Dog Behavior: What's Normal What's Not

It's perfectly normal for puppies to be rambunctious and wildly curious, but this same dog behavior in a pet that's way past the puppy stage is cause for concern. That said, dog behavior can be a tricky thing if you don't fully understand dog behavior and what's considered normal and what's not. Is it normal for a dog to howl and bark? Yes. Is it abnormal for a dog to snap and bite at people on the street? No. In order to distinguish between what's normal and what might require professional help, continue reading to find out about some of the reasons dog's might develop behavior problems and what you can do to correct them.

What is Abnormal Dog Behavior

If your dog has been trained, but he still displays certain "bad behaviors," his behavior may be considered abnormal. Dog biting, puppy biting, eating poop (coprophagia), dog food aggression, excessive barking, chewing, digging, and jumping, separation anxiety, submissive urination, and extreme shyness are all considered abnormal.

Causes of Abnormal Dog Behavior

Dog behavior can develop for a number of reasons. It can be the result of:

  • Lack of training
  • Lack of reinforcement
  • Overexcitement
  • Genetic susceptibility

Lack of Training

Most pet parents have good intentions, but there are some that won't or cannot afford to hire a professional dog trainer. If a dog has inadequate or no training at all, bad habits and behaviors can develop rather quickly and in some cases, they can be difficult to break. The best thing you can do to prevent your dog from developing abnormal behaviors is to hire a trainer or enroll him in an obedience class.

Lack of Reinforcement

Pets, especially puppies, can mistake an owner's lack of disciplinary action as a sign that it's ok to behave badly. New and inexperienced owners may think that everything the puppy does is cute, but as the puppy grows into an adult dog, behaviors like jumping on people, chewing, and nipping can become a nuisance and even dangerous for both the owner and the dog. It is important to train your pet from the time he is a puppy to prevent behavior issues later down the line. Positive reinforcement is also useful. This means, reward the dog when he has done well. He will learn to associate "good behavior" with rewards. Even saying "good boy" and petting is good positive reinforcement.


The sound of a doorbell, the ringing of a telephone, and other situations that stimulate the dog can contribute to abnormal dog behavior. Providing a means for escape for the dog in these situations can help curb the behavior.

Genetic Susceptibility

Many dog breeds were created for specific jobs. This can predispose these specific breeds to "abnormal" behaviors that can frustrate owners. Fortunately, even a seemingly hopeless situation can be corrected with the proper (professional) training.