Dog Behavior Problems

Canine behavior problems are collectively the single greatest risk factor of relinquishment of dogs according to many studies. Undesirable or inappropriate canine behavior in domestic dogs causes great distress in owners, and is likely to destroy the owner-dog bond. Furthermore, approximately 50% owners give up their dogs because of canine behavior problems. Dogs are social animals which need social contact, playing, walking, and training. Play and exercise sessions should be a part of the daily routine, and insufficient play or stimulation can be an underlying cause for many behavior problems, including destructiveness. If dogs are not provided with sufficient mental and/or physical stimulations, they are less trainable and showing behavior problem which results in relinquishment. Sufficient exercise and training will also contribute to strengthening the owner-dog bond. To live a better life with their own pet and prevent relinquishment, it is also important to understand the behavior characteristics of dog breed. All breeds of dog have their own behavior characteristics, and those could be developed into unwanted behavior problems when environment does not satisfy animals' needs.

Excessive excitability is common among dogs with abundant energy, and is often seen in hunting or working breeds. If environmental stimuli and/or sufficient exercise and training are limited, dogs are likely to show excessive vocalization, the second most common behavior problem. Yet, in some cases, excessive excitability develops due to a medical problem.

Having a pet dog has numerous physiological and psychological benefits, particularly for children. For example, contact with companion animals has been suggested to enhance the development of children’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, injuries caused by dog bites are a problem amongst children. Statistics show that there are more than 4.7 million dog bites per year in the US. There is no data reporting the numbers in the whole of Europe but studies suggest that up to 10% of the population has suffered from dog bites in their lifetime.

Numerous studies have shown that children are more at risk of being bitten than adults, and that most victims are bitten by a familiar dog. Children may be expected to suffer from more serious injuries than adults. Since owning a pet dog has many benefits, it is important that solutions that allow children to interact safely with dogs must be found.

It is particularly important to focus on preschool children since younger children seem to be more at risk of being bitten than older children. The reasons why children are more likely to be bitten than adults is the way children interact with dogs. Children below the age of seven initiate interactions with dogs more often than older children, mostly to pet, hug or kiss the dog. In addition, children below the age of six are significantly more likely to misinterpret dog behavior than older children.

Aggressive behavior towards people might lead to death or serious injuries, and this behavior problem is considered to be the most serious behavioral-related reason for relinquishment and euthanasia. Dog bites have received much attention as a public danger as well as a current major public health issue.

Dogs are social animals which have a strong inherent desire to interact with their social group including human family members. Separation-related behavioral signs in dogs result from a strong social bond and hyper-attachment between dogs and their owners. Separation-related disorder is usually associated with a variety of factors including anxiety, fear, distress, frustration, and panic. This type of behavior can be controlled with medications and training.

Aggressive chihuahua


  1. Dog Bite Prevention: Effect of a Short Educational Intervention for Preschool Children
  2. Efficacy of dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) for ameliorating separation-related behavioral signs in hospitalized dogs
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