Common Dog Behavior Problems: Causes and Solutions

The best companions in the world are definitely the furry ones with four paws, but an unruly dog with behavioral problems can quickly make the relationship a frustrating, stressful and potentially dangerous one. Approximately 38.4% of households have a dog1U.S. pet ownership statistics. American Veterinary Medical Association. (2021). Retrieved 22 December 2021, from Unfortunately, as many as 75% of dogs never receive professional training2Phenix, A. (2015). Are You One of the Few Who Train Their Dog? – Dogster. Dogster. Retrieved 22 December 2021, from While this may seem like a minor problem, an untrained dog can quickly lead to many problems that can affect your finances, relationship, mental health and yes, even your physical health. If you need more of a reason to opt for dog training immediately, many unruly dogs end up dying in shelters. This is absolutely heartbreaking, especially considering how accessible dog training is.

Now, there’s no denying that professional in-person dog training isn’t for everyone. It can be excruciatingly expensive, with the average obedience class costing up to $75 per day32022 Dog Training Costs | Obedience Classes & Service Dog Prices. HomeGuide. (2021). Retrieved 22 December 2021, from That price can increase depending on the style of training, the trainer themselves, and the difficulties your dog is having. The good news is that there is a solution – online dog training. But I’m not talking about Googling lessons and watching some Youtube videos. While these can be extremely helpful, anyone can write these articles or post these videos without any dog training background. Instead, I’m talking about professional dog training that quite literally brings the tips and training modules right to you.

Common Types of Dog Behaviour Problems

The easiest way to see if your dog is experiencing behavior problems if you aren’t sure just from being around them is to go through the common types of dog behavior problems and see if they resonate. This will help you identify any problem areas that need to be worked on and it can also be a great way to see how crucial lessons are and the type of training that is needed.

The most common types of dog behavior problems are:

  • Aggression
  • Begging for food
  • Being anti-social
  • Being overly protective of family or property
  • Biting (or mouthing)
  • Chasing things (cars, animals, etc.)
  • Destructive chewing
  • Digging
  • Disobedience (not listening to commands)
  • Eating feces
  • Escaping
  • Excessive Barking
  • Fear of noises (thunder, cars, fireworks, etc.)
  • Humping
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Jumping (on people or furniture)
  • Leashing pulling or aggression
  • Pulling on leash
  • Rough play
  • Running away/escaping
  • Stealing things
  • Separation anxiety
  • Unruliness
  • Whining

Dog Behaviours and What They Mean

Now that you have read the list of common dog behavior problems, you may be wondering what to do about them. The next step is to understand what the behaviours your dog is displaying means. Some are learned behaviours or bad habits, others are signs of aggression, and some are instinctive behavior.

The categories of dog behaviors (and their meanings) typically fall within the following. However, keep in mind that this isn’t a definitive guide. Not all dogs are the same and some of the behavior listed under ‘aggressive’ may simply be your dog’s way of acting out because they’re bored. So, it’s important to take this as a general guide, speak with a vet to eliminate any possible health risks, and to keep reading to learn how to correct the following dog behaviours.

Instinctive Behaviours

We must remember that dogs are animals and they have many instinctive behaviors that have been passed along through the breed for many years. Instinctive behaviours include things such as digging, chewing, chasing, dead animals, or rolling in dirt, mud or feces. Sounds gross, right? Well, dogs needed these instinctive behaviors to survive. They’re completely natural, despite being incredibly uncomfortable or frustrating for you, as the owner.

Solution: Instinctive behaviours can be the most difficult ones to get your dog to minimize or stop doing, as they’re instinctive. They’re born with these habits. Fortunately, proper dog training can go a long way for addressing these natural dog behaviours. 

Bad Habits

Just like humans, dogs can develop bad habits that are hard to break free of without some direction and proper training. Common behavior problems in dogs that fall within this category include jumping on people, guarding the house or people, clingy behavior, begging for food, jumping on furniture or taking over your bed. The most surprising thing for most dog owners is that these bad habits are often learned from the owners or at the very least, encouraged by them.

Solution: Be consistent, set clear boundaries and make sure your dog has a safe, comfortable environment with enough food and space so they don’t feel like they have to fight for it.

Health Issues

Some dog behaviors, such as aggression, growling or biting, eating poop, excessive licking and using the bathroom indoors can be caused by health conditions. Separation anxiety is another major problem many owners experience that falls within this category (mental health matters for your dogs too!).  Some behaviours caused by health issues can also be a sign of an injury or illness.

Solution: Take your dog to the vet to eliminate the possibility that they’re behaviors are health related, or to get them the proper treatment needed to address them.

Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

One of the most important things any dog owner can do is learn how to read their dog’s body language. This can help you spot signs of aggressive or unruly behavior before it occurs, presenting you with the perfect opportunity to stop it.

Some of the most common body language of dogs to understand and learn how to read are:

Shy or Nervous Behaviour

A shy or nervous dog may display certain behaviours anytime they feel nervous or unsure or only when faced with a specific trigger, such as other dogs or young children. Common body language associated with a shy or nervous dog include yawning, licking their nose, shaking it off, moving to be behind you, or having their ears back and flat against their head.

Fearful Behaviour

Fearful behavior can often be paired in with many of the behaviours mentioned above for a shy or nervous dog. However, when fear is the trigger, you may see more aggressive behaviours, such as the hair on their neck and back going up into a “Mohawk”, stiffness, pulling back, growling or barking.

Anxious Behaviour

These behaviours can also tie in with the two categories mentioned prior, or they can appear as a super clingy dog who is unable to confidently or comfortably be away from you.

Stalking Behaviour

Despite it sounding funny that your dog may have stalking behaviours, these are essentially to know how to spot to prevent your dog from chasing after things or running away. Common signs of stalking behavior is a dog bowing with a stiff tail, legs bent, and eyes fixed on a target.

Playful Behaviour

Not all unruly behaviours stem from a negative place; sometimes your dog just wants to play and has simply not received the proper training to know how to do so properly. Playful body language in dogs can be barking or a stance similar to stalking, only more relaxed and with a wagging tail.

Helpful Tips for Dealing with Unruly Dog Behaviors

After reading this article and identifying the potential dog behaviours and triggers your furry companion is experiencing, you may be wondering what to do next. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stay consistent
  • Set the environment and establish clear rules and boundaries
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise
  • Start with basic commands
  • Never leave an unruly dog unsupervised
  • Give your dog plenty of things to play with
  • Practice redirection
  • Never use aggressive techniques
  • Reward positive behavior

And if you still feel like you need to bring in the big guns (a professional dog trainer) but don’t have the funds to spend on expensive classes, consider using an online dog training program designed by a professional.


  • 1
    U.S. pet ownership statistics. American Veterinary Medical Association. (2021). Retrieved 22 December 2021, from
  • 2
    Phenix, A. (2015). Are You One of the Few Who Train Their Dog? – Dogster. Dogster. Retrieved 22 December 2021, from
  • 3
    2022 Dog Training Costs | Obedience Classes & Service Dog Prices. HomeGuide. (2021). Retrieved 22 December 2021, from

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