- Pooing and weeing
Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly discussed dog behaviour problems. Manifestations include vocalisation, chewing, inappropriate urination and defecation, and other forms of destruction that occur when a dog is separated from his owner. Not all of these actions are the result of separation anxiety.
Signs of true separation anxiety include:
- Dog becomes anxious when the owner prepares to leave
- Misbehaviour occurs in the first 15-45 minutes after the owner leaves
- Dog wants to follow the owner around constantly
- Dog tries to touch the owner whenever possible
True separation anxiety requires dedicated training, behaviour modification and desensitisation exercises. Medication may be recommended in extreme cases, but this should be a last resort.
Dog aggression is exhibited by growling, snarling, showing teeth, lunging and biting. It is important to know that any dog has the potential to become aggressive, regardless of breed or history.
However, dogs with violent or abusive histories and those bred from dogs with aggressive tendencies are much more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour towards people or other dogs.
Reasons for aggression are basically the same as the reasons a dog will bite or snap, but overall canine aggression is a much more serious problem.
Most dogs bark, howl and whine to some degree. Excessive barking is considered a behaviour problem. Before you can correct barking, determine why your dog is vocalising in the first place. Among the most frequent causes:
- Warning or alert
- Responding to other dogs
Chewing is a natural action for all dogs – it’s just a part of the way they are wired. However, chewing can quickly become a behaviour problem if your dog causes destruction.
The most common reasons dogs chew are as follows:
- Puppy teething
- Boredom/Excess energy
- Curiosity (especially puppies)
If given the chance, most dogs will do some amount of digging – it’s a matter of instinct. Certain breeds, like Terriers, are more prone to digging because of their hunting histories.
In general, most dogs dig for these reasons:
- Boredom or excess energy
- Anxiety or fear
- Hunting instinct
- Comfort-seeking (such as nesting or cooling off)
- Hiding possessions (like bones or toys)
Inappropriate urination and pooing are among the most frustrating dog behaviours. They can damage areas of your home and make your dog unwelcome in public places or at the homes of others. It is most important that you discuss this behaviour with your veterinarian first to rule out health problems.
If no medical cause is found, try to determine the reason for the behaviour, which can come down to one of the following:
- Submissive/Excitement urination
- Territorial marking
- Lack of proper housebreaking
Dogs bite for reasons that can be traced back to instinct and pack mentality. Puppies bite and nip on other dogs and people as a means for exploring their environment and learning their place in the pack. Owners must show their puppies that mouthing and biting are not acceptable by teaching bite inhibition.
Beyond puppy behaviour, the motivation to bite or snap typically comes from the following:
- Fear or defensiveness
- Protection of property
- Pain or sickness
- Dominance assertion
- Predatory instinct
Resource guarding is when dogs control access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to them through defensive body language or displaying aggressive motions. This is a relatively common canine behaviour and is influenced by a number of environmental and situational stimuli, including a dog’s natural instinct to survive.
Resource guarding is usually a manifestation of the dog’s deep-rooted insecurity and inability to cope well in a social situation, even with people and other dogs it knows.
- An insecure dog can see anyone as a potential threat to a resource whether that resource is food, toys, space, a mate or access to a person.
- A resource guarder will not tolerate competition and will guard the resource to maintain priority access.
- The threat of losing the resource and the good feeling that the resource provides make a dog more vigilant, angry and irritable