Abnormal Dog Behaviors

Abnormal dog behaviors are difficult to define because any behavior can be abnormal if it is not common for your dog. If your dog exhibits abnormal behavior suddenly, first consult a veterinarian to rule out any health problems. If none are determined, abnormal behavior can often be solved through training.

Destructive Behaviors

If your dog is destroying your house in your absence, he probably has excessive energy with no outlet. Many abnormal behaviors can be reduced with increased exercise. Walks are often not enough for an adolescent dog or working breed. Give your dog the opportunity to run daily.

Your dog also may not have enough mental stimulation. Give him something to do when you leave, such as throwing his food in the yard so he can hunt for it or stuffing food or treats in toys or bones and hiding them in the house or yard. There are many interactive toys available that can entertain your dog in your absence.

Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors

Many dogs who have excessive energy or have spent too much time in a shelter cage develop obsessive compulsive behaviors such as spinning, chewing themselves or chasing light. These behaviors may require medication from your veterinarian, depending on their severity.

To reduce behaviors through training, stop your dog as soon as he begins the behavior. Distract him with a well-known command and teach him an incompatible behavior. For example, if your dog spins, teach him to go find a toy or go lie down in his spot. If he chases light, redirect his attention with a focus command. If he chews himself, redirect his chewing to a toy or bone.

Anxious Behaviors

Dog anxiety can exhibit itself in many ways: destruction, barking, whining, hiding, etc. To solve these problems, reduce your dog's anxiety. Create a calm room for your dog with his favorite bed, toys, treats, a DAP diffuser to release calming hormones and the radio or television for white noise.

Every time your dog gets anxious, lead him to that room and leave him until he calms. You can join him as long as you are calm. After many repetitions, he will begin to seek out the room himself.

Identify his fears and make him more comfortable. For example, if he is afraid of thunderstorms, buy a CD and play the sounds at a low volume. Give him treats for remaining calm. Gradually increase the volume over many sessions. If he gets stressed, you're moving too fast.

Aggressive Behaviors

These are the most serious because they can be dangerous. Most aggression begins with fear. If your dog is exhibiting aggressive behaviors, teach him to respond promptly to your voice commands. Use treats and a leash to ensure no physical confrontation.

For example, if your dog is aggressive when moved from furniture, teach him a down command and make it a game. Ask him to get up and then down for a treat. Use a leash to reinforce. If your dog gets aggressive when he sees other dogs, teach him to look away from the dogs when he hears "watch." Teach him behaviors that are incompatible to his aggression.

Abnormal behaviors are often difficult to diagnose and treat, so you may need to work with your veterinarian or a professional trainer.