5 Common Dog Behavior Problems and How to Fix Them

by Anne-Marie Smith
dog problems

Dogs have lots of similarities with our children. They depend on us for food, comfort, protection, and proper upbringing. In return, they strive to put a smile on our faces and make us proud every day.

However, from time to time, they exhibit inappropriate behaviors that leave us wondering whether we’re good dog parents or not. They develop some of these behaviors right from the time they’re born and pick up others along the way as they grow up.

What this means is that punishing your pooch every time he acts out will not always help to solve the problem. This is true, especially if the issue is deep-rooted and out of his control. Taking time to understand your dog’s behavior is very important if you want to resolve the problem effectively. In addition, you need patience, determination, and the right strategy to completely remove or modify bad dog behaviors to an acceptable level.

From time to time, our dogs exhibit inappropriate behaviors that leave us wondering whether we’re good dog parents or not. Taking time to understand your dog’s bad behavior is important if you want to correct the problem properly. Here are the most common dog behavior problems and how to fix them:

Dog Separation Anxiety Issues


Imagine returning home from work to find out that your beloved pooch has dug out every single beautiful flower you planted in your garden over the weekend. You’d feel bad and frustrated, right? You might even find yourself disciplining him for misbehaving or screaming curses at him.

However, before you do any of these things, understand that digging comes naturally to dogs. It’s part of their genetic makeup, so you can only redirect their digging to your preferred area instead of trying to stop them altogether. Here are some possible reasons why dogs love to dig:

  • It’s their way of using the excess energy they have inside them.
  • Dogs also dig when they’re bored or anxious.
  • They dig when they want to gain access to a particular place, or escape from a place.
  • When the sun is too hot, dogs dig holes inside the ground to hide away from the heat.
  • They also dig to hide their favorite possessions like toys.


Redirect Your Dog To An Acceptable Spot – If your beloved pet is digging outdoors and causing lots of damage while at it, direct him to another place of your choice where he can dig. Encourage him by burying his favorite toys or treats there. When he digs them out successfully, give him lots of praises so he can know that that’s the only place he’s allowed to dig. You can also build a small sandbox for him in your garden or yard for the same purpose.

Provide Enough Exercise And Spend Quality Time With Him Daily – Dogs that are not given enough exercise also tend to engage in digging to entertain themselves. The same applies to dogs that are bored or nervous. If this is the case with your pet, you should create more time from your schedule to engage in different activities with him. This not only enables both of you to spend quality time together but also helps to tire him physically and mentally.

Put Your Dog In A Confined Space When You Leave Home – This is important to prevent him from digging the floor or other areas inside your house. Don’t forget to give him lots of interesting toys to keep them busy.

Pooping And Peeing Indoors

When your pooch continues to poop and urinate indoors even after training, it can be very frustrating. It also erodes the strong bond and loving relationship that the two of you share very quickly.

However, before you do something you’ll regret, it’s important first to take him to the vet to find out if there are any underlying health problems causing his behavior. If there are none, here are other possible reasons why your dog may be going to the bathroom indoors:

  • Excitement
  • Submission
  • Territorial marking
  • Anxiety
  • Puppyhood – Puppies less than 12 weeks old are more likely to go to the bathroom indoors.
  • Lack of potty training – Adult dogs that have never undergone potty training in their lives are also more likely to go to the bathroom indoors.


Place Your Dog In A Confined Space When Leaving The House – Instead of letting your pet roam freely inside your home, consider putting him in a confined space that’s safe and secure every time you leave home. The aim of doing this is to reduce the chances of him having bathroom accidents all over the place. Be sure to take him outside immediately you return so he can relieve himself.

Establish A Routine – Establishing a routine in your dog’s life is very crucial for successful potty training. It not only helps him to know the right place and time to go peeing and pooping but also trains him to hold it in when he has to.

Keep An Eye On Him – If your pooch was able to pee indoors yesterday without interference, he’s likely to remember that exact spot the next time he feels like doing it. This will happen even if you use the best cleaning products out there to clean the area. Because of this, it’s important that you keep a close eye on him while indoors to prevent bathroom accidents from happening.

Jumping Up

This is another behavior problem that’s very common among dogs. Even if your pet looks happy when jumping up on you or other people, it’s not a behavior you should encourage. It’s annoying and scary and can lead to accidents when the dog involved is bigger and heavier than the person being jumped on. So, why does your canine companion love jumping up?

Here are three possible reasons:

Seeking Attention – Just like kids, dogs love it when we shower them with love and attention. One popular way through which they seek our attention is by jumping on us.

A show of dominance – They also do it as a way of exerting their dominance over us. So, every time you encourage them to continue jumping up, you’re making them believe that they’re the pack leader and you’re the follower in the relationship.

Excitement – Dogs also jump up on people when they’re excited. This can be seen when you get back from work in the evening. Your pooch will jump on you to show you that he has missed your company and is excited to see you again.


Ignore – When your pooch tries jumping on you, simply ignore him and go about your business like he isn’t there. Don’t touch him, talk to him, and don’t make any eye contact with him. Wait until he’s down on the floor with his four paws and calm, and then praise him or reward him with a treat. Repeat this every time he jumps up until he gets the message.

Push Him Off You – Using your knee, you can also try pushing your pooch away from you slowly and gently when he jumps on you.

Turn Your Back On Him – If you have a puppy that loves jumping up, simply turn your back on him every time he does so. This will show him that his action is wrong and isn’t helping him get what he wants – your attention.

Stealing Clothing, Shoes, Food, And Other Items

dog problems

The sight of your pooch running with your favorite shirt or pair of shoes in his mouth may seem cute and adorable at first. However, when the behavior becomes chronic, it can be very stressful for you as a dog owner. Not only because he might end up stealing and eating human foods that are harmful to his health, but also because no one is proud of owning a canine kleptomaniac.

It’s important to note that your dog doesn’t know that he’s stealing when he takes something that’s not his. What he’s doing is simply going for what he wants when he sees and loves it.

Here are some reasons why dogs steal different stuff:

He Wants To Possess The Item – If your pooch steals your kids’ toys, it could be because he enjoys chewing the toys or playing with them. So, he figures that stealing is the best way to have toys all to himself.

He Loves Your Smell – Dogs also love the familiar scent of their owners because it makes them feel closer. So when he runs away with that favorite shirt of yours, it could be because he wants to smell you.

Boredom – A bored dog can also resort to stealing stuff to attract your attention.

Hunger – If your dog is regularly stealing food from your kitchen counter, it could be because he’s genuinely hungry and is looking for something to eat to fill his stomach.

Lack of self-control – Dogs that lack self-control are also more likely to take what isn’t theirs.


Ensure You Provide The Right Type and Amount Of Food Daily – If the behavior is due to hunger, you may want to speak with your vet to know if you’ve been underfeeding your dog. The vet will advise you on the right type and amount of food to give your pet after assessing him.

Spend More Time With Your Dog – If the behavior is due to lack of proper exercise, loneliness, or boredom, you should consider spending more time with your pet. Engage in activities that bring both of you together such as going for daily walks or playing tug of war in your yard. However, if you’re too busy, hire a dog walker to keep your pooch company and provide him with proper exercise.

Keep All Appealing Items Out Of The Way – This is probably the most effective way of controlling stealing in dogs. Keep all items your pooch love to steal out of his reach, and give him lots of exciting toys to play with. The toys will help to keep him busy and entertained so he doesn’t start thinking of what to steal next.

Excessive Chewing

Just like digging, chewing comes naturally for dogs. They love to chew all kinds of materials because it’s their way of exploring the world around them. Chewing is also a very effective way of alleviating anxiety and maintaining dental health in dogs.

However, chewing can become a behavior problem very quickly if your dog is engaging in destructive activities such as chewing the arm of your sofa. The most common reasons why your dog may be chewing excessively include:

  • Puppy teething
  • Excess energy
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Curiosity


Provide Plenty Of Chew Toys – Keep every item that your dog loves chewing out of his reach and replace them with a wide range of safe and durable chew toys. This will help satisfy his chewing needs and keep him busy and mentally stimulated.

Don’t Let His Loose While Unsupervised – If the chewing problem is severe, you should consider confining your pooch to one room or crating him every time you leave the house. This will help reduce the amount of destruction caused.

Redirect – Start by placing his chew toys in a room together with a few of your personal stuff he has chewed previously. When he puts his mouth on the things you don’t want him to chew, redirect him to his toys. It may take weeks or even months before he learns what’s his and what’s yours, so you need to patient and consistent in your training for this method to work.

Best Dog Toys For Heavy Chewers

The Bottom Line

If your beloved pooch is exhibiting any of these inappropriate behavior problems, don’t be in a rush to punish him or end your relationship with him. It’s much better to be patient as you try to understand and correct the behavior. Feel free to try the tips suggested above until you find what works for you. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if you’re unsuccessful.

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