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Dog Behavior - How to Handle Dog Behavior Issues

If my dog is having behavior problems, are they capable of change?

Yeah, absolutely. Regardless of the behavior issue, there's some training and other things we can do to change that negative behavior.


Dr. Ben Larson
Berry Farms Animal Hospital - Cupola Animal Hospitals

When should you start obedience training with your dog?

From day one, as soon as you get your dog, your puppy, however old it is. I mean, even if the puppy is only a couple of months old, I would start from day one. The sooner you start obedience training, the better.

What are the most common behavior problems in dogs, and how can they be addressed?

There are many dog behavior issues. Most often, the things we see are barking and separation anxiety—tearing the house up whenever you leave, urinating in the house, and jumping on people when they come in the door. Addressing these issues is a bit tricky because all dogs are different or respond better to certain training habits. And each behavioral disorder is better for one specific type of training. Talk with your veterinarian about those issues that you have with your dog. They will take your dog's personality and behavior issues into consideration and help formulate a plan for changing that.

Can behavior issues in my dog ever indicate that they are sick?

Yeah, absolutely. If your dog's drinking more, urinating in the house, scooting their rear end on the ground, those are all signs of something that could be going on in your dog.

What are some behavior problems that may be associated with a medical condition?

Urinating in the house could indicate a UTI. If they're scooting on the ground, they may have some anal sac issues that get clogged up and may need to be expressed. If your dog is snippy or bitey whenever you're touching a particular part, they may be painful there and letting you know, "Hey, don't touch me. I'm hurting." And so those all might be medical issues.

How can a veterinarian help address my dog's behavior problems?

I would bring up all those issues that you have with your dog and talk with your veterinarian. We can formulate a plan of how to train your dog and figure out the best game plan. Medication may not be needed. That's usually the last resort that I'll go to. Try everything else before. But as I said, every dog is different.

What other dog behavior management options are available?

Talk to your veterinarian about the many different options. There are dog trainers out there that I would be leary about because anyone can call themselves a trainer. There are so many out there, which is why it's so critical to talk with your veterinarian and see which ones that they would recommend. They'll typically have worked with a trainer or organization. As I said earlier, some medications can help with anxiety and things like that. But usually, again, that's the last resort after training and trying other things.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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