At All Dogs Unleashed, we believe that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, but there’s certainly bad behavior. More importantly, your dog’s behavior is a form of communication. It’s useful to learn what your dog’s unwanted behavior is telling you—and what to do about it.

She’s Afraid or Anxious

More often than not, some of the most frustrating unwanted behavior stems from a dog’s sense of fear or anxiety. For example, a dog with separation anxiety might bark incessantly when you’re trying to leave the house without her. A dog that is easily startled might eliminate in the house when she hears loud noises.

Unfortunately, fear and anxiety can also lead to dangerous or frightening behaviors like growling or biting. It’s always important to provide training and a sense of safety for anxious dogs, but fast action is a must if your dog’s fear turns to aggression.

She’s Feeling Threatened

Some dogs can become territorial over your home and yard, certain members of your family, or specific toys. A territorial dog feels threatened when someone else, whether that’s a stranger or a four-legged critter, gets too close to their chosen object or person.

A territorial dog might “mark” the walls, floors, or furniture after a new pet is introduced to the household. She might growl or lunge at people if they pass your yard. When you don’t curb that sense of ownership in a territorial dog, they can become extremely unpredictable, exhibiting good behavior one moment and bad behavior the next.

She’s Bored or Excited

Dogs can start to act out when they’re under or overstimulated. A bored and under-stimulated dog might start digging holes in the garden or tearing up your favorite shoes. Because she doesn’t have any direction for all of that physical and mental energy, she’s going to make her own fun—at your expense!

An excited and overstimulated dog might jump on people, bark at other dogs, or take off after squirrels. Though this behavior often comes from a “good” place, it’s not always desirable or safe. It also means that when there’s a lot going on around your dog, she’s no longer paying attention to your commands or expectations.

Could Bad Behavior Indicate Health Problems?

There are some behaviors, like indoor elimination or growling and biting, that can indicate a health problem. For example, if your dog is having digestive issues, she may not be able to wait until she gets outside to go. If she’s in pain, she may growl or bite when you try to touch her. If your dog’s unwanted behavior seems to have come out of the blue with no external trigger (like a new dog in the house or a drastic change in routine), talk to your vet about possible medical issues.

Now that you know that your dog’s unwanted behavior is telling you something, what can you do? Learn more about our training programs at All Dogs Unleashed and start replacing bad behavior with great training!