Dog Behavior in Context: Ruling Out Physical Problems First

Problem behavior in your dog may be caused by a physical problem or a health issue that you could be overlooking. If training and behavior modification techniques don't seem to be improving your dog's behavior, consider a trip to the veterinarian's office for a physical exam to rule out any physical problems first.

Physical Problems and Unusual Dog Behavior

Vision Loss: Gradual or sudden blindness in dogs can be caused by several factors, including cataracts, progressive retinol atrophy, corneal ulcers and glaucoma. When a dog starts to lose his vision he may appear clumsy and bump into furniture, become lethargic, sleep more than usual, act fearful especially in dark or new places, exhibit personality changes and become aggressive when approached.

Accidents in the house: If your dog is no longer a puppy and suddenly has bladder control problems, or is having accidents in the house, there could be a physical problem. Some dogs will urinate when they are under stress due to punishment or a recent and sudden change in environment. Bladder problems may also cause excessive urination and difficulty controlling the bladder. Infections, parasites, viruses and fungi may cause urinary problems, so owners should watch out for excessive urination that is accompanies by foul-smelling or discolored urine, straining when urinating and licking of the genitals as these are signs of deeper physical problems.

Eating feces: A common condition called coprophagia is when a dog eats his own feces or the feces of another animal. This rather disgusting habit can be caused by intestinal parasites, as a reaction to stress or poor hygienic conditions, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, obsessive compulsive disorder, or infections of the digestive tract.

Aggressive behavior: An aggressive or violent dog is a serious problem for owners and their families. Sudden personality changes and aggressive behavior is usually a sign of a physical problem, like vision loss mentioned above. As a dog gets older he may start feeling aches and pains, lose his sight or experience hearing loss, and bite or growl if someone comes near them. This is usually due to physical pain or being caught by surprise and reacting with bad behavior.

Stopping Bad Dog Behavior

Sudden changes in your dog's personality can be caused by physical problems that should be addressed by a veterinarian. Tell your vet about any new developments in your dog's lifestyle and behavior and changes in diet, weight, sleeping schedule or bathroom habits. By diagnosing a health problem or physical cause for your dog's behavior you will not only relieve your dog of pain or discomfort but also avoid unnecessary punishments or training methods.