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The Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems and How to Solve Them - Part 1

When properly trained, dogs make excellent family members who enrich our lives, while offering love, loyalty, companionship and protection. Unfortunately, behavior problems can develop that can hinder our appreciation or cause frustration. This 3-part article highlights 3 top behavior problems; excessive barking, biting, and jumping up on people and explains how to effectively correct each.

canine behavior problems, dogs, barking, excessive barking, Lori S. Anton

<b>A Word about Dogs, and One of the Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems; Excessive Barking</b>

Dogs are wonderful; just ask any one of the millions of canine owners world-wide. They make terrific companions, are loving, loyal, protective, entertaining, and obedient. Well, most of the time anyway.

As with humans, no dog is perfect – including my treasured poodle, Muffy. She is wonderfully calm and composed, especially considering her breed type. And she has been my best friend for nearly 14 years. Nevertheless, she has her faults. We all do.

That aside, it is important for new dog owners to understand the differences between dogs and humans. Recognizing the differences will help owners balance expectations and keep them realistic.

Some behavior is ingrained; inborn and common to the canine population. Their ways are not our ways. We cannot punish a dog for being a dog. It would be unrealistic, for instance, to expect a dog not to be inquisitive; not to sniff, not to defend its territory, or not to explore and “cut loose” in an open field. People who cannot accept normal dog behavior should not own a dog.

Other behaviors in dogs are learned – due either to past experience, or neglect on the human’s part. Case in point: a mother dog does not hesitate to teach her puppies acceptable social skills and proper manners. She will correct and discipline a pup when they need it.

We humans, however, take a puppy away from its disciplinarian – its mother – and adopt it into our home. When the puppy bites, nips at our hands, or chews on things that they shouldn’t, we hesitate to discipline him. Either because we think he is too small for discipline, or else too darn cute! It is only after the puppy gets older and a bad behavior pattern has set in that we decide something must be done.

When it comes to problematic canine behavior problems, three are most predominant: excessive barking, biting, and jumping up on people. In this 3-part canine behavior and modification training informational, we will address each behavior problem individually.

<b>Excessive Barking</b>

Dogs can bark excessively for different reasons: boredom, loneliness, and defying being left alone are among the top reasons.

You have some control over your dog’s boredom and loneliness. Besides providing warm shelter, adequate food, and an adequate supply of clean water, both dogs and puppies require entertainment and exercise to be happy and relieve boredom.

Playthings and chew toys made for dogs help to keep a dog entertained. Spending time with your dog playing and exercising him is also important. A happy, content dog is less apt to bark excessively.

When it comes to having to be left alone, however, your dog must learn to accept being alone without causing a ruckus. There is little more annoying to neighbors than being forced to listen to someone else’s dog bark nonstop.

If a dog barks excessively for no good reason, well-known dog obedience instructor and author, Jerry Climer, suggests that you walk up to him and close your hand around his muzzle; forcefully, but not enough to cause pain. Hold his mouth closed and command “Quiet!” If he tries to break away, be more firm and forceful. Hold his mouth shut and snap your finger sharply across his nose, commanding again “Quiet!” Once he has stopped the excessive barking and is silent, praise him.

When training a young puppy not to bark, place a short rope on his collar and let him drag it around the house. When he barks to alert you, let him bark once or twice, and tell him he’s a good dog. Then use the command “Quiet!” in a firm tone, while at the same time giving his rope a little jerk to startle him. Insist that he stop the noise immediately, and praise him the minute he becomes quiet.

Whether training a grown dog or a young puppy, discipline must be consistent in order to be effective. After the lesson has been learned, commanding “Quiet!” will be enough to bring peaceful silence.

We at <b>Savvy Dog Lover</b> care about you and your pet. In part 2 of this 3-part instructional we will discuss the problem of biting. Read part two, “How to Control the Canine Behavior Problem of Biting,” at

©2006 Lori S. Anton
Savvy Dog Lover editor


The Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems and How to Solve Them - Part 2

When properly trained, dogs make excellent family members who enrich our lives, while offering love, loyalty, companionship and protection. Unfortunately, behavior problems can develop that can hinder our appreciation or cause frustration. This 3-part article highlights 3 top behavior problems; excessive barking, biting, and jumping up on people and goes on to explain how to effectively correct each.

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<i>In part one of this 3-part instructional we pointed out that some canine behaviors are ingrained, while others are learned. We also highlighted successful ways to control excessive barking. In part 2 we will deal with effective techniques to stop biting.</i>

<b>Canine Behavior Problems: Biting</b>

According to the U.S. Disease Control Center in Atlanta, Georgia, about 1,000,000 people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of victims are children between the ages of 5 and 8; in most cases, the biting dogs were house pets.

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. Dogs may bite or display threatening behavior when they are angry, afraid, agitated, over-excited, or when challenged or seeking to protect.

The first thing to do when confronted with biting dogs is to discern “why” the dog behaved aggressively. If the dog was being teased or felt threatened, the problem may not be with the dog. Instead, fault may lie with whomever or whatever teased him or made him feel threatened.

Some dogs bite or snap at their caregiver’s hands when the caregiver tries to take something away from them. According to Barbara Woodhouse, internationally known dog trainer, canine behavior expert, and author of <i>Barbara Woodhouse’s Encyclopedia of Dogs & Puppies</i>, the best cure for such aggressive behavior is to “<i>return violence with violence</i>.”

<b>Effective Ways to Stop Biting Dogs</b>

When the dog attempts to bite, the caregiver should act swiftly by suspending the dog off his front legs by his choke chain; at the same time, scold in a violent tone of voice, “<i>No bite!</i>” The dog should be allowed back on his front legs only after he shows signs of discomfort (usually within 10 seconds). Once subdued; caress and praise him.

This process should be repeated every time the dog attempts to bite; he must be forced to respect your authority. While this type correction may sound cruel, it is not. Curing the dog of biting using this means is much kinder than having the dog sentenced to death in the gas chamber because of injuries inflicted on someone he bit.

Inexperienced caregivers may have a difficult time correcting their dog this way; if that is the case, the help of an expert dog trainer should be sought.

<b>Preventing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs that Leads to Biting</b>

Some dogs are so naturally protective of their owner they attack anyone who approaches, without being given a command. This can be quite dangerous. Allowing a dog to lunge toward people could very well lead to other aggressive behaviors, such as biting.

One of the best methods to prevent this type aggressive behavior in dogs is to take the dog among crowds – muzzled if necessary. Get people to touch him (muzzled), and give him a sound scolding if he attempts to attack.

Another effective method is to get someone who trains dogs to snatch him from you and really shake him (by his choke chain) when he shows signs of vicious behavior. He must be defeated, and then praised for submitting.

<b> What About Puppies that Bite?</b>

Puppies are notorious for biting and nipping during play. One mistake people often make with puppies that bite is to let them get away with it. Caregivers often think such behavior is cute and believe the puppy will naturally grow out of it without intervention. The reality is that such “innocent” biting and nipping can become a learned bad habit, difficult to break once the puppy is older.

Caregivers should address nipping and biting early on, instead of waiting until the puppy has grown and the problem more difficult to correct. Puppies are not like children; they are growing dogs. And dogs need training and an understanding but firm, consistent hand to teach them what is acceptable and what is not. Correction methods for young puppies that bite are different than methods for grown dogs.

<b> How to Handle Aggressive Behavior in Puppies</b>

When a puppy bites hard enough to hurt he must be corrected firmly. Say “<i>No bite</i>!” in a firm tone. If that doesn’t work, use what is called “the shakedown method,” which resembles what the mother dog does to her pup to keep order in the litter. Shake the puppy by catching hold of the loose skin of its neck on both sides under the ears. Repeat “<i>No bite</i>!”

Correcting aggressive behavior in puppies older than 12 weeks is done the following way: grab the puppy by the scruff of the neck with both hands, and lift him off his front feet, if necessary. Make the puppy look you straight in the face, and repeat “<i>No bite</i>!” If you sound angry enough, the puppy will understand.

This correction method must be consistent. If you permit a puppy to bite one time, but get annoyed and correct him the next, the puppy will become confused and will not learn effectively.

Puppies are especially likely to bite or nip children who play with them either for too long a period, or are too rough with them. When a puppy shows signs of being tired of being “mauled” during play, it is time to let the puppy rest. Put the puppy away in his box or pen, and instruct others to leave him alone and let him rest.

Under no circumstances slap a puppy or dog’s nose to discipline him; this is cruel, as well as ineffective. And always give plenty of love and praise for submissive behavior after correction has been administered.

At Savvy Dog Lover, we care about you and your pet. In part 3 of this 3-part instructional we discuss the problem of jumping. Read part 3, “How to Prevent Dogs and Puppies from Jumping up on People” at Savvy Dog Lover,

©2006 Lori S. Anton
Savvy Dog Lover editor


The Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems and How to Solve Them - Part 3

When properly trained, dogs make excellent family members; they enrich our lives, offer love, loyalty, companionship and protection. Unfortunately, behavior problems can hinder our appreciation of them or create frustration. This article is the last in a series of three, highlighting the 3 top canine behavior problems; excessive barking, biting, and jumping up on people, and offers expert advice on how to correct the behavior.

canine behavior problems, jumping up, dogs that jump up on people, train a puppy not to jump, training a dog, teach a dog not to jump

<b>How to Handle Dogs that Jump up on People</b>

In parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part series we discussed two canine behavior problems; biting and barking. In this 3rd and final article, we will discuss the problem of puppies and dogs that jump up on people.

Most puppies and many dogs have the habit of jumping up on people. This is actually their away of greeting people, and trying to reach the individual’s face. For puppies, the facial area is the chief point of contact between them and other dogs or people.

Dogs that jump up on people are annoying; jumping up can also cause injury, especially when children are involved. Although you might not mind your dog jumping up on you in greeting, it would be unfair and confusing to allow your dog to jump up on you, but then punish him for jumping on others. Therefore, care givers should teach a dog not to jump.

To teach a dog not to jump, be firm and consistent, but show no anger. A raised knee when the dog jumps and a firm <I> “No jump!”</i>, can be most effective in training a dog not to jump.

If this method fails to work, try holding the palm of your hand out so that when the dog jumps up he will bump his nose against it. At the same time command in a loud voice <i>“Down!”</i> Dogs have very sensitive noses and will not purposely risk many such bumps.

<b>How to Train a Puppy Not to Jump up on People</b>

The Monks of New Skete Monastery, Cambridge, New York, have been breeding, raising, and training dogs for more than thirty years. When it comes to ways to train a puppy not to jump up, they suggest kneeling and putting the palm of your hand flat out in front of the puppy’s face when you sense he is about to jump. This effectively blocks the jump; it also disposes him to respond to a sit command.

To give your puppy an alternative to jumping up when greeting you, crouch down to his level when he runs to greet you; guide him into a sitting position. Pet him and talk to him in greeting, telling him <i>“Good boy.”</i>

To train a puppy not to jump up when greeting guests, practice bring him up to people while on a leash. Lead him into a sit-stay several feet before reaching the person. Then have the individual approach. If the pup tries to jump toward the person, give the leash a quick jerk and order <i>“No jump!”</i>

Repeat the process until your puppy learns not to jump. Be firm but encouraging, and offer praise when he doesn’t jump. Of course, this procedure is effective only if the puppy already knows the commands <i>“Sit”</i> and <i>“Stay.”</i>

Training a dog not to bite, bark, or jump isn’t all that difficult. It just takes a firm but understanding hand, and a commitment to consistency. Every dog and puppy should, and can, be a joy to be around.

At <b>Savvy Dog Lover</b>, we care about you and your pet. This concludes our 3-part series on dealing with top canine behavior problems. Again, parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part instructional dealt with excessive barking and biting; both can be found at

©2006 Lori S. Anton
Savvy Dog Lover editor
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