Like humans, dogs have their own distinct personalities. Even if you've owned them your entire life, chances are you'll eventually come across one that has behaviors you aren't used to. Keep this in mind, though. A lack of a behavior in previous dogs doesn't mean the behavior is necessarily abnormal in your current dog. Check out this list of common dog behaviors, what they mean, and what you can do to handle them.
Dogs don't sweat like humans, and panting is a way for them to "sweat" and cool down when they become too hot. Typically, this is what is occurring, especially if it's warm outside or if your dog has been playing hard. To help keep your pet cool, be sure that he has plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity or during any prolonged time outside. If you'll be on the go, invest in a travel bowl that you can take with you and fill as needed.
If your dog is panting even though it isn't warm and he hasn't been physically active, it could be an indicator or stress or pain. Is he experiencing a new situation that could be making him nervous? Has he recently injured himself or shown signs of illness? Contact your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog's panting behavior.
Again, dogs and humans are quite alike. If you have children, you know they were soothed by chewing on teething rings or other comfort items while their teeth were coming in. If you have a new puppy, he is likely experiencing the same thing and could be displaying chewing behavior. Many dogs continue to chew on things into adulthood as a natural means of exploration, so it is important to keep a range of dog chew toys on hand.
Some dogs will chew on furniture, shoes, clothing, or other items, even if they have toys. This is especially true if you leave them alone for any period of time. If your dog is chewing on things he shouldn't be, it could be a sign of general or separation anxiety. Put away anything that you don't want your dog to chew on, even when you're home. If you notice the chewing only takes place when you're out for the day, consider crate training your pet. They often feel safer in a smaller space. You might also consider leaving them at a doggie daycare or with a friend or family member if crating them also causes anxiety.
Many dogs jump on family members or guests when they come into the home, and many people assume this is a friendly, if not overly rambunctious greeting. However, to dogs, jumping is actually an attempt to show they are the dominant one in the home. Allowing them to jump on you reinforces their belief that they are "top dog," so to speak. Training your pets not to jump on you is essential for keeping control. It is also safer, since they won't accidentally injure your guests or themselves in their excitement.
Barking is a natural behavior and should be expected from your dog on occasion, especially when someone knocks on the door or if they sense danger in the form of a human being or animal they don't know. This is how your dog communicates with you and any other animals in your home. The problem is that sometimes, barking can become excessive. Consider why your dog is barking to help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution.
Is he trying to get your attention? He may be feeling insecure. Avoid giving him attention, though, as it will reinforce the behavior. Instead, ignore him until he stops barking, and then give him a reward. Avoid yelling at a dog that barks at sounds too much, as yelling just makes him think there truly is danger. Instead, use a calming voice to help him quiet down. Finally, excessive barking may be a sign of anxiety. Consider whether anything has changed in your household lately and talk to your veterinarian if necessary.
Digging is instinct for a dog and has been a part of their genetic makeup throughout their evolution. This is especially true in terrier breeds, so if you have your first terrier, be sure to expect this. Dogs that live together may dig in the yard to hide toys, or they may "dig" in blankets or couch cushions to hide food from other dogs in the home. They may also dig in the dirt to lay in it as a cooling down method, or simply because they're trying to get comfortable. Overall, this isn't problematic. However, if indoor "digging" begins to damage furniture or blankets, your veterinarian may be able to recommend methods to prevent the habit.
Biting is a big concern for dog owners, but it doesn't always mean the dog is trying to be aggressive. This is especially true if you have a puppy. Puppies will nip because they are trying to learn how to communicate their needs or wants, especially during playtime. However, too much nipping can lead to a dangerous problem as he grows, so it is important to redirect his attention and reward him for good behavior. If an older dog bites out of fear or general aggression, it is best to work with a professional trainer.
Most behaviors that your dog has are normal in moderation. If they aren't causing you distress and don't seem to be distressing your pet, there really is no reason to worry. Always speak to your veterinarian if you are worried about your pet. This ensures he is in the best health possible.