignoring' the behaviour as we will have to work on the relationship, as the jumping is just a symptom of other underlying issues in the relationship between you and your dog. Once you have done the work on yourself the following methods can work with ease.
Dogs often jump because they are looking for attention, and unfortunately, even negative attention (like scolding) can be rewarding to them (again, if you don't have your dog's respect). The best thing you can do is to completely ignore the jumping. Don't make eye contact or give any kind of physical or verbal attention until your dog calms down. This may take some time and patience, but it will eventually teach your dog that jumping does not lead to attention.
Exercise and mental stimulation
Excessive jumping can often be a sign of pent-up energy or boredom. Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation through activities such as walks, runs, interactive toys, or puzzles. A tired dog is less likely to jump excessively. For high energy dogs even one or two days without exercise can mean a world of problems for you as that energy HAS to go somewhere and there's no getting around that.
Practice with visitors
If your dog jumps on visitors, it's important to practice with them. Have a trusted friend or family member come over and practice greeting your dog. Show them how to ignore the jumping for a good period of time (more than just a few minutes). For dogs to truly learn to be calm they need to consistently be exposed to a calm energy and environment. So make sure you give your guests the heads up not to attempt any contact or interaction with your dog on arrival. If they break this rule even once before the dog is calm the whole exercise can be completely voided so keep your guests accountable and explain how important it is for them to listen to you to help train your dog. Practice this consistently until your dog starts to understand that jumping is not the desired behaviour.
Consistency is key
Training your dog to stop jumping will take time and patience. It's important to be consistent with your training methods and never reward the jumping behaviour. Be patient and stick to the training until your dog understands the desired behaviour. This can sometimes take up to 20 or 30mins of completely ignoring your dog. It will feel weird but work a world of wonders if YOU can be disciplined in following through with the training.
In summary, excessive jumping can be a frustrating problem, but with consistent training and patience, it can be fixed. Remember to ignore the jumping, practice with visitors, provide exercise and mental stimulation, and stay consistent. With time, your dog will learn the appropriate way to greet people and be a well-behaved companion.
3. Separation Anxiety
Many dogs struggle with separation anxiety, which can cause them to act out when left alone. This can manifest into destructive behaviour such as chewing or digging, excessive barking or whining, and even attempts to escape from the home. To fix separation anxiety, it's important to gradually teach your dog that it's okay to be alone. This can include crate training, gradually increasing the amount of time your dog spends alone and providing plenty of mental stimulation such as puzzle toys.
Before attempting to address separation anxiety in dogs, we first need to understand that it is completely unnatural for a dog to separate from their pack, and they will never really be okay with it. Dogs are social creatures that thrive on being around their family members. They often feel anxious and stressed when left alone, leading to destructive behaviour and other undesirable behaviour traits. This can be frustrating for dog owners.
One of the BEST ways to Help with Separation Anxiety is this:
"Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!"
Exercise is the best strategy to use to alleviate separation anxiety in dogs. The goal is to tire them out as early in the day as possible consistently. In fact, sometimes just changing from an afternoon walk to a morning walk (or even better adding a second walk daily) can yield great results in calming your dog down. Since dogs instinctively stick with their pack, it makes no sense to leave them behind. Exhausting them first thing in the morning can help a lot.
If you leave a dog with pent-up energy and separation anxiety issues, the dog will have a tonne of energy to put into feeling anxious. Consequently, you will come home to destruction or a letter in the mail from a neighbour about your dog's nuisance barking.
Recently, I had a client with a German Shepherd that had received noise complaints from neighbours. After conducting an initial behavioural assessment of the dog, it was clear that he was just a dog that had a high capacity for mental and physical stimulation, and the occasional on-lead walks weren't cutting it for him. He was in a perpetual state of being unbalanced and was just frustrated.
It was actually such a simple fix in this case:
The client committed to an exercise program using my private exercise spaces for hire at Freedom Field. After a few weeks of coming three times per week for an hour first thing in the morning, the owner asked some of her neighbours if the barking had improved at all. Their response was, "We don't hear him at all anymore, so we assumed you had gotten rid of him." A physical outlet is huge for most dogs, unless you have a low-energy couch potato.
Dog separation anxiety can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right approach and patience, it can be treated. Understanding the symptoms of separation anxiety and recognizing the cause of your dog's jumping is the first step. With desensitization training, regular exercise and calming techniques you can help your dog overcome their anxiety and live a happier, more relaxed life.
4. Pulling on the Leash
Dogs pulling on the leash is one of the most common problems that dog owners face. Not only can it be frustrating, but it can also be dangerous for both the dog and the owner.
Below: An exaggerated image - but actually pretty accurate to how the walk feels for many people.
Why do Dogs Pull on the Leash?
Dogs pull on the leash for several reasons. The most common reason is that they are excited to explore their surroundings. Dogs are curious creatures and want to sniff and investigate everything they come across. This excitement can lead to pulling on the leash as they try to reach whatever has caught their attention.
Another reason why dogs pull on the leash is that they have not been properly trained to walk on a leash. This is especially true for puppies who are still learning the rules of the world. Without proper training, dogs may not understand that they should walk alongside their owners and not in front of them. Then these puppies get older, are not trained properly, lack sufficient exercise, and don't get out enough. It literally is a recipe for unpleasant walks.
When a client approaches me and wants to work on lead training, 9 times out of 10 it's the LAST thing we will do in our training program. This is because the lead pulling is just a symptom of a dog that is out of balance and they AND you have much to learn before focusing on handling them on the lead. If you have a high energy dog, the first thing you're going to want to do is find ways to bring them into balance from an energy perspective. Trying to get a high energy/pent up dog to be calm on the lead is as frustrating as trying to get everyone in the world to love Donald Trump. Find ways to give them an outlet for exercise. If you are in Perth, you can come and use my exercise areas for hire. They are private, fully fenced and secure giving your dog the opportunity to run free without you needing to worry about dogs coming up to you or your own dog running away.
Only once you have relieved your dog's excess pent up energy will their mind be calm enough to learn how to walk on the lead properly. My group classes are designed to help bring your dog into balance and then training that calm, balanced mind. It becomes effortless in many ways.
Aggression is a serious behaviour problem in dogs, and it's important to address it as soon as possible. This can include aggression towards people, other dogs, or even food or toys. It's important to understand the cause of the aggression and work with a professional trainer or behaviorist to develop a plan to address it. This might include desensitization training, positive reinforcement, or even medication in severe cases.
Where does dog aggression start?
For the most part, aggression is an instinctual response to external stimulus and your dog is trying to get the dog a desired outcome which is usually trying to create an opportunity to get to safety using self defence if needed.
As much as we love our dogs, aggression is a behaviour that can be dangerous and difficult to manage. It is important to address aggression in dogs as soon as it is noticed to prevent any harm to other people or animals.
What causes dog aggression?
Aggression in dogs can be caused by various factors. One of the most common reasons is fear. If a dog feels threatened or scared, it may act aggressively to protect itself. Another reason is lack of socialization. If a dog is not socialized properly during its early life, it may not know how to behave around other dogs and people, which can lead to aggressive behaviour. Medical conditions such as pain or neurological issues can also cause aggression.
If possible, prevention is always the key. Controlled, structured socialization done in a way that makes the dogs feel safe from a very early age will mitigate the development of aggression because if they have nothing to fear or don't feel threatened there is no need to be aggressive, right? Aggressive traits commonly develop because you don't know how to show them they are safe with you. You're probably doing all the wrong things even when trying to help them and unfortunately, it will likely make things worse. For puppies I can highly recommend my puppy course as there is nothing more important than building their confidence from a young age. Don't wait for problems to surface. Just like children, every dog should go to school or have some form of teaching or education to learn.
Aggression can and will come out of nowhere. If you have not trained your puppy from a young age, then you leave yourself to be exposed and often blind sighted by your dog's aggressive traits that can take many months to rectify if ever fully at all.
Ways to fix dog aggression:
1. Consult a professional: If your dog displays aggressive behaviour, it is important to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviourist who can assess the dog’s behaviour and create a personalized plan to manage and improve it. 2. Socialization: Socialization is key to preventing aggression in dogs. It involves introducing the dog to different environments, people, and animals in a controlled and positive way. This helps the dog learn how to behave appropriately in various situations. 3. Positive reinforcement training: Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding your dog for good behaviour. This can be as simple as giving them a treat or praise when they behave well. This type of training can help the dog learn to associate good behaviour with positive rewards. 4. Consistency: Consistency is crucial when it comes to training a dog with aggression issues. All family members should follow the same rules and training methods to avoid confusing the dog. 5. Exercise: Exercise is an important part of managing aggression in dogs. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can contribute to aggressive behaviour. 6. Medical evaluation: If your dog displays sudden changes in behaviour or aggression, it is important to have a medical evaluation to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
In conclusion, aggression in dogs can be a serious problem, but it is not impossible to manage. With the right approach and training, most dogs can learn to behave appropriately in various situations.
In most cases with dog aggression, you will need a professional with experience in dealing with dog aggression if you want to make any real progress. As it can be a challenging task for many reasons without the help of someone with the resources and knowledge to help you and your dog from a behavioural point of view.
Overall, it's important to remember that behaviour problems in dogs are not uncommon, and they can be addressed with patience and consistent training. By identifying the root cause of the behaviour and working to address it, you can help your four-legged friend become a well-behaved and happy member of the family.
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