Pet Behavior Solutions: Barking, Chewing, Jumping, Digging

July 8, 2010

Bubba is my friend and companion! Just a wonderful dog!!

Kellie Mintern

Pets, like humans, can develop some behavioral problems that annoy you. Here are tips to help you understand why your pet behaves this way and how to help your pet so that you all can coexist happily!


A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion.

When dogs bark it is most commonly because they are trying to get your attention or because they see something that frightens or intimidates them. Here are some tips for how to deal with your barking dog.

  • Take an empty soda can and toss a few pennies or pebbles into it so that when it shakes it makes an unpleasant, clanking noise that your dog won’t like. The next time your dog barks firmly say “Quiet” and shake the can. The sound will startle the dog causing it to stop, while also teaching it the “Quiet” command.
  • If your dog tends to yap more when he’s alone in the house he might be dealing with a mild case of separation anxiety. Before you leave, rub your hands all over one of his favorite chew toys. The scent will make the toy more appealing and can hush the barking. A hollow bone stuffed with cheese or peanut butter will also keep him occupied.

Did you know? Cats are able to produce about 100 different vocalized sounds. Dogs? Only about 10.


  • Dig a hole where your dog likes to dig. Blow up some small balloons, put them in the hole, and cover them with dirt. When the dog comes to dig in the loose dirt, he will pop a balloon with his nails and scare himself away from the area.
  • If you have a small dog digging in your garden, place several mothballs in a one-pound coffee can. Put the lid on and secure it with duct or electrical tape. Next, with a knife or awl punch lots of little holes in the lid. Place the cans where you don’t want your pet to dig. The mothball smell will repel your pets, but they are toxic, so make sure your pet can’t get into the can and eat them.)
  • Cats like the consistency of soil in gardens, but if you place pinecones or wood chips over the soil in your garden they won’t like the texture anymore and will find somewhere new.
  • If your cat is spending a lot of time digging around in the litter box, it’s probably a signal that it’s not being cleaned enough. Scoop out the box once a day and the change the litter frequently, especially if there is more than one cat using it.


Nothing in the world is friendlier than a wet dog.

  • Watch your dog’s body language, and as soon as he’s about to jump sternly say “No,” or “off.” If you walk away and ignore him it will teach him that jumping will result in being ignored, which is the opposite reaction they want.
  • Next time your dog greets you at the door with a jump, hold his two front paws so that he’s in the standing position. Keep him in that position until you can tell he doesn’t like it and as you let him down say “No.” Your dog will get the hint that jumping up is going to cause discomfort.


  • Keep dogs from chewing woodwork by sprinkling it with oil of cloves.
  • If your puppy is teething, place one of her chew toys in the freezer for a few hours, which will feel soothing to a sore mouth.
  • Sometimes excessive chewing is a sign of boredom. Different breeds have different activity levels, so talk to your vet to see how much exercise your pet needs. If this is the case, take your dog on more walks, or set up play dates with other dogs in the neighborhood. 

Do you have any tips, behavioral challenges, or comments? Please post below!

Reader Comments

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House Break a Dog

To stop my dog from pooping in the house. The last pup I had would not do her business outside. I tried all the methods that worked in the past, but nothing worked. So I tried something new. The next time she went in the house, I took the dog, showed her the pile, rubbed her nose in it, yelled, screamed, smacked her on the nose with a newspaper...In short anything to scare the dog. Next I scooped up the pile, took it outside in the middle of the back yard. Took the dog out, showed her the pile and praise and petted the dog a lot. That was the last time she went in the house. Hope this helps.

Bathroom training

My family has recently adopted a small dog from the pound, and she keeps on using my room as her bathroom! Any idea's as to make her see that this is not ok?!

My naughty puppy barks at

My naughty puppy barks at men? Not too sure what to do... Thx

I am at my wits end with my

I am at my wits end with my Maltese/bichon cross, barking, chewing just outright naughty. I have tried all bark collars, does not learn from them, soon as I take it off he is at it again, currently trying bark busters, very expensive, once again does not learn, barks when no one home, don't want to give away but it is real. Problem, can anyone have any ideas of how to fix the problem

The first step is to identify

The Editors's picture

The first step is to identify why the dog barks: protection, fear, separation anxiety, boredom, etc. Here is a helpful document on type of barking and some solutions:
One trick we've tried is tying the "quiet" command to rewards. We hope this is a helpful start . . .

How can I stop my dog from

How can I stop my dog from jumping onto the dining table and kitchen counters and coffee table ? Once he's there we say off and he'll get down but I'd rather him not get up there in the first place.
Thank you in advance

Depending on why the dog is

The Editors's picture

Depending on why the dog is doing this will affect what approach might be successful. Hunger, attention, curiosity, boredom, etc. Some people have had success putting double-sided tape on the edges of the counter; the dog may not like the feel of it. Or, spraying the dog with a bit of water when he hops up. Some owners leave empty soda cans on the counter near a large treat, such as meat. When the dog finds the meat and knocks over the cans, the noise may scare him off; he may think that it isn't so pleasant an experience to hop up on counters next time (don't try this with a nervous dog, though). Of course, it helps to keep food off the counters, so the dog isn't tempted. Keep a bored dog more occupied. If your dog is always hungry, ask your vet about what foods might be more filling but not more fattening. For more information and suggestions, you might be interested in this article from the ASPCA:

This is my first time having

This is my first time having a puppy and no matter what I do he will not use the bathroom outside, only inside. How do I change this? I've tried to puppy pads and rubbing his nose in it and i have tried to pick him up and take him outside.

how to trin dog to do his business outside

at the moment I have puppy pads all over the house! HELP

How do you get rid of stray

How do you get rid of stray cats? they climb all over my windows at night and spray all over

Cats dislike the smell of

The Editors's picture

Cats dislike the smell of citrus. Try leaving orange, lime, and/or lemon peels around your property to repel them. You could also purchase lemon scented plants or squirt citrus juice around your windows.

a .22 rifle will take care of

a .22 rifle will take care of those cats

Anyone know how to stop dogs

Anyone know how to stop dogs from pulling down laundry off the line? We have cow dogs and they wer fine until a man working on our fence asked if they pulled the laundry off the line. When I told him they had never sone that,he was surprised and said "All dogs pull laundry off the line!" I told him that our dogs didn't. But after he stopped working for us, they suddenly started pulling laundry off the line and nothing we do gets them to stop. It's to the point we're considering finding them a new home.

This is apparently a common

The Editors's picture

This is apparently a common problem with dogs. Once they've tried this and find that it is fun, they'll be back for more. You could try training your dogs to stay away (ask a trainer in your area; an animal shelter might be able to help with a contact). Or, provide them with toys/interaction so that they can focus on other games instead. Some suggest hanging up a doggy sheet or other fabric item that s/he likes, so that s/he will learn to focus just on that item to pull off; we're not sure if this would work in all cases, though--it might encourage the dogs to play even more with anything on the line. Some people suggest keeping the dogs indoors or in another part of the yard, such as in a penned area, while the laundry is drying. Or, you could fence off the laundry area, or try to prop the clothesline up high enough to be out of reach of your pets. There are also dog repellents available--either smells that deter them from going to a certain area of the yard, or motion-sensitive devices that can issue a loud noise and/or sprays of water. These are available in online pet supply stores. It depends on what you are comfortable with, and what you decide is least upsetting to your pets but would still get the message across. Hope this helps!

how do ya get rid of fleas

how do ya get rid of fleas have tried everything nothing kills them in my yard and how to keep them off my pet. PLEASE Help. Thanks,Randy........

dust your yard with

dust your yard with Diatomaceous Earth. I've only had to do it once every couple years. Never have any fleas, nor flys, nor other sucking bugs.

where do u buy Diatomaceous

where do u buy Diatomaceous Earth?

check out your pet spa, or

check out your pet spa, or any garden center. Yes, it does work and is SAFE for pets.

I bought it at and

I bought it at and it was very reasonable.

Where to buy Diatomaceous Earth & more

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can be purchased online (try and is also available from many farm suppliers and some hardware stores too. DE is inexpensive and very effective for many uses, but you must be certain to select a Food Grade DE. DE can be dusted into animals coats & bedding to effectively eliminate fleas, tick & other bugs & is non-toxic to humans & most animals. People & animals can also ingest DE for a plethora of additional health benefits including: shinier coats & hair; stronger bones & nails; & relief from some skin & coat conditions, among just a few.

DE is a more reliably effective & less costly option for pest control than many other toxic chemical-based products available for flea & tick control.

My female mini doxie, 5 years

My female mini doxie, 5 years old. has started eating her own poop. This has just recently started. She eats regular people food as I have tried many, many different types and kinds of dog food and she will eat none of it. What can I do?

if you take her to the vet

if you take her to the vet they can give you pills that will make her stop. My grandmothers dog had the same problem and now he eats his dog food instead of his dog poop.

Coprophagia: eating of feces

Coprophagia, or the eating of feces, is a form of Pica in dogs. If your female dog is nursing a litter, many dog breeds will do this with their pups excrement and sometimes their own too. Some dogs seem to seek out cat & other animal feces to ingest. If suggested methods are ineffective, a visit with you vet may be in order to evaluate the dog for any dietary deficiencies they may be experiencing to find out if supplementation is needed. Many forms of pika are downright dangerous to the sufferer. Coprophagia subjects your pet to high risk of exposure to infections and disease, so should be discouraged for health reasons of your dog.

For 3 years now, our family

For 3 years now, our family has had new puppies come to our farm. They are babies when we get them and learn quickly not to chase our free-range chickens. But as they get up to about 6 months, they become chicken killers. We want a family dog, but we want our chickens also. Please help!

Several years ago I watched

Several years ago I watched an episode of the Dog Whisper that dealt with this same issue. The owner of the dog was the author of Marley and Me. You might want to look up that episode.

A neighbor's cat thinks his

A neighbor's cat thinks his litter box is under my bedroom window. How can I stop this?

Have you tried sprinkling

Have you tried sprinkling lime. Maybe that can help. It kept our cats out of our kids sandbox!

I used to use a spray on

I used to use a spray on product called "Outdoor No" I sprayed it there, the cats no longer came. I had to re spray every few days, and after it rained. It really did help.

I have a Aussi that loved to

I have a Aussi that loved to bark at the TV.I tried putting coins in a can and shaking it for dog barking, and it works!! The first time I did it, I was competely amazed.