What are the most common behavioral problems in dogs and how to solve them?
Problematic behaviors are all activities that are unacceptable and undesirable to both humans and dogs.
Many of them are natural for dogs, but bother people, and often develop as a result of wrong upbringing, exposure to stressful situations, or repressive learning methods. Dogs react instinctively and the negative behavior is directly related to human behavior.
In 1978, the World Society for the Protection of Animals adopted the Universal Declaration on Animal Rights at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The declaration is based on the fact that animals are living beings with feelings, which need to be treated and respected in that way. The Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare is set as a common standard for all people and nations. This is extremely important when it comes to the correction or prevention of undesirable behavior. In this regard, punishment may stop the undesirable behavior, but it will not change the emotional state, which means that the behavior can repeat and escalate.
Behind every behavior, regardless of whether it is acceptable or not, is a reason. Thus, a good understanding of the most common problems is imposed as the first step towards their solution and prevention.
You can read more about responsible ownership here.
The most common undesirable behaviors in public places and how to modify them
Dogs communicate in different ways – barking, howling, whining, etc. When excessive, barking is considered a behavioral problem. In order to correct it, it is necessary to find out the reasons, and the most common are: warning, playfulness, and excitement, seeking attention, anxiety, boredom, reaction to other dogs. The most effective way to overcome this problem is bark/quiet commands, as well as a patient and consistent owner. The best results are achieved when the dog is active, when triggers are avoided, but also when there is no reward for the behavior.
Digging is a matter of instinct in dogs, and as this behavior can be a problem at home, it can also cause damage during a stay in a pet-friendly location, such as the beach. Service providers do not support this phenomenon either. The most common reasons are boredom or excess energy, anxiety or fear, hunting instinct, seeking comfort (such as cooling), wanting to hide things (like food or toys), and wanting to escape. Once the cause is determined, we can work on eliminating it. Here too, physical activity proves to be the most effective, but also leaving some place aside where the dog will be able to dig freely and where this activity will be acceptable.
Inappropriate urination and defecation
These behaviors are among the most undesirable and frustrate both owners and people around the dog. Uncontrolled urination destroys parts of the home and makes the dog unwelcome in public places. Before any attempts at correction, it is necessary to check the health condition of the dog with the veterinarian. If no medical cause is found, then it can be reduced to one of the several: excited urination, territorial marking, anxiety, and lack of proper training. This phenomenon is inevitable in puppies, especially before 12 weeks of age, but when it comes to older dogs, many of them require serious behavior modification. It is very important not to punish the dog in order not to associate this act with negative emotions. On the contrary, the most successful method for this type of behavior has always proven to be a reward for the work done in the designated place.
As a normal and natural behavior, it begins in the earliest period when as puppies they jump to reach and greet their mothers and later continue with it when greeting people. They may also jump when they are excited or seek an object in a person’s hands. Jumping can also be undesirable for safety reasons if there is a child or an elderly person nearby. There are many methods to stop it, where lifting the knees, grabbing the paws, or pushing away sends the wrong message to most dogs, because it is jumping that demands attention, so the dog perceives all of the above as a reward. The best method is to ignore and move away, without making eye contact or touching. When he relaxes and remains calm, a reward follows.
Aggression and biting
A dog never attacks without reason and with premeditation, but because he feels threatened. Signs of aggression are growling, showing teeth, attacking, and finally biting. Although every dog has the potential to demonstrate aggression, regardless of breed, dogs with a history of biting and those bred with aggressive tendencies are much more likely to behave that way. This means that the environment has a big influence and most experts agree that race-specific legislation is not the answer. The reasons for aggression and biting can come from the same source that needs to be discovered. After ruling out a possible health problem, it is best to seek the help of an experienced trainer or behaviorist. Owners and breeders are the ones who can help reduce the tendency of any type of dog to bite through proper training and socialization.
Here we wrote about the similarities and differences between upbringing and training.
According to the Serbian law on animal welfare, the “attention of a good host” is providing conditions that meet the animal’s life needs, such as a sufficient amount of quality food and water, space for movement, nutrition and rest, shelter, microclimatic and hygienic living conditions, presence and contact with animals of the same species and preservation of the physical, psychological and genetic integrity of the animal, such as undertaking and implementing preventive, diagnostic, hygienic, therapeutic and other measures in order to preserve the animal’s health condition and prevent injury, disease, stress, pain, suffering, fear and death of the animal.
If it is understood that the pet’s “hosts” are the owner and the community, at the local level all of the above could be implemented through education on the importance of socialization and training, along with the creation of a safe space for free movement, placing buckets with hygiene bags, bowls of water, etc. and most importantly – the existence of clear rules and penalties for non-compliance. These are also the pet policy bases represented by the PTA certification.
Author: Marina Stancevic