Here are the most common behavioural issues, why they happen, and what to do if you catch your dog creating mischief.
Urinating While Excited
This is not exactly a bad behaviour as it's an uncontrollable act. Some dogs, especially puppies, have the tendency to urinate after getting excited to see you when you come home. The excitement from guests coming over to your house can also cause your dog to exhibit this same behaviour. You will need a lot of patience as well as some form of training to curb this behaviour.
If you live in a private estate, and when you come home, open the door for your dog to go outside to urinate and when he comes back in, praise him and give him a treat. Your dog will get used to urinating outdoors whenever you come home and this will reduce indoor messes,
The only way to stop your puppy from getting overly excited when guests come over is to get him to socialise with lots of different people frequently. The excitement of being around new people will eventually subside and you dog will no longer be over-excited when guests come over.
However, this is not a sure-fire fix to the problem. Every dog is different and you may need to keep trying new ways to curb this behaviour.
Chewing Up The Furniture
Dogs love chewing by nature, but they are also fast learners so it is important to place boundaries early so that your dog will know what he should and should not chew.
Buying your dog his own chew toys will help your dog understand this. In this way, you are providing an alternative object for him to chew on and teaching him that the chew toys are the only things he should chew.
Never give your dog any of your old objects to use as chew toys. Although you may not be able to smell it, your scent will still be on that object and your dog will think that all objects with that scent are chew toys. This will confuse your dog greatly and make training a whole lot more difficult.
Always buy your dog his own toys. Make sure your dog has its own enclosed area that has all its toys and necessities, and make this area should be his personal area. You can place him there when you are unable to supervise him or when you are still training him not to chew furniture.
Puppies that are "teething" will exhibit more biting and nipping behaviour. Although they usually do not cause much harm, such behaviour must be discouraged at a young age, lest they continue biting well into adulthood.
When your puppy bites you, react with a high-pitched "no", or "ouch", or even yelp if you can. This is similar to a mother dog's reaction when a puppy bites. Leave the room for a few minutes and this will send the message to your puppy that if he does not play nice, no one will play with him.
Even if his behaviour improves, do not stop training him. Even light bites or nips should be discouraged. Only reward and praise him when he stops biting and using his teeth on you completely. You can only enrol your dog in an obedience class when he is six months old.
This will allow him to socialise with other dogs and teach him the differences between human boundaries and dog boundaries when playing.
Marking His Territory
Marking his territory is much different from urinating. If you find a large puddle of urine on the floor, it is more likely that your dog had an in-house accident. Dogs usually mark their territory by spraying a small amount of urine on upright surfaces like doorways and table legs.
Dogs are more likely to mark furniture that is new or smells unfamiliar.
If your dog is not neutered or spayed, he is more prone to have the urge to mark his territory. Dogs who feel insecure or threatened by new dogs or dogs living in the neighbourhood may also start marking their territory. One way to stop this behaviour is to spay or neuter your dog if he is not already.
If your dog is already spayed or neutered but still marking territory, you should try close supervision to break his habit. Confine your dog to one area of the house and make sure he is not able to get out of this area by barricading him with baby gates.
Prepare a shaker can, which is basically an empty plastic bottle filled with several coins or stones. Tape over the opening of the bottle so that the contents do not fly out when you shake it. When you see your dog sniffing or preparing to mark its territory, pick up the bottle.
When your dog lifts his legs, shake the bottle quickly. The noise will get your dog's attention and interrupt what he is doing. Next, try and divert his attention by throwing him a ball or playing a game with him.
Make sure you closely supervise him for a few days or until he stops marking his territory completely. This is one of the most effective methods to stop dogs from marking their territories, apart from spaying and neutering.
Shower him with praise when he marks his territory outside your house, on a tree or fire hydrant. You should send him the message that marking his territory is fine as long as he does not do it in the house.
*This article was updated on 6 Oct 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 29 Sept 2015.