Dog Behaviors and What to Watch Out For

By Alisha Navarro

dog pulling on harness

Dogs are our best friends, but it can be hard to know what they’re feeling unless you speak canine (and if you do, can you teach the rest of us?). The good news is that your pup’s actions tell you a lot about their moods. Today, we’re covering some common dog behaviors that range from totally normal to serious, what they mean, and when you might need to bring your pup to a behavior specialist or trainer. 

Biting

Puppies are used to communicating with their mouths, so biting is a normal behavior as they’re learning how to communicate with you. Your pup probably nips you during play and will usually grow out of this habit. However, if your puppy is biting a lot, it’s time for targeted training. A cute puppy nip is one thing, but what happens when your puppy turns into a fully-grown adult? Their bites will become much more dangerous than playful. 

If you have an adult dog, there could be many reasons why they’re biting: fear, defensiveness, possessiveness, or instinct. No matter the cause, biting can be dangerous and you’ll want to train this behavior out of your dog as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you have a biter, know the warning signs: their ears will be pinned back, the hair on their back will stand up, and the whites of their eyes may show. 

Chewing 

Tired of coming home and finding out your dog chewed through another pair of shoes? If you have a puppy, they’re probably trying to relieve the pain of new teeth coming in or trying to explore their new environment. Give them a chew toy or bully stick to soothe their pain, and let them explore the home with you so you can put a stop to any destructive behaviors. 

If you have an older dog that’s wrecking chaos, they’re not chewing through your house and home because they enjoy the taste. More likely than not, they’re experiencing separation anxiety. If you’re having trouble helping your dog ease their nerves, it’s a good time to get training. 

Barking

Did you know your dog’s bark changes depending on their mood? Low pitched sounds, like a growl, indicate threats and will be used to ward off invaders. Your dog will use a higher-pitched sound when playing, welcoming you home, or asking for companionship.  If your dog’s barking is getting out of hand, you can practice “speak” and “quiet” commands. 

Aggression 

Aggression can be exhibited by growling, snarling, baring teeth, and lunging. Dogs can be aggressive for many reasons, including history of abuse, fear, or defensiveness. If you notice your dog has aggressive tendencies, take them to a behavior specialist right away. You should do everything in your power to protect others from an aggressive dog.

Understanding your dog’s behavior is the key to a happy and healthy dog, and training is a big part of eliminating unsafe or undesired behaviors. Did you know walking is one easy way to train your dog? Walking lets your pooch use up all that pent-up energy that may otherwise be used to dig, chew, or bark. To get the most out of your walks, try out a Freedom No-Pull Harness. It discourages dogs from pulling, giving you more control and making walks more enjoyable for both of you.

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