Skip To Content

Dog Behavior - How to Handle Dog Behavior Issues

Illness doesn't always have a physical cause, and the sad truth is that more dogs are put to sleep because of behavioral problems than because of disease or injury. Dog obedience training can ensure your canine is a safe and enjoyable member of your family. From training puppies to addressing unwanted behavior in an older dog, our veterinarians can help you achieve a better bond with your furry friend.

At Berry Farms and Concord Road Animal Hospitals, our veterinarians and support staff have many years of experience diagnosing and prescribing treatment methods for dog behavior issues. We can help determine the cause of disorders, such as separation anxiety and obsessive behavior, and then develop an effective, humane training program.

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.

Some of the common behaviors dog training programs can help treat include:

  • Aggression: This is the number one reason dog owners seek dog training. Aggression is a natural defensive instinct in dog behavior. However, dogs must be deterred from taking hostile stances against people and other animals. These aggressive behaviors may include biting, snarling, growling, lunging, and posturing. If your dog shows signs of aggression, it must be addressed. These behaviors will not go away on their own and will typically become more severe without intervention.
  • Barking: As a dog's main form of vocal communication, barking conveys a dog's wants and needs. However, barking can also become an excessive and obsessive behavior that is a nuisance for you and your neighbors. If your dog barks incessantly or for no apparent reason you should consider obedience training.
  • Chewing: Chewing is an essential behavior in puppies and some older dogs as a method of maintaining a healthy mouth. However, excessive chewing can indicate anxiety, hyperactivity, stress, frustration, or fear. If your dog chews inappropriate items, such as furniture, bedding, or carpet, you should pursue dog obedience training.
  • Food guarding: This is a behavior that instinctually dates back to a wild animal protecting its precious sustenance from other animals. However, in the modern-day home, food guarding can lead to dog attacks and other dangerous interactions between humans and canines. This is a behavior that should be addressed when your dog is a puppy to set up appropriate boundaries for your dog. If your dog guards his or her food, this is a behavior that should be addressed sooner than later. Please schedule an appointment ASAP.
  • Howling: Like barking, howling is a normal form of vocal expression. Dogs howl to announce their presence, attract attention, and make contact with other dogs, and it is more common in some breeds than others. However, excessive howling can also indicate separation anxiety and even medical issues. If your dog howls excessively, we can discuss it at your next veterinary appointment.
  • Mounting and masturbation: These are also normal behaviors in dogs of all ages for dominance, social, and reproductive purposes. Even after spaying or neutering, many dogs continue to mount other dogs in shows of dominance. In excess, however, these behaviors can indicate compulsion, stress, and certain medical issues. Therefore, it is important to seek veterinary advice if your dog exhibits these behaviors abnormally.
  • Mouthing: While this is perfectly normal dog behavior, mouthing can also lead to more dangerous behavior. Nipping and biting other animals or humans is totally unacceptable dog behavior that can lead to dangerous interactions. If your dog nips or bites during play or other interactions, dog training is essential to stave off potential disaster.
  • Separation anxiety: This is a very common dog behavior. After all, you are the main living being your dog associates with, and when you are not there, your dog wishes you were. Negative behaviors such as destroying property, barking, and making in the house can typically be corrected with the right obedience training techniques. Some cases require medication to alleviate the severe stress that the dog is experiencing.
  • Whining: This is also a normal vocal dog behavior. It can convey a need, but can also indicate anxiety, illness, or injury. If your dog whines compulsively or incessantly, there could be a medical issue or condition causing this dog behavior to occur. For excessive and/or abnormal whining, give us a call, and let's get your dog the care they need.

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.

The Power Of Puppy Training

Puppy training is essential to raising a well-behaved and socially adjusted adult canine. This is because behaviors learned or allowed during a dog's formative years are the ones that become ingrained in his or her consciousness as acceptable in adulthood. Because dogs age faster than human beings do, it is essential to embark upon puppy training early in life to ensure that negative behaviors are corrected before they can become ingrained as normal or natural.

Puppy training should be started between 7 and 8 weeks of age. Between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks, there are many important milestones of behavioral learning for your puppy. During this time, you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced trainer. As your puppy ages, behaviors become quickly ingrained, and certain behaviors become more difficult to change. It is much easier to mold your puppy’s behavior and ensure that he or she is on the right track from the start.

Puppy training courses deal with many common, but negative dog behavior patterns and will help your puppy become a disciplined and well-adjusted adult dog. We strongly recommend puppy training courses for every dog and dog owner.

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 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.

Back To Top