Even though dogs don’t understand our languages, it’s surprising how well we can communicate with one another. It should come as no surprise, given that canines and humans have coexisted for thousands of years. However, due to their subtlety, some behavior changes in our pets may go unnoticed. Remember that dogs are stoic creatures, so even if the change appears insignificant to you, it could indicate a major issue for your dog.
Whether you’re training a new puppy or an older dog, a good foundation in positive training can get you off to a fantastic start. However, if there are any undesired canine behaviors present, training must be more than just a foundation. When it comes to behavioral issues, look at the big picture and study the most prevalent reasons why a dog “behaves badly.” The first step in solving and preventing behavior problems is to comprehend the most typical explanations.
- Not Enough Exercise: To be happy, dogs require physical activity, and on-leash walks around the block are rarely enough. Off-leash runs, running behind you on a Walky Dog or Springer bike leash, fetch activities, a pole toy like a Chase-It, or dog-to-dog play/daycare for social dogs are all good options for exercise.
- Not Enough Mental Stimulation: Mental stimulation is important for a well-balanced dog, yet it is often overlooked. Mental exercise can be equally as exhausting as physical activity; a gardener might be just as fatigued at the end of the day as someone who works at a desk job. Using your dog’s daily rations for enrichment activities or a little training as often as possible can go a long way towards mentally exhausting your dog.
- Health Problems: Health difficulties generate behavior problems more frequently than individuals know; health concerns are frequently overlooked. Consider this: if you’re not feeling well, you’re likely to be irritable or unresponsive. Your dog behaves in the same manner, except that a dog does not have the ability to communicate with you. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, painful teeth, thyroid disorders, epilepsy/seizures, ear infections, digestive troubles, skin or environmental allergies, yeast infections, hearing loss, eyesight loss, and cancer are all health conditions that might affect your dog’s behavior. Contact your veterinarian if you notice sudden signs of aggression or any type of behavior problem.
- Inconsistent Environment: How fair is it to your dog if you occasionally let your dog jump on you when you’re dressed casually, but then discipline him for jumping at other times? Dogs are completely oblivious to the differences in attire! For them, this pattern, or lack thereof, is perplexing and can generate worry. If your dog leaps, for example, practice sitting with positive reinforcement (giving something your dog enjoys, such as food or play, immediately after the activity) and entirely ignore your dog if he jumps. Ignoring your dog entails not talking, petting, or making eye contact with him, as these are all types of attention and can reinforce undesirable behavior.
- Changes in Routine: Changing your dog’s routine can be stressful, and it may cause him to act out. Dogs, like humans, want a sense of safety. Changes in their environment or habit might throw them off, generating worry that manifests itself in troublesome behavior. Moving to a new home frequently results in a gap in house training, among other problems. A new pet or child joining the family might be stressful for your dog, as can a change in work schedule. Be patient with your dog in all of these situations, and assist him through the transition with gentleness.
- Changes in Diet: It’s also possible that switching your dog to a lower-quality or less-suitable diet will make him act out. Diet has a significant impact on behavior (going back to health influencing behavior). Changing your dog’s diet to something low-quality or unsuitable for him may have an impact on how he behaves. Always give your dog a high-quality diet, and introduce new items gradually over the course of a week.
Signs That There Are Behavioral Changes In Your Dog
- Sudden Aggression: Dogs do not become violent overnight unless there is a serious underlying problem. It’s a good idea to visit the veterinarian if your dog has never displayed any signs of hostility previously. The older your dog is and the longer it has gone without acting aggressively, the more concerning its onset should be. Aggression is generally caused by a lack of training, but it can also be caused by medical issues. Brain tumors or seizures, for example, can cause violent behavior that has never been seen before. When touched in sensitive areas, your dog may only be able to inform you that he/she is in pain by snarling or biting. A loss of hearing or vision can make your dog feel vulnerable, causing him to act aggressively out of fear.
- Hiding: If your dog typically welcomes you and your visitors at the door and now refuses to do so, there’s a problem that has to be addressed. Most dogs do not hide since they are social animals who want to be near their owners. They may, however, be in pain or experiencing illness in some other way, making it difficult for them to communicate with friends or family members.
- Lethargy: Lethargy should always be taken seriously, especially in a dog who is ordinarily quite active. It may be more difficult to detect sleepiness in our pals who are more couch potatoes, but it is possible. In reality, most dog owners are in tune with their pets to the point where they detect even minor changes in behavior. After a long outing, such as a camping trip or a training session, we might anticipate our dogs to be exhausted.
- Weight Changes: Unexpected weight fluctuations in animals, like people, should not be taken lightly. A veterinarian should be consulted if your dog’s weight suddenly rises or falls, regardless of how much they eat. Changes in weight are caused by a variety of conditions, including thyroid disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and many others. If you detect a variation in your dog’s behavior, check with your veterinarian before modifying his or her diet.
- Needless Panting: We should anticipate panting from dogs in order to regulate their body temperatures. Panting during physical activity or during a heatwave is common, but panting while lying in bed or standing outside in the snow should be looked at seriously. Dogs pant for a variety of reasons, including due to a need to stay cool and fight off stress. Panting in dogs can be caused by emotional stress like fear or worry. Physical tension, such as discomfort, causes your dog to pant when he or she would not usually do so. Consider a trip to the veterinarian if you detect panting that you don’t believe is essential.