We all know that dogs are great stress relievers. There's nothing more satisfying than coming home to your furry friend who is wiggling their tail around in happiness at your return.
It’s not always a bed of roses though. Your dog’s behavior can sometimes cause issues inside and outside the house. Many people often ignore those issues believing that..." It's just my dog being a dog - it's normal"
Here’s a list of things to look out for – some are obvious, others not so much. The good news is that they can be fixed with proper training 99% of the time.
1. Tail Chasing
Cute and funny as it often is, a dog chasing it’s tail can be a sign of underlying issues.
Although it’s usually done by puppies who are still at the stage of exploring their bodies, adult dogs can sometimes start running around in circles chasing their tail as well.
As an owner you will be in the best position to know whether the tail chasing becomes chronic and can spot potential problems - such as when you try to distract your dog with other things, it still quickly reverts back to tail chasing.
The usual reason dogs chase their tail is because the dog needs to burn up some unused energy.
They may not have enough physical activities supplied by their owner such as games, going for walks, playing with toys or other dogs etc.
There may also be other reasons for your dog’s tail chasing habit and this is where proper training comes into play.
Owners will often notice their dog chasing their tail and react to it – either positively or negatively.
They may laugh and enjoy it or if the owner feels the habit is becoming repetitive, they may reprimand the dog or puppy.
But here's the thing - dogs love attention from their owners. So if they find that chasing their tails can get that attention (either positive or negative) the dog may continue doing it.
Proper training can ensure your dog understands your signals correctly and reacts the way you want them to.
2. Jumping On People
This is one of those dog habits that can really annoy owners - especially if you’ve just put on that new suit or dress and all of a sudden your dog appears out of nowhere (dirty paws and all) and jumps onto you as soon as he/she sees you.
Even worse is if you have visitors to your house and your pooch decides to leap onto them as well.
It can also be a problem when the dog jumps onto children who can subsequently feel threatened.
It’s much easier for a dog to reach up to a child’s face than an adult so the child may get unintentionally scratched in the process.
From the dog’s point of view, it may be thinking that it’s doing the right thing by greeting people in this way.
This is absolutely a training issue and there are a number of ways you can address it.
One of the cleverest cures I’ve seen is shown in this video where the owner quickly stops their dog from jumping in minutes.
3. Anxious When You Leave Them Alone
Dog separation anxiety is a common problem that begins with understanding the reasons why your dog frets & whines...
...and in extreme cases even destroys furniture in your home whenever you leave them alone.
Separation anxiety typically occurs in a number of ways...
If you find your dog trying to constantly follow you out the door AND continually whining and scratching from inside as you walk away...
…and if you sometimes even return home to find the house in a mess from defecation, ripped furniture or even chewing on the door - your dog may be suffering from Separation Anxiety.
Training your dog to understand that you’re not abandoning them is the answer.
4. Stealing Food
Historically dogs are scavengers. In the wild dogs need to find food to survive.
Untrained dogs will act on instinct and search around for food, anywhere and everywhere.
This means your cupboards, counter tops, rubbish bins or even your table as you’re preparing meals.
To them it’s a natural behavior so we as dog owners need to provide them with guidance that it’s not the way you want them to behave in the house.
5. Weeing In The House
There may be health problems with your dog, especially if it’s an older house trained dog that suddenly starts to urinate in the house.
There are other reasons though such as anxiousness if they are left alone.
If your dog is a rescue then previous treatment by their owners may have resulted in a dog that fears punishment and will often pee in order to escape that punishment.
For a scared or timid dog, taking the time to show them that they need not be fearful of punishment from you is vital.
6. Digging Incessantly
Although digging is an instinctual behavior for dogs, excessively digging holes can be related to other behavioral issues.
Anxiety, lack of physical or mental stimulation, release of pent up energy and sometimes even relief from boredom can all be factors.
A big part of proper dog training is to be able to spend quality time with them, especially with interactive games they can play WITH you.
It’s not simply a matter of throwing a few balls in the backyard and leaving them to amuse themselves.
You’ll find that mutual games with your dog will help alleviate many of the issues you will encounter.
A happy, contented, mentally and physically stimulated dog will behave much better than an untrained, bored, frustrated one that continually digs holes in your flower garden.
Yelling at them won’t fix the underlying problem.
In this case, improving your dog’s mental intelligence through game playing can work wonders for their temperament (and to stop that digging!).
7. Barking At People
Many owners use their dogs to guard their properties. The dog’s instinctive behavior is to protect their owner.
The owner's thinking is that having an aggressive dog in the front or back yard can deter strangers from entering the property.
As a consequence some owners see a barking dog as normal behavior and the dog sees it’s role as the protector of the house.
The problem of using dogs as de facto burglar alarms is that whenever people who you DO want to enter the property come around (be they relatives, neighbors, friends, tradespeople, children etc) the dog doesn’t know which people to protect their owner from and which ones they don’t.
This is where the responsible owner can use proper dog training techniques to educate their dog on how to tell the difference between friend and foe.
8. Pulling On The Leash
Walking on a leash is not a natural behavior for a dog. It’s a skill they have to learn through proper training. Buying a dog or puppy and taking it for a walk without first training it means your dog won’t know what to do.
Dogs love to explore their surroundings so their natural tendency is to want to go everywhere – which is often not where you want them to go.
It’s a case of who’s walking who as the owner struggles to control the dog’s incessant pulling in every direction.
The only solution to the problem is to train the dog to accept that you are the leader and they need to follow you – not the other way around.
Training a dog so that they can go walking with you on a “loose leash” rather than a tight, neck strangling leash is a must do – for you and your dog.
9. Aggression Towards Other Dogs Or People
There are different types of aggression shown by dogs such as:
Each has a slightly different focus.
Food Aggression – In the wild, guarding food is imperative for survival. Your dog’s natural instincts come into play when they are eating. Insecurity over food can lead to your dog nipping or biting at anyone or anything who comes close to their food bowl.
Of course in your home, food protection is not necessary but without proper training your dog doesn’t know that unless you teach them.
Aggression towards strangers - Similar to barking but going the extra step by moving towards the person in order to potentially bite. This can be dangerous for all concerned so avoid any situation where the dog comes into contact with strangers until the dog can be trained.
Aggression towards other dogs - Often when you have more than one dog in a home who are untrained they will fight with each other to determine the leader of the pack – the alpha dog if you like.
However the role of “Alpha dog” is supposed to be you – not the dog. Using the right techniques to establish your authority in the household will go a long way to solving this and many other problems.
Pinpointing the source of the aggression is the first step to curing it. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of dogs can be taught to eliminate undesirable aggression by proper training techniques.
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Elise is the owner of HMD. She has spent her whole life around dogs starting from when she was growing up on her parents farm. She is a prolific writer and blogger who passionately writes about her love for her canine friends.