Is your usually well-trained dog acting out of character all of a sudden? Biting, scooting, and going round in circles are just a few ways your puppy may be behaving oddly.
So, why is my dog acting weird? Possible reasons include disease, injury, boredom, a new environment, a diet issue, mistreatment, or a change in its daily routine.
In this article, I’m discussing common examples of weird dog behaviors, causes that could be driving your barking buddy to act strangely, and what can you do about it.
Is My Dog Acting Strange?
As a dog owner, the first thing you want to do is determine whether your pet is really acting weird, and if so, what the odd behavior is.
You may be thinking that certain actions are strange when they’re normal, or like many dog owners, you may be having trouble pinpointing the strange behavior your puppy is displaying.
Whatever the case, let’s talk about some common weird dog behaviors along with their possible meanings to help you find answers.
While dogs are still puppies, biting or trying to bite their owners is pretty normal behavior as they’re in the process of developing a way to communicate.
You should be expecting some bites during training sessions or playtime, but if your puppy bites frequently outside of these scenarios or without an obvious reason, it counts as weird behavior.
You’ll probably need to stop this behavior before it turns into a bigger issue as your pup gets older.
Fear, anxiety, and aggression are among the reasons mature dogs bite. Identifying the cause for your dog’s unusual biting is the first step towards correcting the behavior. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to stop, it’s best to talk to your vet.
2. Stinky Dog Breath … more than usual
We’re not saying that dogs normally have minty-fresh breaths, but there’s a difference between everyday stinky and too stinky.
A slight increase in your dog’s smelly breath case can be a sign of a more serious problem such as gastrointestinal tract issues, liver disease, or kidney disease. These can cause a particularly bad breath, while a fruity scented mouth (similar to a nail polish remover) can be a sign of canine diabetes.
3. Eating Their Poop
Did you know that eating their own poop can be a normal dog behavior? Yes, it’s disgusting for us, but puppies may try to do it if they see their mothers ingest feces while cleaning them.
This behavior becomes weird if it grows into a habit, in which case you’ll need to schedule a visit to the vet. Consuming poop could be a natural response to a nutritionally-deficient diet, which requires some changes in the menu to stop the behavior.
4. Going Round in Circles
A dog chasing its tail is quite a normal sight, but what if your canine friend just keeps going round in circles? If this a regular happening, your dog may be suffering from an underlying illness including a headache or an ear infection.
It can also be a more serious disease such as idiopathic vestibular syndrome, which affects a dog’s balance, or even a brain tumor. If your dog is circling more than usual without actively trying to catch its tail, then a trip to the vet is due.
As close as the friendship is between humans and dogs, we don’t really share the whole “yawing when tired” thing. If your dog yawns more frequently when there, then this odd behavior may be an indication that it’s scared or stressed.
The best thing to do to avoid this is slowly and gently introducing your dog to new people. Never rush any interactions until your dog is comfortable.
To regulate their body temperature, dogs get rid of excess body heat through their mouths. Unusual panting, especially in summer, could point out that your dog is simply too hot.
However, panting could also mean your dog is experiencing pain, so it’s important to pay attention to such behavior though.
There are a bunch of possible reasons why your dog may be digging holes outside including hiding something significant to it, tracking other animals, or escaping the heat.
Your dog may also be digging inside the house – does digging at blankets or couches sound familiar? No worries, this is also normal. Your dog could just be trying to make a comfortable spot to kickback.
But if the digging is becoming excessive or starting to ruin your furniture, consider seeking professional dog training.
Scooting is when a dog drags its behind on the floor, particularly on rugs. This behavior is usually a sign that your dog’s anus is irritated or that your dog just needs to go to the toilet.
However, if the scooting doesn’t stop after pooping, the issue could also be allergies. Many people will tell you it’s probably because of worms, but that’s actually one of the least likely reasons.
If your dog has eaten grass, it may be struggling to poop it out. In this case, scooting is an indication of poor digestion.
To help stop this behavior, be sure to include some fiber in your dog’s diet. Foods like chopped cucumber or cooked pumpkin can help canines poop with ease.
9. Pushing Their Head
If you see your dog press or push its head against the wall, you should immediately go to the emergency vet. This weird behavior is a common sign of multiple very serious health problems including brain disease and toxic poisoning.
10. Improper Urination
If your dog is house trained, then peeing indoors may be an indication that something internally has gone wrong. In this case, you need to schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible.
It’s important to keep track of your barking buddy’s peeing habits as frequent urination can be a symptom of urinary tract infection, canine diabetes, or even a sign of dementia.
Why is My Dog Acting Weird?
If your dog is acting weird all of a sudden and you don’t know what’s causing it, one of the following reasons can give you an explanation for its behavior.
A lot of dog owners don’t realize that an illness or disease can be the reason their dog is acting out of character. Whether it’s because they lack experience or just don’t want to believe their beloved pet might be sick, one thing is for sure; health issues often slip their minds.
Bit if you think about it, it’ll make sense how feeling sick could be making your dog behave oddly. Humans do it all the time! We can get grumpy, slouchy, or even mad when we’re not feeling well.
In the same sense, your dog could show one or more of these signs due to a health problem:
- Bad mood
- Growling or snapping when touched
- Less social
- Pooping accidents
- Decreases appetite
- Not wanting to drink
- Excessive coughing
- Watery eyes
- Too much scratching
- Dull hair
Some health problems that can alter your dog’s behavior include sore teeth, digestive issues, arthritis, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, epilepsy/seizures, ear infections, and skin allergies. If your dog is suddenly aggressive or cranky, it’s best to contact your vet.
If your dog isn’t getting enough physical or mental stimulation, it’ll experience boredom. When they’re bored, dogs are likely to seek other means of entertainment and, to you, their behavior may seem strange.
Most dogs require more physical exercise than simple walks around the neighborhood. If your pup needs a little extra, activities such as jogging/running with you, off-leash runs, fetch games, or even a dog-dog playdate can be excellent exercise outlets.
As for mental stimulation, it’s an often forgotten yet essential aspect for a well-balanced dog. Mentally stimulating puzzle toys or using your dog’s daily food portions for enrichment activities can help eliminate boredom, tire your dog mentally, and keep it away from mischief.
A Change in Environment
Changing the usual environment around your dog can cause it to behave out of character. If you’d recently adopted your dog or had a new pet added to the family, then your dog may act weird because it’s unsure of the new environment.
If this is the case, the behavioral issues should go away over time; could be a few weeks or months. To help the situation improve faster, try giving your dog positive attention through exercise, training, and playtime.
If the issue persists after a while, consider consulting a vet or dog behaviorist.
Stress or Depression
When we’re upset, stressed, or depressed, our typical behavior will certainly get affected. Much like humans, dogs can also act weird if something is causing them stress or anxiety.
Stressful events to a dog include another pet being added to the family, moving to a new home, or an owner or another pet passing away.
In such cases, the behavioral issues should improve in a matter of a few days or weeks. Again, you can help speed things up by giving your barking buddy positive attention via exercise, training, and playtime.
If the issue persists after a while, consider consulting a vet or dog behaviorist.
Your dog may be acting weird because something is scaring it. This is probably the reason if your dog tends to behave differently at specific times such as when there are nearby sirens, fireworks, or construction works.
In this case, the solution is to remove the thing that’s making your dog fearful. If that’s not possible, consider desensitization training.
There could be an issue with what you’re feeding your dog that’s making it act weirdly. For example, it could be eating foods that aren’t allowed, foods lacking the right nutrients, too much food, or too little food.
If you remember your dog eating something it shouldn’t have or you’ve recently changed its diet, then this could explain why it started behaving oddly. In this case, talk to your vet about a proper diet.
Another reason why your dog is acting weird could be because someone mistreated it. If your dog suddenly started behaving out of character, if it avoids certain people, or if someone was recently harsh or aggressive towards it, then this is a likely cause.
Making sure your dog doesn’t get mistreated again and regularly giving it the same positive attention we mentioned before can help. If it doesn’t get better after a few days or weeks, try consulting a dog behaviorist.
Confusing Normal and Unusual Dog Behavior
Often, new dog owners will misunderstand normal dog behavior and mistake it for being weird.
Barking, pulling on the leash, guarding food, jumping to greet, growling when threatened, digging, rolling in dead things, eating poop, chewing various items, herding, and chasing small animals are all examples of perfectly normal behavior across different dog breeds.
This is why you must find a dog breed that suits your lifestyle. For instance, if you live in an apartment, get a dog breed that doesn’t bark much. You can’t expect a Mastiff or a Dachshund to be quiet all day and not bark whenever someone walks by your door.
Sometimes the cause of the unusual behavior is genetic. In other words, if your puppy is particularly aggressive, aloof, or hyperactive (among other behaviors), the issue may be inherited from its parents.
This is why you should check the family history of a puppy before buying it so you can find out whether or not the parents have positive temperaments. If not, there’s a high possibility your puppy will also have a poor temperament.
However, you can sometimes override poor genetics with the help of a great socialization program.
The answer to “why is my dog acting weird?” can be tricky. To help yourself zone on the right reason, consider what else happened when the unusual behavior started as well as when it started.
Chances are, this will lead you to a certain event that triggered the strange behavior.
- Weird & Wacky Dog Behaviors by Dogington Post
- 10 Strange Dog Behaviors Explained by VetStreet