Dog Behaviour Problems
Signs You Need Help
Owning a dog can be a joyful and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with its challenges. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we may find ourselves struggling to address certain issues with our furry friends. Recognizing when we need help is crucial for the well-being of both ourselves and our dogs. In this article, we will discuss some common dog behaviour problems and how to address them.
Aggression is the most serious problem that requires immediate attention.
Your dog may display aggressive behaviours such as growling, biting, or lunging towards people or other animals.
It’s important to deal with this before it escalates into something harmful for both your dog and people. Sometimes the reason isn’t obvious so you may need to consult an expert who will carry out a thorough assessment.
It is important to note that most dog aggression is fear based, so don’t discipline your dog harshly – this will make the problem much worse.
I have a reactive rescue dog myself and you can read about his journey here.
Excessive Fear or Anxiety
Persistent fear or anxiety in dogs can significantly impact their quality of life. Signs may include excessive
Attempts to escape
Many people with rescue dogs will recognise these signs of anxiety.
Trembling and cowering reduces as a close bond is formed with a new owner (although the dog may still present these tendencies occasionally).
Separation anxiety can be reduced by leaving the dog alone for very short amounts of time, then increasing gradually. Don’t make a huge fuss when leaving, just say something like ‘see you soon’ and close the door. Give the dog a toy filled with something tasty or an interactive game to pass the time. Maybe leave an unwashed T shirt in the dog’s bed to give him comfort. When you return, again don’t make a fuss. The dog needs to understand that his owner coming and going is no big deal and nothing to be afraid of.
Excessive barking is so frustrating, especially if your neighbours are quick to complain. Here are some great tips to help you overcome this dog behaviour problem. Just remember that barking is natural for dogs and it is his way of protecting you.
Is your dog an escape artist? If so, you need to find out the reason why he has this desire to flee. Take a look at this post to understand why this behaviour occurs and how you can stop it. I fostered a stray Jack Russell who could scale a six foot fence and jump out of windows in order to escape. I’m glad to say that once a bond was formed, the instinct vanished completely.
Compulsive behaviours, such as excessive licking, tail chasing, or obsessive pacing, are indications of underlying stress or anxiety.
A personal story of dogs who fixate on reflections can be found here.
It gives information and advice to identify triggers and tips to reduce this unwanted behaviour.
House Soiling Issues
If your previously house-trained dog starts having accidents indoors, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition or a behavioural issue.
Scenting issues can arise in a dog who is perfectly housetrained, and neutering does not give a 100% guarantee that the marking will stop. In order to address this problem, it’s important to understand why it happens.
Here is a post I wrote to explain why this annoying habit occurs and how to help. After years of owning and fostering dogs I understand the frustration, but it can be solved with patience and understanding.
Chewing is a natural behaviour for dogs, but excessive or destructive chewing can be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or frustration.
It’s important that dogs can be distracted from this behaviour with specially designed toys. These reduce boredom, keep brains active and help to pass the time when your dog is alone.
Difficulty with Basic Commands
It’s so frustrating when your dog doesn’t respond to simple commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘leave’. Once these commands have been mastered any owner will have the peace of mind to keep their dog safe.
However, different breeds react to training differently.
A Border Collie for example is a highly intelligent dog whose aim is to please his or her owner. On the other hand, a stubborn or mentally challenged dog may simply refuse to comply. I use these three words for all dog training – patience, consistency and repetition, it really does work!
Poor socialisation can lead to fear, anxiety, and aggressive behaviours.
It’s important to start socialisation training as soon as a puppy can go into the outside world. My advice would be to take your puppy everywhere and let him/her get used to people, other dogs, other pets, traffic, cyclists and young children. Find a video online and play sounds of thunder and fireworks. Do this quietly at first and gradually increase the volume.
The first few months of a puppy’s life are crucial because their brain absorbs information and experiences like a sponge. It really is the key to a well balanced dog and worth it in later years.
If you do need to enlist the help of a vet or dog trainer, this doesn’t mean that you are a bad owner or have failed in some way.
Recognizing when you need help with your dog is a responsible and compassionate step towards ensuring their well-being.
By addressing behavioural issues promptly, you can strengthen the bond with your dog and provide them with a happier and healthier life.