Dog Behavior Problems & Solutions

Discover the tips and tricks other
Coton parents can't live without

Did you just get a Coton de Tulear? You're probably facing common dog behavior problems such as barking, chewing, leash pulling, or anxiety issues. You can find house training solutions here. As you can see from our site poll below, you are not alone; these are common problems that most new dog owners face. There's no need to panic; these behaviors can be easily resolved with consistent training and helpful tools and resources.

coton de tulear behavior

Your Top 3 Favorite Barking Solutions

Problem: Dogs bark; it’s their job.  But when the barking is excessive, it can cause a problem for you (and your neighbors). It’s critical to understand why your dog is barking, so you can find the right method to correct any extreme or nuisance barking.  For instance, it’s okay for your dog to bark once or twice when someone is at the door, but if the barking continues for a long period of time, this needs correction.  

No. 1 – There is no substitute for good dog training. Dog barking is the most common of the dog behavior problems identified by the poll above. Do you understand why your dog is barking?  Recognizing the reasons your dog barks is critical for curbing bad behavior.  Here are some tips to help you get a handle on why your dog barks and how to handle it. You can also read advice from our visitors here.

The key to success is to select a method for training and stick with it.  Some of the suggested online training recommendations from our visitors include Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer), Victoria Stilwell, and Zak George (you can find him on YouTube).

Training methods may vary somewhat, but what all these trainers have in common is that they use positive training (no punishments). Pick one method and follow through every single day until training is successful. Too many people give up because they don’t see immediate results or they switch methods and confuse the dog. 

No. 2 -Noise Deterrents.  Diverting your dog’s attention by using loud noises can be an effective way to get barking under control. But if your dog is barking because she’s afraid, making loud noises will likely increase her fear. These deterrents are ideal for the nuisance barker who’s bored or looking for attention. Some of the products our visitors have suggested include:

  • Pet Corrector, which is a dog repellent spray. When you spray the compressed gas, it emits a loud noise that stops barking (or other unwanted behavior) in its tracks. I tried this with Luc and got mixed results. It works if I happen to have the spray can handy. Our visitors tell us that their dogs stop barking as soon as they see the can; they don't even have to use the product.
  • Interostop Spray also produces a noise from a spray can, but doesn't use any propellants so it's safe for the environment as well as your dog. Like Stop That!, it also has a calming fragrance of lavender and chamomile.
  • Sonic Egg is a barking control device where you press a button and it emits an ultrasonic noise that only dogs can hear. The noise redirects the barking and can work from 15 feet away.
  • Using a dog whistle has been helpful for some of our visitors. Luc totally ignored the whistle when I tried it with him, but maybe I wasn't using one with the right frequency. It's certainly safe and easy to use. It's also more convenient to keep a whistle handy than to go searching for a spray can, especially if you're not at home.

No.3 - Clicker Training is a method of training that's very popular to get dog behavior problems under control. It's also inexpensive, safe, and easy to learn. The key with clicker training is consistency so your dog understands what you want him to do. You can find a variety of dog clickers on Amazon.

Your Top 3 Favorite Solutions for Chewing

Problem: Your puppy is teething and chewing on inappropriate items such as furniture, electronics, pillows, or shoes. Maybe your dog is even biting you.  Make sure you keep dangerous items out of reach – chemicals, electric wires, drugs, or valuables.


No.1 is Proper Training. Just like barking, there's no substitute for a well trained dog. See the training info above.

No.2 - Chewing Replacements. Puppy-proofing your home is important to keep your dog safe. Keep all dangerous and small items he can swallow out of reach. When you see your puppy chewing on something he shouldn’t, give him a replacement that’s safe and suitable. Here are some of your favorites:

  • Kong -  Your dog's need to chew is satisfied when he gets his favorite treats inside like carrots or peanut butter. I like Kong because it keeps dogs entertained, and because it's rubber, it doesn't roll under furniture.
  • Pupsicles - An alternative to Kong that is so much easier to fill and clean. It’s more expensive than the Kong, but it’s worth it to me because it’s so much easier to clean! I purchased the Pupsicle and frozen treat tray combination and it’s become my go-to almost every day for my dog, Lucy. 
  • Nylabone is another strong chewing replacement, but it's not designed to store treats. It satisfies your strong chewers and comes in different flavors. 

No.3 - Chewing Deterrents or Repellents. These sprays are a good option if your dog has a more severe chewing problem. They contain an odor that dogs don't like and act as a deterrent so they avoid the area that's sprayed.  Here are some of your suggestions:

  • Homemade solutions such as white wine vinegar

Your Top Favorite Leash Pulling Solutions

Problem:  Your dog walks you, instead of you taking the lead.  Your Coton pulls on his leash and chokes when the leash is pulled too tight on his delicate throat.  This is a safety concern and there are solutions so you can have a safe and successful walking experience.

dog harness

Training is a must if you want your dog to listen to you when you go for a walk.  Learn more about loose leash training here.

By far, your favorite leash pulling solution is using a good harness.  There are over a dozen different harness recommendations on the site.  I think it comes down to personal preferences, but these are your favorite harness suggestions:

  • Petsafe Easy Walk Harness. This is the harness my dog, Luc,used. I don't know why it was so difficult for me to find a harness that was the right size and easy to put on and take off. This one is color coded so it's easy to figure out which part goes under his chest. It's also thin enough that it doesn't cause any matting or discomfort. I'm enjoying our walks much more these days.
  • Puppia Soft Harness - It's important to get the correct fit for this one. They come in lots of colors if fashion is important to you.
  • Buddy Belt Leather Harness  - My vet and several site visitors recommended this harness. It’s important to get the right size and longer haired Cotons may have an issue with matting with this harness.
  • Luxe Joyride Harness - My Lucy is currently in this harness. It’s a good fit for her and doesn’t pull or mat her coat. She’s not a fan of putting anything over head, so I have to chase her sometimes to put it on her. 
  • Ezydog Harness - This brand provides different options to customize to your dog’s needs.

For excellent online loose leash walking training, check out SpiritDog.

Your Top 5 Favorite Solutions for Dog Anxiety

Problem: Your dog is afraid of thunder, fireworks, trips in the car, your veterinarian, other dogs, or people.  Your dog suffers from separation anxiety when you are not at home. Many dog behavior problems stem from fear.

thundershirt for dogs

No. 1 - Thundershirt helps keep your dog calm by providing pressure that makes him feel safe. Sizing is important; you want it to fit snug, but not too tight.

No. 2 - Bach Rescue Remedy. These drops have a calming effect without making your dog drowsy. You can put the drops in their water dish or even behind their ears.

No. 3 - Through a Dog's Ear is music to calm your dog. They claim this CD is more effective than regular classical music and has worked on 85% of dogs. Those are pretty good odds, and you know it's 100% safe and easy.

No. 4 - Aromatherapy solutions such as Earth Heart Canine Calm Aromatherapy or the Herbal Calming Collar. Luc didn't seem calmer with the calming collar, but some visitors found it helpful.

No. 5- Wifi pet treat dispenser and camera. I love this idea; I just wish I'd known about this when I was working full time. You can interact with your dog via an App on your phone or tablet. You can dispense treats, see each other when you're not at home, and take photos. Sounds great for dogs with separation anxiety (or parents who miss their pets).

What's your favorite solution for dog behavior problems?  Tell us in this survey.

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