All dogs bark, usually out of excitement to see people or other animals,
danger warnings or just out of complete boredom. Your dog can be barking
because he or she is having fun, is lonely or is frightened. Anxious dogs
will bark in a tone that sounds like distress and calls us to attention.
However, sometimes dogs bark from habit and become a nuisance. If you
can discern the reason for the barking, it will be easier to deal with and correct,
First you need to learn to understand your dog’s reason for barking.
Here are a few suggestions:
If your dog has no other stimulus and is simply barking at you, he
or she may simply want attention from you. The dog might be hungry or
thirsty, or just want to play. Give the dog some attention, such as play
time or a nice walk. Offer food and water, if needed, or just pet the
dog for a period of time. If your dog has been left for a long period
time, he or she is probably just expressing their desire for company.
Leaving your dog for long periods of time can create excess barking that
becomes an annoyance to the neighbors. Some dogs will quiet down if there
is a radio or TV background noise playing. They tend to associate this
type of noise with their owner being around. If your dog is outside for
long periods of time, make sure there are a lot of favorite dog toys to play
with. IQube Cagey Cube is a great toy that will keep your dog occupied
for hours at a time.
- You can prevent dogs from barking every time a stranger walks by if you
keep shades drawn and keep the dog from seeing what is outside. If you
pet him or reassure him at these times, he may think he’s being praised for
- Many dogs will bark when they hear a lawn mower, vacuum cleaner or other
loud sounds. Desensitize your dog by exposing him or her to these sounds
at different times.
- If your dog insists on barking at various times without good reason, try
making a noise louder than the barking, such as clanging two cooking pots
together. If you make a sound louder than the barking, it will grab
the dog’s attention and he may think twice about barking over and over.
These repetitive behaviors will eventually train your dog to keep the barking
From the time you have a puppy, the best method of preventing destructive
chewing is to make sure you have acceptable items on hand for your dog to chew
on. When puppies are teething, they need rubber bones, squeaky toys, ropes
or balls can give comfort to their growing teeth. Offer your puppy these
items to distract him or her from trying to chew on shoes, furniture or other
items that are off limit.
Often when puppies are given personal items, such as shoes to chew on, they
will then be attracted to those types of items and think of them as play toys.
Dogs continue chewing on items to relieve tension or sometimes just out of boredom.
Make sure you have plenty of acceptable chew toys available and praise your
dog when he or she is chewing on those items. Remember, you have to teach
your dog what is acceptable and what is not.
If your dog begins chewing on personal items, furniture, carpets or other
unacceptable items, tell him “No!” and offer an acceptable toy to chew on.
Make sure your personal items are not lying around within reach of the dog to
If your dog continues to chew on unacceptable items, you may want to try
spraying products such as hot pepper sauce or pet repellents onto the items.
Dogs don’t like the smell of perfumes or after-shave lotions either. One
of these can be sprayed onto items the dog wants to chew on. Another idea
is to use a soda can with pebbles or pennies inside that you can shake when
the dogs begins chewing on objects that are off limits. The rattling noise
will scare the dog.
Edible products, such as rawhide chew bones can give your dog something to
chew on for a long period of time. Be careful about giving puppies these
products as sometimes they can upset their stomach. Also, some dogs get
defensive with food products, so be aware of this issue as well.
Just like in other areas of training, breaking a chewing habit may take some
time. The best defense is to have acceptable chewing items available and watch
the dog when you allow him or her to be in the house. Repetitive training,
distractions and acceptable chewing toys are the best method of stopping a destructive
MOUTHING AND NIPPING
Mouthing and nipping is often a problem with puppies as they are learning
what is acceptable behavior. This is a behavior that can be stopped to
prevent biting people or other animals. Here are a few tips for early
- Put a leash on a puppy when in your house to keep him or her from trying
to nip at anyone or items you don’t want to have chewing marks on.
- Take the puppy or dog out for regular exercise and offer appropriate toys
to gnaw on.
- A good item to relieve teething pains is a wet rag that has been wrung
out and frozen. Replace it as it begins to thaw.
- If your puppy or dog playfully nips or bites at you, say “ouch!” or “no!”
loudly and offer a proper chew toy.
- Use a product such as Indoor Bitter End, a bitter tasting spray training
aid to discourage pets from chewing or biting. Try a little on the dog’s
lip if he or she keeps trying to mouth or nip.
- Rough playing can encourage nipping and biting. Playing with the
dog is good, but when aggression begins to happen, it needs to be curbed so
that your dog doesn’t inadvertently begin to nip and bite out of playfulness.
Back off on the playing and offer chew toys if this begins to happen.
Stop bad behavior immediately. Use other commands, such as “sit” or
“down” to redirect the dog’s behavior and calm him down.
Puppies and dogs will sometimes jump up on their owners or other people because
they are more sociable or bold. Sometimes they do this behavior because
they have associated jumping up with being rewarded by petting and praising
attention. Dogs love you as their owner and often want to show their love
by jumping on you. Sometimes they are just over friendly! We think
it’s cute to have a puppy jumping at us, but if this behavior is allowed over
a period of time it can become an annoyance. Dogs don’t understand the
difference between allowing them to jump up at certain times and not other times,
so teaching them not to jump is the best idea.
Jumping up gives the dog attention, so it is important how you respond.
Pushing the dog away could be interpreted as a sign of play. A better
idea is to teach the dog when to jump, if that is your desire, and when to stay
Begin teaching your dog not to jump by crouching down to his or her level
to pet them. That keeps the behavior under your control. Use specific
words, such as “down!” when the dog is jumping at the wrong times. Reward
your dog with hugs and praise only when four feet are all on the ground so that
confusion of rewards and jumping doesn’t happen.
If your dog is prone to jumping when a friend comes by, you may want to put
a leash on to keep him or her from leaping up. Say “no!” or “down!” if
attempts are made and use the leash to hold the dog in place. When the
dog obeys, offer praise and petting to reinforce good behavior.
Dogs will not only jump on people, but on furniture if they are not taught
to stay down. This is another behavior that is encouraged sometimes by
visitors who think the dog is cute and cuddly. The dog reacts by jumping
up on the furniture or on a person’s lap. Your command in this case needs
to be “down!” or “off!” along with a gentle nudge to get the dog down on the
floor. If dogs are allowed on the furniture at other times, they will
not understand when suddenly they are shoved off a visitor’s lap or the furniture
at other times. It is better to train the dog to stay off the furniture
at all times, to avoid this confusion.
If unwanted jumping behavior continues, such as when you come home from work,
you will need to try different strategies, such as ignoring the dog for a period
of time when you first arrive at home. After the dog is calmer, then you
should bend down and give some attention at that time.
The more you reinforce good behavior and correct bad behavior, the more your
dog will respond to the good reinforcement. Be patience and practice
the training often. For persistent jumpers, consider hiring a trainer
to teach the dog the right behavior.
Your dog may get very possessive when he gets a new toy or bone. He
will react by guarding it closely by holding it tight in his front paws, licking
and chewing on it or even retreating to a corner to protect it.
Dogs need to be taught early in their life to share so that aggressive behavior
doesn’t show up later in life. Aggressive behavior cannot be tolerated,
especially if you have other pets or small children in the house. You
will need to put a leash and collar on your dog to train him not to be possessive.
When you give him the new toy, you have to teach him to drop it on your command.
Say “drop it,” and praise him highly when he responds even a little. If
he decides to hold onto the toy, give him other commands, such as “sit” or “down”
to remind him that you are the leader. Repeat your commands several times
and take away his toy when you are finished. Repeat this exercise at a
You can also offer your dog a treat or a different toy for the one he wants
to hold onto. As soon as you say “drop it” and he obeys, give him a treat
or a different toy. Repeat this exercise several times. You can
create trust by handing back the same toy, along with other toys as you play
this game with your dog. It shouldn’t take too long before he begins to
trust that you will give him the new toy or an older toy back. He should begin
to obey your commands if you are consistent.
Bones are harder to take away than toys. Many dogs will not give up
a bone for anything else and it may be in your best interest to just let him
have it. Be careful about giving out this type of item when you cannot
seem to break the possessive behaviors. Remember that a distraction can
be one of the best ways to break a dog that wants to guard his toys or other
Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. This activity is not one that can
be changed by obedience training because it is one that has to be worked with
as it happens. There are several reasons why dogs dig. Sometimes
dogs dig because they want a cool place to lie down. Other reasons include
boredom, smells they are exploring and perhaps even the activity of guarding
Keeping your dog monitored is your best defense against digging. Also,
the dog needs to know that digging isn’t acceptable. A stern “No!” will
help him understand when he is caught in the act. This command will need
to be repeated until he gets the idea. There are several ways to prevent
- When you are not able to monitor your dog, put him in an undiggable place,
such as out on concrete, a patio or a room with a closed door.
- Give your dog some favorite toys while you are away so he has something
to keep him occupied.
- Make sure his environment is comfortable, sheltered from the heat, cold,
wind or rain. Leave plenty of water for him as well.
- Give your dog a lot of exercise so he is less inclined to be actively
- Dogs do not like to dig where there have been feces, so throw some into
the area he has been digging and cover it.
- Place heavy objects, such as bricks to deter the dog from digging in the
same spot. Place chicken wire around shrubs or plants you want to protect.
- Startle your dog with loud noises, such as a can with pebbles inside or
even water spray. The water or noises may startle the dog and he will
associate his digging with that noise or water spray.
If these measures don’t work well enough, you may want to consider giving
your dog his own space to dig up that isn’t disruptive to your yard.
Dogs have a way to declare ownership in a territory and one way is to mark
the area with urine. By nature, a male dog especially will sniff out where
other dogs have been and place their claim to that territory. This is
mostly a male trait, although some females will mark. It’s like leaving
a calling card.
This is not a behavior to be too concerned about unless it begins to happen
indoors. The dog is trying to establish dominance and this pattern has
to be broken. Don’t ignore the behavior because it will happen again.
Consider using disposable diapers on the dog if it is a constant problem.
Another option is training pads for puppies and for adult dogs.
Neutering your male dog will most likely decrease his urge to mark territory
by urinating. Since he will become naturally less aggressive, his attention
will turn from hormonal activities to his family for love and attention.
He will be less interested in showing his masculinity to other males.
If there is no medical reason for uncontrolled urinating in the house, make
sure you take the following steps:
- Take the dog on regular walks, especially in the morning or after eating
so he or she can relieve themselves at regular times.
- Give your dog lots of playtime and exercise to alleviate some of the aggressiveness
of the marking behavior.
- If you catch the dog in the act, make a loud noise, or say “No!” sharply
to let him know that is unacceptable behavior. Take the dog outside
immediately to let him finish his business.
- Do not yell at him, strike or show anger. Simply say your command
and place him where he can urinate.
- Watch the dog when you take him outside and see if he does his business.
If he is distracted and does not go, be aware of his activities in the house
and be prepared to make a loud noise to keep him from following through. Take
him outside again at that time.
- Watch for signs such as whining, circling, pawing or other repetitive
behaviors that may signal your dogs’ need to go potty.
- Repeat these behaviors as you need to and eventually your dog will understand
that marking territory in the house is not acceptable.
Although no one really wants to talk about, there are dogs out there that
like to not only roll in feces, but sometimes eat it as well. It can be
a habit that is difficult to break. The awful thing is he can eat it up,
then run to you and give you a kiss! This is a very nasty habit that needs
a bit of understanding.
A couple reasons your dog may like this dung delicacy is that there is a
nutritional deficiency that isn’t met by your dog’s normal daily food intake.
You vet can help determine if this is a cause. Some dogs simply watch
other dogs do this and copy that behavior. Certain other dogs, such as
Retrievers are just programmed to “retrieve” or pick things up in their mouths.
Try to teach your dog with a stern command to “leave it” if you are with
him when he picks up feces. Pull back on his collar and pull him away
from the source of intrigue. In your own yard, make sure everything is
cleaned up after your dog’s toilet time. If it’s not there, it won’t be
If there is persistent behavior from your dog, try a pet repellent, such
. Meat tenderizer will create a nasty taste your
dog won’t like and can deter him from eating feces.
Take time to monitor your dog if he has this habit. The less the feces
are available to him, the less he will have the opportunity to make a meal of
Just like some dogs guard their toys, many dogs guard their food or even
empty food bowls. Food can bring out the possessiveness in a dog more
than anything else. Your dog may h have memories of leaner times and wants
to make sure no other dog or human is going to take his share. Some dogs
can even get aggressive while guarding their food or they will inhale it to
make sure it isn’t going to go to anyone else!
Dogs that guard their empty food bowls may simply be hungry and wait for
food to show in the bowl. They are protecting the territory around the
bowl as well. This has to do with what is called a “denning” instinct.
A den could have been an abandoned shed or a cave used by dogs in the wild.
They protected their space at all costs.
Dogs that live with other dogs may see them competition to their meals so
guarding the food bowl becomes a survival tool. Just watch for competitive
behavior that could turn aggressive. This should not be tolerated.
If you know your dog is getting enough food but simply seems to enjoy the
process of guarding his empty or partially full bowl, you need to take steps
to deal with this issue. If he doesn’t have any competition around him,
there may not be much of a problem. However, if growling is occurring,
then steps need to be taken to modify this behavior.
- Try placing the dog bowl in the middle of a large room. Part of
the guarding instinct is trying to protect the space around the bowl.
There is more security for the dog in a small, confined space. The middle
of the room with big, open spaces is very difficult to protect. This
action alone could deter him from this guarding principle.
- Play musical bowls: Move his bowl to different areas of the room.
He won’t the same space to guard it if it is moved around frequently.
There will be more attachment placed on the food in the bowl rather than the
- Take the bowl away. Let your dog eat his food, and then pick up
the bowl. Out of sight, out of mind. He will be more interested
in eating the food when it is placed in front of him rather than dealing with
protecting a bowl.
- Change his perspective. Tell your dog to sit, rollover, lie down
or come and then feed him, the association will begin to be one of “payment”
before eating. The dog will begin to understand that when he obeys, he will
be rewarded with a meal at feeding time.
- Try dropping a small treat in your dog’s bowl when he is eating.
He will begin to see you as someone who is caring for him rather than competing.
Your dog will begin to get excited to see you coming towards his bowl if he
knows a treat is coming as well. This is a good “quick fix” to the problem
as you find other ways to work with your food guarding dog.
Choosing the right toy or treat
Collar and Leash Training
Teaching your dog how to
make eye contact
Fixing Behavior Problems
Preventing Dog Attacks Caused by Canine Aggression
Understanding Dog Behavior
7 Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety
How Breed Influences Canine Behavior
Developmental Stages of Dog and Puppy Behavior
6 Tips for Fixing a Dog Behavior Problem
Can Bad Dog Behavior Be Treated with Medication?
What Is a Dog Whisperer?
Six Reasons to Get Professional Dog Training