Possible solutions to common behavior problems

The following table is not meant to cover every possible problem that your dog may develop. This table is included to help you understand why a behavior in your dog may be occurring. To solve a problem, usually a combination of several different solutions has the highest success rate.

Jumping on People Excessive Barking Digging Fearfulness / Shyness Does not come when called

Thievery Excitability Chewing Escaping Pulls on leash Aggression

Behavior Possible Causes Possible Solutions
Jumping on People Rewarded for doing it – petting, shoving, getting picked up, fed treats while jumping Do not pet or pick up while jumping; do not feed unless all four paws are on the floor; keep on leash when guests come over; teach sit/down stay using positives
Urge to greet/lick muzzle of leader Teach "sit" as a greeting
Mounting or dominance Spay & neuter early; provide strong leadership/guidance
Social isolation Use time buffers; more exercise
Excessive Barking Breed characteristic Teach "SPEAK" & "QUIET" command; have barkathons at times when barking will not disturb others
Social isolation – boredom More exercise; reward quiet behavior; train trick behaviors; keep indoors. Give several stuffed KONGs to occupy time
Outside stimulation Teach "QUIET"; keep indoors; desensitize to sounds; keep radio on
Being teased or harassed Keep inside; keep behind sight proof dog fence
Digging Too hot or too cold Provide warm doghouse or cool shady area or wading pool. Bring indoors for better climate control
Nesting behavior in females Provide a "nest" or doghouse with old blankets; keep inside
Attempt to escape, Boredom, Desire to mate Keep dog inside; keep in escape proof dog run; have neighbors ignore dog if he gets out; increase exercise; spay or neuter, give several stuffed KONGs to occupy time
Breed characteristic Provide digging pit; teach "DIG" & "OFF" command, go to beach and let dog dig to heart's content
Inadvertently rewarded Remove garbage or tasty plants; provide toys, put chicken wire just below the dirt surface:put large rocks or boulders into areas where digging is not wanted
Separation anxiety or stress Time buffers: more exercise: have someone let dog out at lunch: provide special toys such as stuffed KONGs or Buster Cubes
Fearfulness / Shyness Breed trait Research breed before obtaining; never buy pet shop dogs; research breeder before buying; very active socialization
Inadvertently rewarded Do not pet or soothe in fearful situations; use JOLLY routine instead or ignore
Lack of socialization, Poor training Don’t hit or yell at; provide consistency & proper timing; active socialization; enroll in positive training class
Early traumatic experience Slow socialization to traumatic situation; JOLLY routine; reward only confidence - ignore fear responses
Does not come when called Something negative was done to discourage dog from coming Don’t call dog & then bathe, clip nails, or flea spray; reward with praise, treats, & toys for coming; re-teach command using different word
Physical limitations Have dog checked for hearing & eyesight loss; tie hair out of eyes; put on high quality diet and holistic supplements
Outside stimulation Keep on leash & teach command initially in less distracting situations, gradually working up to very distracting ones. Use higher value rewards in more distracting situations
Off leash privileges given too soon Keep leash or long line on whenever in an unenclosed area; re-teach command in controlled environment; Use higher value rewards, so dog would rather come/play with you than other dogs/people
Called only once during walk & then taken home Call dog many times during walk to check in & then go play
Thievery Inadvertently rewarded – ate food; got a good game of chase out of you; other family members think it’s funny & encourage it Put food out of reach; set up booby traps; ignore dog when he has stolen item; put a long line on dog to stop chase; reestablish household rules with family members; do not hit or yell at (this is a surefire way to teach an animal to be possessive aggressive!)
Inappropriate toys given – shoes, towels, stuffed toys Give toys that do not resemble household items; KONGs, Tuffys, Nylabones, Boomer balls; teach "OFF" & "GET YOUR BONE"; supervise or confine
Playing inappropriate games Stop playing games that encourage dog to grab things from you; teach fetch; teach "DROP" & "TAKE IT" commands; supervise all interaction between dog & kids
Excitability Inadvertently rewarded – hyped up with games; petted or fed while "wild" Avoid playing excitable games; do not feed or pet unless sitting or lying down
Breed trait Research breed before obtaining; never buy pet shop dogs; research breeder before buying; adopt or buy only temperament tested animals
Social isolation Keep dog inside so he learns manners; have neighbors visit dog; teach down/stay using positives
Lack of exercise Provide structured, controlled exercise; teach fetch; get involved in a dog sport such as flyball, agility, tracking or obedience
Poor training or lack of training Teach "DOWN" with progressively longer periods that dog has to perform; time rewards correctly; get involved in obedience or agility to further training; desensitize to exciting stimuli
Chewing Inappropriate chew toys given – shoes, towels, stuffed animals Give toys that do not resemble household items: KONGs, Tuffys, Buster Cubes, Nylabones
Separation anxiety – boredom Use stress reduction ideas from separation anxiety; increase exercise
Pleasant taste/smell Clean spilled food/drink; use bad tasting booby traps (bitter apple/orange or Tabasco sauce)
Breed characteristic, Teething Supervise; confine; give ice cubes; give proper chew toys (KONGs or natural bones)
Escaping Boredom, no bond to family Increase exercise; keep inside when family is gone; make more a part of family; take a training class
Separation anxiety Keep inside house (either in single room or crate); provide special toys (Kongs or chew bones) when family is gone
Pleasant experience in past – rewarded with food and/or play with neighbors or their dogs Keep in escape proof dog run (chain link); run electric fence wire at bottom & top of yard fence; have neighbors discourage dog when he gets out
Outside stimulation - kids teasing dog through fence; other dogs running lose Keep inside; talk to neighbors if they are bothering dog; have neighbors keep their dogs in their own yards; build sight proof chain link dog run in middle of yard (away from yard fence)
Desire to mate Spay or neuter dog; keep inside your house in a crate
Pulls on leash Breed trait Teach a pull command and then a walk nice command; get involved in sledding or cart pulling; exercise with game of fetch before taking on walk in neighborhood
Inadvertently rewarded for Stop walking when pulls forward; reward staying close to you with food/toys; use a head collar (comes in brands such as Gentle Leader, Snoot Loop or Halti); exercise with game of fetch before taking on walk in neighborhood; enroll in a positive training program
Outside stimulation Practice in low keyed environments first; use a head collar; don't let play or visit other dogs on leash (rewards pulling)
Aggression Aggression can be a very complicated, dangerous behavior problem. Traumatic experience Desensitize to situation using only positives; remove from situation if too stimulated; stop outside teasing; contact a professional, humane trainer
Poor socialization Systematic socialization under the guidance of a professional, humane trainer; don't reward fear behavior by petting/picking up; keep dog removed from situation until get professional help
Poor quality individual Research breeder before buying; adopt/buy only temperament tested dogs/puppies from rescue/shelters; keep dog out of situations that illicit aggression; get professional help; reward good behavior; stop hitting or yelling
Physical problems Consult a veterinarian for a full physical work up; put on high quality diet with holistic supplements
Poor training or lack of training Harsh physical training often results in fear aggression; stop hitting or yelling; throw out choke chains & pinch collars - use a head collar for more control; contact a humane trainer for private consultation

Have a heart, have your pet spayed or neutered.  There are not enough homes.

Web links: www.ahimsadogtraining.com