Behavioural Issues


It is important that we understand when aggression is normal and when it is not normal. If a dog bites another dog because that dog hurt him that would be a normal response. If a dog is trying to bite everyone who comes to the front door that would be abnormal.

Behaviour (including aggression) always happens with the environment – you can’t have behaviour without environment so when we are dealing with any aggression it is important to understand the context in which the behaviour occurs.

You may read there are different types of aggression include: fear based aggression, territorial aggression, resource guarding aggression, learned aggression, maternal aggression, predatory aggression, medically related aggression, pain-induced aggression and redirected aggression. Labels such as these are not that helpful in understanding the whole picture as to why a dog is aggressing. Understanding the underlying reason will help ensure the animal receives the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Aggression in dogs can happen because the warning signs were not understood or even noticed. Reading and understanding body language can go along way to prevent aggression escalating to bite.

Aggression in dogs can worsen as the dog matures so early intervention is recommended. The more a dog practices a behaviour the better they become at using aggression.

If your dog is showing aggression, please contact us or a qualified veterinary specialist.


Dogs can suffer from anxiety and often this is the underlying the reason for many problem behaviours. Anxiety can impact on your dog’s health and welfare. A dog who is anxious can develop many other health problems. Chronic stress in dogs can have long term issues as it does in people.

Puppies need to learn tolerance to separation and just because your puppy cries when left does not necessarily mean it is separation anxiety. Many pups need to slowly learn to be comfortable on their own. True separation anxiety will need treatment from a veterinarian and a proper diagnosis. Call the team at Positive Dog Training to discuss any anxiety issues you have with your dog.


Dogs bark for a number of reasons such as:

  • Alert barking
  • Excitement barking
  • Attention barking
  • Distressed barking
  • Fear based barking
  • Frustration barking
  • Territorial barking
  • Cognitive dysfunction barking

It is important to understand why the dog is barking, how the barking may be being reinforced and what context the barking occurs.

If dogs are barking due to being distressed, worried or anxious it is important to get the underlying issues addressed for the welfare of the dog as well as the neighbours.

If your dog is barking for attention or excitement this can often be dealt with as a private training session but a dog who is barking due to a behavioural issue will need a behavioural consultation.

Dangerous Dog Orders

Dangerous Dog Orders are issued by councils in South Australia under Section 50(3) of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. Sharon Crichton is accredited to provide the training course that must be completed when you have been issued a dangerous dog order.

There are a number of things that need to be done once you have been issued with this order, you must undergo a training program, the dog must wear a designated red and yellow collar, you must put a sign on your property alerting the public that a dangerous dog is on the premises. You will be require to visit your vet to ensure your dog does not have any underlying medical conditions.

Positive Dog Training can help and guide you and your dog through this process. Please contact us so we can discuss what is involved, the cost and the next steps to be taken.

Fearful, Timid or Shy

Dogs can be fearful, timid or shy for a number of reasons. Some dogs are born more likely to be fearful; there is a genetic predisposition.

In other cases previous experience can impact current behaviours. If a dog is attacked by another dog it may become fearful around that breed of dog.

A dog may also be frightened in a scary situation just like people can feel frighted in certain situation. Once the environment changes and the threat disappears a dog can quickly recover. A dog might be frightened of skateboards and so long as a skateboard is not around they are perfectly OK but as soon as the skateboard appears the problem behaviours occurs.

Excessive fear is not good for the dog and impacts their quality of life so book a consultation so you can understand how to help your dog.


Growling can occur when dogs are playing, if your dog is playing tug and growling that is likely to be quite normal especially if their body is loose and relaxed. Dogs also growl when they are playing with each other.

Growling can also be a warning sign, if your dog growls and has a stiff body, is staring or standing still he is communicating something is not right or he is uncomfortable. Growling may also happen if a dog is lunging at something or someone.

Never punish a dog who is growling they are giving you a clear warning signal. If you punish the dog for growling you may stop the growl but not the underlying reason they are growling. A dog who has had the growl punished out of them gives no warning signal they may go straight to bite.

Guarding Food or Space

Guarding food, toys, space or people is known as resource guarding. Resource guarding dogs often show aggression if you approach them when they are close to something they find valuable. If your dog growls or lowers his head and eats quickly when you approach he is communicating you are too close.

Resource guarding dogs can be a risk especially if you have children. Undertaking a behavioural consultation will provide you with all the information and tools you will need to start helping your dog. Call Sharon as she has lots of personal experience with living with a resource guarding dog.

Inter-dog aggression

If you have a multi dog household aggression and fighting between dogs can be serious and expensive. Positive Dog Training can help in working out why the dogs are behaving this way and provide strategies to start addressing the issues. If your dogs are showing aggression let Positive Dog Training help develop a plan and implement behaviour modification strategies.

If you do have a fight ensure you do not try and pull the dogs apart as you are likely to get bitten, try separating the dogs with a broom, a piece of carpet or using water such as a hose or bucket to break them apart.


Lunging can occur when the dog is desperate to say hello to a person or another dog but not all lunging towards another individual means the dogs wants to be friendly. In many instances it is due to the dog wanting the other person or dog to go away. Let Positive Dog Training help in determining what type of lunging your dog is doing.

Mouthing or Biting

Puppies use their mouths to explore their world not unlike babies and young children.

Puppies have to learn bite inhibition. Dogs need to learn to keep their teeth to themselves. If your puppy is mouthing or biting stop playing or interacting with the pup until he settles. If he escalates the biting talk to us so we can provide useful strategies to quickly get these behaviours under control.

Once you puppy has his new teeth the mouthing should be reducing, if you adolescent pup is still mouthing or biting call us to obtain help. The earlier this unwanted behaviour is dealt with the better the outcome.

Snarling & Snapping

Snarling can occur when the dog shows its teeth. The dog is letting you know they have a set of teeth.

Snapping is the next level the dog escalates to when the growling and snarling have not worked. Dogs may air snap this is where they bite close to something but snap at the air instead. The dog is communicating ‘I don’t what to bite but I am capable of biting’. Often dogs don’t want to bite they just want the situation that is concerning them to go away.