This article by Jennifer was originally published on FOMO Bones.
When we think of dogs, we tend to imagine a happy, goofy companion that loves to play and, most of all, loves to sit right by our side. A running joke in the dog-parent community is the fact that our pooches absolutely lack personal space and it is usually impossible to even go to the bathroom in peace. What most people don’t realize is that our canine companions can experience emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. What’s more, because the powers that be failed to give dogs the ability to talk, the only way they can get our attention to alert us that something is wrong is by acting out in some very strange ways.
Why Do Dogs Start Behaving Strangely Overnight?
More often than not, if your dog’s behavior is normal and he is otherwise in good health, a sudden change in behavior could indicate that your pup is experiencing stress and/or anxiety. And here’s the thing about anxiety—we can’t control it most of the time and we have no idea where it comes from. The same is true for our dogs when they start feeling anxious as a result of being left on their own for extended periods of time or due to a lack of exercise or a change in environment. So, it’s not that they have suddenly become anxious or unwell; it’s more that their symptoms have become severe enough for them to seek help by getting our attention, or they could also be self-soothing by using bizarre behavior as a coping mechanism.
If you notice any of the following strange behaviors in your dog, then they are sending you a signal that something is awry, and you should take action right away to stop the problem worsening.
1. Your Dog Seems to Be Unable to Focus
If your seemingly intelligent dog starts randomly distracting himself and is unable to focus on one task (like a game of fetch) he could be trying to release pent-up stress. A common displacement behavior is pacing and obsessively sniffing the ground, or compulsively licking paws. If you notice that your dog is suddenly acting out in this way, then it is likely he is suffering from a bout of anxiety. At this stage, you should make a mental note of any poignant changes that have taken place regarding your dog’s routine or living environment and try to restore normality as best as possible.
2. Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
Sometimes a pet will obsessively scratch himself or pace around as he is struggling to deal with anxiety. This is often the result of an impending event, such as fireworks or you leaving for a trip (trust me, they just know). The problem is this kind of behavior can end up being quite harmful to your dog, especially if they are scratching themselves raw.
3. They Suddenly Forget Where to Go Potty
A common sign of stress or anxiety in dogs is peeing in the house in a particular spot even though they are completely housebroken. This is a major warning sign that something isn’t right and if you notice that your dog pees in the same place every time you leave them alone, it is a clear indication of separation anxiety. Please note: this is not the same as incontinence. If your dog isn’t capable of controlling their bladder at all, then you need to visit your vet ASAP as it could be the start of a serious disease.
4. Clingy Behavior
Some dogs need their own space while others love to cuddle close to you at all times. This is one of their lovable traits, as we rely on our dogs for reassurance and affection as much as they do us. But, if your dog has suddenly become super clingy and whiney when he can’t hop onto your lap, then this indicates a problem that needs to be addressed. Pandering to a dog’s negative behavior is only going to reinforce and worsen the issue, not improve it.
If your otherwise docile pet suddenly becomes aggressive this could be an indication that he is in pain. Your first step should be to take him to the vet to rule out any serious injuries. If the behavior continues, but your dog isn’t sick, it is likely that the aggression is fear-based and could stem from anxiety.
There are many other strange behaviors that can indicate stress or anxiety, but the above are not as common as others and therefore are easily missed.
How to Overcome These Issues
Now that you understand where your dog’s bizarre behaviors are potentially coming from, it’s time to decide what steps you are going to take to correct the problem. It is worth noting that a combination of tactics to alleviate stress and anxiety work better than using a single method.
CBD oil is an excellent natural remedy that has powerful healing properties when it comes to treating issues like pain or anxiety. There is already a substantial amount of evidence that shows it can alleviate a range of negative symptoms. Thanks to medical research and CBD oil’s increasing popularity as an alternative medicine, we can only expect more positive news regarding its therapeutic potential in the coming years.
Many dog owners are now choosing to treat anxiety in dogs with CBD oil as it is entirely plant-based and offers a wealth of benefits including anti-inflammatory properties. Many mainstream veterinarians are now advocating the use of CBD to treat a range of canine ailments, primarily anxiety.
If your dog has suddenly started chewing or destroying things around the house, then you could consider crate training. When done properly, it offers your dog a safe haven where they can go to seek respite from their stress. It will also stop them from engaging in destructive behavior that could harm them.
If you feel that your dog’s anxiety or strange behavior is getting out of control, it might be time to consult a behavioral therapist. Dogs are pack animals and they need to see you as their pack leader in order to listen and obey you when you tell them to stop baring their teeth or chewing up your favorite pair of shoes.
As always, before you take matters into your own hands, always try to seek professional advice on what you can do to eliminate your dog’s negative behavior.
Author bio: Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She’s pretty sure she was a Great Dane in her past life, but her team at FOMO pegs her as more of a Labrador. Regardless of her breed, she’s a dog enthusiast with 15 years’ experience training dogs and owner.