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12 Dog Behavior Problems: Understanding Odd Dog Behaviors

At A Glance

Everything a dog does has a reason, including its strange behaviors like chewing, disobedience, soiling, and so on. A mix of solutions like socialization, exercise, diet, training, rewards, and calming activities, among others, can help you control dog behavior problems and make it a well-mannered pet.

Whether you’re new to owning a dog or have been a pet owner for years, we’re sure you can vouch for some strange dog behavior that can be sometimes impossible to understand.

You may, at times, find your pet eating poop or digging up mud in the park even if there’s no buried treasure (sigh!) or jumping in the air for seemingly no reason at all.

But everything your dog does has a reason, and we’re here to tell you all about weird dog behavior problems and what they mean.

Let’s dig in!

Jumping

Jumping up on people or furniture is a common dog trait but also a big no-no. This is because most people find it inconvenient and even annoying when dogs jump up on them or their sofa, couches, and beds, leaving behind a trail of fur.

Jumping up on people can also be outright dangerous, as when caught by surprise, people, especially kids and older people, may fall and injure themselves.

What Causes It?

Dogs usually greet other dogs by sniffing them and would like to do the same with their favorite humans. But since humans are taller compared to dogs, dogs jump up to reach their faces.

Jumping up on humans could also be caused by excitement or if the dog wants something from a person’s hand. This behavior problem can also be seen as a sign of dominance.

Jumping on furniture, on the other hand, is usually due to separation anxiety. When a dog’s human owner leaves it at home for too long, it may jump on couches or sofas for comfort and to also probably get its owner’s smell.

How To Fix It?

If your dog jumps up on you when you enter your home, ignore it till it stops doing so.

Walk away and avoid eye contact or touching or speaking to it till it becomes calm. When it calms down, pet and praise your pet.

This will reinforce the idea that you will ignore it when it jumps and reward it if it greets you calmly. This way it will understand the desired, proper behavior.

Don’t shout or command your dog to stop or try to push it away or grab its paws. This kind of reaction will only excite it further.

To prevent your dog from jumping on furniture, give your dog its own bed first and then forbid it from getting on yours using verbal commands. Reward it with a treat or praise whenever it uses its own bed to reinforce this positive behavior.

If you know your dog will jump right back on your furniture when you’re not around, block off access to it or use a non-toxic furniture repellant.

 

Soiling

Inappropriate elimination such as sudden defecation or urination in areas of your home can be frustrating. It can destroy your carpets and furniture, create a foul odor, and dirty your home, not to mention adding to your mounting task list.

Soiling can also make your dog unwelcome in public places like roads and parks and also other people’s homes. This can make it difficult for you to travel with your dog to new places.

What Causes It?

Inappropriate elimination can happen due to a number of reasons, some of them being excitement, anxiety, territorial marking, or just lack of house training. Your dog may also be suffering from a health problem, which is often common among older dogs.

Puppies younger than 12 weeks also cannot avoid soiling.

How to Fix It?

If your pup or dog was not given proper house training, it’s time to teach your pet to defecate or urinate only in designated areas. It could be on a pee pad, in a crate, outside in the yard, near a tree, and so on.

You can also consider using dog diapers till your dog gets rid of this habit.

On the other hand, if your pet is suffering from a health concern that is causing the inappropriate elimination, consult your vet and give it the right medical attention promptly.

If your pup is less than 12 weeks of age, though, all you can do is give it time and patience, along with potty training.

Dog digging soil

Digging

Digging is not only a common behavior among dogs but also their natural instinct.

But this instinct can often frustrate you when you find your dog digging up your yard or garden and destroying your plants and flowers.

What Causes It?

What causes a dog to have this strange behavior?

Your dog may be digging if it’s feeling bored or overly energetic or if it thinks digging is a fun game. Your dog may also dig out of anxiety, fear, a desire to enter or escape an area, or if it wants to hide its toys, bones, or other treats.

Some dogs often dig the ground to expose the cool mud underneath, which they will then lie in on a hot day. Other dogs also tend to chase animals like moles that live under the ground and maybe dig them out.

A few canine breeds like terriers that were originally used as hunting dogs may still dig owing to their hunting history.

How To Fix It?

Digging cannot be completely eliminated among dogs. But you can steer your pet to places where it’s fine to dig, say if you need to dig up an area of your garden to plant a sapling! Also, try to understand why your dog is digging so that you can address the problem at its root.

If your dog is doing it out of boredom or anxiety, give it more exercise, socialization, or playtime. If it’s hunting ground-dwelling or burrowing animals, handle the prey.

If your dog wants to lie on the cool earth or is hiding from the rain or wind, take it back home or give it a kennel.

If it’s trying to escape or enter an area, block off access to that area.

Also, don’t forget to use positive reinforcement techniques to help your dog strengthen its newly learned good habits.

Dog eating poop

Eating Poop

Coprophagia or dogs eating poop is one of the most common dog behavior problems. It is also seen in other animals and is actually normal. If your dog is found eating its own poop or that of other animals, it’s best to correct this behavior early on. 

What Causes It?

If your dog eats feces, it may signal a nutritional deficiency, probably due to low-quality dog food.

It could also mean that your dog has health issues.

How to Fix It?

Eating poop is a tricky behavior to correct, as dogs sniff almost everything, and it’s difficult to teach them not to eat poop once they sniff it out.

If this behavior is due to nutritional deficiencies or health concerns, take your dog to see a vet and address its issues.

You may need to switch its diet to give it the nutrition it needs.

You can also take your dog away whenever you spot feces anywhere. If your dog has defecated, make sure you clean up after it immediately to prevent it from eating its own poop.

You can also try distracting it with toys, games, treats, or playtime whenever it’s about to indulge in this behavior.

Read More: 30 Common Dog Health Problems and Solutions

Biting

Biting is often seen in dogs, especially pups. Your dog’s biting habit can be a source of irritation, more so when guests come over and see or remark on such behavior.

What Causes It?

There are a lot of reasons that dogs bite. Young pups bite things and people around them as a way of exploring their environment like how we use our hands. Biting could also be an instinctive dog behavior stemming from their behavior when living in packs.

Biting can also arise out of fear, defensiveness, predatory instinct, protective nature, pain, or sickness.

How to Fix It?

It’s best to nip your dog’s biting habit in the bud—that is, when it’s a pup—to avoid facing issues later on. Proper training through bite inhibition can help your dog get rid of its habit.

Socialization can also help your dog in this matter. When your dog meets and spends time with other dogs and people and is exposed to new places and settings, it will soon learn to overcome this behavior.

However, if you find your dog feeling uncomfortable around a new person or in a new place, distract it so that it won’t turn to its biting habit.

If your dog is biting out of pain or sickness, consult a vet to address its medical needs.

Dog chewing cloth

Excessive Chewing

Like biting, chewing is also a natural instinct among dogs. But it can pose dog behavior problems when it’s excessive and destructive.

What Causes It?

Excessive or destructive chewing can be a result of underlying health issues or separation anxiety. It can also be due to puppy teething, curiosity, boredom, excess energy, or anxiety.

How to Fix It?

Excessive chewing can be solved by providing your pet with toys or chew sticks so that it can direct its chewing habit to them. Keep away important papers, wires, cords, or other dangerous items that your pup or dog may be tempted to chew on.

If the chewing behavior is due to a medical issue or separation anxiety, consult a vet or canine behaviorist.

Barking dog

Excessive Barking

Barking is your dog’s way of communicating and is not harmful per se. A dog barks for different reasons, including to protect you and your property. But excessive barking can pose a problem, as it’s not only noisy and annoying but can also signal an underlying issue.

What Causes It?

A dog may bark excessively if it wants to warn or alert you, get your attention, respond to other animals, or out of boredom, anxiety, excitement, or playfulness.

How to Fix It?

Identify why your dog is barking first to address the problem at the root. Then use obedience training and voice commands to calm it down.

You can also use redirection techniques to help your dog use its barking for productive purposes, like when a stranger is at the door.

Dog chasing another dog

Chasing

You may find your dog’s habit of chasing after moving vehicles, human beings, and other animals is one of the most annoying behavior problems. But chasing after moving things is actually a predatory instinct that your dog can’t control.

However, it can sometimes be dangerous for your dog or others, as your dog may end up in front of a vehicle or scare people walking past. It can also lead to motor accidents, injuries to people, and other negative consequences.

What Causes It?

Most dogs tend to have a habit to chase due to their prey drive. This is just part of their predatory nature, and there may be no other reason for it.

How to Fix It?

You can’t stop your dog from chasing moving things completely. But you can try to prevent any ill effects. Socializing your dog to desensitize it to moving objects may ease the habit.

If it still engages in chasing behavior, keep it on a leash on walks., and restrain it when it’s about to chase something or someone. You can also use voice commands for this purpose. Also, try to keep your dog away from distractions that may cause it to chase.

dog standing by a window

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is among one of the most common dog behavior problems. This problem stems from a mental health issue. It can cause other behavior problems like excessive barking or chewing, vocalization, inappropriate elimination, or other destructive behavior.

Separation anxiety is typically manifested in the form of anxiousness in the dog when the owner is about to leave, misbehavior in the first half an hour to an hour after the owner leaves, or the dog wanting to follow the owner around or touch the owner constantly.

What Causes It?

Separation anxiety arises due to separation when the owner is not around the house often. The owner may also leave home for a few hours every day, which can also cause this seemingly sudden strange dog behavior.

How to Fix It?

Separation anxiety can be uncomfortable for not only you but also your dog. Treat it early on to help your dog stay mentally and physically healthy.

Try using positive reinforcement training methods. This could be done by leaving your dog alone for a few minutes at first and returning to reassure it that you’ll always be back. Increase the time gap to help it adjust to your absence slowly and steadily.

You can leave the TV on to distract your dog and also give it chew toys when you step out to prevent it from indulging in destructive behaviors.

If these methods don’t work, seek the help of a dog behaviorist or a vet. In extreme cases, your vet may prescribe your dog anxiety medication to calm it down and anxiety vests to soothe the discomfort.

Fun Fact: Leaving some of your clothes with your dog when you’re not around may ease some of its separation anxiety. This is because your clothes will hold some of your scent, which will help to calm and comfort your dog.

dog with a leash

Disobedience

Disobedience is another common problem that owners face. If your find your dog acting weird and not listening to your commands, it can lead to other dog behavior problems.

What Causes It?

Disobedience in dogs could be of two types—passive and active.

In passive disobedience, your dog may simply not care that you gave it a command.

Active disobedience is when your dog enjoys disobeying or ignoring your commands and doing the opposite of what you say.

Improper rewarding, incomplete training, inadequate exercise, and overexcitement are some reasons why your dog may be disobedient.

Disobedience could also arise out of boredom, fear, anxiety, tiredness, or lethargy.

How to Fix It?

Whether your dog’s disobedience is active or passive, you need to return to obedience training basics immediately to resolve the issue and prevent its recurrence.

Avoid punishing your dog for disobeying you. Also, don’t bribe or chase after it. Instead, use positive reinforcement in the form of praise and rewards when it listens to you. This will help it associate listening to you with a rewarding experience.

You can also get professional help from a trainer to speed up the process.

aggressive dog

Aggression

Dogs show their aggression by growling, snapping, lunging, baring their teeth, biting, barking, or snarling. Aggression in dogs doesn’t depend on a breed or its history.

What Causes It?

A dog’s behavior is affected by its immediate environment. So if it had a violent or abusive past, it may be more likely to be aggressive with other dogs and people.

A dog bred from parents with aggressive temperaments could also end up being aggressive. Or it may be suffering from health issues, and aggression is the only way it can communicate its pain or sickness.

How to Fix It?

Aggression in dogs should not be tolerated, especially by their own family members. If your dog shows signs of aggression, consult your vet to check if it has any health problems.

Once your vet has ruled out possible health issues, get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist and use obedience training and positive reinforcement to train your dog.

You should also keep your pet away from others till it overcomes its aggressive nature.

Dog humping a pillow

Humping

You may often spot your dog humping or mounting other dogs, objects, and even people. This may seem embarrassing or simply funny, but this kind of behavior is not always sexual. There are other reasons underlying this behavior.

What Causes It?

Humping is often seen in dogs that are too excited, anxious, or overstimulated. Or your pet could just be in play mode. Humping is also seen as a sign of dominance, so your dog may simply be power tripping in front of other dogs and people.

How to Fix It?

To help your dog solve its humping problem, ignore it when it humps. Do not laugh or react to its behavior in any other way. Your dog may infer that you will give it attention whenever it humps and encourage it to hump on things and people.

Next, give it something to do that feels calming and relaxing, like playing with a toy or game, chewing on a stick, and so on. This will help it move on from the source of its anxiety or excitement and stay busy with the distraction. Also, give it time to calm down.

Alternately, you can try using commands to control your dog and make it sit down or move away from where it’s humping. You can also consider neutering it if you haven’t already done so, as it will reduce its motivation to hump.

Aggressive dog with owner

Understanding dog behavior problems can seem tricky at first. But with the help of our extensive guide, you should be able to improve your dog’s behavior in no time. Use the solutions relevant to each of the problems. Also remember to treat your dog with love and respect while both of you work together on the problems.

If you liked our article, share them with other pet owners and dog lovers. If you’ve faced any other dog behavior problems, tell us about them in the comments below.

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.