How to Solve 18 Common Dog Behavior Problems

Updated on: Apr 28, 2023
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How to Solve 18 Common Dog Behavior Problems

While having a dog is quite a delight, it is not all roses. Dogs have annoying behaviors that can cause problems when left unresolved. 

Most of these behaviors are pretty standard, but some degree of extremeness might be reasons for alarm and worry. 

Here are some common dog behavior problems and solutions!

Uncontrolled Barking

Most canines make noise for various reasons, and it's a typical form of communication for them. Barking is not problematic; however, inappropriate or excessive barking is an issue. 

When your dog barks uncontrollably, its reason could be a combination of the following: 

  • danger
  • protecting something
  • extremely happy or excited
  • getting your attention
  • stress
  • boredom
  • other animals

Finding out why your dog is barking so much is the first step in stopping the behavior. Here are some possible solutions to curb the incessant barking among canines: 


  • get their attention without yelling or harming your dog
  • train them to respond in a command to stop barking
  • socialize your dog appropriately
  • let your dog calm down before allowing a stranger into your house
  • enroll your dog in obedience or puppy training
  • provide them with ample exercise
  • desensitize your dog to barking triggers
  • don’t abandon the dog for hours on end
  • avoid using treats or rewards to stop barking

Excessive Chewing

Most dogs love chewing since it is intrinsic to their nature, however, if your dog's excessive chewing results in property damage, it may become a serious behavioral issue. Some of the most common reasons for these are the following: 


  • teething
  • bored or under-exercised
  • anxiety
  • curiosity
  • exploring the surroundings

If you see your dog  excessively chewing on anything it shouldn't, you may do the following:

  • provide chew or teething toys
  • use a crate or playpen when you are not around
  • get its attention to stop
  • teach your dog basic commands to stop chewing
  • give your dog enough exercise
  • avoid leaving your dog without someone for long hours
  • puppy proof any potential chewing hazards
  • teach them to recognize chew toys from ordinary things
  • refrain from physically punishing your dog

If you've tried everything else and your dog still won't stop chewing excessively, try using a dog-safe aversive, such as bitter spray. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think the chewing tendencies are associated with severe health problems. 

Constant Digging and Escaping

Most dogs, if given the opportunity, will love to dig. Dogs are naturally curious about the outdoors, which might be attributed to their ancestors as hunters. However, when your perfectly groomed yard is destroyed, it might cause some frustration. 

The best course of action is to locate the source of the digging and then take steps to remedy it slowly. 

Here are some reasons why dogs dig constantly: 


  • excessive boredom
  • curiosity
  • excess energy
  • discomfort
  • anxiety
  • nesting
  • searching for mate
  • concealing valuable possession
  • escaping
  • burrowing or hunting
  • cooling off from extreme heat

Here are some solutions you might try: 


  • more exercise
  • training and socializing
  • provide a space where they can dig
  • provide a sandbox
  • teach them basic commands to stop digging
  • use toys to divert their attention
  • prepare treasure-hunting activities
  • limit your dog’s time spent outside
  • provide a dog house
  • provide barriers where they can't escape by digging

Begging & Whining 

Many dog owners deal with the frustrating tendency of their pups to repeatedly beg for food throughout the day. With puppy eyes, it’s difficult to say no. The only foolproof defense is never feeding your dog human food.

When your dog begs for food at the table, you must ignore him and resist the urge to feed him. The more you give in to your dog's demands, the worse the behavior will get. 

Train your dog to understand that it will not get fed if it continues to beg for food. You shouldn't scold your dog if he begs or whines since the attention he'll get will only encourage him to keep doing it.

If their demands are not met, some dogs learn that whining is effective if you respond to it by petting, looking at, or entertaining them. When they complain, you can tell them to stop by: 

  • turning your back on them
  • folding your arms across your chest
  • ignoring them
  • or leaving the room.

Separation Anxiety Problems 

Many dog breeds are susceptible to anxiety when left alone for a long time. An abandoned dog may exhibit destructive behaviors such as: 


  • digging
  • howling
  • gnawing
  • chewing
  • barking
  • urinating
  • or defecating in inappropriate places
  • and more.

Training is the first line of defense against this problem. For starters, show your dog that you will always return by leaving the room for short periods and gradually increasing the time you're gone. 

It would also help to invest in some separation anxiety toys and chew toys. You may even entertain your pet by keeping your television or radio on, depending on how long you will be gone. 

Stubbornness and Disobedience

Stubbornness and disobedience are common and highly frustrating issues in canine behavior. A dog's inability to respond to its owner's commands can lead to other behavioral problems.

If your dog is stubborn, you should not chase after it, chastise it, or try to bribe it. Be firm with your dog and show him who's boss

If you have trouble training your dog and have tried using negative reinforcement without success, it may be time to consult an expert for obedience training.

Urinating and Defecating Everywhere 

One of the most annoying things dogs may do is urinate or defecate in the wrong places. The act of urinating can be due to the following: 


Especially in older dogs, improper elimination can also be a medical ailment. You must talk to your vet as soon as you notice this issue. Once your veterinarian has ruled out any physical causes for your dog's incorrect elimination, there is only one solution to this challenging problem: housetraining. 

Pulling and straying from a leash 

Instruct your dog to stroll quietly at your side. Don't give in to their tugs, or they might learn that sometimes they're successful at pulling or straying away. 

The leash should be kept short and slack. When you feel a tightening, you better stop walking so they'll stop to figure out what's wrong.

Give them a treat or a reward when they return to you before you keep going. Hopefully, in a matter of days and with consistency, they'll learn that their efforts to pull will be fruitless.

High prey drive and chasing 

To a dog, the drive to chase moving objects is only an expression of its natural predatory nature, which can cause severe harm or even death. To avoid such drastic results, you may: 


  • avoid letting your dog run free
  • teach your dog to respond to your basic commands
  • find a way to catch your dog's attention
  • keep an eye out for things that could trigger a chase
  • socialize your dog so that they may feel at ease around these triggers
  • give your dog an ample amount of exercise

Constant Jumping 

Dogs frequently exhibit the action of jumping up because it is instinctual to them. Some of the reasons for jumping are when greeting new people, they are excited about something, and to seek attention.

A dog's jumping can be stopped, but rewarding it in any way will only encourage your dog to continue doing it in the future. Train your dog to control its excitement, and try to ignore your dog when you get home until she stops attempting to jump up on you. 

Teach them to follow basic commands to stop jumping. Do not look at, talk to, or pet your dog when it starts jumping constantly. Reward them quietly when they settle down and stay put. 

Biting and Nipping 

Dogs' propensity to bite and nip arises from their natural behavior. However, it is essential to curb this tendency in dogs wherever possible, especially while they are young, as it will only worsen as the dog gets older.

There are several potential causes of a dog bite beyond regular puppy activity, such as: 

  • to explore and investigate their surroundings
  • hostility or potential danger
  • to defend something like territory or possessions
  • illness

Owners and breeders can help reduce the likelihood of biting in dogs of all breeds by: 

  • early and consistent socialization
  • consistent training
  • selective breeding
  • teaching your dog to follow basic commands
  • muzzle your dog when you are outside
  • get medical help

Extreme Aggression 

Extreme aggression in dogs manifests itself through a wide range of behaviors. This includes: 

  • growling
  • barking
  • snarling
  • bared teeth
  • lunging
  • nipping
  • and biting.

All dogs can exhibit aggressive behavior, irrespective of breed or background. Especially those dogs with a history of abuse or violence, those trying to defend something, or those born from aggressive dog breeds. Some dog breeds are considered dangerous and illegal in some areas. 

Here are some things you can do at home to stop your dog from being too aggressive


  • prevent your dogs from roughhousing
  • teach your dog basic commands to stop aggression
  • when aggression starts, let your dog retreat to its personal space to calm it down
  • avoid punishing your dog since it encourages the behavior more
  • muzzle your pet when outside

Your dog's violent behavior could result from an underlying health issue, so you must get him checked out by a vet if you notice any signs. If your pet's aggression persists despite obedience training, boundary setting, and positive reinforcement, consult your veterinarian and a professional dog trainer.

Too much energy   

Most of the time, boredom or a lack of stimulation, exercise, and playing is to blame for your dog being overactive, unruly, and rebellious. A dog's activity level and energy can vary greatly depending on its breed, size, age, and upbringing.

Certain breeds of active dogs, no matter where they are or what they are doing, feel the constant urge to expend excess energy or combat boredom. To solve it, resist its urge to play by ignoring it until they settle down and give it ample exercise so that it may tire out. 

Hoarding or Stealing 

This is by far the most typical canine behavioral issue. Most of the time, our canine friends will steal anything that catches their eye. There's no way to stop a dog from "stealing," so if you're thinking of getting one, you should probably dog-proof your home against the items your new pet could try to get to when you're not looking.

Rather than leaving dangerous objects out for your dog to chew on, replace them with safe alternatives like dog toys or anything else you don't mind getting slobbered on.

Obsessive licking 

Obsessive, excessive licking is a more challenging dog behavioral problem, mainly because it is difficult to identify and determine whether this is a troublesome or normal activity. A dog with a licking issue may lick anything and everything in sight. This includes its paws, your furniture, carpets, vehicles, and many more.

The first and most crucial stage in correcting this behavioral issue is diagnosing the underlying cause, ranging from psychological factors like anxiety to physical problems like allergies and injuries. Talk to a specialist to see if this ailment can be corrected once you know a few possible causes.

Loud Noise Anxiety 

Dogs may develop a phobia of frightening sounds, and sound has become associated with something negative in the dog's past. Avoiding sound is sometimes the only method for resolving these phobias. In most cases, exposing a dog to trigger noises only makes the dog more anxious.

If you try to comfort your dog about their fears, it may conclude that they are well-founded. You can also try playing soothing music for your dog, such as some classical pieces, or utilizing a white noise machine to divert his attention from the "bad" noise.

Jealousy and Overprotectiveness

Dogs can sometimes be overprotective of their owners. Although initially endearing, this uncommon canine behavior issue must be addressed immediately because it can develop into violent actions.

You can begin your dog's socialization with simple encounters, such as meeting a single new person or a human and their already-friendly dog. Teach your dog that letting go of the toy in exchange for an immediate reward is a good idea and that the toy will return in due time.

Poop Eating 

Coprophagia is regarded as common among many animals, including dogs, and it is one of the trickiest canine behavior issues to fix. It is best treated by ensuring no animal waste. Immediately pick up dog waste, get your pet some fun toys, and make playtime a regular occurrence.

In summary, dogs of all breeds are susceptible to various behavioral issues, and these can be modified through rewards or punishments, and even though it can be frustrating, it's best to have a calm demeanor when dealing with a dog that's acting up. 

Having a dog is a great commitment, and you must mold them into well-behaved adults, or you will suffer dire consequences in the end!

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