Understanding Our Dog’s Top 5 Behavioural Problems And Their Causes

Dog in the window

Developing a great relationship with your dog involves understanding its behaviour. It also involves working with the dog in a strictly controlled training program. A number of dogs end up chained to trees in the backyard or in overflowing animal shelters because of behavioural issues. Neither of these options is good. You can successfully adjust the dog’s behaviour if you invest some time and even some money in learning about and understanding its behaviour. A lot of these problems can be better managed or solved through a course in obedience training.


Below are 5 behavioural problems commonly exhibited by dogs, along with the causes and solutions for these behaviours:

1. Barking

Dogs bark, they whine and they howl. It is unreasonable to expect that your dog will never bark. However, excessive barking is a sure sign of a behavioural issue.



  • Wanting attention
  • Wanting to play or it is excited
  • In response to the barking of other dogs
  • As a warning
  • Bored
  • Nervous or anxious


Figure out why your dog is barking excessively. Once this is known, treating its barking problem can begin. Resist the urge to shout as this will stimulate your dog to bark even more. Instead, speak firmly and calmly. Curbing this behaviour will not happen overnight. It will take time, proper techniques, practice and consistency before you will be able to see some progress.


Train your dog to know the meaning of the word “quiet.” When the dog starts barking, calmly and firmly say “quiet.” When the dog stops barking, even if it is just to catch its breath, give him a treat and praise him. However, you should make sure the dog is never rewarded while it is barking. Your dog will eventually figure out that when he quits barking when you say “quiet,” it will get a treat. Give the dog chicken bits, cheese or another high level treat to make it more satisfying than the barking.

2. Chewing

Just like babies, puppies and bigger dogs like to chew. This is something that comes naturally to them. It helps in pain relief and keeping their gums and teeth healthy. Chewing is not the problem in and of itself. The problem comes about when the dog chews on things you do not want it to chew on. The destruction that results from chewing can be quite extensive.



Dogs generally chew because they are:

  • Bored
  • Teething
  • Curious
  • Nervous


It will take persistence and patience to overcome this problem. You can start with “dog-proofing” the home by putting away valuable objects until you have restricted your dog’s chewing habits to appropriate items. Keep your clothing and shoes in a locked closet, keep your dirty laundry in a clothes hamper and keep your books on the shelves. This will make it easier for the dog to succeed. You can also stock up on chew toys as this will give your dog a chance to safely explore its need to chew.

3. Digging

Excessive digging could definitely put a strain on the relationship between the owner and his or her dog. However, it is important to know that the dog is not digging out of spite. Clearly communicating to the dog that this behaviour is unacceptable will make your dog aware that excessive digging is wrong.



Other than instinct and breed, there are a number of common reasons dogs dig:

  • Wanting to get to the other side of the fence; perhaps to chase a cat or another animal
  • Looking for a shaded area to lounge or sleep
  • Burying a bone or a toy
  • Escaping from the yard
  • Escaping boredom (chained dogs are particularly prone to boredom)


 4. Chasing

The habit of chasing could result in devastating outcomes. Some dogs are unable to resist the urge to chase people, leaves or cars. When a dog gets in this mode, it can be very difficult to stop it from rushing toward its target.



The yearning to chase will differ from one breed to another. However, at the core of this desire is merely a show of the dog’s predatory instincts.



It is unlikely that the yearning to chase will ever stop. However, there are some things that can help:

  • Take notice to your surroundings as this can help to lessen the possibility of the dog acting on its predatory instincts.
  • Whenever you venture out with your dog, ensure that it is on a leash at all times.
  • Carry a clicker or whistle to create a distraction and help you to get the attention of the dog.
  • Enrol the dog in training and obedience classes


 5. Inappropriate Elimination

Improper defecation and urination can be quite frustrating. In addition, they can cause damage to certain areas of the home.



Typical causes include:

  • Health issues
  • Anxiety
  • Territorial marking
  • Lack of appropriate housebreaking
  • Seeking attention



Once heath issues have been eliminated as a possible cause, view the situation as the dog having behavioural problems. Repeat the house training steps and try to determine whether a stressor is in the dog’s environment. If possible, eliminate the stressor or teach the dog to live with it.

There are a number of methods that can be used to get desired behaviours from your dog. However, it will take a lot of love and patience to create a good relationship with your dog.