Understanding and dealing with common dog behaviours

All dogs exhibit general canine behaviours patterns. Some dogs exhibit breed-specific behaviours such as extraordinary tracking ability, a heightened sense of territorial, a desire to run or uncanny ability to round of livestock so you find dogs are designed to hunt, chase, kill and eat.

Dogs will be dogs and as much as the jobs done by dogs have largely disappeared.  Have been replaced by careers as pets or participants in a variety of sport or service jobs but canine predatory instincts are alive and well. If you are looking for help treating your dog’s behaviour issue or just curious about why your dog does what he does. Read our article as it is explained well below.

Development of behaviour varies in individual dogs as well as between breeds. Dogs with a high degree of predatory behaviour are a challenge to train, especially if the family includes small children or other pets. Find more in the article about common dog behaviour issues to help you and your pup address some of our canine friends’ behaviour and habits.

  1. Aggression

To say that a dog is aggressive it encompasses a range of behaviours that usually begins with warnings and can culminate in an attack. Aggression is the most common and most serious behaviour problem in dogs. If your dog is aggressive it can get to a point where you seek professional help from behaviourists, trainers and veterinarians. Some of the intense behaviour that aggressive dogs exhibits are a growl, lunging forward or charging at the person with no contact, quick nip that leaves no mark, quick bite that tears the skin, bite and shake. They are so many but most dogs often do several of the behaviours outlined. Most pet owners will discover the aggression behaviour before it goes out of hand and also dogs rarely bite without giving some type of warning.

When trying to get answers on why your dog is aggressive find out what is triggering the reaction to give an accurate diagnosis before you can hope to help your dog. Depending on the type of aggression your dog can be cured or managed to a certain percentage. We have several aggression types:

  • Territorial aggression-some dogs will attack and bite an intruder whether is a friend or foe.
  • Protective aggression-dogs may show aggressive behaviour when they think that one of their family members or friend is in trouble.
  • Possessive aggression-many dogs show the tendency to guard their possessions from others.
  • Fear aggression-dogs do not like fear because a fearful dog may become aggressive if cornered or trapped.
  • Defensive aggression-closely related to fear aggression but defensive aggression difference is the strategy adopted by the dog. Defensively aggressive dog instead of retreating when fearful they react by attacking.
  • Predatory aggression-some dogs show canine predatory behaviours like chasing, hunting, grabbing on things or small animals and birds.


  1. Food guarding

Guarding possession is very normal even with dogs, from toys to territorial space to food. These dogs can survive in the wild as they know to protect their own. Some dogs can guard by chasing a person away, or biting you or running away with the item they are protecting to hide. This is considered dangerous especially with children around.  The dog might guard food on the table, dishwasher or leftovers and children do not know the warning signs of the dogs. It is advisable for pet owners to feed their dogs in a different room away from kids or outside in their crates. To avoid any harm to your children keep the feeding place outside as it is impossible to prevent the guarding behaviour.

With some dogs, treatment for food guarding is tricky. If you try and your dog appears stressed and refuses to eat but guards his bowl discontinue the exercise immediately and seek help from a behaviourist or qualified trainer. Do not punish or intimidate your dog when he guards food.

  1. Barking

Barking is a form of communication from your dog. It can alert you when someone is approaching your house, or your dog needs something. Barking can be a problem if it is excessive. Identify the cause before treating it. Continuous barking form your dog can be a way of getting your attention when he wants food, to play, or want to go for a walk. You can train it to sit instead of barking when he wants something.

Some dogs like barking, so your goal should be to decrease barking instead of eliminating it. Dogs have unique barks for different needs like wanting to eat, coming into the yard or wanting to go for a walk. Ensure you understand the bark first to meet your dog’s needs.

  • Territorial barking– dogs can bark excessively when strangers and animals approach their territory.
  • Alarm barking– these dogs are more for security watch. They are still and launch forward with each bark. They bark at any and every sound to alert you.
  • Frustration induced barking-some dogs bark excessively when restricted or confined in a space and cannot move freely.
  • Injury barking-dogs sometimes bark in response to pain or injury. If this occurs let your dog be examined by a veterinarian in case of any medical needs.

For barking treatment determine the catalysts or causes of the barking to know how to best treat the type of bark. Do not tie your dog’s muzzle closed with rope, cord, rubber band or anything to stop barking as this could be dangerous.

  1. Separation anxiety

Some dogs can show distress by urinating, barking, howling, chewing or trying to escape when left alone. All these show the dogs need to be trained house manners. Your dog might have separation anxiety if when you want to leave it has distress behaviour like drooling, it is chewing on toys and tearing everything. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people who care and show them love. Escape attempt can be hurtful to your dog especially the exit points.

When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy or at least tolerate being left alone.

It is believed that loss of an important person or group of people in a dog’s life can lead to separation anxiety. These mostly is observed in adopted dogs from a shelter because of change of family, schedule, residence or passing of a household member the dog was used to.

Counterconditioning might reduce or solve the problem where the fearful, aggressive reaction of the dog is changed to a pleasant, relaxed one by putting the dog with the person it fears in a place it loves or with an object that the dog loves. Over time the dog learns that whatever he fears actually predicts good things for him.

  1. Whining

Dogs mostly when they are seeking attention or want desired objects from their owners. Dogs can whine during greetings, it is brought about by excitement and may be directed at dogs or people. Some dogs are submissive and when adopting a submissive posture, for example, head down, tail tucked will whine a lot when interacting with people and other dogs. Separation anxiety can contribute to whining. If your dog does not want to be left alone it will whine. Injury can cause whining and if you notice this in your dog take her to the vet to rule out medical causes.

Whining can be reduced by building your dog confidence. Try taking her to an obedience class that use reward-based training techniques.

In dog training UK in just three weeks you will be able to see 98% success rate with your dog obedience level. The consistency behaviour and training will give you good rewards. They have a team of lady trainers who can care for your dog or puppy regardless of whether it is small or large, timid or bold. They are just a phone call away. Check their website for more details.



  1. Howling

Howling is one of the many forms of vocal communication used by dogs. Dogs how to attract attention, to announce their presence and make contact with others.

A dog can howl due to separation anxiety if left alone by its owner for a long time and can be distressed. The dog can howl if hurt or sick. If the howling is more than usual visit your veterinarian to rule out illness or injury before any treatment.

If the dog howls because of a trigger, remove the trigger and the howling will stop unless the trigger is frequent. You can also use desensitization and counterconditioning to help your dog learn to be quiet.

Some dogs howl because they are lonely, especially if left alone for long or are kept outside. Dogs are social animals like human and need love and attention and if your dog howls try to spend more quality time together to stop this behaviour, bring him indoors often and play with him to reduce the attention seeking tendencies. Take him to a fun training class that focusses on rewarding good behaviour.

Several organisations do this: Kindly check the websites for more detail.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers was founded in 1995 by John Fisher to offer pet dog owners a guarantee of quality when looking for a puppy and dog training class in their area.

The APDT UK are proud of the fact that they assess all members according to a strict criterion which ensures they have appropriate skills to teach dog training. They are required to keep their education up to date and adhere to a Code of Practice.

Training dogs has changed a great deal in the last few years. It is no longer necessary, or acceptable, to use harsh methods in training, and the use of gentle, motivational methods are as successful as they are enjoyable to use. Dog owners looking for local trainers can check their local area listing on this website. For more information check http://www.apdt.co.uk/

In fun dog training-Dogs need to know when they are doing the right thing and fun dog training ensures this is done by their numerous dog activities, and one on one training. Training is done through playing and made fun for your dog. For more details check http://fundogtraining.co.uk/

When you must leave your dog home alone, be sure to leave him plenty of attractive toys to chew and play and he will enjoy. Check out our dog toys selection.

  1. Biting and nipping

Puppies like playing a lot and chewing on things. They want to discover more in their lives and use their mouth and teeth to this benefit when investigating. As puppies slowly develop into bigger breeds they begin chewing, biting on your hand, limbs and clothing start becoming dangerous instead of pleasant. Train your puppy to have good mouth behaviour and bite gently when playing with it. Encourage more non-contact form of playing such as fetch and tug of war instead of hand biting or wrestling. This will encourage him to look for toys when he feels like mouthing. Keep plenty of attractive toys for this at home.


The canine behaviours are many our article has just highlighted a few. If you have questions you can contact us for more details and directions for more information pieces you might want to read about. Some treatments of dog behaviour might require the help of a professional certified professional dog trainer (CPDTS) and the websites in the article have more information on the help they offer, just have a visit at the pages and get assisted.

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