The 7 Most Common Dog Behavior Issues and What You can Do About Them

Jul 15, 2020     |      Sophie's Circle

A beagle puppy chewing on a hiking bootOur amazing families who adopt or foster a dog often ask us how to correct the seven most common behavioral issues. Training your dog to understand how to behave in your home and with your family takes an adjustment period. However, with patience, consistency, and some added time during those initial weeks, your dog will begin to develop into that new best friend you imagined he could be! 

Of course, before we address specific unwanted behaviors, there are some preventative measures you can take that work to reduce all unwanted behaviors. By properly exercising him, your dog will no longer have as much nervous energy to get into trouble. Remember, dogs like to stretch their legs and they love to be with you. Take him on a couple of long walks per day and allow him plenty of potty breaks throughout the day. While at home or in a pet-friendly space, keep him on a leash by your side at all times to maintain better control over his actions. You can wrap a long training lead around your waist to free up your hands. When you have to leave him for short periods of time, place him in an appropriately sized crate. Once trained and no longer required to be on lead in the house, this crate will become his safe space where he will likely begin to go voluntarily when he wants some alone time. Also, commands should always be given in a serious and lower-pitched tone. There is no need to yell as your dog can probably hear you, but high-pitched sounds indicate playtime and will make him excited instead of paying attention to your command.

Chewing, Nipping, Jumping, & Whining
Thankfully, the correction is the same for chewing, nipping, jumping, whining, and a variety of other unwanted behaviors. Start by talking with your vet about toys and long-lasting chewing treats that are healthy for your dog as an alternative to your furniture, shoes, or kids' toys. Avoid toys that can splinter, result in choking, or cause digestive issues. At home, be sure to pick up any tempting kids' toys, shoes, and other distractions whenever possible. With your dog always on lead by your side, you will be able to reward him immediately whenever he performs a good behavior such as chewing on his toys instead of the furniture and staying calm instead of whining or jumping. As soon as your dog begins to exhibit a wanted behavior, give him lots of praise and a piece of his kibble as a reward. Should your dog begin to chew on something else, jump, nip, or whine for attention, give a verbal low-pitched stern command like "Leave It!", "Down", or "Sit!". You can also use a clicker or bean shaker together with the command to grab his attention. Follow the command up with distracting him with one of his toys. It is important to keep his rewards out of his reach yet handy for a quick grab for wanted behaviors. To keep his interest in his toys, you can try rubbing flavors in it such as peanut butter or letting him use a rotation of toys including puzzle toys with treats. By staying consistent with this process, he will soon discover what he can do to receive a reward.

Not Coming When Called or Pulling on the Leash
Since your dog is on a slack leash with you at all times whenever possible, you can use that time to practice his coming over to you and not pulling on the leash. It is helpful to note the leash must always be slack unless you are using a leash correction or he is in danger. Otherwise, your dog will instinctively fight against your pull to try to break free. The purpose of the extended training leash is to keep your dog nearby where you can offer praise for good behavior and distract him when he is performing an undesired behavior. When you notice he has wandered away until the leash is starting to tighten, call him by saying his name and the command "Come" in a low stern voice. One command is all it should take. As soon as he responds, give him lots of praise. If he does not come over towards you after the one command, grab a favorite toy or treat to encourage him to come. Then, give him lots of praise. During praise, you can use a higher-pitched voice, pets, and treats. This makes following your commands fun! Plus, following the same process with the command "Heel" can prevent your dog from pulling on the leash while on walks.

Accidents in the House
Often times, potty training is a matter of timing and rewarding his using the right location with lots of praise and treats. By giving your furry friend more frequent trips outside and monitoring each trip to ensure he has peed each time and pooped either just before or after a meal, you will reduce the risk of accidents in your home. When you cannot be home in time, try using a nearby dog walker like those found on or a doggy daycare service where he can socialize and have frequent potty breaks. 

Therefore, with a few clear commands couple with consistently using the above positive training techniques, you can teach your dog to ditch the negative behaviors and seek out the rewards instead. If you are ready to embark on a new training schedule with your own rescued dog, search our adoption page for the cutest faces in town! You can adopt, foster, or donate as well as spread the word for us on social media with your friends and family about Sophie's Circle and our efforts to keep dogs and owners together in times of need. Together, we can make a difference!