The Top Five Dog Behavioural Problems and How to Solve Them

The Top Five Dog Behavioural Problems and How to Solve Them
The Top Five Dog Behavioural Problems and How to Solve Them
Solutions to Your Most Asked Questions!

0

 #1 Leash Pulling

Have a dog that is always pulling on his leash whenever you go for a walk? According to dog trainer and behaviour expert Inger Martens, part of this problem may lie in trigger words, such as “Do you want to go for a walk?” As Inger explains, sometimes phrases like these “create chaos and craziness” in your dog even before the walk has started. 

Her solution? Put your dog’s leash on silently before a walk, using no trigger words. Once your dog is leashed, guide her around the house for a few minutes. Finally, put some space between the time the leash is clipped on and when you actually leave for the walk. Do some chores, or perhaps watch a bit of television before you actually take your dog out.

“This exercise,” Inger explains, “will break up the pre-walk pattern of excitement that is associated with a leash.” The result is that your dog will have less built-up, frenzied energy that she channels into pulling and sniffing on walks!

 

#2 Chewing on furniture/inappropriate objects

Dogs turn to destructive chewing for many reasons, but major ones are boredom and excessive energy. According to trainer and behaviourist Nicole Wilde, the first step is to make sure your dog is given proper chew toys when left alone so that your pup has a better alternative to chewing prized possessions. Nicole notes that most important, however, is to make sure your dog is “getting lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation.” If your dog is getting a healthy amount of exercise, she will have less nervous energy to direct into destructive chewing.

 

#3 Peeing Indoors

Does your dog continue to pee indoors post puppyhood? First, rule out any physical problems. Dog behaviour expert Teoti Anderson advises that inappropriate urination can be a sign of problems such as a urinary infection or Cushing’s disease, so be sure to get your dog a veterinary checkup.

If the problem isn’t physical, there are a variety of reasons your dog could be peeing inside, including stress, anxiety, or learned behaviour from a previous home. Whatever the reason, however, Anderson advises that “starting housetraining from scratch” is a good bet. You’re going to have to watch your dog like a hawk to prevent accidents; unsupervised house roaming is a thing of the past. Restrict your dog’s access, particularly to areas she frequently pees, give her more frequent bathroom breaks, and reward her every time she goes to the bathroom outside. The trick is to “teach her that you only want her to eliminate outside,” Teoti says. Once she starts getting the hang of it, you can slowly increase her freedom and access to more areas of the house again.

 

#4 Lack of Recall

This is probably a familiar scene: after a good romp at the dog park, you call your dog. “Rex, come!” He refuses, appearing suddenly hard of hearing. Why won’t your dog come?

According to veterinarian and expert animal behaviourist Ian Dunbar, you need to look at this scene from your dog’s point of view. Your dog has learned that the dog park is fun, and when he obeys your command of “come,” his leash gets hooked on, and the fun ends. Not really a great reward for obeying a command!

To help your dog with recall, Dunbar suggests teaching your dog to come in smaller, contained areas before trying it in distracting areas such as the dog park. Once you progress to areas with greater distractions, you need to teach your pup that coming when called does not necessarily mean the end of fun activities. Once in a distracting area, ask your dog to come, and if she complies, say “Good Dog!”, grab her collar, and then immediately say “Go Play” and let her go back to her fun play session. 

“After just a half a dozen trials,” Dunbar explains, “she will learn that coming when called does not necessarily mean the end of her play session.”

For more on problem barking, go to moderndogmagazine.com/problembarking.

 

#5 Barking

This is the big one. Although we appreciate that our pups often have their reasons for excessive barking, such as protecting their territory, it can definitely be a nuisance to hear your dog barking away while you’re trying to work or relax. Trainer and behaviourist Nicole Wilde reminds us that we need to understand that barking is the way dogs communicate. If your dog’s barking has become problematic, she says you “need to figure out why your dog is barking and under what circumstances and then approach the problem positively and humanely.” As such, there are many, many reasons why your dog barks, and how you deal with it will depend on the cause.

If your dog is barking because she wants something, for instance, teach her that barking will not result in a reward (whether it is attention, affection or treats). If your dog learns that her behaviour is not resulting in what she wants, she may realize that barking doesn’t lead to anything positive and cease barking.

If your dog barks whenever someone is at the door, this is a way of marking and defending her territory. Nicole suggests using positive reinforcement such as cookies to “teach her that after a few barks her job is to run to a designated area away from the door.” With practice this should reduce the doorbell barking.

Your dog’s barking could also be motivated by fear. According to Teoti Anderson, if the cause of your dog’s barking is fear-based, “work with a professional, reward-based trainer to help your dog learn that he’s safe and you’ll take care of him.”

Add a comment

Dog of the Week!

Meet: Leila