Approximately 6.5 million pets enter animal shelters in the U.S. each year, according to the ASPCA. While cats, dogs, and other animals end up in shelters for a wide range of reasons, one of the most common is behavioral issues.

In fact, an estimated 40 percent of pet owners report behavioral problems in their animals, such as rough play, serious aggression, destructiveness, and the inability to become housebroken. An epidemic has risen due to the sheer number of dogs being surrendered to shelters across the country. To keep pets at home where they belong, it is more important than ever for pet owners to find ways to stop unwanted behaviors.

Surrendering a Pet

It is never easy to surrender a beloved pet, no matter the circumstances. However, it is true that many pet owners jump the gun and give up their pet before putting in the necessary work to diminish behavioral issues. Pet owners who have the time and resources necessary to work with troubled animals are often able to significantly reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors via regular training sessions. Before giving up your dog to an animal shelter, ask yourself, “Have I tried training or behavior modification?”

Stop Behavior Issues

It is crucial to narrow down the underlying cause of your pet’s behavioral issues. For example, if your dog is chewing up your shoes or digging holes in the backyard, it may be because he is bored. By providing your dog with a source of entertainment or daily exercise, you can help your pet release pent up energy and curb certain behavior issues. For behavior issues such as barking or whining, find ways to get your pet’s attention when situations arise that trigger the behavior. Train your dog to understand the words “quiet” and “shush.” Treat rewards can be useful as an incentive.

Aggression is one of the most common reasons dogs are surrendered to animal shelters. It is important to understand that most dogs are not naturally aggressive but may have aggressive tendencies when stressed, in pain, or when they feel threatened. The use of training devices like the Doggie Don’t device can be highly useful in stopping unwanted behaviors like jumping up, barking, and leash aggression. However, more extreme aggression may require the assistance of an experienced dog trainer or behaviorist. It may take time and patience, but most dogs who exhibit behavioral issues are able to recover and live happy lives with their owners.