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5 Common Poor Dog Behaviors, Ranked


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Published: 9/17/2021

From barking to begging, our fur-babies have plenty of undesirable behaviors that we'd prefer they didn't. While we may think these habits are annoying and unavoidable, many pet parents fail to address these issues adequately, causing these bad behaviors to go unchecked.

In fact, you can resolve most common behavior problems with a lifestyle change or a bit of training. We've ranked 5 of the worst and most common dog behaviors so you can learn how to keep your canine out of trouble and help your pup live their best life!

#1. Biting

Biting is the number-one behavioral problem your doggo can have. Of all problematic dog behaviors, biting is the most dangerous as your pup could injure someone and get themselves in a whole heap of trouble. The odd nip is normal during puppyhood, but biting becomes a serious issue as a dog gets older.  

The root of the behavior

Puppies will bite and nip because that's how they explore and test the new world around them. They may also nip because they're teething. A puppy's bite is usually light because they learn bite inhibition from their mother and siblings. Bite inhibition teaches a puppy the maximum pressure they can apply before a bite starts hurting.

However, there are a number of reasons an adult dog may bite. The most common reasons include:

  • Fear 
  • Sickness/injury
  • Predatory instinct
  • Defensiveness

Possible triggers

Because there are several reasons why dogs bite, there are also many possible triggers. Fear is a common reason why dogs bite. If your dog feels cornered and in danger, they may lash out in a "fight-or-flight" instinctual display.

Territorial disputes and overprotectiveness are other common reasons why dogs bite. If you bring another person or dog into your home and your dog is very protective of you or their territory, they may become aggressive towards the intruder.

Your dog's predatory instinct may also cause them to bite; however, this usually only affects small prey animals and not humans. If your dog is in pain or sick, they may lash out to protect the affected area. For example, dogs may suddenly bite when their pet parent tries to clean their paws if a dog has arthritis.

How to resolve and prevent bad behavior

For starters, you should try to teach your dog from puppyhood not to bite other people and animals. Training your dog not to bite is a key part of being a pet parent.

If you have an older or adopted dog with some biting issues, you'll want to take them to obedience classes. When training an adult dog not to bite, you'll need to be firm and level-headed without showing any aggression. Using a toy to distract your dog and being very reactive when your dog does try to bite you are effective training methods.

#2. Barking

Dogs are very vocal creatures, and constant barking can become a problem if not dealt with properly. If your Dachshund doesn't stop barking at all hours, it could disrupt your daily routine and even get you in trouble with your landlord or roommates.

The root of the behavior

Discovering why your dog is barking will go a long way toward resolving the issue. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why your dog might bark. The most common causes include:

  • Excitement
  • Boredom
  • Fear/warning
  • Responding to other dogs

Possible triggers

There are many reasons why your dog may bark excessively. One of the most common reasons is a lack of stimulation. Dogs may also bark to mark their territory, particularly if another unfamiliar dog is nearby.

It's also possible that your dog is trying to warn you of something — for example, a nearby wild animal or stranger. Your pup may also bark when you come home from work as a sign of excitement. Less commonly, a dog may bark because they're injured.

How to resolve and prevent bad behavior

To stop your dog barking, you'll need to identify the cause. Your dog's bark will usually be different depending on the problem. For example, if your pup is trying to warn you about danger, they may occasionally growl between barks. If they're hungry, they may sometimes whine. If you can't figure out the issue, try providing more stimulation for your dog — they may just be a little bored.

You can also train your dog not to bark. Training your dog not to bark is pretty straightforward, especially if you start training during puppyhood. Using verbal commands such as "bark" and "quiet" to signify the correct behavior is one of the best ways to teach your dog to stop barking.

#3. Digging

Next up on our list of common bad dog behaviors is every gardener's nemesis: digging. If you're meticulous about your magnolias, then Fido coming along and digging them up will no doubt make your heart sink. Digging can be dangerous behavior, too, as your dog may dig their way under your fence and make a daring escape.

The root of the behavior

Usually, digging is an instinctual behavior that most dogs do if given a chance. Digging is especially common among small hunting breeds, like Jack Russells, that would be used to digging out fox holes. Other possible reasons why your doggo might be digging include:

  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Hiding belongings (bones, toys, etc.)
  • To gain access to another area

Possible triggers

As mentioned, there's usually no real reason why your dog digs — it's generally due to instinct or enjoyment. However, boredom may drive your dog to dig more.

Some dogs with strong instincts may also bury their bones to keep them fresh for later. If your pup is an escape artist or is desperate to get into your neighbor's yard, they may dig to get under a fence or obstacle.

How to resolve and prevent bad behavior

As digging is usually instinctual, the best way to stop the behavior is through training. If you're not keen on training your dog, you can try to give them more stimulation to see if this stops them from digging. If your dog is digging in a specific spot to escape, try placing something in the way.

To train your dog to stop digging, you'll need to give clear instructions and be consistent in your approach. Distracting your dog when they start to dig is a good idea, and positive reinforcement is always a helpful training technique.

#4. Jumping up

Jumping up may seem sweet when your pooch is a puppy, but jumping can cause issues when they get older, especially if you have a large dog like a German Shepherd. Jumping up is not only a nuisance, but it's also potentially dangerous. If you have an older or unsteady relative or friend, your dog could knock them over, causing serious injury.

The root of the behavior

Jumping up is normal doggy behavior. When your dog is a puppy, they will jump up at their mother to get attention or food. As your dog gets older and moves to live with their pet parents, this behavior gets transferred to you.

Possible triggers

Usually, your dog will jump up to greet you because they're excited. Your dog may also jump up at you if you're holding something they want, like a toy or treat. Excitement and food are the two main reasons your dog will jump up.

How to resolve and prevent bad behavior

When you first walk through the door and your dog jumps up at you, you'll be tempted to give them lots of pets and praise. However, this encourages your dog, as they'll think you like them jumping up at you.

The best way to train your dog not to jump up at you is to ignore them when you first come home. Then, once they've calmed down, you can say hello. This method will teach your dog that coming home is no big deal and that jumping up doesn't get them attention. You can also try reinforcing the correct behavior with a treat or two.

#5. Begging

There's nothing more annoying than a begging dog, especially when they're persistent. And if you're planning a fancy dinner party, you won't want your pup harassing your guests for a sliver of chicken. At the same time, some pet parents find it hard to resist their fur-babies, especially when your mutt breaks out the "puppy dog eyes".

The root of the behavior

There's a fairly simple reason why dogs beg — it's because they love food, especially forbidden table scraps. However, table scraps are not the same as treats. And while your dog may love eating human food, it's not good for them.

Many human foods are toxic for dogs and could make them very sick. At the least, giving in to your dog's begging regularly will make Scoob pile on the pounds, which could lead to heart disease and other health problems.

Possible triggers

Dogs often beg when they know you're eating a meal or because they're hungry. Keeping your pup well-fed will reduce the amount they beg for food. Dogs learn from your actions, so if you feed your dog food when they beg, they'll continue to do so.

How to resolve and prevent bad behavior

Training a dog not to beg is actually very simple and just requires a bit of willpower. Whenever you're eating dinner and your dog comes to beg, ensure your whole family ignores them. Ignore them consistently, and over time, they'll give up on begging.

If you have a family member who's particularly susceptible to "puppy dog eyes", then you may have to go a step further. You can either shut your dog out of the room whenever you eat or teach them to go to their bed and stay there.

For most dogs, training is a walk in the dog park. But if you're having trouble with training, consider investing in pet insurance. Many plans cover prescribed behavior modification for conditions like separation anxiety. Plan ahead and start searching for pet insurance today.

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