terrier digging in garden, rear view
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Dogs really like to dig. You'll have to train Fido to get them to stop. When you catch them in the act say "no." Then distract them with a toy. It won’t help to scold them after they are done. You need to be consistent when they are digging, not afterward. Tip: Give them a sandbox where they can go to town. Bury some favorite toys and watch them have fun getting them out. Pile on the praise -- it will help them learn that they can dig all day in that spot.

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Guilty dog chewing woman's shoes
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Dogs, especially puppies, explore the world with their mouth. They like to chew because it calms them. But it destroys your stuff. Even worse -- they might eat something like a sock that could block their intestines. Break this habit now. Give them chew toys, and take away things they shouldn't gnaw on. If you catch them chewing something they shouldn’t, say “no,” replace the object with an approved toy, and praise them once they are chewing it.

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Dog begging at table
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There’s one surefire way to prevent this: Never give your dog food from the table. If they don’t get scraps, they won't learn to beg. You can take them out of the room while you eat or put them in their crate. Or teach them to go to a special spot and wait it out.

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woman praising dog
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Not Coming When Called

Always praise your dog when they come to you, whether you called or not. That teaches them that coming to you is good. Say "come" or "here." They may not understand what you want if you just call their name. If they don't come, don't chase them. Call them again while you move away. That might make them come after you. If they still don't show up, tell them to sit, and go get them.

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Border terrier straining leash
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Pulling on the Leash

Help your dog learn to walk calmly beside you. Never let them pull, or else they'll learn that doing it sometimes pays off. Keep the leash short but loose. Stop when you feel it go tight. They'll stop to see why you aren't moving. When they come back, reward them and keep walking. After a few days, they’ll figure out that pulling get them nowhere.

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Cocker spaniel puppy looking out the window
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Separation Anxiety

If your dog gets upset when you leave, teach them that you'll always come back. At first, leave them alone for just 5 or 10 minutes. Stay away a little longer each time. Give them a chew toy and leave on the radio or TV. Be calm when you go and return so they know that being alone is OK. Crate training can prevent this problem with some dogs. But it might not work with an anxious older dog. Ask your vet for advice.

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Man reading newspaper with dalmation
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Whining for Attention

Does your dog whine? If you pet them, look at them, or do anything except ignoring them, you teach them that whining works. To stop it, turn your back when they whine, fold your arms and look away, or leave the room. Pet and play with them when they aren’t whining.

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Spaniel barking at door
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Barking at the Door

To cut the barking, teach your dog a new habit. Pick a spot within sight of the door. Then teach them to lie down and stay when you say, "Go to your spot." That will help them stay calm and give them something to do while they wait to be greeted. Have a friend with a treat come to the door, but only open it when your dog is quiet. Do this enough and they’ll learn to chill out if they want that treat.

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German shepherd jumping up on woman
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It’s natural for a dog to greet people by jumping up. But that can scare away guests. Turn away if your dog jumps on you. Don't give your dog attention unless they have their front paws on the ground. Then you can greet and pet them. Or tell them to sit and wait until they do before you pet them. Try to keep your greetings low-key. That helps your dog learn to control their own excitement. Make sure they don’t bother or scare people who aren't used to them.

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Dog nipping at businessman's heels
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Any dog can bite if they feel threatened or nervous. But socializing a dog early teaches them to feel relaxed around people. Gradually expose them to different settings so they will feel safe. Spend lots of time with them so they learn to trust people. Always watch for signs that your dog is uncomfortable and then do what you can to make them feel better. Be especially careful around kids and food. If despite your efforts your dog is a biter, see your vet or your pet's trainer for help.

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Jack Russell terrier baring teeth
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A hostile dog is usually one that’s afraid or nervous. Work with a professional trainer to learn how to teach your dog to rely on you in a healthy way. Never leave an aggressive dog alone with children or unfamiliar adults, even if you think they aren’t likely to hurt anyone. You may need to muzzle them in public.

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Dog barking by gate
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Barking All the Time

Some dogs bark at things others ignore. Some bark when they're frustrated. Don't yell at your dog when they bark. That could make it worse. Obedience training can help fix frustration barking. If your dog learns to sit before they do something fun like going for a walk, they’ll learn to control their impulses. If they are outside all day, bringing them inside for a couple of hours could help. But you may need to work with a vet or a trainer.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/19/2021 Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on July 19, 2021


(1) Jo Sax / Stone
(2) Terry J Alcorn / iStockphoto
(3) Chris Amaral / Digital Vision
(4) Dana Hursey Photography / Workbook Stock
(5) Tim Graham / Getty Images
(6) George Disario / Flirt
(7) SAKIstyle
(8) Gerard Brown / Dorling Kindersley
(9) Getty Images
(10) GK Hart / Vikki Hart
(11) Jim Corwin / Photographer's Choice
(12) Bill Deering / Taxi


ASPCA: "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Whining,"  "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Barking," "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump Up on People," "Dog Walking 101," "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Teaching Dog Not to Pull on Leash," "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called," "Virtual Pet Behaviorist: Begging at the Table."

AVMA: "What You Should Know About Bog Bite Prevention."

Dog Channel.com: "Dogs that Dig," "Dog Digest: When Chewing Becomes a Problem," "Preventing a Dog Chewing Problem."

The Merck Veterinary Manual: "Behavioral Problems Associated with Canine Aggression," "Other Canine Behavioral Problems."

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on July 19, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE VETERINARY ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your pet’s health. Never ignore professional veterinary advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think your pet may have a veterinary emergency, immediately call your veterinarian.