Common Behavior Issue

The Dog’s Perception vs. The Owner’s Perception

The Dog’s Perception
Every behaviour the dog exhibits involves some sort of reward for him

Your dog is not chewing the couch every day because he is mad at you for leaving him along while you are at work.

His destructiveness is not to punish you for anything you did or did not do.

Frequently behaviour such as destructiveness is a tension releasing action. You dog may be stressed or bored.

Since dogs do not hold in their negative feelings, tension releasing behaviour involves a reward system comparable to our blowing off steam.

The Owner’s Perception
For behaviour modification to be successful, you must abandon the idea that your dog “knows better”.

If your dog knew better, he would discontinue the behaviour that gets him in trouble.

Many dog owners have difficulty absorbing this concept.

They perceive the dog as “understanding every word I say”, interpreting the dog’s submissive body posture as “guilt”.

Barking in the Crate

Dogs confined in a crate may begin barking to be let out. If the dog is let out when he starts barking, he is being rewarded for the behaviour.

To stop the dog from barking in the crate, and to teach him to respond to the command “quiet”, you may take half a glass of water and toss the water directly in the dog’s face as you say “quiet”.

The tone of voice should be a normal command tone, not yelling.


Begging food from the dinner table is easy to teach a dog, and, once learned, is a hard habit to break.

The cure for begging problem involves using training. The dog is taught the Down on command, and Long Down.

He is placed on a Long Down by the owner’s side at the dinner table.

The owner must be prepared for many interruptions initially, to reinforce your dog’s Long Down each time he gets up.


Dogs jump on people as a form of greeting, in an attempt to get close to the person’s mouth.

One of the ways in which dogs greet each other is by licking the lips and mouth of a returning family member.

Another reason is play.

Many owners encourage jumping on them during roughhousing, chase games or retrieving.

If this is the case, and the owners are objecting to the behaviour at other times, they must be consistent in discouraging jumping.


There are a variety of reasons dogs chew.

One is a physiological need associated with teething. When puppies reach a certain age, they must chew. If they don’t have anything to chew on, they’ll find something – even doors and walls. This need peaks between six and ten months of age.

Another possible cause of chewing is due to a nutritional deficiency. Dogs may even chew up rocks in order to get some minerals which are lacking in their diet. When this happens, adding the needed minerals in the dog’s diet will eliminate the problem.

Chewing can also be an action specific energy behaviour. When the dog eats, the behaviour specific to eating is released.

If his diet is highly concentrated, the amount of time spent eating may not be sufficient to expend this energy. The left over energy results in chewing after eating. The remedy is to provide the fog with a marrow bone.

The main reason dogs chew is because of boredom, frustration or lack of exercise. A dog left to his own devices all day may find unacceptable ways to amuse himself.

Remember, if a dog is feeling tense and frustrated, he will not hold these feelings in – chewing is one release.


Digging is a behaviour problem with many possible causes.

In order to correct the digging problem, you must find out and understand the reasons behind the behaviour.

Showing the dog the hole and chastising him will neither prevent nor cure the problem.

Instinctive Digging:
– Terriers and terrier mixes have been bred for generations to dig. This is instinctive behaviour and the reward is the satisfaction of that instinct.

– Pregnant females will dig to make a nest in which to have their puppies. If she is provided with a whelping box with rags or newspapers to tear up and dig into, this behaviour can be channel led so it is not destructive.

– Dogs will dig to bury bones. This is instinctive caching behaviour.

– Dogs dig when they are hot. A dog will find a nice shady spot and dig down to some damp earth to lie on. He is making himself cooler, and that is rewarding.

– Many dogs like to mimic their owners, called allelomimetic behaviour. When they watch their owners garden, they want to try it too. This is instinctive behaviour, and is rewarding to the dog.

– Some dogs that are penned up, try to dig out of the pen. A male may smell a female in season, or a rabbit, and dig to get to the source. This , too, is instinctive, and his freedom is his reward.

If the dog is digging to cache bones, the owner can prevent this by not giving him bones. If it is to find coolness, a kiddy pool or hosing off will help. If the female is making a nest, Providing her with her own place to nest is sufficient. If the dog is imitating his owners in the garden, the owner can leave him in the house when gardening. If he is a terrier digging to find rabbit or chipmunk, the owner would do best to provide him with an area to exercise his instincts, where holes won’t be a problem.

Other Reasons:
– The most common causes of digging are non instinctive – boredom, frustration and loneliness. If a dog is isolated in the yard for hours on end, he releases his frustrations in any way he can. This often means digging – usually near the house, by the stairs, or around the foundation. The reward in this case is the release of tension.

– If the cause of the problem is boredom or frustration due to isolation, then the prevention and cure are for the owner to stop putting the dog in a position of being isolated and ignored. The problem is prevented by making him part of the family, giving him a function and teaching him to be a contributing member of the household. Obedience training, exercise and attention will go a long way toward preventing digging.