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10 Behavioral Problems In Dogs and What You Can Do About Them

10 Behavioral Problems In Dogs and What You Can Do About Them

We all have noticed behavioral problems in our dogs like barking, chewing and biting but most of us don’t know why the dogs display such behaviors. Due to the lack of proper understanding of these problems, we often handle them inappropriately.

It’s essential to first thoroughly understand the behavioral problems in dogs if we want to solve and prevent them. Here below, we discuss the most common behavioral problems in dogs and suggest you what you can do to solve these problems.

1. Aggression

Aggression is the most common behavioral problem. Snarling, growling, and biting are the common forms of aggression exhibited by the canine. Causes include fear, resource guarding, territorial guarding or it may be any disease that causes pain or irritation.

It may also direct its aggression toward a third party when aggression toward a primary target is brought to a halt; as when the dog bites its owner when the owner tries to stop the dog in a dog fight.

For aggression, it’s always advised to consult a professional rather than dealing with the issue on your own.

What to do?

The cause of the aggression needs to be determined at first and measures are taken accordingly.

If sudden signs of aggression are presented, there may be an underlying medical problem and it’s a must to consult a veterinarian. If a medical problem has been ruled out, it’s time to take advice from a dog trainer. By determining the cause of aggression and keeping it at a minimum, aggressive behavior can be controlled. If aggression is towards strangers, the dog can be limited to the backyard. Along with your trainer, extensive positive reinforcement will be the mainstay. For example, start by keeping distance between a ‘stranger’ and your dog and giving the dog lots of treats. The distance is gradually reduced, keeping up with treats. The dog will gradually learn that strangers mean treats, keeping aggression to minimum.

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2. Inappropriate elimination

The dog may defecate and urinate anywhere, in inappropriate locations. While it is unavoidable in puppies, it is a problem that may persist in adults.

What to do?

First, you need to rule out any health problems by consulting with your veterinarian. House training should be focused through reinforcement of excretion in suitable locations rather than punishment when the dog excretes in inappropriate places. The owner needs to take their dog to the excretion area regularly and at appropriate intervals.

3. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when the dog is separated from its owner and is left alone. The dog may show behaviors like distress vocalization, housesoiling, anorexia and becomes anxious whenever the owner prepares to leave the house when putting on shoes, locking doors. And when the owner returns, the dog becomes excited and becomes difficult to calm down. It requires training, behavioral modification.

What to do?

If you are doing certain things like putting on your coat or grabbing your key, be sure to spend some time with your dog before leaving so that when you are leaving the house next time, the dog will be less anxious. Medication is required only for extreme cases.

4. Chewing

While chewing is natural for dogs to satisfy their curiosity in unfamiliar objects like puppies do in puppy teething, it may become much more pronounced so as to cause the destruction of important objects in its surroundings. Causes include excessive excitement, anxiety or mere curiosity as seen in puppies.

What to do?

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The dog needs to be encouraged to chew on chew toys which will entertain the dog. It will also consume time so as to eliminate boredom which may be a possible cause of chewing unnecessarily.

5. Excessive barking

Dogs may bark excessively when it is excited, when it senses a threat or as part of attention-seeking behavior. It will disturb your peace; can affect your sleep while earning you a bad reputation in your quiet neighborhood as the sole cause of noise.

What to do?

You will have to teach your dog when to bark and when silence is expected. ‘Speak/Quiet’ commands are the most beneficial. While it’s a Herculean task to be able to get good results soon, with consistency, one should be able to make it right. And the sooner you teach your dog the command, the better.

6. Digging

While digging is more common in some breeds than others, most dogs will do some digging if given the chance. Breeds like Terriers and Dachshunds love to dig which can be traced down to their history. Reasons to dig are varied. It may be due to boredom, excitement, anxiety, fear or to hide their coveted possessions like bones.

What to do?

Don’t leave your dog outside in the yard or in open places without supervision. Since bored dogs often tend to entertain themselves by digging, it’s your job to play with your pet and entertain it by playing games like fetch or tug-of-war.

For digging-breeds like Dachshunds and Terriers, certain spot needs to be provided for digging because they are just hard-wired to dig. Dog sports like Earth dog specially designed for such breeds needs to be considered.

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7. Jumping Up

Dogs jump up to greet people as puppies jump to reach their mothers. Dogs may also jump to exert dominance on other dogs. Excited dogs may suddenly jump on you unprepared leading to accidents. This can be especially dangerous when the dog is exposed to young children.

What to do?

Some people seem to practice ‘knee to the chest’ method but there are problems with it. The dog may take it as playing which can be counter-productive. The best measure is to withhold attention whenever the dog tries to jump.

You can turn your back on him as it jumps up or cross your arms on your chest without making a sound. Reinforce good behavior by providing dog-biscuits. Teaching the ‘Sit’ command early and practicing it with other members of the family and your friends so that the dog won’t jump on other people is also productive.

8. Chasing

A dog chasing moving objects like a vehicle, animals or jogging people is a predatory instinct. It can be dangerous as people being chased-down may be scared or frightened.

What to do?

The dog should be kept on a leash unless under direct supervision. Proper training so that the dog will come when called and having a dog whistle with you to direct attention to yourself is advised.

9. Biting

While puppies bite on other dogs and people as part of their exploration and learning, it may persist in adults and can be due to fear, to exert dominance, or to protect something dear to the dog.

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What to do?

Proper training and socialization are the required measures. Allow your dog to interact with children, elderly people as well. Expose your dog to various conditions. Keep your dog on a leash or in a confined area.

To prevent yourself from getting a bite, always keep a distance from an unfamiliar dog. Never run and scream and always avoid eye contact if you happen to be cornered by an unfamiliar dog. Regular vaccination is a must.

10. Begging

Some dogs have a bad habit of begging when they see you eating something delicious. It may persist and become a habit if you don’t discourage begging.

What to do?

While eating, you should keep you dog away at a place where it won’t be possible to look longingly towards you. If he complies with the method, he should be rewarded as part of positive reinforcement.

Featured photo credit: Angry Dog via pixabay.com

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Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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