My pet dog is quite mischievous and frequently barks, chews the rug, our footwear and furniture ends. How can I improve his behaviour?

Just like children, dogs need some guidance on good manners and how to behave well. New dog owners are often frustrated with dog behaviour problems.

All dogs bark, whine and howl sometimes. However, if your dog is barking all of the time, disturbing you and your neighbours, you should find out why. Common causes of barking include playfulness and excitement, attention seeking, anxiety, boredom and interacting with other animals.

If your dog is overexcited or anxious, dedicate more time to play and exercise, providing an opportunity for it to burn off excess energy. Alleviate boredom by providing interactive toys to keep your dog engaged. You may also teach your dog commands such as ‘bark’ and ‘quiet’. Shouting at your dog will not remedy the problem, as this will likely cause more excitement. Instead, be calm, consistent and patient. Reward your dog when it responds to other animals or people calmly and without barking.

Dogs love to chew. Unfortunately, this is not always limited to chew toys and can become an issue if your dog turns its attention to your shoes, furniture or doors. Puppies often chew things because they are teething. Just like babies, chewing can help with the discomfort caused by teeth coming through. Puppies may also be curious about things in your home, causing them to have a little nibble as a way to investigate. Adult dogs chew when they are bored, anxious or have too much unspent energy.

Provide them with lots of vet-approved chew toys. When playing with your dog, never use things it would not be allowed to play with usually, such as a shoe. Your dog will not be able to tell the difference between an old slipper and your favourite pair of designer shoes.

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If you do catch your dog chewing on the wrong thing, do not shout or hit your dog. Instead, correct your dog with a sharp noise, such as a clap, and then replace the item with an approved chew toy. It will soon learn what it is allowed to chew. Finally, ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, its energy is being burned off and it is getting plenty of stimulation so it will not resort to chewing.

Dr Sara Elliott is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and leads a team of experienced vets and nurses at the British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to