Dog Behaviors with Physical Causes

The majority of dog owners experience one or more negative dog behaviors at some point or another in their pet's lifetime. Temperaments and personalities vary by breed and according to the individual animal, but most domesticated dogs are generally friendly and peaceful. If your pet displays negative or destructive behaviors, particularly if his typical behavior is calm and gentle, this may be a sign of some sort of a physical condition or situation. Learn to recognize your pet's behaviors immediately so that you will be aware of any alterations to this behavior. Read on for additional information about some of the most common negative pet behaviors that may have physical causes.


Dogs of all ages and types can have problems with soiling the home. For puppies, this behavior is considered normal and a healthy part of development. However, if your pet begins to leave messes around the house after he has already been successfully trained not to, he may be suffering from some form of incontinence. Older pets oftentimes experience difficulty controlling their urinary tracts due to normal loss of muscle control. But keep in mind that incontinence may be a sign of a serious medical condition, and it is important to be on the lookout for other signs that may provide a clue as to the underlying cause.

Aggression and Fear

Even gentle and friendly dogs may become aggressive in certain circumstances. An aggressive dog is a danger to you and anyone else in the home. In many cases, dogs become fearful or aggressive when they are experiencing pain. Without the capacity to verbalize their discomfort, dogs may become introverted, shy, manic or simply hostile. Dogs may also display this type of behavior if they are confused. For example, many older dogs experience some loss of vision over time, and one of the common reactions is growling and biting at anyone who comes too close. This behavior is driven from both fear and uncertainty as to what is happening.

Chewing and Biting

When a puppy is born, his mouth is one of the most important tools he has to sense the world around him. Over time, most dogs learn to only chew and bite in certain situations. However, a certain number of pets will never entirely control this behavior. In these cases, additional training may be necessary. If your pet begins to chew or bite compulsively, especially on parts of his own body, there are a variety of potential physical causes. He may have parasites or another skin condition that causes him to itch uncontrollably. He may be experiencing a physical discomfort. Finally, obsessive chewing and biting may be the result of emotional stresses.

It is important to develop a keen sense of your dog's healthy and normal behavior. Because each animal has a unique personality, you should never assume that a behavior is a negative sign by default. Rather, it is more helpful to compare an unusual behavior with your pet's normal actions and temperament. Recognize any changes so that you may quickly respond and seek further advice if necessary.