Top Ten Most Annoying Dog Behaviors and How to Fix Them – Part Two

In part one of this series, we covered the behaviors of jumping up on people, drinking from the toilet, giving kisses, barking, and destroying your stuff. Now, we continue with the remainder of the top ten most annoying dog behaviors.

Humping your leg

No, this really doesn’t have anything to do with sex, although paradoxically, neutering your dog may help. Humping or mounting has more to do with dominance than with physical pleasure, and dominance is also under the control of testosterone which is why neutering can help your dog control himself. Early in your relationship, establish yourself and your fellow humans as the rulers of the roost in no uncertain terms so your dog doesn’t feel any need to try to establish his dominance.

Assuming you are either keeping your dog intact because you are a breeder or you have already neutered your dog and it didn’t help, here’s what you can do to curb the problem. If you’re okay with the dog humping something other than your leg, many dogs will be happy with a plush toy as a replacement.

If you’d rather your dog not rub against anything, you will need to train him enough that you can overcome his instincts. A firm, consistent “no!” every time he starts the behavior will go a long way. Make sure no one in your home thinks it’s “cute” or “hysterical” when he humps, so that no one lets him get away with it.

Finally, you may try to distract your dog when he gets that certain look in his eye. Provide some play time with a rope toy, throw a tennis ball for him to chase, or take him for a walk.

English Bulldog rear view
Scooting across your floor usually means his butt is itchy.

Scooting / Licking his hind end

Your dog’s rear end will itch typically for one of two reasons: it is dirty or it is wormy. The latter is fairly easy to check out with a quick trip to the vet. The former can be inferred from the fact that the dog uses his butt for the same thing you use yours for. You may think that this is an inevitable consequence of the absence of dog toilet paper. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

It’s just possible that the dog is unable to keep his rear clean because he is not receiving the proper diet. Just as certain foods will give you diarrhea, there are some foods that cause your dog to have Montezuma’s Revenge. If you are feeding commercial dog food, you may want to consider changing brands. If you give your dog lots of table scraps, you may want to find another type of treat. If you are making homemade dog food, try altering the ingredients. Make subtle changes, one at a time to see if your dog’s scooting improves.

Finally, scooting or excessive licking may be the result of impacted anal glands. You will usually be able to smell this problem, and can express the glands yourself or have your vet do it. If the problem continues, the anal glands can be removed without harm to the dog.

A little dog baring his teeth
Aggressive behavior should never be tolerated regardless of your dog's size.

Excessive Aggression

Unless you are training a guard dog, aggression is never acceptable. This is one of those behaviors that cannot be tolerated from the very beginning, as it can be dangerous to you, your children, and everyone else who comes into contact with your dog. If you have noticed any signs of aggression in your dog, you must take immediate action.

You may think that this means you should use the strongest discipline method possible, such as swatting your dog. However, when training a dog to eliminate aggression, it doesn’t help you if you become aggressive. That simply leads to an ever-increasing war to see who is superior.

If your dog is mildly aggressive, as shown by raised hackles, snarling or growling, try distracting him by calling him to another room or by throwing a tennis ball for him to chase. If that doesn’t work, try something more aversive like shaking a soda pop can into which you have placed a few pennies.

If possible, remove the source of the aggression by reminding your children not to tease the dog or keeping the cats in separate quarters from the dogs. This is not to imply that it is acceptable for your dog to be aggressive, but if you can stop the problem before it starts, so much the better.

If your dog is aggressive to the point where he is actually biting people, you must take immediate measures to assure that no one gets hurt. If this means using a muzzle full time, so be it. A muzzle is not inhumane, particularly when it means you can keep the dog rather than taking him to a shelter or having him put down.

Using a muzzle, however, doesn’t mean that you should give up on training your dog to reduce his aggression. You must convince your dog that you are the boss, making sure he obeys every obedience command you give him. If you need help, consult a professional trainer in your area. Once you have taught him the commands, you may be able to begin weaning him off of the muzzle, as he will follow your commands when you call him away from his intended victim.

Using your living room as a bathroom

Although some breeds are notoriously difficult to housebreak, just about any dog can be taught where it is appropriate to do his business. Obviously, a dog will not be able to faithfully wait interminably for you to let him outside, but this would more properly be classified as your problem rather than his.

It is much easier to train a puppy than an older dog, what with old dogs being unable to learn new tricks; however, the strategies presented below will work (eventually) for any dog.

First of all, confine your dog to a space where you don’t mind if he has an accident. This will prevent you from giving up on the whole idea or dealing with the dog too harshly when he does have an accident. A dog will generally not go to the bathroom where he has to sleep, which is the whole idea behind crate training. If you confine the dog to a properly sized crate, he will have nowhere to go to the bathroom other than in his sleeping space. Since he will resist this, he will be willing to wait for you to let him out.

And let him out you must. Puppies in particular have very small bladders and must be taken outside every 2 – 4 hours. That means EVERY 2 – 4 hours. Even in the middle of winter. Even in the middle of the night. Even when you have the flu. If you can’t commit to do this, don’t blame the dog!

Take the dog to a designated portion of your yard and simply wait for him to relieve himself. When he does, praise him like he’s done the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen. He’ll get the idea.

If you are paper-training, place your dog in an area about 3 – 5 times the size of the dog. Place his bedding at one end, toys in the middle, and newspapers at the other end. After the dog goes on the papers, remove the top layers, but leave the lower layers to retain the scent. Your dog will return to the scented area and go again next time, even though you may find it offensive. As your dog gets the idea, expand the dog’s area slowly.

Soon he will be able to go anywhere in the house, but return to the newspapers when he needs to relieve himself.

Dog looking longingly at raw chicken being prepared
Counter-surfing can lead to many a ruined dinner. Expensive and annoying!

Counter Surfing

This is primarily a problem for big dogs for whom the kitchen counters are at eye level. The easy solution is a baby gate across your kitchen door so the dogs cannot get in. However, you can train your dog to stay down, using the same techniques you would for any other behavior: distract, reinforce, and command.

Try to distract your dog when you see him thinking about jumping up on the counter. Shake a penny can, or throw a tennis ball. When he doesn’t jump on the counter, praise him and give him lots of attention. When he does get up on the counter, push him down and firmly tell him “no!” Finally, never, ever feed your dog scraps of whatever is on the counter. It will be impossible for him to distinguish when it is okay for him to counter surf and when it is not okay. He doesn’t know the difference between a $45 ham for your mother-in-law and a $2 burrito for your husband.

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Lol, I didn't know you did the Porkchomps dog although that does sound like stoimheng you WOULD do ha ha, I have stoimheng to brag about now (So what your uncle is Robin Williams? I know the guy that did the Porkchomps dog!)
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