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Why is My Dog Acting Weird? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & Tips

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

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Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs can display a lot of strange behaviors. From licking the air to staring into space, some weird behaviors are too odd to ignore. Your canine companion can’t tell you when he’s feeling sick. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs that could signify a serious health problem. Any sudden change in behavior is worth investigating.

If you’re familiar with your pet’s behavior and personality, it can be easy to notice when he starts acting “off.” However, some strange behaviors can be tough to spot.

Here are six possible reasons behind your dog’s weird behavior and the next moves you should take.

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Why Is My Dog Acting Weird?

1. Dog Injury or Illness

If your dog is sleeping more than usual, isn’t eating or drinking, or seems grumpy and antisocial, he might be in pain. An injured or ill dog will start acting weird because he’s uncomfortable. Does your pup seem to be lethargic? If his sluggishness is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, you should schedule a vet appointment right away. If your pet is snapping or growling when you touch him, this could be an indicator of pain. When you believe that your dog’s weird behavior is caused by illness or injury, seek veterinary attention immediately.

sick dog laying in bed
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

2. Dog Stress

Dogs are creatures of habit. A disruption to your pet’s daily routine can cause stress and anxiety. Anxious dogs may be reluctant to eat, may have indoor accidents, or try and hide. If you’ve recently moved, changed your dog’s routine, gotten another pet, or have family and friends visiting, your pet may become anxious. Solutions for a stressed-out dog include relaxation pheromones or supplements, medication, environmental enrichment, and plenty of affection. Try your best to keep your dog on the same schedule every day to decrease his risk of anxiety.

3. Dog Hormones

Just like people, a dog’s hormones can affect its mood and behavior. If your pet is pregnant or becoming sexually mature, she may have a sudden surge of hormones. This can result in odd behavior such as excessive panting, humping, nesting, and aggression. While these hormonal behaviors are temporary, the best way to prevent them is to get your dog spayed or neutered.

aggressive chihuahua
Image Credit: Piotr Wawrzyniuk, Shutterstock

4. Dog Fear

A frightened dog can display abnormal behaviors including hiding, defecation, yelping, avoidance, and aggression. These behaviors are temporary and will subside after your dog feels confident and calm once again. However, if your dog was the victim of a traumatic event, he may experience chronic fear. Medication, training, and desensitization methods might be necessary. If your dog is constantly fearful, seek the help of a qualified trainer, animal behaviorist, or vet.

5. Dog Cognitive Dysfunction

As your dog grows older, his brain function can begin to deteriorate. Senior dogs may sleep more, bark for no reason, stare into space, and get lost in their own home. If your pet is displaying these odd behaviors, he may have dementia or cognitive dysfunction. Schedule a vet appointment to find the best course of treatment. These can include medications, supplements, and special diets.

jack russell senior dog sleeping
Image By: Gabriela Neumeier, Pixabay

6. Dog Boredom

Dogs that don’t receive enough physical and mental stimulation can suffer from boredom. Boredom may cause your dog to excessively bark, chew on furniture, pace, and urinate or defecate inside your home. If you leave your pet alone for hours at a time, he could succumb to boredom.

Keep your dog engaged with plenty of walks and daily activities. Consider enrolling him in weekly obedience or agility classes. Buy plenty of interactive dog toys to keep his mind stimulated.

If you work long hours, definitely hire a dog walker or sign your pup up for doggy daycare.

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If your dog seems “off,” he might be trying to tell you something. Whether it’s an illness, hormones, or boredom, you need to get to the bottom of your canine’s weird behavior. You won’t be able to address it until you find the root cause. Schedule a wellness check with your vet if you think your dog is injured or ill. Other issues can be solved with training, supplements, and exercise.

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Featured Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

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