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Dog Behavior – Dealing with Biting, Jumping and Barking

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Every dog owner knows that dogs engage in some behaviors that are hard to understand. With a little research, you can understand some of your dog’s behaviors and, if necessary, learn how to curb the less pleasant ones.

Here are some common behaviors along with some reasons why your dog may be doing them.

Nipping, Biting or Chewing

When you puppy bites or mouths your hand during play, that is because that is how he would play with other dogs. While this behavior is almost never aggressive, it still needs to be curbed. Offer your dog a chew toy instead of your hand. Another common puppy problem is chewing: furniture, shoes, and books – just about anything they can get their teeth on! First, if you get a puppy understand that at some point he IS going to chew something he shouldn’t. The good news is there are ways to help curb the behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act (ONLY if you catch him in the act), make a loud noise. Then, offer him an acceptable chew item, such as a toy. Consider coating furniture with a spray that gives the items an unpleasant taste. These sprays can be found at your local pet store. If you leave your dog home alone, consider crate training. This will help him be a good dog while you’re away, and may keep him off your furniture.

Jumping

When a dog engages in this behavior, it’s his way of saying “I want some attention.” As much as you might want to give in and pet your pooch, this behavior really should be discouraged. The best way to do that is NOT to reward your dog with any attention when he jumps on you. Even if you push him away, the dog might interpret that action as attention. Instead, turn away and say “off”. Then, do not pet the dog until a few minutes after he has stopped jumping on you.

Barking

There are many reasons why a dog barks: he may be lonely or bored, he may be afraid, he may be in protective or guard mode or he could be suffering from separation anxiety. If your dog barks constantly, that is, obviously, a behavior that you would need to curb. You first need to identify why your dog is barking incessantly. Is he left alone for long periods of time? Does he have enough interaction with people? Does he seem to start barking at certain stimulus, such as thunder? Once you identify the reason, you can work to correct the problem. This might involve finding a way to spend more time with your pet or taking him for frequent walks. You may need to enlist the help of a professional, especially if the barking is the result of separation anxiety or a fear of a certain stimulus.

Escape

As is true with barking, there are many reasons why dogs attempt to escape from their yards. If the issues are addressed properly, your dog will likely stop his disappearing act. One reason is social isolation. If your dog is left alone for long periods of time with no toys, other dogs or other stimulus he may try to escape in order to find a playmate. To help curb this behavior, walk your dog each day, provide plenty of toys and consider taking an obedience class. When you’re away for long periods, it’s best to keep the dog indoors. Another reason dogs escape is because they are looking for a mate. Having your dog spayed or neutered can stop this behavior. Other reasons for escape include fear and separation anxiety. For example, your dog may be afraid of loud noises. When he hears a loud noise, his response is to run. Provide a dog house, or other shelter, and help train your dog to view that as a place to run to when he is afraid. For separation anxiety, you may need to consult a professional to curb the behavior.

Urinating When Excited

If your dog greets you with a waggy tail and a little puddle, he is engaging in a behavior called excitement urination. More common among puppies, this problem often corrects itself as the dog grows. If the behavior doesn’t stop, you should take him to a vet, so that medical reasons for the behavior can be ruled out.

Digging

There are many reasons that your dog may love to dig. Some do it for the fun of it. Others are trying to create a cool, comfortable spot to rest. Still others are trying to make their great escape, get your attention or find prey. While it may be hard to isolate the exact reason for this behavior in your dog, where he digs may offer some clues. If he digs right next to the house, he may be seeking shelter. Provide him with a source of shelter, such as a dog house, and the behavior should stop. If he is left alone in the yard for long periods without stimulation, he may be digging for fun. To help stop this type of digging, provide him with lots of toys and be sure to spend as much time with as you can. If he only seems to dig when you are watching, he probably wants some attention. Don’t reward the digging with attention, but do try to spend more time with him in general. If he is digging along the fence, he is likely trying to escape. Until you can teach your dog to want to stay in your yard (see “Escape” section), you’ll need to find a way to make him stay in the yard. Placing large rocks along the fence line or burying chicken wire at the base of your fence are a couple of options.

Urine Marking

This behavior, not to be confused with going the bathroom indoors, is your dog’s way of marking a certain space as his own. One way to tell the difference is that the amount of urine is small and found on vertical spots such as walls. Understand that this is a natural behavior for a dog, and he is NOT doing it to make you angry or to “get back at you” for something. Spaying or neutering can help curb this behavior as will thoroughly cleaning the marked area. If you are unsuccessful in curbing this behavior on your own, you may need to consult a professional.

Snuggling

Let’s end on a positive note. Do dogs want to snuggle with you because they love you? This is debatable, and different experts will have different answers. Some will say dogs are not capable of love as humans understand it. Others will say that dog are, in fact, capable of a bond that resembles human love. Since this is a behavior that no respectable dog owner would want to curb completely, suffice it to say that many dogs love to snuggle. Aren’t those owners lucky?

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