Abnormal dog behaviours are often overlooked during their early stages. Many dog owners misinterpret these behaviours. As a result, dogs end up in animal shelters because they have become too difficult to handle.
How do you manage abnormal behaviour in dogs and avoid these grim possibilities? Understanding the causes behind abnormal dog behavior problems is the first step in finding a solution.
What can cause behaviour changes in dogs?
Did your pup suddenly decide to disobey your command, which left you wondering, why is my dog suddenly misbehaving? A wide variety of factors can cause the development of sudden abnormal dog behavior. Here are the most common reasons behind it:
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #1 – Breed
Some dog breeds have strong natural canine instincts than others because of how they were bred. For instance, scenthounds such as Beagles are slaves to their noses and may develop an unhealthy obsession for food.
Dobermans, who are primarily bred as protection dogs, may bark at individuals they see as a threat to their family. These innate traits cannot be completely removed. However, these can be prevented from turning into destructive behaviors through consistently training your dog.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #2 – Genetics
Unusual behaviour in dogs can be a result of genetic issues. Poorly bred dogs may suffer from unstable temperaments, which they inherited from their parents.
Genetic issues usually manifest during a dog’s puppyhood stage. Moreover, behavior modification rarely works as a solution to this problem.
For this reason, dog owners need to do their research before getting a puppy. Find a reputable breeder. Make sure to check the parent dogs’ temperaments. The parent dogs should be well-socialised and even-tempered. Also, observe how the puppy interacts around his littermates.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #3 – Health Problems
Medical conditions such as injuries and diseases often bring out aggressive behaviors in dogs.
Growling or biting is a common reaction of sick dogs when they are touched or moved. It is a way for dogs to express their pain and distress caused by their illness. Make sure to get your dog checked by the vet if he shows sudden changes in behaviour.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #4 – Adolescence
Much like humans, puberty is the period for young dogs to challenge the world and their boundaries. Hence, abnormal puppy behavior may spike up around this stage in their life.
Puppies hit puberty when they are around 6 months old. It ends around 12–18 months of age. Regular obedience training will help you go through this period with your pup.
Monitor your pup closely to keep undesirable habits from developing. Also, to help your pup start his journey on the right foot, make sure to create a living environment that lowers his chances of committing mischief.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #5 – Encouragement from Owners
Common dog behavior problems, such as begging for food, develop because of us. As a pet parent, you need to set up clear and consistent boundaries and rules for your dog.
Avoid spoiling him as it will lead to the formation of bad habits. Be a reliable leader. Guide him on how to be a well-behaved dog by not rewarding undesirable behaviour.
Tell your dog ‘no’ in a firm voice. Ignore him until he stops the undesirable behaviour. This will help your pup to understand that you disapprove of this specific behaviour. Never use harsh punishments.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #6 – Lack of Exercise and Mental Stimulation
All dogs, even those with a sedentary lifestyle or low energy, need to have a daily exercise routine. Their bodies and minds should be engaged in fun and challenging canine activities regularly to keep them alert, vigorous, and active.
Lack of physical exercise and mental challenge will make your dog restless and hyperactive.
He may take it upon himself to look for fun things to do. And this may end up in a disaster, as most dogs with insufficient exercise unleash their energy by chewing on household items and destroying furniture.
Abnormal Dog behaviour Cause #7 – Poor Socialisation
Socialisation is a very important process every puppy should undergo. Between 3 and 16 weeks of age, they must be exposed to different sounds, sights, smells, other pets, and people.
It hones their mind and senses to become accustomed to different environments. Thus, they are less likely to develop abnormal dog behaviours, including extreme shyness or aggressiveness as they grow into adulthood.
How can you tell if your dog has behavioural problems?
Dogs dig, chew, bark, and chase. It’s a part of their nature, but when is it considered abnormal?
Distinguishing abnormal behaviour from a normal one is a tricky thing. To help you figure it out, here is a guide to different levels of undesirable canine behaviour:
1. Normal behaviours that occur.
Some canine behaviours such as chewing in puppies are completely normal. The urge to gnaw at anything will eventually pass as pups grow older.
However, managing this behaviour is crucial to keep it from developing into an abnormal and destructive habit.
Pet parents can redirect their puppy’s mouthing to appropriate chewing using a chew toy to replace the item he wasn’t supposed to nibble on.
2. Behaviours that are within or a little beyond the normal range.
Behaviours in this category are viewed as normal, but they can be challenging to manage. For instance, barking is a natural behaviour in dogs. However, it can become excessive and abnormal if left unchecked.
3. Behaviours that are considered outside the normal range.
Behavior problems such as fear, aggression, and separation anxiety belong to this category. These are abnormal dog behaviours that are caused by trauma, genetic problems, improper socialisation, or health issues. These often require long-term training with the help of professionals.
What are signs of abnormal animal behaviour?
Normal dog behaviours can turn destructive if you are not careful. Below are the most common abnormal behaviors in dogs and ways to manage them:
1. Excessive Barking
Incessant yipping and howling happen for various reasons. Learning its main cause is essential for you to address these behavior problems. The usual reasons behind excessive barking are:
- Seeking your attention
- Warn you of a threat
Manage this abnormal dog behaviour by teaching your puppy the ‘quiet’ command. Ignore him if he keeps yipping. Only give a reward and your attention the second he stops.
Also, ensure that his daily exercise needs are met to keep him from becoming high-strung. Learn more about stopping your dog from excessively barking here.
This abnormal dog behaviour is also known as overgrooming. It is a common sign that your pooch is suffering from a health problem such as allergies.
Licking the affected area is his way of trying to ease the pain or discomfort. Get him checked by the vet immediately, especially if he exhibits other symptoms of illness.
Did the result of the diagnosis indicate that your dog is free from any illnesses? This means that his excessive licking may be caused by boredom or anxiety.
To address this issue, redirect his attention to an enjoyable activity as soon as you observe the licking behaviour. It can be in the form of walks, playtime, or giving him treats.
It is crucial to be observant of your dog’s body language to know when he is playful and when he is about to become hostile.
An aggressive dog will often bare his teeth, growl, and lick his lips. His ears and fur on his body, especially behind his neck, will be notably raised and tensed.
Aggression can be a result of medical conditions or psychological issues. If your dog exhibits this behaviour, consult the vet first.
If the diagnosis shows that he has a clean bill of health, the next best step is to contact a professional dog trainer. They will be able to help you pinpoint what triggers this abnormal dog behaviour in your pooch.
Avoid handling dog aggression without the assistance of an expert, as it can put you and your dog in danger.
4. Begging or Stealing Food
Begging for food becomes a concern, especially if you feed your pooch a set amount of balanced meals every day.
To stop this behaviour, feed your dog before cooking and eating your meals. A dog with a full stomach is less likely to beg for scraps.
Another way to approach this problem is by aligning his feeding schedule with yours. If your dog eats at the same time as you, asking you for grub won’t cross his mind. If this doesn’t work, consider installing a baby gate to keep him away from your dining area.
Most importantly, ignore his begging and never give in to his puppy eyes. All family members and guests should follow the same rule. Or else, your dog will receive mixed signals, and this abnormal behaviour might never cease.
Dogs dig for a lot of reasons. It could be because they are bored, want to create a cool spot to rest in or smell something interesting beneath the ground.
Regardless, this behaviour can become a nuisance if ignored. It also puts him at risk of injuring his paws.
Increase your dog’s physical activity and tire him out. If he is tired, he would rather relax and sleep than dig holes in your back garden.
Alternatively, you can create a designating digging area, so he knows that is the place to dig instead of your flower bed.
Outline your chosen area with bricks or wood. Then fill it with loose dirt or sand. Make sure to bury some treats and toys beneath the soil to encourage him to dig in that area.