Problem / Abnormal Behavior
Problem behaviors can also cause injuries, accidents, community disputes, and property damage. Owners of dogs with behavior problems often feel distress and guilt. They may be less attached to their dogs.
Problem behaviors can range from mild to severe or even dangerous. Genetics, illness, trauma, and lack of socialization and training can cause behavior problems. To protect dog welfare, caretakers must work to:
- prevent problems
- promote behavioral wellness
- effectively and humanely teach desired behaviors
- recognize undesirable behaviors early
- know when to get expert help
Learn more about how to prevent behavior problems and when to intervene. We’ll also help you find an expert if you need more help.
Dogs that go to the veterinarian regularly are at a lower risk of relinquishment. Dogs with behavior issues see the vet less often. Their owners are also less likely to follow their vets’ recommendations.
Patronek, G.J., Glickman, L.T., Beck, A.M., McCabe, G.P. & Ecker, C. (1996). Risk factors for relinquishment of dogs to an animal shelter. J. Amer Vet Med Assn, 209, 572-581.
Problem/Abnormal Behavior Library
Bare bones – If you only have a few minutes for the basics
SNACKS – If you want to learn more
Directory: Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Directory: Fear Free Veterinary Professionals, Practices, and Trainers
Directory: Low Stress Handling® Certified Facility and Pet Care Providers
Directory: Find Your Professional Trainer, Behavior Consultant or Pet Care Provider
Moving Beyond "Leader of the Pack"
The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
Overcoming Your Dog’s Fear of Everyday Objects
Directory: Find an Animal Behavior Consultant (IAABC)
Directory: Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant
Directory: Find an Animal Behavior Consultant (AVSAB)
How to Find a Trainer Who Won’t Harm Your Pet
Behavior Resources for Owners
Selecting a Behavior Consultant
Directory: American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Dominance Position Statement
Humane Dog Training Position Statement
How To Find A Qualified Trainer Or Behavior Consultant
Behavior Problem Solving
The Factors Involved in Dogs’ Fear of Strangers and Unfamiliar Dogs
Food Aggression: Ben Guards the Food Bowl
Dog Noise Phobia: An Introduction
Preventing and Alleviating Anxieties 101
Kibble – If you want to take a deep dive into the science
Prevalence, Comorbidity, and Breed Differences in Canine Anxiety in 13,700 Finnish Pet Dogs
Inadequate Socialization, Inactivity, and Urban Living Environment Are Associated With Social Fearfulness in Pet Dogs
Early Life Experiences and Exercise Associate With Canine Anxieties
Human Directed Aggression in Domestic Dogs (Canis Familiaris): Occurrence in Different Contexts and Risk Factors
Aetiology of Separation-Related Behavior in Domestic Dogs
Mortality Resulting From Undesirable Behaviours in Dogs Aged Three Years and Under Attending Primary-Care Veterinary Practices in Australia
Dominance in Domestic Dogs – Useful Construct or Bad Habit?
Training Engagement and the Development of Behavior Problems in the Dog: A Longitudinal Study
Using Principles From Applied Behaviour Analysis to Address an Undesired Behaviour: Functional Analysis and Treatment of Jumping Up in Companion Dogs
Survey of the Use and Outcome of Confrontational and Non-Confrontational Training Methods in Client-Owned Dogs Showing Undesired Behaviors
2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines
The Relationship Between Training Methods and the Occurrence of Behavior Problems, as Reported By Owners, in a Population of Domestic Dogs
The Epidemiology of Behavioural Problems in Dogs and Cats: A Survey of Veterinary Practitioners
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Aspects of Juvenile and Adolescent Environment Predict Aggression and Fear in 12-Month-Old Guide Dogs
Serpell, J.A. and Duffy, D.L. Aspects of Juvenile and adolescent environment Predict aggression and Fear in 12-Month-Old guide Dogs. Problem Behavior Recognition
Behavior of Laboratory Beagles Towards Humans: Assessment in an Encounter Test and a Simulation of Experimental Situations
Döring, D., Haberland, B.E., Ossig, A., Küchenhoff, H., Dobenecker, B., Hack, R., Schmidt, J., and Erhard, M. Behavior of laboratory beagles towards humans: Assessment in an encounter test and a simulation of experimental situations. problem behavior recognition
Consistency in Behavior: Evaluation of Behavior Tests in Laboratory Beagles
Döring, D., Haberland, B.E., Bauer, A., Dobenecker, B., Hack, R., Schmidt, J., and Erhard, M. Consistency in behavior: Evaluation of behavior tests in laboratory beagles. problem behavior recognition
Applications for Pet Families
Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?
Polsky, R. (2000). Can aggression in dogs be elicited through the use of electronic pet containment systems? Problem behavior recognition
Eight Tips to Help Fearful Dogs Feel Safe
Todd, Z. (2018). Eight Tips to Help Fearful Dogs Feel Safe. Companion Animal Psychology. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2018/08/eight-tips-to-help-fearful-dogs-feel.html.
Reactive Dog Behavior
Miller, P. (2022, December 1). Reactive behavior in dogs. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/training/reactive-dog-behavior/
How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark: Episode 1 - Barking at Noises
Dog Training by Kikopup. (2009, April 30). How to train your dog not to bark- episode 1 - barking at noises. YouTube. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g
Behavioral Euthanasia and Quality of Life Decisions
Heinrich, A. and Calder, C.D. (2023). Behavioral Euthanasia and Quality of Life Decisions. Cattle Dog Publishing on Veterinary Information Network. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.vin.com/cattledog/default.aspx?pId=26671&id=11378232&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=247479037&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_xoSPkhWHxhE4Uk6ckMI9T_WYWLjIhurKa5bJM8g2NDMlIxWwTBLXH5PD1u5dW3o4CurVvfnSMM8m9rRw6wh8u3t2wPQ&utm_content=247479037&utm_source=hs_email
Pet Owners’ Views of Pet Behavior Problems and Willingness to Consult Experts for Advice
Shore, E.R. and Burdsal, C. Pet owners’ views of pet behavior problems and willingness to consult experts for advice. problem behavior intervention
Owner Perception of Problem Behaviours in Dogs Aged 6 and 9-Months
Lord, M.S., Casey, R.A., Kinsman, R.H., Tasker, S., Knowles, T.G., Da Costa, R.E.P., Woodward, J.L., and Murray, J.K. (2020). Owner perception of problem behaviours in dogs aged 6 and 9-months.
Puppy or Not
Puppy or Not Trailblazing Tails. problem behavior recognition
How to Choose a Trainer Handout
How to choose a trainer . American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. problem behavior training experts
7 Prevention Tips for Parents
Trailblazing Tails. 7 Prevention Tips for Parents. problem behavior recognition
15 More Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs
Trailblazing Tails. (n.d.). 15 More Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs. Problem Behavior Recognition
Owner Reports on the Use of Muzzles and Their Effects on Dogs: An Online Survey
Arhant, C., Schmied-Wagner, C., Aigner, U., Affenzeller, N. (2020). Owner reports on the use of muzzles and their effects on dogs: an online survey. problem behavior intervention
Red & Green Lights in Training & Behavior Consulting
RED & GREEN LIGHTS IN TRAINING & BEHAVIOR CONSULTING. Fear Free Happy Homes. problem behavior experts
Top 15 Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs
Trailblazing Tails. Top 15 Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs. problem behavior recognition
Milestones. familypaws.com. problem behavior recognition
Owner Characteristics and Interactions and the Prevalence of Canine Behavior Problems
Jagoe, A. and Serpell, J. (1996). Owner characteristics and interactions and the prevalence of canine behavior problems.
Muzzle Up! Resources: Video Training Series on Youtube, Guides and Images, and Websites
Muzzle Up! Resources: Video Training Series on Youtube, Guides and Images, and Websites. The Muzzle Up! Project. problem behavior intervention
Is Your Puppy a Shark in Dogs’ Clothing?
Blumenfeld, H. Is your puppy a shark in dogs' clothing? Dog Adventures Northwest. problem behavior intervention
Why Would a Puppy Need to See a Veterinary Behaviorist?
Bergman, L. Why would a puppy need to see a veterinary behaviorist? VeterinaryPartner. behavior intervention problem
The MUZZLE UP! Project
Muzzle Advocacy, education, and training. The Muzzle Up! Project. problem behavior recognition
Grumble and Growl Zones
Grumble and Growl Zones. FamilyPaws.com problem behavior recognition
Active and Social Life is Associated With Lower Non-Social Fearfulness in Pet Dogs
Hakanen, E., Mikkola, S., Salonen, M., Puurunen, J., Sulkama, S., Araujo, C., and Lohi, H. Active and social life is associated with lower non-social fearfulness in pet dogs.
Familypaws.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.familypaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FPPE_SuccessStation_Handout_FINAL_H-1.pdf
Association Between Prospective Owner Viewing of the Parents of a Puppy and Later Referral for Behavioural Problems
Westgarth, C., Reevell, K., and Barclay, R. (2012). Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems. Veterinary Record.
The 5 Types of Supervision
Five types of supervision. familypaws.com. Problem Behavior Recognition
Dog and Toddler Safety
Dog and toddler safety. FamilyPaws.com. Problem Behavior Recognition
Dog and Baby Safety
Dog and baby safety . Family Paws.com. problem behavior
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
Prevalence of Behavior Problems Reported By Owners of Dogs Purchased From an Animal Rescue Shelter
Wells, D.L. and Hepper, P.G., (2000). Prevalence of behavior problems reported by owners of dogs purchased from an animal rescue shelter. Recognition
Human and Animal Factors Related to the Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats in 12 Selected Animal Shelters in the United States
Salman, M.D., New, J.G., Scarlett, J.M., Kris, P.H., Ruch-Gallie, R., and Hetts, S. (1998). Human and Animal Factors Related to the Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats in 12 Selected Animal Shelters in the United States. problem behavior recognition
Characterizing Unsuccessful Animal Adoptions: Age and Breed Predict the Likelihood of Return, Reasons for Return and Post-Return Outcomes
Powell, L., Reinhard, C., Satriale, D., Morris, M., Serpell, J., and Watson, B. Characterizing unsuccessful animal adoptions: age and breed predict the likelihood of return, reasons for return and post-return outcomes. problem behavior recognition
Identifying a Qualified Dog Trainer or Behavior Professional
Identifying a qualified dog trainer or behavior professional . Dr. Sophia Yin. Problem Behavior Expert
Improving In-Kennel Presentation of Shelter Dogs Through Response-Dependent and Response-Independent Treat Delivery
Protopopova, A. and Wynne, C.D.L. Improving in-kennel presentation of shelter dogs through response-dependent and response-independent treat delivery. Environmental Management Noise
Behavioral Problems of Dogs
Landsberg, G.M. and Denenberg, S. (2022). Behavioral Problems of Dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/behavior/normal-social-behavior-and-behavioral-problems-of-domestic-animals/behavioral-problems-of-dogs.
Health and Behavior Problems in Dogs and Cats One Week and One Month After Adoption From Animal Shelters
Lord, L.K., Reider, L., Herron, M.E., and Graszak, K. (2008). Health and behavior problems in dogs and cats one week and one month after adoption from animal shelters retire rehome
Early Recognition of Behaviour Problems in Shelter Dogs by Monitoring them in their Kennels after Admission to a Shelter
Clay, L., Paterson, M., Bennett, P., Perry, G., & Phillips, C. (2019). Early Recognition of Behaviour Problems in Shelter Dogs by Monitoring them in their Kennels after Admission to a Shelter. Animals, 9(11), 875. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110875
Problems and Management
Center for Shelter Dogs. (n.d.). Problems and Management. Tufts University: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://centerforshelterdogs.tufts.edu/dog-behavior/problems-and-management/.
Shy Dog Adopter’s Guide
Velez, M. (n.d.). Shy Dog Adopter’s Guide. Shelter Playgroup Alliance. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://www.shelterdogplay.org/_files/ugd/7c885c_2f9fe1f87ea24376912b6e0b18e41998.pdf.
Stress Reduction: Happy and Healthy Shelter Dogs
Bennett, S. (2016). Stress Reduction: Happy and Healthy Shelter Dogs. Maddie's Fund. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://www.maddiesfund.org/stress-reduction-happy-and-healthy-shelter-dogs.htm?p=topic1011.
Behavioral Rehabilitation of Extremely Fearful Dogs: Report on the Efficacy of a Treatment Protocol
Collins, K., Miller, K., Zverina, L., Patterson-Kane, E., Cussen, V., & Reid, P. (2022, June 30). Behavioral rehabilitation of extremely fearful dogs: Report on the efficacy of a treatment protocol . Applied Animal Behaviour Science - Elsevier. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159122001472?via%3Dihub&fbclid=IwAR1CwIFkXiOzrndxDufquTRQtv49b_7x7WW8WK4DzlqqJ8QGajAoscHPJP4
Breed Specific Legislation Position Statement
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is concerned about the propensity of various communities’ reliance on breed-specific legislation as a tool to decrease the risk and incidence of dog bites to humans. The AVSAB’s position is that such legislation—often called breed-specific legislation (BSL)−is ineffective, and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds.
The Effects of Exercise and Calm Interactions on In-Kennel Behavior of Shelter Dogs
Protopopova, A., Hauser, H., Goldman, K.J., Wynne, C.D.L., (2018). The effects of exercise and calm interactions on in-kennel behavior of shelter dogs. Behavioural Processes, 146, 54-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.11.013.
Reducing Dog Relinquishment to Rescue Centres Due to Behaviour Problems: Identifying Cases to Target with an Advice Intervention at the Point of Relinquishment Request
Powdrill-Wells, N., Taylor, S., and Melfi, V. Reducing Dog Relinquishment to Rescue Centres Due to Behaviour Problems: Identifying Cases to Target with an Advice Intervention at the Point of Relinquishment Request. Problem Behavior Intervention