Top 11 Behavioral Problems in Dogs

Canine behavioral problems can be challenging because there are many types of issues, multiple causes, and several strategies to manage them. However, behavioral problems are one of the reasons dogs end up in shelters, so it’s important to understand these actions and the approaches that can help address them. Let’s dive in and look at 11 common behavioral problems in dogs.

1. Aggression

Aggression can include growling, snapping, biting, and other threatening behaviors. Dogs may exhibit aggression towards people or animals. There are many reasons a dog might display aggressive behavior, including:

  • Trauma
  • Fear
  • Territorial instincts
  • Pain
  • Frustration
  • Lack of training or socialization
  • Resource guarding

2. Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety may become anxious and stressed when left alone. The stress can lead to destructive behaviors, excessive barking or vocalization, eliminating in the house, and escape attempts. Any dog can develop separation anxiety, but experts think it’s often linked to a traumatic loss or change in a dog’s life.

3. Excessive Barking or Vocalization

Some dogs bark, whine, or vocalize excessively, and it can be difficult to get them to stop. They may whine when they’re alone, bark at other people or animals, or howl at nothing. The vocalizing can be due to boredom, fear, territorial instincts, or attention-seeking behavior.

4. Destructive Chewing

Dogs may chew on furniture, shoes, or other items, often as a way to relieve anxiety, boredom, or teething discomfort.

5. Jumping Up

Lots of dogs have poor manners when it comes to greeting people, and it’s not uncommon for them to want to jump up to say hi. However, this behavior can be problematic, especially for larger or more energetic breeds.

6. Pulling on the Leash

Bad leash manners can include excessive pulling. Pulling can have a lot of causes, including lack of training, excess energy, and more, but pullers can be challenging to control and may pose a risk to themselves and their parents.

7. House Soiling

It’s common for puppies to have accidents in the house, but properly trained adult dogs shouldn’t urinate or defecate inside. When this happens to a housetrained dog, it can be because of medical problems or separation anxiety.

8. Fear and Phobias

Dogs experience fear just like humans, and they can even develop phobias. Common dog phobias include thunderstorms, fireworks, vet visits, brushing or grooming, car rides, and strangers. In fact, separation anxiety is also a type of phobia.

9. Canine Compulsive Disorder

Canine compulsive disorder is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. In dogs, it presents as repetitive behaviors, such as excessive licking, tail chasing, or pacing.

10. Territorial Behavior

Dogs may become overly protective of their territory, exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people or animals entering their space.

11. Resource Guarding

Like all behavioral problems in dogs, resource guarding can have many causes. Regardless of the cause, a dog who is possessive of food, toys, or other items might lunge, growl, or bite someone if they perceive a threat.

Managing Behavioral Issues in Dogs

When it comes to behavioral problems in dogs, each situation is unique and requires a personalized approach. However, some common strategies can help with behavioral issues in general, and they include:

  • Consult your veterinarian to discuss potential health issues that could be causing the problems
  • Try to determine the cause of the behavior
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Be patient and consistent in your commands and reactions
  • Enroll your dog in basic obedience training classes to teach them essential commands and improve their socialization skills
  • Ensure your dog gets enough physical and mental stimulation through walks, playtime, and interactive toys
  • Ignore unwanted behavior
  • Remove/avoid potential triggers
  • Gradually expose your dog to situations or stimuli that trigger undesirable behavior in a controlled and positive way
  • Consider seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist


Animal Wellness

Animal Wellness is North America\’s top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.

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