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Guide to Behavior Problems in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Territorial Aggression Toward People. Typically, territorial aggression is expressed toward another member of the same species. But territorial aggression can also be directed toward human beings. This is probably because dogs regard us as fellow pack members, as well as friends and providers. The territory generally includes the house, yard, and the owner's car or truck.

Territorial Aggression Toward Dogs. When dogs exhibit excessive territorial behavior toward dogs on their home turf, but do not respond aggressively to unfamiliar dogs on neutral territory, territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis. There are two different motivations for territorial behavior: dominance or fear/anxiety.

Dominance Aggression. Dogs fight for a number of different reasons, but quests for dominance often underlie much of the sparring. Aggressive incidents may be isolated to one or two specific situations, such as competition over specific resources or space-guarding issues.

Excesssive Barking. The first step in quieting your pooch is to understand why he's raising such a ruckus in the first place. Dogs, after all, bark for all kinds of reasons. They bark when they're anxious or when they're lonely. They bark to draw attention to themselves – or to warn someone encroaching on the property. Sometimes, dogs seem to bark because it feels good.

Running Away. For dogs, roaming is a natural behavior that involves scouting, hunting, exploration, and discovery. But when the neighborhood is concrete or tarmac and is seething with automobiles and trucks, this can be a problem. Free ranging dogs get into a lot of trouble in our society and a good number of them wind up in the pound. For this reason, a wandering dog is not a happy dog – not in the long run anyway.

Begging Occasional begging for food isn't the biggest behavior problem owners encounter with their dogs. However, some dogs won't leave their owners alone at mealtimes and are constantly nudging for a piece of the action to the point of ruining the meal.

Jumping on the Furniture. Jumping on furniture is one of those behavior problems that bother some owners, but not others. One person may enjoy having his small dog resting on the furniture and may even encourage it. However, owners of seborrheic [oily skinned] or dirt-impregnated dogs may prefer that their dogs stay on the floor.

Jumping on People. What can be done to plant those four feet firmly on the ground? The human reaction to jumping should be no reaction. When good behavior is consistently rewarded, and jumping is always ignored, dogs quickly learn that keeping four feet on the ground is a preferable posture. When a dog jumps on you should remain utterly silent, avert your gaze, and adopt an indifferent posture. Unless you like being jumped on, that is.

Eating Feces. Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of these factors, eating feces (coprophagy) often rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that long-suffering owners are forced to endure. In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated in-home by means of a combination of managemental changes and environmental measures.

Once you understand what is behind the behavior and realize what is needed to correct the problem, you are well on your way to correcting the problem and having a well-behaved dog.

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