If you have observed uncanny behaviors in your dog time and again, then you are not alone. The emergence of COVID-19 and the new ‘stay-at-home’ lifestyle has made many pet owners around the world take notice of some weird behaviors in their dogs they had never noticed before.
Dogs communicate how they feel through their behavior. Therefore, any behavioral change is a clear sign that your dog is communicating something different. As a dog owner, it is best to try and understand the reason behind any behavioral change and respond appropriately. Always consult your veterinarian whenever you are unsure about your dog’s behaviors.
In this piece, we discuss why your dog is acting weird and how you can manage such unusual behaviors.
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Weird
There are various reasons why your dog is displaying weird behavior, from illness, diet, boredom, adapting to a new environment, to a change in their daily routine. It could also be a combination of any of the factors.
Let’s discuss a few.
Age is one of the factors that makes dogs gradually change their behavior. As your dog ages, their typical response and bodily functioning may deteriorate in different ways. Their memory, ability to learn, and senses of sight, smell, and hearing decline. You may also notice a change in your dog’s social interactions, such as how he relates with you and other pets. It is essential to understand these changes and handle them with compassion. However, changes that come with age don’t mean your dog is helpless. Some conditions are treatable. Consult a vet who can help manage some of these conditions and learn how to comfort your dog as he grows older.
Additionally, a great way to keep your dog healthy in their old age is to continue exercising, playing with him, taking walks, and even training him. Choose activities adapted to your dog’s slowed movements, medical conditions he might be having, reduced energy level, and declining eyesight and hearing.
Fear and anxiety
Fear and anxiety are common in dogs and have been found to cause sudden behavior change. Usually, fear and anxiety in dogs may be triggered by situations such as people wearing glasses, children, or strangers. You can tell your dog has a phobia or fear of something when they show any or a combination of the following behaviors:
- Chronic barking
- Whining or whimpering
- Flattened ears
- Posturing with tail between the legs
- Raised hair on the back of the neck
Fear and anxiety in dogs can result from poor socialization in their early life, a traumatic or stressful event, a medical condition, or an illness. The best way to curb this anxiety or phobia your dog is experiencing is through desensitization training. The veterinarian may recommend training exercises at home or suggest an animal behavior specialist for extensive reconditioning depending on the severity of the problem.
Your dog may start acting weird due to dietary issues. While some dogs are neophilic, which means they show interest in new foods, others are neophobic and will show wariness. Therefore, if you introduce your dog to a new meal and then observe strange behaviors, your dog may be uncomfortable with the new food. It is advisable to either avoid the meal or help your dog gradually adapt to the meal.
The quantity of food you give your dog is also a matter of concern. Too little food for your dog leads to hunger and irritation, and competition with other pets during meal times. They will also start stealing food and, at times, eating inappropriate items in the house. Too much feeding will result in an overweight dog that is sluggish and slow in its normal activities. It will also show less interest in going for walks and act aggressively towards other dogs and strangers.
It is, therefore, crucial to pay attention to the quantity and quality of food that you give your dog to control their negative reactions resulting from nutritional problems.
Being in a new environment
Suppose you just adopted your dog recently, and they are already showing weird behaviors. In this case, the new environment may be the problem. Research on canine personality traits at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, showed that a new environment influences dogs’ aggression levels.
In this case, you need to patiently give your dog positive attention as it will adapt to the new environment in a matter of about two weeks. Engage your dog constantly in playing, exercise, and training to fasten its adaptation process. If the weird behaviors persist and get out of your control, consult your vet for further advice.
Separation anxiety is triggered in dogs when they are separated from their guardian or family members to whom they are strongly attached. They express distress behaviors such as soiling the house, destruction, self-injurious behavior, and vocalizing when left alone. However, dogs take a few weeks to get over separation anxiety. Crate training is a viable way to go when helping your dog overcome separation anxiety. They get a safe place to stay when alone and get prevented from destructive behaviors within the compound.
Illness or injury
If your dog has started acting weird all of a sudden, then it is possible that your dog is either ill or is injured. Dogs have a similar pain threshold as human beings, therefore they will show sudden behavior changes when in pain. When dogs are in pain or are ill, they may display poor eating and drinking habits. They will eat less and hence lose weight. They may also drink either too much or very little water. Your dog may also show a lack of interest in exercising, walking, and playing. They may also act aggressively, show fear and even hide when touched. Other symptoms that your dog may show when sick or in pain include vomiting, too much drooling, discharges from the ears, eyes, and nose, too much scratching, and the development of skin sores.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, consult a vet.
FAQs about Dogs Acting Weird
Why is my dog acting weird at night?
Possible reasons why your dog is acting weird at night may be due to high room temperatures, anxiety, need to pee, fear, canine dementia, pain, or an issue with their diet. These factors may lead to irritating restless behaviors at night. If this behavior has started happening suddenly, you need to determine what may have occurred on the first night your dog started acting weird. It could be due to an injury, change of diet, or something causing fear.
Why is my dog acting weird after flea medicine?
Restless and weird behaviors in your dog after flea medicine are indicators that your dog is losing oxygen. Symptoms of toxicity from flea medicine are seen through excessive salivation and muscle tremors. Other signs may include any or a combination of diarrhea, drooling, falling over, difficulty in breathing, and vomiting. Some dogs will not change behavior after the medicine, while others will. For this reason, you should stay around your dog after the medicine just in case the reaction worsens.
Why is my dog acting weird after grooming?
It is normal for your dog to feel weird, hide from you, or even act sad at times after grooming. Your dog may feel uncomfortable, lighter, and a little bit confused. To help your dog get used to grooming and avoid acting weird, always offer a treat when he is being groomed, stay with him and talk to him with a soothing voice to show love and ensure they are relaxed during the grooming moment. That way, your dog will get used to grooming and stop acting weird after grooming.
Why is my dog acting weird after neutering?
Neutering dogs results in different behavioral changes from one dog to another. Male dogs express more behavior changes after neutering than females do after spraying. Some of the short-term effects that your dog may show are fear and anxiety, mild depression, confusion, and increased appetite, leading to obesity. Proper care for your dog after neutering is essential in its healing process. Ensure that your dog has a safe and quiet place to stay away from other pets and animals as it heals. You should also ensure that your dog does not engage in vigorous activities such as running and jumping, which may worsen the condition of the incision. It is also advisable not to bathe your dog for about ten days to help quicken the healing process.
Dogs exhibit weird behaviors not by chance but by a rationale that calls for dog owners to be more attentive to their dog’s responses and needs. The best way to respond to your dog’s weird behavior isn’t by ignoring it but by finding out the leading cause of the behavior and dealing with it, preferably with the help of a veterinarian or a licensed animal behaviorist.