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Common dog behaviors explained

Author: Troy Morrison
by Troy Morrison
Posted: Nov 29, 2017

Proper communication between you and your dog begins when you start understanding your dog’s behavior. That’s why you must decipher what he wants to communicate when he’s panting, chewing, barking, digging or biting. Whether you have a big-breed (like a Rottweiler) or a small breed (like a pomeranian ), dogs generally share the same behaviors, and it is up to you to recognize him.


This habit is perfectly normal for dogs because they eliminate sweat only through their paws. Panting is their way of regulating body temperature by orally eliminating heat. If, by any chance, you notice that your dog is panting more than usual, it might be a sign that his body temperature is too high or that he’s in pain. Get him to a vet, because it might also be a sign of life-threatening trauma.


Barking is an important way for your dog to verbally communicate a couple of things:

  • Your dog might be protecting his territory. When a person or an animal enters the area which he considers his territory, your four-legged friend will assume an aggressive position and start barking louder and louder.
  • Fear or over-alertness. Some dogs will bark when they sense the slightest sign of danger. This can happen anywhere, not only on their territory.
  • Boredom/loneliness. Dogs are social creatures. When left alone for long periods of time, they get sad or bored, and they express that by barking.
  • Greeting or playfulness. Most dogs will playfully bark when they encounter familiar people or animals. Playful barking is accompanied by rapid tail wags and jumps.
  • Need of attention. Dogs often start barking when they want something. That can either be going out for a walk, a game of catch, food or your affection.
  • Anxiety. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety often bark when they are left alone. Also, they can develop other annoying behaviors like: becoming destructive, depressive and start pooing around the house.

Just like a toddler that’s starting to have teeth, your dog will want to chew toys or other chewable objects to calm the pain that comes with growing teeth. If your dog is fully grown and you encounter such behavior, he might well be suffering from separation anxiety.


Digging is another instinctual activity deeply embedded in dog’s DNA and often encountered in Terrier breeds. Undomesticated dogs travelling in packs used to dig to hide and find food, as well as small rodents.


Your dog will also use biting to communicate his feelings. However, you can prevent biting by correctly interpreting his body language. Here are the main reasons a dog will attack using his teeth:

  • He might be protecting his territory. You can prevent this type of attack by teaching him to listen to basic commands.
  • Your four-legged friend might be fearful. This kind of aggression is usually directed towards strangers that might, knowingly or not, threaten him.
  • He might be in pain.
  • Maternal instincts can cause even the most educated female canines to bite. To avoid problems like this, make sure that the mother and her pups have a safe place where nobody will intrude.
  • Predatory instincts. We often see stray dogs bark after cyclists or people that are out jogging. This behavior is caused by predatory instincts communicating to him that pray is within reach.
Separation anxiety

As stated previously, dogs are social creatures, so it’s normal for them to become anxious in moments in which they are separated from the other "members of the pack".

This type of unpleasant behavior often manifests itself through excessive barking, urinating in the house, screaming, destructive chewing of house objects and trying to escape.

Try taking your pooch out for a long walk before leaving home. Also, you can offer him a toy to keep him busy while you’re away.

As soon as you understand these behaviors and learn how to manage each one, you will come closer to understanding your dog’s specific needs. Don’t forget that, besides affection and nutritious food, your four-legged friend also needs solid discipline.

About the Author

Troy works for PremierPups, a dog adoption service. He also has an affinity for psychology, writing and dog behavioral studies.

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Author: Troy Morrison

Troy Morrison

Member since: Nov 29, 2017
Published articles: 1

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