Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Are you constantly getting frustrated with your dog and wondering why they are misbehaving all the time?

Dogs misbehave for a number of different reasons. Today I will take you through some of the key reasons and hopefully help you to identify what is going on with your dog and help fix some of these behaviours. As always, please feel free to get in touch if you need any further help with your dog.  

Why your dog is misbehaving and how you can help them…

 

Boredom

Dogs need physical exercise, mental stimulation, attention, affection and they also need a bit of variety in their lives. They are pack animals too so they love being with us. And a bit like us, they also need a change of scenery. They don’t want to be stuck in the same house day in and day out. So keep that in mind and try and mix up their days. Don’t take them on the same walk every day or to the same park every day. They thrive off going to new places with new smells. Different breeds are also bred for different reasons so make sure to find out some breed specific activities your dog might enjoy, i.e. agility for working dogs, hunting or scent games for hunting dogs, etc.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Find what your dog loves! Cooper loves to swim, it is one of his favourite activities and he is always exhausted after.

Anxiety

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety, and an anxious dog, might play up. They may become destructive and chew or dig or bark due to separation anxiety, phobias, etc. This is not necessarily the dogs fault and in this case, I highly recommend having a positive dog behaviourist come to assess your dog and get to the bottom of why he/she is suffering from anxiety. Punishment is never the answer and especially not with an anxious dog. The reason for the anxiety or stress needs to be addressed and this in turn should help with the misbehaviour or destructive behaviour.

 

Attention Seeking

Some dogs play up because they just want your attention. Digging, barking, jumping, pawing at you, chewing your favourite shoes, all of these things might just be to grab your attention. Be careful how you respond, as even a negative response to them is still giving them that attention they are looking for. I see attention seeking behaviour in my own home quite often, with both the kids and the dog! With Cooper, my goldie, being our first baby, he quickly moved down the ranks when we started having our human babies and sometimes he just gets jealous and craves our attention. He will occasionally steel the kids’ toys or come and nudge me with his rope in his mouth ready to play.

A good way to avoid attention seeking behaviour is to make sure to allocate some time each day to really give your dog your undivided attention and love.  Make sure they know that they are part of your pack. Keep in mind that being with your dog, giving them some attention and affection is often all they need (especially on a rainy or hot day when you can’t get them outside for their daily exercise). Sometimes, when I’m dropping the kids at my parents or my in-laws, I bring Cooper along for the car ride so he can have a change of scenery, he loves it. Sometimes, I’ll just walk him as far as the café and I’ll sit and have a coffee there with him. He loves getting out and about. It helps with the cabin fever and helps to make him feel part of our pack. On those days where you feel you just can’t get them out of the house or you just don’t have the energy for that game of tug of war they are asking for, just give your dog an extra cuddle and a pat and let them be in your company. But try make sure it is on your terms. Reinforcing unwanted attention seeking behaviour will just mean that they will keep doing it as they know they get attention for it.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Sometimes I’m not sure if Cooper is rolling in mud puddles because he’s wanting to grab my attention of it he’s genuinely hot and trying to cool down.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Yep this happens quite often! He loves muddy puddles!

Lack of exercise

Having a well exercised dog will help out in so many aspects of their lives. It will help with your dog’s overall health and mobility, weight and digestion. It will also help to get out some of their energy and importantly is a good way to build that bond and trust with you, plus it will help to reduce boredom and behavioural problems. It is important that you tailor the exercise for your dog’s age, breed and health. Certain breeds need way more exercise than others. Some are lazy and don’t need as much. If you are unsure of your dog’s requirements, make sure to have a chat to your vet. They might also suggest some great exercise ideas that are a bit more breed specific. Make sure to have a read of my post Do I Really need to Walk my Dog?  It goes into all of this in lots of details and will give you some ideas of different things you can do with your dog.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

It’s great to get your dog walking on lead from a very young age. Sometimes a slow and steady walk can be more tiring for your dog than an off lead run at a dog park.

Lack of mental stimulation

Dogs not only need physical exercise, they also need to be mentally stimulated. This may include things like treat toys where they need to use their brains and nose to work out how to get the food out of the toy. It may also include some short bursts of training with you at home. Know your breed of dog and what they like to do and find a fun activity you can do together. Our favourite game that we play in the house with Cooper is called “Where’s Lobby”.  Pretty much Cooper’s favourite toy is a red lobster called Lobby and we hide it around the house and make him find it. He loves this game and so do the kids! There are so many different and fun games you can play; you can hide treats around the house and make your dog find them, play fetch with a ball down a hallway, play tug of war, you could even play hide and seek with your dog. And as mentioned above there are also various toys you can buy that dogs can play with on their own that are great for mental stimulation.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Make sure to mix it up for your dog, find a few different mental games they enjoy.

You have accidentally reinforced their bad behaviour

When your dog misbehaves, many times you will unknowingly reinforce that behaviour by rewarding them. A dog that barks or jumps for attention and receives attention, either in the form of petting or even yelling, has just been rewarded for that behaviour. Good or bad, to your dog – it’s still that attention they are looking for. Dogs are smart animals and will learn how to play their owners to get what they want. If you do not want your dog to bark, jump, whatever it may be that they are doing to get your attention, do not encourage it and do not give them the desired attention they are seeking. Even just looking at them is giving the attention they want as eye contact is so important to dogs. So literally turn your back on them and ignore them, don’t wave your arms in the air, try to push them down, nothing. Just turn around and ignore until the behaviour has stopped. Rather give them attention and affection when they are calm and relaxed and not begging you for it.

 

Lack of adequate training

Some dogs are laid back and do not require a lot of formal training, some are incredibly intelligent and will learn/know what you expect of them very quickly. However, there are also some dogs that will benefit from more formal training so they learn what behaviours are desirable and what behaviours will cause them to get into trouble. If your dog is misbehaving constantly, look into hiring a positive dog behaviourist/trainer who will work with you and your dog one-on-one. There are also some fantastic obedience classes around that your dog might enjoy. I did lots of obedience training with Cooper when he was younger. We both loved it! It was a great outing for us on the weekends and some really nice bonding time for us. As I always say, be consistent and do not reward your dog when they misbehave. Ignore the bad and reward the good.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Cooper and I at obedience training

Your dog might be going through their Adolescence

Generally, dogs will go through their adolescent phase between 5 months and 18 months of age. During this time, your dog will test their limits and see what they can get away with. You will notice that your dog is misbehaving more often than usual and you have to stay consistent in your training, this is when it is so important to not slack off and keep reinforcing the good and ignoring the bad. The hard work you put in now, will be worth it in the end, I promise.

Why is My Dog Misbehaving and What can I do to Fix this?

Yep, as a puppy this is what Cooper did to out garden in our old place!! It was during his adolescent stage!! Naughty puppy!

I always say to my clients, if your dog’s behaviour really does change out of the blue, before looking into a behavioural reason, take them to the vet for an overall health check first. It’s always best to be safe and rule out any health issues. Please feel free to get in touch if you’re not sure why your dog is doing what it’s doing. I’d love to help you.

 

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Mel xox

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