Dog and Puppy Behavior
Solving Training and Behavior Problems

Puppy behavior may be irresistible to many puppy owners, especially when it involves cute behaviors such as play barking, jumping and general puppy clumsiness.

However, there are many puppy and dog behaviors that may not be perceived as cute.

Chewing, biting and barking are high on the list of problematic behaviors of many puppy owners. Yet, many of these behaviors are a natural part of puppyhood.

So, no matter how frustrating your dog's behavior is, keep in mind that dogs don't behave the way they do just to frustrate us, even if it appears to be so!

Puppy and dog owners must also keep in mind that it is much easier to correct undesirable behaviors when a puppy is still young rather than later once the dog is much larger and the behavior has been allowed to establish itself over time.

Understanding Natural Puppy Behavior

Many problem behaviors in puppies are totally normal behaviors that will extinguish over time unless the owner encourages them to persist into adulthood. Here are some examples...

Puppy teething is a natural phase of puppyhood that causes puppies to chew on different surfaces to sooth sore gums. Encouraging a puppy to chew on shoes may lead to a habit of chewing on shoes that will be difficult to eradicate once it puts roots. Providing alternate chew toys and keeping shoes out of the way is a good practice.

Puppy Behavior

Puppies also have a natural tendency to jump on people. An 80 pound dog jumping on people, however, can be problematic. For this reason, it is important for puppy owners to discourage jumping behaviors before the puppy grows large enough to easily knock down a child. But even owners of small dogs may wish to train their puppies to abide by good manners; not all people are eager to get muddy paw prints all over their clothes!

Puppy biting is also a natural puppy behavior that you'll need to address as soon as possible. Failure to teach good bite inhibition may result in an adult dog that bites hard, which can be an enormous liability in today's society. Puppy owners can help reduce and even stop puppy biting by discouraging rough games.

Understanding Learned Puppy Behaviors

While chewing, jumping and biting are natural behaviors that will most likely occur even without any encouragement, many behavioral issues start when dog owners unknowingly reward unwanted behaviors. Petting a dog while it jumps, scolding a puppy in need of attention or teaching a puppy to play with hands are all actions that encourage bad behaviors to persist simply because they are reinforced.


As opportunistic beings, dogs tend to repeat behaviors that are rewarded. It is very important for dog owners to carefully evaluate why any unwanted dog or puppy behavior persists.

Puppy crate training whining, for example, often continues because puppy owners give attention the moment the puppy whines. Unless the puppy is in a new home for the first few nights or has a physiological need, attention-seeking whining should be ignored. Some puppies, eager to get attention, may even enjoy negative attention simply because it is better than no attention at all!

In a similar fashion, many owners unknowingly encourage submission urination in dogs. Here is how it works...

Submissive urination is an appeasement signal. If the dog owner scolds for this behavior, the dog will feel more compelled to urinate to display even more submission. Dog owners who are too strict and assertive may ultimately reinforce submissive urination which quickly becomes a vicious cycle.

Self-Rewarding Puppy and Dog Behaviors

Many behaviors are self-rewarding simply because the dog finds them reinforcing on their own. For example, a teething puppy will find the act of chewing rewarding because it helps sooth sore gums.

Another behavior, digging, is rewarding because it allows dogs to find interesting things, such as roots, underground critters or previously hidden bones. A great way to stop dog from digging in an inappropriate area is by making the activity unpleasant. Some owners find that burying feces in favorite digging places may discourage digging.

Another extremely self-rewarding behavior is jumping over fences. Once over the fence, many dogs find many rewards in the form of freedom as a world of enticing sights and smells unveils beyond them. The best way to stop dog jumping fence to escape is by effectively managing the dog's environment in such a way as to minimize the chances for the behavior to continue.

Dog eating feces is another self-rewarding dog or puppy behavior. Why? Because many dogs find feces to be a... delicacy! Fortunately, there are various strategies to make feces no longer palatable to a dog's taste buds.

Serious Puppy and Dog Behaviors

While jumping, chewing and attention barking can be easily addressed by abiding to some guidelines, there are much more serious behaviors in dogs that may, at times, require the intervention of specialists in dog behavior.

Puppy separation anxiety is a common reason why many dogs are surrendered in shelters. Most puppies will learn to spend reasonable amount of time on their own, but some will not. So, while this condition is more common in young puppies, adult dogs are not immune from it. Because of the distress that puppies and dogs undergo upon being left alone, treating separation anxiety in dogs should not be delayed.

But, without a doubt, the most serious dog and puppy behavior problems you will have to deal with are due to aggression.

If your puppy or dog is suffering from dog to dog aggression, you may be eager to learn how to stop dog on dog aggression. But before you begin dealing with the problem, evaluate what causes these aggressive displays. Socializing your dog or puppy from a young age may help him get along better with other dogs but some breeds may be predisposed to developing inter-dog aggression once they reach maturity.

Growling is another behavior many owners complain about. Owners of aggressive dogs may wonder how to stop dog growling. However, it is important to realize that suppressing growling may be counterproductive and you need other ways of dealing with this behavior.

If you didn't find the behavior you are interested in, make a selection from the list below and click "Go".

How to Help Your Dog Succeed

Serious dog and puppy behavior problems may make the lives of dogs and dog owners miserable. Dogs with training and behavior problems are unfortunately often given up for adoption and, sometimes, even put to sleep. Dog owners must try their best to help their dogs succeed.

Following are general guidelines for successful behavior training that will help you modify your dog's behavior for the better.

  1. The younger your puppy is at the time you begin behavior training, the better your chances are of modifying his behavior.
  2. Many dog and puppy behavior problems are due to miscommunication between you, a dog owner, and your dog. In most cases, problems occur when a dog is not aware of what you expect from him.
  3. Deliver clear and consistent rules and make sure all family members follow them.
  4. Always be consistent and make sure your dog understands what you expect of him.
  5. Manage your dog's environment and set boundaries so to minimize chances for engaging in problem behaviors.
  6. Teach alternate acceptable behaviors to help put your dog up for success.
  7. Reward acceptable puppy behavior because all dogs enjoy engaging in behaviors that have a history of being rewarded.
  8. Ignore, if possible, unwanted behaviors. Lack of reinforcement may help extinguish problem behaviors.
  9. Allow ample of outlets for pent-up energy.
  10. Rule out potential medical problems which can be at the root of behavioral problems.
  11. Seek professional help for serious problem behaviors.
  12. Finally, make sure your dog understands who the leader is (hint: it's not him).

Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...

Final Thoughts...

Whether you are looking for solutions on how to stop dog from barking or ideas on how to stop dog marking territory, truth is, it is difficult to live with dogs once they develop behavioral issues. Dog training and behavior problems become much more difficult to eradicate once they are allowed to put roots.

It is best to nip dog and puppy behavior problems in the bud, especially when the issue is as serious as dog or puppy aggression. This is why owners must seek dog behavior training as early as possible to prevent dog and puppy behavior from becoming a quite difficult to manage problem.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you would like to learn more about dog behavior training in general or need more advice on how to change some specific behavior in your dog, I highly recommend you read and follow this behavior training guide. This is the book I often refer to when training my dog.


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