If you ever thought your dog was being weird, you’re not the only pet parent to have felt so! Dogs can end up doing the most weirdly adorable things, resulting in many ‘awws’ and ‘oohs’ and of course, the inevitable flurry of Instagram posts after.
But no, we’re not talking about Country-Roads-singing, vacuum-warrior-thinking, trying-to-chase-their-own-tail cute weirdness—we’re talking about changes-in-behavior, weight-loss-and-other-worrying-symptoms-inducing weirdness.
If your dog has been exhibiting any of the above-mentioned symptoms, there may be cause for worry. Dogs can act weird for a range of reasons and it can be quite worrying, frightening, confusing and frustrating to see your dog not be his or her usual self.
Sometimes, it’s not even sickness that’s making them act weird. What do you do then? When does your beloved fur baby’s behavior warrant a visit to the vet?
If you’ve wondered all this at any point in time, this article is for you. Read on to know what makes dogs “off” and what you can do at such times.
Reasons Behind Your Dog’s Weirdness
Here’s a low down on all the possible reasons behind your dog’s weirdness.
Depression or Stress
Mental disturbance isn’t just limited to human beings (though many tend to egotistically think that it is). Dogs can also feel acutely stressed in various situations. If your dog has been “off” lately, tracing the behavior back to a particular incident will help—your dog may be displaying these symptoms only after said incident. Most commonly, these are the deaths of another pet dying or even the owner, as well as the addition of another pet or babies into the household and moving.
Showering your pet with positive attention will help overcome these situations, in the form of exercise, training, playing and spending time with your pet. This will help your pet overcome the stress or depression in a few days or weeks, failing which, a trip to a vet or dog behaviorist may be necessary.
A very common reason behind your dog’s weirdness could be boredom. Many owners fall for puppy-dog eyes and the idea of owning a pet, but not many people can actually commit to looking after a pet the way it should be done! Having a pet doesn’t just mean cuddles, squishing and hugs—it also means giving your dog sufficient attention, exercise, a good diet and proper care.
Lack of sufficient exercise leads to boredom in dogs and can result in your dog acting weird, or even worse, becoming destructive.
Related: Why Do Dogs Frantically Eat Grass?
Injuries and Illness
If your pupper has been crying, running away from contact, hiding or becoming less active, you may need to check for injuries or illness and visit the vet.
Issues with the Diet
Dietary issues are also a major cause behind weirdness in dogs. Your dog could have been eating things he or she isn’t supposed to, overeating or undereating, or not getting the right nutrients in his or her diet. All of these reasons can lead to your dog being “off” and may require a consultation with the vet about your pet’s diet. Additionally, ensure that you’re keeping a track of your pet’s diet and feeding schedule and ensure that no one else is feeding your dog.
Mistreatment and Abuse
Needless to say, mistreatment and abuse can lead to changes in your dog’s behavior and lead to its acting weirdly. Any aggression or avoiding people (especially certain people) are all indicators that someone was aggressive or abusive towards your dog.
The best (and most obvious) solution to this is to ensure that your dog doesn’t get mistreated or abused. Give your dog lots of love and positive attention in the form of exercise, gentle touch and contact and care. If you see no improvement within a few weeks, seek help from your vet or dog behaviorist.
Related: Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?
A Change in the Daily Routine
Dogs are creatures of routine, preferring and liking a consistent daily routine. Any disruption can get them to act strangely, since it may disorient them. Changes in the schedule such as changing walk time, feeding time or waking up at a different time can cause your dog to act weird.
As indicated earlier, dogs don’t take well to change. If you put your dog in new surroundings, this might lead to him or her developing weird behavior due to the uncertainty of a new environment. This is an especially common case with adopted dogs, or worse, those bought from puppy mills.
This should improve with time, as your dog gets more used to and familiar with the surroundings. Again, attention in the form of training, play and exercise will greatly help the cause.
If left alone for long periods of time, dogs tend to develop separation anxiety. If your dog gets anxious when you leave or gets destructive when left alone, this is a sign of separation anxiety. Try not to leave your dog alone for long periods and give him or her sufficient attention and care.
Anything that makes your dog fearful or frightens it will cause it to act strangely. This is especially common around loud construction noises, sirens or fireworks. In such cases, try to remove the object of fear or noise, keep your dog active, or give desensitization training a shot.
Sometimes, dogs may also be afraid of strangers and other dogs. A good way to work over this is to socialize your dog the right way, from an early age.
If you just gave your dog a good earful for ripping apart your favorite shoes (which you shouldn’t be doing, by the way!), your dog may start displaying submissive behavior and start acting weird. Your dog will indulge in behavior such as sulking and avoiding you.
Letting the Behavior Slide
Just as it is with children, pampering your dog and letting him or her have his or her way all the time could result in weird, “off” behavior when you finally deny your dog something. If you’ve been showering your fur baby with toys, treats and too much attention, you’re going to have a spoilt dog that throws tantrums to get his or her way (and more rewards!), on your hands!
Encourage your dog not by giving him or her free rein but by rewarding him or her only when there’s a display of good behavior!
Related: Why Does My Dog Sit On My Chest?
When You Should Visit the Vet
If even a few weeks don’t cure your pet of the weird mood, a visit to the vet may be warranted. If the weird mood is accompanied by any abnormalities such as appetite changes, vomiting or diarrhea, visit your vet immediately. If there is no physical manifestation of your pet’s weird behavior, it may be a behavioral issue, in which case, consulting a pet behaviorist is your best bet.
What Else You Can Do
- Stop encouraging the weird behavior! Dogs are just like children and encouraging the behavior will only result in more weird/bad behavior.
- Constantly look for signs—does your pet avoid a certain area of the house? Is there a vocalization that was never there before? Is there a change in your pet’s routine? Is he or she eating well? Is your pet’s sleep restless?
- Ensure that you’re feeding your pet right and that he or she is getting the right nutrition in his or her meals. Consider whether you changed the diet recently.
- Try to trace your pet’s behavior. The weird behavior may have started as a consequence of an event—try to look back and see what could have happened that resulted in your pet’s weird behavior. Identifying this will let you prevent similar future circumstances.
- Ensure that your pet’s getting the right amount of exercise. Remember, the aim of exercising is not to tire your pet out but ensure that your pet stays healthy.
- Don’t over-pamper your dog; you’re doing more harm than good to your dog and yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve done it all and checked it all but you still haven’t a clue why your dog is behaving the way he or she is, visit the vet! By doing so, you’re either recognizing or ruling out the possibility of an illness or injury, which clears the route to seek help from a trainer or behaviorist instead.
Ultimately, you know your dog better than anyone else, including the vet. Therefore, listen to your instinct and rely on your knowledge of your dog before you panic and lose your mind over what could be wrong with your dog. You know best when your dog needs a vet, but if you’d like to play it safe (better safe than sorry, after all!), visit the vet if there’s no improvement within a couple of weeks. Try to stay away from self-diagnosis as much as possible.
Remember, dogs can be big babies, but prolonged strange behavior shouldn’t go unchecked. Constantly keep a check on your dog’s behavior and ensure you’re giving him or her the right type and amount of attention—this is equally important for the good health of both you and your furry bundle of joy!