Dealing with your dog’s bad behavior


May is National Pet Month. We love our dogs, but sometimes they can exhibit not so desirable behavior. Richard and Vicki Horowitz of Bark Busters explain how to handle them. 


Barking is how a dog communicates. But in a human household barking can happen way too often as our dogs are trying to communicate with us and get our attention. We tend to miss the more subtle messages from our dogs, so they learn that people “need” to hear barks to respond.


Mouthing and nipping are behaviors that puppies and certain breeds exhibit. Unfortunately, people often don’t convey the message clearly that nipping is inappropriate. Many of our reactions unintentionally encourage more nipping.


Jumping begins as play behavior among puppies. Puppies jump on and wrestle each other to prepare themselves for adult life when they’ll have to figure out their place in the pack. While most people think that a dog is saying “hello” when it jumps up, it’s actually demonstrating its dominance. The dog is saying that the house is its and that it is making the rules—or, the dog may be challenging you to “play” for leadership. We often pat our dogs when they jump which just encourages them to do it more.

Running to the door

Answering the front door is another natural behavior, as the front door signifies entry to your dog’s den and the dog is inquisitive about who’s there and what’s happening. This doesn’t mean that barking and pushing should be tolerated. If you can’t have a conversation with a delivery person or welcome a guest into your home, you as the pack leader need to set boundaries. When dogs are allowed to make decisions for us (as in how to greet visitors), they tend to over react.


Digging is a normal behavior for dogs. Dogs dig in search of food, to investigate sounds and smells, to improve their shelter, or to escape. Digging can be triggered by boredom, separation anxiety, chasing rodents or bugs, and/or a nutritional deficiency.

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