Common Canine Behaviours

by Nancy Boland

Building a better relationship with your dog and understand them in general, understanding the most common canine behaviours can be eye opening. Here are what just a few mean;


Panting is a dog’s primary means of regulating body temperature. Dogs sweat through the pads on their feet so most of the heat is expelled through their mouth through panting.


Your dog’s bark could be trying to tell you many things. They want your attention, they want to go outside, for example. Most commonly barking is a sign of possible danger or to alert to a new arrival by raising an alarm. Barking is one of the most important means of canine communication.

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Just like children, your dog will get the urge to chew on toys and other objects they perhaps shouldn’t to relieve the pain of teething. In adult dogs chewing can be a sign of boredom, anxiety or stress. Adult dog’s who chew when they are left alone are most commonly suffering from separation anxiety.

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Digging is a strong instinctual behaviour especially prevalent in the terrier breeds who were bred for ratting. This behaviour is deeply instilled and comes very naturally, so is hard behaviour to eradicate. Dogs in natural packs will dig to hide food or to uncover food such as small rodents.

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Jumping up

Though it may seem like playful behaviour or a happy greeting, jumping up is a sign that your dog is trying to assert his dominance over you. By encouraging jumping up with affection, you are reinforcing the behaviour so it’s important this behaviour be eradicated as soon as possible so that your dog understands where he stands.


There are several reasons a dog could lash out and bite, perhaps the most obvious is aggression but others including fear or nervousness could also factor. Staying in tune with a dog’s emotions and body language can sometimes prevent a dog bite from ever happening so it’s best to be aware and trust your instincts, if a dog feels like it’s giving out negative vibes it probably is!

Separation anxiety

Dogs are sociable creatures and love your company so it’s natural for them to feel anxious when separated from you. As always with anxiety, try and dispel as much of that nervous energy with an activity like a long walk or run. Exercise won’t be a cure-all for a dog with anxiety but it can help to greatly decrease the levels felt. The less energy they have after exercise, the less energy they will have for anxiety! Exercise also releases endorphins and works as a great natural mood enhancer.

Once you understand these behaviours, you’ll be better equipped to recognise when your dog’s needs are not being met. When your dog’s needs go unfulfilled, unwanted behaviours begin to surface.

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