Confused by what your best four-legged friend is trying to tell you when they bark all the time or act a certain way? Wondering if your pet really understands what you’re saying when you give commands? Communication between humans and dogs is a two-way street--it involves you learning to interpret dog behavior and helping your dog better understand you and what you’re trying to say!
Understanding Causes of Problem Behavior
Dogs may appear like they’re acting up--whether by having accidents, no longer listening to commands, behaving aggressively, starting to bark more than usual, or engaging in destructive behavior like chewing--for a variety of reasons.
Suffering from separation anxiety, not getting enough physical activity, dealing with a change in the home or to the routine, craving attention, having a health problem, feeling the need to catch prey (mice or other visitors to the home), or being afraid or curious could explain why a dog would feel compelled to adopt one or more of these behavior issues. In particular, senior dogs face several changes as they age: they can begin to lose orientation, forget commands, no longer possess control over their bowels, and become agitated more easily.
Dog Body Language Explained
Think you know what a wagging tail means? What about barking? Both have multiple meanings that depend on the rest of the dog’s body language. If you're curious about what your or another dog’s posture, movement, or sounds are trying to communicate, learn more about reading dog body language.
Dog Training Tips
One of your most powerful means of shaping your pooch’s behavior is through recognizing and acknowledging good behavior. Addressing issues should be done quickly and, when possible, followed by finding an instance to praise your dog for doing something positive! Becoming a leader of the pack, communicating with your hands and being truly consistent are among the dog-training skills you will need to learn before you’ll be able to effectively teach your dog!
Training Commands You Need to Know
Does your dog know “no” from “yes”--and actually do as you ask? Or maybe your dog knows their name, but doesn't always come when you call. Whether you struggle with effectively communicating these basic instructions or more complicated maneuvers, such as teaching your pup to fix their own leash or to go to bed, these dog training strategies will help you administer commands with confidence and ease.
When Dogs Have Accidents
If your pet is leaving “presents” around the house, it could be the result of a number of issues. A lack of or incomplete house training, not wanting to eliminate outside in inclement weather, or wanting to mark her or his territory are some easier-to-solve causes (read about a solution to marking territory below). Underlying causes could be anxiety, fears, dietary changes, medications, or medical problems. Stomach and digestive issues, incontinence related to a UTI, bladder stones, diabetes, or kidney troubles, can cause dogs to have accidents. See your vet if issues persist.
Is your young one still learning the ropes? Get tips for housetraining a puppy.
Behaviors Related to Getting Fixed
Neutering your male pup may help with issues related to aggression, running away (the desire to escape may be related to the pursuit of a female partner to mate with), marking territory, biting, and humping. For your female dog, spaying will address problems with spraying around the home when she’s in heat. Learn more about spaying and neutering pets.
Anxiety in Dogs
Dogs may exhibit their feelings of anxiousness in unusual or problematic ways--yawning more than usual, licking, panting, quivering, being evasive, barking nonstop, being aggressive, whimpering, and having accidents at home. Learn more about the causes of and treatments for anxiety.
More on Dog Behaviors
Anxious Poodle Behaviors
How to Train a Small Dog
OCD in Dogs
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.