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Understanding your dog’s behaviour: important tips and advice

Black and brown puppy dog advice
© Shutterstock

Communicating with your pet can be challenging sometimes. Since dogs can’t talk like you, you must learn to understand your dog’s behaviour.

By Daniel Mar

Effective communication begins with understanding. Dog act the way they do for a reason. There are causes and meanings behind every single dog’s action. As the owner and pet parent, it is your job to understand the most common dog behaviours.

The importance of understanding your dog’s behaviour

Dog owners often misunderstand common dog behaviours like barking or biting. If you misunderstand your dog, then you will respond to their claims in the wrong way. Here is a list of the most common dogs’ behaviours.

Barking

This is a classic dog behaviour, but different barks have different meanings. Dogs may bark, howl, and even whine. Excessive barking can be considered a behaviour problem. Generally, dogs bark to raise an alarm when they sense possible danger, or to indicate a new arrival. But other times, barks have different meaning like:

  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Seeking attention
  • In response to another dog’s bark
  • Acting playful
Bearded collie barking
A dog who barks can say a lot about its behaviour©Shutterstock

Panting

Dogs sweat through the pads on their feet. However, their body heat is always expelled through their mouth whenever they pant. This means that panting is the primary regulator of body temperature in dogs. It is, without a doubt, one of the most frequent dog’s behaviour. Sometimes, it can even mean that your dog is coping with pain or anxiety.

Chewing

When your dog is a puppy, he/she will want to chew on toys and other objects to relieve the discomfort of new teeth coming out. However, if your dog’s fully grown, and you still find your cushions, shoes or clothes ripped to shreds, then the problem is much more serious. This behaviour might be a sign of anxiety! You can train your dog to chew on toys instead of other objects but you also need to deal with the underlying cause of the behaviour.

Puppy corgi chewing
Cute Corgi chewing ©Shutterstock

Digging

Dogs love to dig. This is why digging is a very common dog’s behaviour. Vets believe that dogs dig because it is wired in their instinct. There are certain breeds more prone to digging because of their hunting ancestry. For instance, terrier breeds. Generally, dogs dig for these reasons:

  • Boredom
  • Excess energy
  • Hunting instinct
  • Hiding possessions
  • To escape or enter

Jumping up

Even though it looks like a playful dog’s behaviour, jumping up may be dangerous if directed to a child or an elderly person. By just systematically ignoring this behaviour, you can reduce it. Try turning around and leaving the room if your dog jumps up. If this is not successful, then you might want to try professional advice.

Chasing

Dogs like to chase objects simply because it’s written in their DNA. This predatory instinct is quite developed in some dogs. Generally, you may see how some dogs like to chase other dogs, people running or cars! Either way, any of these scenarios can lead to harmful consequences. You can’t really stop this dog’s behaviour but you can take steps to prevent danger. These require disciple and plenty of respect. You can:

  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Train your dog with a dog whistle.
  • Teach your dog to respond when called upon.

Separation related problems

This is perhaps the most common dog’s behaviour. It is a very complex problem that can manifest in different ways like barking, chewing, inappropriate urination and defecation among others. Your dog will exhibit these signs on a daily basis or only at certain times in the day. It is important to identify the underlying cause in order to solve the problem.

Inappropriate elimination

This is considered one of the most difficult dog’s behaviour problems. In fact, if this behaviour is not properly trained, it can lead to the damage to your house, plus it can render your dog unwelcome in public places. In order to solve this, you need to understand the various reasons why your dog might be doing this like:

  • Marking his/her territory
  • Anxiety
  • Too much excitement
  • Seeking attention
  • Boredom

Once you understand these behaviours, you are better equipped to recognize your dog’s needs better and faster. Just know that the meaning of your dog’s behaviour is the key to figuring out what the problem is.