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Behavioral problems in dogs: causes, symptoms and solutions

Apart from the fact that some behavioral problems can be due to aging, a dog can present behavioral problems at any age, most often related to inappropriate training or a lack of socialization. But there are many other causes. How to spot them and what to do?

Behavioral problems in dogs: main causes and associated symptoms

Poor breeding conditions impact the dog's behavior because they lead to developmental disorders in the animal. This results in:
  • Relational difficulties between the dog and its owner or interspecific disorders,
  • Communication difficulties between the dog and its conspecifics which are intraspecific disorders. These can be detected in a dog that has not had regular contact with other dogs and therefore has not integrated the canine codes.
A dog can therefore present a behavioral disorder for a very specific cause such as
  • The bad relationship or the absence of contact with its congeners. This can be translated by an extreme submission or on the contrary an aggressiveness, barking, fear...
  • Uncleanliness that can become chronic: it appears in dogs that suffer from a deep malaise (separation anxiety, stressful situation, fear of abandonment when a new child or another pet arrives at home...). It is very different from "accidental peeing" and must be taken seriously.
  • Hyper-attachment: not used to being left alone, the dog has a very hard time with the absence of his master. It may, for example, howl at death until its owner returns, relieve itself daily in the house, destroy objects or furniture, steal food...

Behavioural disorders in dogs: symptoms

The manifestations of these disorders are numerous. It can for example be :
  • Fear,
  • A permanent feverishness observed in the dog unable to manage all kinds of stimuli. This is called kennel syndrome or sensory deprivation syndrome,
  • Untimely barking,
  • Anxiety, anguish, stress,
  • Nervousness,
  • Repeated runaways,
  • Uncleanliness,
  • Coprophagia (the dog eats its excrements),
  • Aggression,
  • Hyperactivity,
  • Asociability.

Behavioral problems in dogs: you must consult a veterinarian

It is essential not to leave things as they are, because living with a dog with this type of disorder can quickly become a hellish situation or even represent a danger for the owners, the children of the family or any other person outside the family, especially when the dog is aggressive for example. In order to find the right solution, it is first of all essential to understand the reason(s) why the dog has a behavioral disorder. It is necessary to talk to the veterinarian who will have to make sure that the origin is not a disease in which case he should prescribe a treatment. In the case of uncleanliness, for example, if it is due to kidney failure, it cannot be considered a behavioral disorder.

The owner of the dog should give as much information as possible to the veterinarian, such as how often and for how long the problem has existed, how it manifests itself and under what circumstances. If the dog has a complicated life history or has been abused, it is equally important to tell the practitioner. Many dogs adopted after abandonment or after living for some time with an abusive owner often show behavioral problems.

The slightest indication is important because it can help the veterinarian to set up the most appropriate behavioral therapy. In some cases (aggressiveness, anxiety...), this therapy can be accompanied by a medical treatment based on the prescription of anxiolytics for example.

Behavioral problems in dogs: some examples of solutions

Among the main solutions allowing a dog to have better relationships with its fellow dogs in the case of intraspecific disorders, we inevitably find re-education. For this to be successful, it is preferable that the animal be taken in charge by a dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist, or both. It is a long term work that requires patience, know-how, consistency, a perfect knowledge of the canine species and its codes. It is the same if the dog presents interspecific disorders.

Learning or relearning to walk on a leash, but also increasing the number of outings can help a runaway dog to become more manageable. Keeping a dog busy by playing and paying more attention to it than before are attitudes to adopt when faced with an animal that barks incessantly and disturbs the life of the neighborhood. All intellectual but also physical stimulation is necessary for the dog to find a certain stability.

The owner's involvement is crucial in the management of behavioral problems in dogs and he must always adopt a positive attitude. The owner should never punish the dog or even scold or yell at it. On the other hand, rewarding the dog when it obeys a consistent command is encouraging. The owner should also not overprotect his small dog from larger dogs. However, this is often the case and can lead to desocialization or excessive fear of other dogs. The overprotected dog becomes fearful and aggressive.

Whatever the behavioral disorder from which a dog suffers, therapy should never be haphazard. It starts with understanding to act in the right way by adopting the solution on a case by case basis. And one systematically applies the gentle way instead of being aggressive with the animal. If you don't have any knowledge in this field, meddling with your dog yourself can lead to even more serious problems. It is therefore essential to get professional help.