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Common Dog Behavioural Issues

By Jason Trainer  •  May 18, 2021  •  

Understanding Where Your Dog’s Problems Stem From

Understanding why your dog offers specific behaviour can help you, as an owner, find a solution to common dog behavioural issues. One of the mistakes owners make is to allow poor behaviour go on for too long. It is always best to address the behaviour the first time its displayed. If your dog is allowed to rehearse the behaviour than it is continuously learning that that specific behaviour is allowed.

Top Dog Issues & How to Address Them

Excessive Barking

The reasons a dog may bark excessively vary drastically but can be any of the following reasons:

  • Excitement
  • Nervousness
  • Protective
  • Territorial
  • Demanding.

To start you must ensure your dog is getting regular mental and physical exercise and has a calm and structured environment in the home. Most problems start when owners allow their dogs to have free roam of their homes.  Once you’ve established the above there are some different approaches you can take to teach your dog to stop barking.

  1. Teach your dog a “quiet” and “speak” command.
  2. Introduce a punisher-something unpleasant that happens every time your dog barks such a using a pet corrector.

Things not to do:

  1. Ignore your dog.

If your dog is continuing to bark it is always best to reach out to a professional trainer.

Mouthing

Mouthing is quite a normal behaviour for many dog’s but it can also turn into a big problem without bite inhibition.

Do not ignore your dog or redirect the behaviour with food. You must add a consequence to this behaviour. You can start by putting a slip lead on your dog. Start petting your dog and adding pressure on the slip lead every time your dog starts to mouth. If you pet your dog and it does not mouth you, you can mark the behaviour with “yes” or “good” and reward the dog with a high value food reward.

Remember this may take days or weeks of repetition. Ensure you do this every time you interact with your dog when/where there is a chance it may mouth.

Separation Anxiety

This is serious behaviour and should be treated as soon as possible. This can also be prevented by not spending every minute of the day with your dog and crate training as soon as your dog comes home for the very first time.

During covid-19 some families are working from home which means their dogs are never used to being away from their family for long periods of time. Once their family does leave, the separation anxiety begins. This could be destructive behaviour, excessive barking, defecating etc.

Here are some simple things you can do to prevent or improve on this behaviour:

Teach your dog’s place in every room in your house

This will improve your dog’s confidence and independence by learning not to always be at your side.

Crate train

Dogs are den animals! When training the crate make sure you make a positive association with it. It is important to slowly extend the amount of time your dog spends in the crate. Do not shove your dog into the crate and leave or your dog can develop confinement anxiety.

Feed your dogs meals in the crate

This will continue to help build a better association with your dog’s crate as its one of its primary resources is now associated with the crate.

Separation anxiety can be extremely dangerous to your dog and cause a lot of damage to your home. If you are struggling with this behaviour please reach out.

Leash Reactivity

Dogs react on leash to increase the distance between itself and the potential trigger.

Usually leash reactivity starts because the owner failed to recognize and act on the communication given through the body language of their dogs. Thus, there dogs were forced past their threshold into a situation repeatedly.

Two scenarios could have happened:

  1. Since your dog has been forced passed their threshold, they have used aggressive behaviour to try and get the approaching “trigger” to go away.
  2. Your dog have figured out that when they act aggressive their owners will pull them away thus also creating the space they need to provide themselves with relief.

Stopping leash reactivity can be challenging depending on how reactive your dog is, how long it has been reactive for and how small their thresholds are.

If their communication has been ignored and they have been reactive for years, they may have stopped giving even subtle signs of communication thus making it very hard to stop.

To fix leash reactivity:

  1. Build a communication system
  2. Teach your dog how to walk on a loose leash - most important *
  3. Learn your dog’s triggers and thresholds
  4. Teach your dog impulse control
  5. Interrupt the behaviour before it starts

Chewing

Chewing usually comes from boredom or anxiety. It’s best to make sure your dog is getting its daily physical and mental exercise. You can also get a scent spray that your dog really does not like and spray it on an item that your dog likes to chew.

If the chewing happens when you aren’t at home it is best to crate train your dog to ensure it is safe and confined. Dogs that chew when the owners aren’t home are at risk of death by ingestion. If you are not crating your dog, please dog proof your home by picking up all items off the floor and counter-tops.


While you are home, instead of allowing your dog free rein of your house, give it a job to do such as “place”. When your dog is on place make sure you are in the same room so you can monitor him.

Overprotective

Dogs that are overprotective need to spend time engaging with their owners in new environments and around other people and dogs. Making your dog less weary of people and dogs is especially important. Some ways you can start is using a form of play. “Tug” is a great way to create engagement and fun in new environments. This also helps improve the relationship with your dog.

You can also work on passive behaviours such as down stays or “place” after your sessions to help teach your dog that it can relax without the worry that something is going to happen.  

Once you have spent a good amount of time working on engagement games and passive behaviour, if your dog is still showing aggressiveness please reach out to a professional.

The ITK9 Way

Here at ITK9 our training is individualized to focus specifically on your dog’s issues.

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