Behavioural Problems & Best Ways to Handle Them

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Varsha Verma
& Rocky
An obedient and well behaved dog is a delight. But, every pet parent must have experienced behavioural problems in their dogs. Here are 10 common behavioural problems in pooches and how to prevent them.
Rocky, my three-year-old Pomeranian is a very friendly and lovable pooch. Every time we enter our house, he comes running with his tail wagging furiously. It is such a delight to see him happy and excited on seeing us return. But, the moment he reaches us, he jumps on us.Sometimes, if we are not careful, he might knock us out. That’s a behaviour problem!
To avoid behavioural problems in dogs, it is recommended to start training them for appropriate behaviour from the moment they enter your house. Set the rules and follow them. Do not give in to their whims and fancies. Teach basic commands. Be disciplined and show that you are happy when they obey you. Dogs love to please and will do what you like. Treat them when they behave correctly. Ignore bad behaviour and show your displeasure. Make them understand that bad behaviour is not tolerable.
Here are 10 common behavioural issues in dogs and how to tackle them:

1. Jumping up: Dogs jump to greet people. They want your attention. If you acknowledge them, it reinforces this behaviour. It is best to ignore your dog for a while. Let him calm down. Do not make eye contact or touch him. Simply walk away. When he calms down, reward him with a pat or a treat.
2. Excessive barking: Barking is natural for dogs; it’s the way they express themselves. But, excessive barking is a problem. Sometimes, the dog barks as a warning signal or in excitement. That’s perfectly ok. But, sometimes dogs bark just to seek attention or out of anxiety or boredom. Rocky loves to watch outside from the terrace but the moment he sees another dog, he barks excessively. I taught him the Quiet command. The moment I say ‘Quiet,’ he stops barking. I reward him when he is quiet.
3. Separation anxiety: Dogs love to be around their humans. When their parents go away, they experience separation anxiety. They start showing signs of anxiety when you are ready to leave. They try to be close to you and not let you out of their sight. They become destructive after you leave. This needs to be corrected. It is important to train them from puppyhood. Leave them for a short time and gradually increase the time. If still it does not help, visit your vet or a dog trainer.
4. Chewing: Another natural action for dogs is chewing. Puppies chew excessively due to teething problems. There was a time when Rocky chewed on five of my slippers in a day but he was teething at that time and gradually he stopped that habit. However, sometimes dogs chew and cause destruction. Such dogs chew when they are bored or their energies have not been utilised through play or walks. They also chew when they are anxious. If you notice that your dog is chewing excessively, give them appropriate chew toys. Keep your things at bay. When you are not home, keep your dog in an area where he cannot cause destruction. If still you find him chewing something other than his chew toys, distract him and quickly replace it with a chew toy. You can also give him healthy treats like carrots to chew on. Also, take him out for walks so that he spends his energy and is tired.
5. Begging for food: As a child, I remember going to an uncle’s house who had a Labrador at their house. Every time we sat down to eat, especially omelette, he would sit near us and look with his soulful eyes, asking us for his share. Yes, he was begging for food. If your dog has a habit of begging, put him into a separate area while you are eating. Never give him table scraps while eating as it encourages begging.
6. Digging: If you are pet parent, you might have seen your dog digging. That’s a natural hunting behaviour. Mine digs in his water bowl. Sometimes, he digs into his bowl if there is no water. While at other times, he digs just out of boredom and to get our attention. Yes, dogs dig due to boredom and to expend their energy. They also dig due to anxiety or fear. Sometimes, they dig to hide their possessions. Find out the reason for his digging behaviour. Give him more exercise, spend quality time with him and assure him everything is ok.
7. Inappropriate elimination: Perhaps the most annoying habit is inappropriate urination and defecation. This is not only unhygienic but also frustrating. It is unavoidable for puppies below 12 weeks of age but for others, it is a complete No No. It can also happen due to health issues, so consult your vet first to rule out health issue. Sometimes, dog mark territory or urinate due to excitement or anxiety. House train your dog and catch them in the act.Say ‘No’ firmly.
8. Chasing: Dogs are predatory and sometimes they love to chase other animals, people or vehicles. It is impossible to stop your dog from chasing but you can try to calm him down. Keep your dog on leash so that he can’t run after them. Train your dog to come to you when called. Distract him with a noise or a whistle.
9. Scavenging: You do your best in giving your dog a well-balanced nutritious meal but the moment they get a chance, they will turn the dustbin upside down and scavenge on it. Pathetic! When I got Rocky home, my house became dustbin-free as he loved to gorge on dustbins, which was not acceptable to me. Then, I got the dustbins with lids which he could not open. Gradually, he stopped scavenging on them.
10. Eating poop: As gross as it sounds, dogs sometimes eat poop – their own and sometimes of another dog. This is because of boredom or malnutrition. Consult your vet for the same.