When we think of dogs, we tend to imagine a happy, goofy companion that loves to play and, most of all, loves to be sat right by our side. A running joke in the dog-parent community is the fact that our pooches absolutely lack personal space and usually, it is impossible to even go to the bathroom in peace. What most people don’t realize—and that includes some dog owners—is that our canine companions can experience emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and, in the worst cases, 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.
Because our dogs can’t talk to us, we often don’t notice something is wrong until the issue has become so bad that all they can focus on is getting our attention to notice the visual cues that they are providing us with. More often than not, if your dog’s behavior is normal and he is in otherwise good health, a sudden change in behavior could be as simple as he doesn’t like the latest dog food he has been given or it could indicate that your pup is experiencing stress and/or anxiety. And here’s the thing about anxiety—we can’t control it and 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 a case of 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.
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 one that involves your pup pacing and obsessively sniffing the ground, or compulsively licking his 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 with regards to your dog’s routine or living environment and try to restore normality as best as possible.
As dog parents, we have all awoken to the dreaded sound of glopping: the sound that your dog makes early in the morning when he licks his paws or yawns. This is one of the traits of our beloved pooch that makes us love him even more, but 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 like fireworks or you are taking a trip away. (Trust me, they just know!) The problem is this kind of behavior can actually end up being quite harmful to your dog, especially if they are scratching themselves redraw.
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.
Some dogs need their own space while others love to be cuddled close with you at all times. This is one of their loveable 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, or if you go outside and leave him closed in the house for a minute, 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, then 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 and if the behavior continues, but your dog isn’t sick then 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 ones are not as common as others and therefore are easily missed.
Now that you understand where your dog’s bizarre behaviors are potentially coming from, it’s time to make a decision about 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 one sole method, so you should always ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise and is eating a balanced diet.
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 is capable of alleviating a range of negative symptoms. Thanks to medical research and its increasing popularity as an alternative medicine means that we can only expect more positive news with regards to 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 it offers a wealth of benefits including anti-inflammatory properties. With New Year’s Eve just behind us, CBD oil was flying off the shelves in the lead up to the fireworks displays taking place nationwide and dog owners who would usually spend their evening worried about their dog’s anxiety-fueled behavior were able to enjoy their evening alongside their pooches who weren’t fussed about all the noise and commotion, thanks to CBD oil. Many mainstream veterinarians are now advocating the use of CBD to treat a range of canine ailments, the primary one being 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 and 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, then 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.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.
[…] that other mammals can also suffer bouts of severe anxiety. An anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, a phobia, or a problem with mental health—your pet could suffer as we do and all can your […]
[…] realities that can occur if our dog manages to escape, or injure himself while engaging in destructive anxiety-related behavior. Compulsive behaviors like chewing and scratching can easily escalate to the point where your […]
[…] or has a strong cough can be alarming, especially if he has never demonstrated any previous signs of being unwell. Sometimes, dogs can have what sounds like an asthma attack and while it can be an indication of […]
[…] This, in turn, can result in anxiety, confusion and/or depression. It is important to try to relax them and be there for your pup during this time, even if there’s not a ton you can realistically do […]