Trainer reveals four of the most common canine behavioral problems and what to do about them

Jack Russell sat on sofa surrounded by stuffing from cushion
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you struggle with your dog engaging in problem behaviors? If so, you're not alone. Whether it's constant barking whenever they hear a noise, destroying your furniture when you're not looking, or counter surfing to steal their favorite longest lasting dog chew, it's easy to take your dog's challenging behaviors personally.

Yet according to expert dog trainer Liz Foley, your dog isn't deliberately trying to upset you. "Problem behaviours are simply communication. It’s not personal, it’s just instincts," she explains.

In a post shared to Instagram, Foley walks us through four of the most common issues dog owners struggle with, what they mean, and how you can improve things. You can check out her post below or keep reading as we reveal everything you need to know. 

1. Separation anxiety: Foley explains that your dog being anxious whenever you're apart is a signal that they both lack independence and aren't being given strong enough boundaries. "Try crating and place training," Foley advises.

2. Unable to settle: Do you have a dog who just won't sit still? It could be a lack of movement during the day that's to blame for them being so fidgety. "Your dog craves consistent and sufficient daily exercise," explains Foley. "Try 1-2 hour walks."

3. Pulling on leash: If your pup tends to walk you rather than the other way around, Foley says that it's important your fur friend knows who's boss. "Your dog needs leadership. Try changing your training tool and work on Follow the Leader."

4. Reactivity: "Your dog lacks confidence and needs more socialization," Foley explains when discussing reactive dogs who bark or lunge at every sight or sound. "Work on calm coexistence." 

And most importantly? Don't take your dog's behavior personally. "Your dog's behavior is just them letting you know a need isn't being met. Listen carefully."

If you feel your dog would benefit from some 1:1 support to help them learn the correct behavior that's expected of them, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for help. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.