pet behaviors barking chewing jumping digging | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Pet Behavior Solutions: Barking, Chewing, Jumping, Digging

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

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Kellie Mintern
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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!

About The Author

Heidi Stonehill

Heidi Stonehill is a senior editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, where she focuses much of her time on managing content development for the Almanac’s line of calendars. Read More from Heidi Stonehill

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