Educational Information
Problem Behavior



Q. Is it natural for dogs to bark? 
Yes, barking for dogs is like talking is to humans. Barking is only a problem when it is excessive, persistent, or inappropriate.

Q. What are some of the reasons that dogs bark?
Dogs bark for many reasons. These include to seek attention, to defend their territory, to alert others to danger, to call for company, boredom, loneliness, excitement, or to greet their owner.

Q. How can excessive or persistent barking be controlled? 

  • Obedience training- Enroll in an obedience training class that will help teach your dog to bark on command, as well as the "Quiet" or "Stop" command.  
  • Exercise and walk your dog on a regular basis- This will make sure his needs for physical and mental stimulation are being met, and help alleviate any boredom, he may have. Also, if you are going to be away from home for long periods of time, consider hiring a dog walker.
  • Don't leave your dog outside all day while you are gone, or all night while you sleep- Your neighbors will thank you. 
  • Use a deterrent sprays and/or collar- For example, the ABS Anti-Barking collar sprays a mist of Citronella into the air when your dog barks. Most dogs hate the scent of Citronella and stop barking.  Another simple method is to fill a spray gun or water pistol with a mixture of seven parts water to one part lemon juice or distilled white vinegar. Spray the water pistol on your dog when he barks inappropriately.
  • Remove or mask the stimulus that triggers the barking- Close curtains or blinds, or put your dog in a room where he will not be observing the neighborhood all day long.Turn on a radio to mask (outdoor) sounds that may trigger barking.
  • Use the distraction/diversion methodPlace some coins in an empty can. Rattle the can when the dog barks to create a momentary distraction.
Visit your vet, if necessary- if your dog's barking is sudden and out of character, he may be ill, and need to visit the vet. 




Q. Should I ever feed my puppy from the dinner table?
A. Absolutely not! Once you start this practice you will be teaching your puppy to beg at your table for the rest of his life by whimpering and whining.. In effect, you will be rewarding the undesired behavior (begging for food.) This undesired behavior will become very annoying, especially if you have dinner guests.  

Q. How can I avoid having my pup beg for food? 
A. 1. Establish a special place in your home for your dog to eat that is away from the family dining area. Be consistent and always place his food and water there. 2. Do not allow your dog in the family dining area during mealtimes. One way to do this is to teach your dog to lie down in his favorite spot while you eat. Another way to do this is to place your dog in another room or area in your house (completely inaccessible to the family dining area) while you eat.

Q. Can I ever give my puppy "people food" such as table scraps?
A. The decision is up to you, but please keep in mind that in general giving dogs people food may cause your dog to get an upset stomach.




Q. Why does our pup bite or nip?
A. Biting or nipping are natural behaviors for puppies who are investigating, experimenting, and learning about their world.

Q. How can we stop or inhibit our pup from biting or nipping? 
A. First of all never let your pup play with your hands or feet. While it may be fun, you will be teaching your pup that it is OK to bite your skin. Below are some techniques or methods to teach your pup not to bite or nip when he trys:

  • Method 1-The YELP or CRY METHOD-Whenever your pup bites , cry out in a high pitched sound, "OUCH" or "AWRP", like you are hurt, and stop all play. This sound should be sudden and sharp and similar to the sound that a littermate would make if bitten. Your pup will learn that biting or nipping may hurt you, and is a no-no that will end his attention and playtime. 
  • Method 2-CHEW TOY REDIRECTION-When your pup bites or nips, immediately replace your flesh with a chew toy.
  • Method 3-NOSE TAP METHOD-When your pup starts to bite your hand, make a flat (vertical) hand and press it against his nose so there is not much flesh to bite on. Use a finger from your other hand to tap or flick your pup's nose while saying in a firm tone of voice,"NO BITE."
  • Method 4-STARTLE METHOD- Rattle a shake can (an empty soda can with coins) to startle your pup when he bites. A water bottle (or bottle filled with mild vinegar solution) may also be sprayed.Stop all play. Walk away.
  • Method 5-COMBINATION METHOD-Use a combination of one of the above methods. Consistency is the key to success!

Q. Do humans ever encourage their pups to bite or nip?
A. Absolutely. Humans often teach their pups to bite or nip by teasing them with a toy and then pulling the toy away, or by playing by waving their hands in front of a pup's face. Finally, people may play "tug of war" with an untrained pup.




Q. Why do pups chew?
A. Chewing is a natural behavior that pups engage in to investigate and learn about their world. Chewing also helps to relieve teething pains as well as anxiety, boredom, and loneliness. 

Q. How can I prevent or control destructive or inappropriate chewing? 

  • Puppy proof your home.-In the area where you keep your pup, put away items that you don't want chewed such as socks, shoes, clothes, plants, etc. Don't ever give a pup old shoes or socks to chew on, unless you want them to later chew on your Sunday best shoes.......pups can't tell the difference between your old and new items since they look the same.
  • Provide proper puppy supervision.-The most serious chewing damage usually occurs when pups have an unsupervised run of the house. Pups need monitoring, and shouldn't be left unsupervised. If you're going to be away from home, confine your pup to a small room with safe chew toys, and a bone to chew, or possibly a crate ( if your absence will be for a very short time.)
  • Create a puppy toy box.-Set up a sturdy, plastic toy box full of safe chew toys. Place the box in your location of choice. Encourage your pup to pull out his favorite toys to chew on. Rotate the toys to maintain his interest.
  • Correct and redirect inappropriate chewing-Correct your pup when you "catch him in the act" of destructive chewing. Startle him by clapping your hands and saying "no". Take the object away and redirect him by offering him a suitable alternative like a chew toy, a nylabone, or a "Kong" (a rubber toy that has an opening for food). Give appropriate praise when he complys.
  • Use the deterrent (bad taste) method to chewproof your home.- A bad taste, flavor, or aroma, often inhibits your pup's desire to chew. Some products that can be used on items (furniture, etc) to deter chewing include Grannick's Bitter Apple lotion, Dr's Foster and Smith Chew Stop, Mexican or Chinese pepper sauce, tabasco sauce, Listerine, citronella, and alum powder (paste).
  • Use deterrent sprays.- When you observe inappropriate chewing say "no", and spray your pup with a water pistol, or squirt bottle containing bitter apple or water and vinegar.
  • Provide sufficient exercise and play- Physical exercise and play will help your pup burn off energy, and relieve boredom.
  • Make your departures and arrivals quiet and low key events.- This will help to avoid separation anxiety, whining, and destructive chewing.

Q. What should I do about teething?  
A. Teething occurs when new, permanent teeth cut through a pup's gums. This makes the puppy's mouth sore and itchy, which contributes to destructive chewing. To address this problem place damp (squeezed) wet wash clothes in your freezer overnight. The following day give them to your pup to soothe and numb his sore mouth. Giving your pup some ice cubes may also help.




Q. Why do dogs dig?

  • It is natural for dogs to dig. After all, digging is an instinctual activity passed down from our dog’s wolf ancestors who dug to hide food or  provide shelter for their pups. Also, dogs dig :
  • to have fun, explore, or burn off energy
  • to make a nesting spot
  • to create a cool spot to rest
  • to bury or dig up a bone
  • boredom, isolation, frustration, or separation anxiety

Q. How do I prevent digging? 
A. Consider the following measures to prevent or stop digging:

  • don't leave your dog unattended in the yard for lengthy periods of time.
  • make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
  • set up a special place (a dig zone) where your dog is allowed and encouraged to dig, such as a child-sized sandbox, a kid's pool filled with sand, or a sandpit.  Bury some of your dog's favorite chew toys and treats there. Place a few biscuits near the surface. Then encourage and train your dog to dig in the approved area.
  • to deter dogs caught in the act of digging (in the wrong location), consider squirting your dog in the back with water from a squirt bottle, or shake or rattle a pop can filled with a few pennies. 
  • as a last resort, consider sprinkling or spraying red pepper flakes, citronella, or penny royal oil, on areas that are off limit to digging. 



Separation Anxiety

Q. What is separation anxiety?
A. Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become anxious or stressed when their owners leave them. Most dogs love their owners and miss them when they are away.
Dogs may become lonely, bored, or stressed, especially if their owners are gone for extended periods of time. Dogs who come from shelters, or puppy mills, in particular are prone to separation anxiety as they may have previously experienced abandonment. It is estimated that approximately 15 % of the dogs in the United States suffer from separation anxiety.

Q. How can separation anxiety be prevented or controlled?

  • Gradually desensitize your dog to being left alone. Make your departures and arrivals quiet and low key events- a normal part of their day. Never make a big fuss when leaving or coming home.
  • Make sure that your dog gets enough exercise. Dogs with 30-45 minutes of activity twice a day are much less likely to get separation anxiety.
  • Leave bones, toys, or a Kong ( a rubber toy with food inside) to occupy your dog when you are gone. Make sure that your dog has a comfortable bed to lie in, and relaxing music to listen to. 
  • Avoid leaving your dog alone all day. Have a friend or neighbor stop by and visit your dog, if you will be away for an extended period of time. Another option is to hire a dogwalker, or take your dog to a doggie daycare.
  • Use Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAPs). DAPs or electrical plug in diffusers that dispense the DAP pheromone have been found in clinical trials to be effective in about 75% of cases in reducing separation anxiety. The plug in diffusers can be purchased in pet stores or pet product catalogs.
  • Use anti- anxiety medications, if necessary. Your vet may prescribe anti anxiety meds such as fluoxetine in certain cases.
  • Consider getting a second dog. Another dog may provide the companionship that your dog needs when you are away.
  • Spend enough quality time with your dog each day. Dogs are much less prone to become stressed or anxious if their human family members spend appropriate quality time with them on a daily basis.


Tom Rimmer & Young at Heart Cotons © 2015