5 Most Common Behavioral Problems in Dogs

Getting a dog is a huge milestone in your life. Anyone who has a pet can attest that it is by no means cheap, simple, or easy.

Mar 15, 2023By Brianna O'Leary
dog pull leash behavioral problems

Obviously, a dog is a big responsibility when it comes to meeting its basic needs, but with all things considered, what if you still get more than you signed up for? When a dog is acting out and misbehaving, it can cause stress to humans too. However, behavioral issues always have a reason behind them.

5. Aggression

agressive dog

Aggression is the most common, and the most harmful, behavioral problem in dogs. Oftentimes, pet parents might not recognize the warning signs before an aggressive episode so will only see their dog randomly biting, snarling, or growling for no perceived reason. It’s important to recognize the triggers that cause aggression in a dog so you can provide the most comfortable environment for them.

Some dogs are aggressive because they’re territorial and will see anyone unfamiliar as a threatening intruder. They can also be protective or possessive and will lash out if they think their family is in danger. Perhaps the most well-known type of aggression in dogs is fear or defensive aggression when they see a perceived threat and feel the need to defend themselves.

4. Barking

dog barking

Barking is how dogs communicate, and often it’s to alert the owners that someone is at the door, or if they occasionally see something outside that piques their curiosity. Barking is normal behavior for dogs, but when it is excessive it can cause frustration for humans and likely for the dog, too.

When a dog barks, it is for a specific function. This can be attention-seeking barking when the dog is looking for something like pets or treats, alarm barking if a dog sees a perceived threat, or even just compulsive barking when there’s no apparent reason for the excessive barking. This is usually accompanied by other compulsive movements like running back and forth around the home.

dog barking 2

To treat a dog’s barking problem, you must identify the reason behind it. Maybe certain people or things seem to set it off or there’s a place or situation that causes it. Barking can be treated by “quiet” training, where the dog will associate its quietness with getting a reward. If it’s greeting barking, you can verbally make it known that visitors are welcome when they approach. Compulsive barking is best treated by consulting with your vet first.

3. Hyperactivity

hyperactive dog

If your dog is too energetic and rowdy, the likely cause is that it’s under-stimulated. Activity levels and exercise needs can vary based on the dog’s breed, age, and size, but to fix this problem first and foremost ensure that you, yourself, are doing your part. Having a regular schedule for walking and playtime can drastically help your dog release pent-up energy.

Assuming you’re doing this, and the hyperactivity persists, a good course of action is to not give in. If your dog is doing something that bothers you and you know all its basic needs are met; try to ignore them, remain calm, and don’t engage. Clicker training is another effective method of training multiple dog behavioral problems, and with hyperactive dogs, it may help to soothe them as signs of an outburst begin.

2. Jumping on People

dog jumping stranger door

Some dogs will jump on people in an attempt to be friendly, and others may do it to try to assert dominance. Whatever the case, it’s usually not taken well by strangers and the problem should be addressed as soon as possible to let the dog know that its behavior is not welcomed. And, like all behavioral problems, solving it begins with you.

The next time your dog starts to jump on you, turn around with your arms crossed over your body and don’t engage with your furry friend. Don’t yell or try to push them away, your dog will only see that as you reciprocating its playful energy. Once the dog has calmed down and all feet are on the floor, turn around and love on them as much as you’d like, so they know the reason for your coldness was their jumping.

1. Destructive Chewing

destructive chewing dog

Chewing is a natural habit for canines, but when it’s destroying items that you would much prefer to not be destroyed, it’s time for something to change. Make sure the dog has plenty of toys to chew on and destroy, and for the time being, restrict all access to outlets, cords, or anything else that shouldn’t be chewed on.

If destructive chewing persists even after taking cautionary measures, the dog could just be bored and under-exercised. However, it can also signify a deeper issue like separation anxiety or some sort of sickness, so contacting a behavioral specialist would also be a good course of action.

destructive chewing dog 2

All in all, if your dog is exhibiting behavioral issues, it can cause more stress for you, as the owner, and much more frustration than you bargained for when you brought your furry friend into your life. Luckily, behavioral problems in dogs always have a reason behind them and thus, a solution somewhere. It’s a good idea to consult with your vet if the behavior is particularly worrisome, as sometimes dogs lashing out is a cry for help about a more serious issue, but most behavioral problems in dogs will ease up with some extra time spent training and adapting to each other.

Brianna O'Leary
By Brianna O'Leary

Brianna owns a wheaten terrier mix named Murphy and an epileptic black cat named Cricket, with whom she enjoys watching movies. She also likes to pet sit for others and read in her free time.