Abnormal behaviour of your dog

[vc_section css=”.vc_custom_1558595282354{background-color: #f1e1e1 !important;}” el_class=”post-section”][vc_row el_class=”post-row”][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1558522047060{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 25px !important;background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Abnormal Behaviour of your Dog! ” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:center|color:%23357ebf”][vc_column_text]Behaviour observed in animals, which occur either voluntarily or involuntarily, is an excretable blend of species-specific and acquired or learned component. It is the wild and wonderful ways in which animals interact with each other, with other living beings and with the environment. The central nervous system and body hormones are responsible for the expression of and maintenance of behaviour.

There is no bad behaviour to a dog.  However, what is absolutely normal to a dog may not fit into our lifestyle.  A behaviour problem is a tendency or pattern that sufficiently deviates from owners expectations.  There is always a reason and a purpose behind any dog behaviour that has been instilled in their make from generations.

The first step in solving any behavioural problem is to find out-

1) Why the dog is doing the particular behaviour?

2) What are the circumstances surrounding the behaviour?

3) When does the dog do it?

4) Where does the dog do it?

5) How does the dog do it?

Why abnormal behaviour?

  1. Genetic predisposition- e.g. Aggression, Shyness, Timidity.
  2. Pathology-Idiopathic causes/ undiagnosed neurological problems, deficiency of enzymes, hormonal disorders.
  3. Increasing age-Reduced sensory acuteness, awareness,- deafness/ blindness.
  4. Trauma-A puppy’s brain develops in response to sensory, cognitive, emotional stimulation. Traumatic experiences occurring in early puppyhood are a major source of phobic behaviour. A single bee sting at the age between 6th– 8th weeks of age will result in permanent fear for insects flies etc.
  5. Socialisation defects: Isolation, Abusive handling, mistreatment, Event situational unfamiliarity.

Common Abnormal Behaviours:

Separation anxiety:

Sometimes people over bond with their pets to the extent where they cannot leave them alone. When an animal becomes suddenly alone he experiences a sort of emotional distress and suffers from separation anxiety & becomes destructive.

Manifestations of separation anxiety:

  1. Jumping through the window to get out of the house to find the owner.
  2. Chewing/scratching the door
  3. Howling or barking to call owner
  4. Loss of bladder/ bowel control
  5. Tearing up chewing bedclothes, personal belongings of the owner


  • Confine the dog to a crate or other small areas with comforting items and chew toys.
  • Establish rules and boundaries immediately.
  • Teach the dog to sit or lie down for anything he wants
  • Don’t shower him with free affection.
  • Provide plenty of exercises and mental stimulation
  • Frequently enter and exit the room many times till he is calm.
  • Come and go from the room many times, ignore the dog.
  • Practice low key departures/arrivals.
  • Don’t keep contact with dog 10-15 minutes before leaving/ after arrival.
  • Assume a strong leadership role.
  • Never punish the dog after the fact.
  • Antidepressant drugs can be tried.

Fear :

Fear is the apprehension of stimulus, object or event. It is a highly adaptive response, essential for survival. It is one of the most difficult emotions because a fearful dog is not even willing to look at the person.


  • Predisposing genetic factors.
  • Early socialisation exposure deficit, inadequate or traumatic exposure.
  • Immunisation vs. Socialisation: Puppies need a series of vaccination which start from 6th week and last upto 4 months of age; which also a period of socialisation. Some people avoid the puppy to mix with other dogs & don’t take it outside until he has had his last shot.  It should be ensured that socialisation is not hampered for preventive health care.
  • Traumatic experience: A bee sting on sensitive part will develop fear against all kinds of flies.

Types of fear:

Xenophobia:                 Fear of strangers.

Pedophobia:                  Fear of children

Agoraphobia:                Fear of outdoors, new places.

Reactions to fear:


Freeze dog will freeze or even faint. Flight dog will escape away.  Fight dog will fight back in fear when unable to get away from the situation.

Fear-induced aggression:

It is the most difficult type of fear.  The dog snaps, bites or even acts aggressively towards the source of fear. These dogs are unpredictable.  Reaching near the dog is difficult.  This is learned behaviour.  Once the dog growls, snaps or snarls & sees that the source of fear moves away, he learns.


  • Identify fear-eliciting stimuli or events and avoid exposure to them.
  • Stop all punishment and coercion.
  • Stop attempts to soothe the dog by giving it attention as this may reward fearful behaviour.
  • The dog must be observed when in contact with fear eliciting stimulus.

All positive no negative:

Never respond to the dog’s aggression with aggression. Punishing the growling dog may stop growling but becomes a silent attacker. To better this situation use food and distance and gradually reduce the distance.

To overcome fear: three methods are used:

  • Flooding,
  • Systematic desensitization and counter conditioning
  • Counter commanding


Flood the dog with the stimulus he is feared off.  Flooding sometimes is counterproductive.  This method is effective in dogs with low levels of fear and great ability to bounce back.

Counter conditioning and systematic desensitization:

This is a slow process where the dog is acclimated to the source of fear gradually to change a negative (fearful) association with a positive one.  Use of treat is powerful to which the dog responds well. If the dog is sensitive to the sound of a particular machine, start that sound considerably away from the dog and feed the dog at that time.  Slowly go on decreasing the distance between the dog and source of fear.  During the puppy stage, it is better to acclimatize the puppy to the sound of the television.

Counter commanding:

It is generally used in cognition with systematic desensitization.  Distract the dog by giving him incompatible behaviour.  In the case of sound of vehicles, one can start the practice by asking the puppy to sit & give him a treat when the vehicle is passing from nearby.  Slowly reduce the distance to condition the dog.  By this method the trainer has to counter the dog’s fearful reaction with a new behaviour like sit command and reward; so that the dog associates the reward with sit.  Simply giving the reward and soothing voice to control fear will yield negative results.

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Drugs for short-term therapy:


DRUGS                            DOSE REGIMEN                              MAX DAILY DOSE

Acepromazine                                1.0-2.0 mg/kg                                          1-4 times
Propanalol                                     1.0-3.0 mg/kg                                           tid
Diazepam                                      0.55-2.22 mg/kg                                      2-3 times
Chloropheneramine                      220 microgm/kg                                      tid
Trimeprazine                                500 microgm -2 mg /kg                           tid

Drugs for long term therapy:


DRUGS                            DOSE REGIMEN                  DELAY IN ONSET OF ACTION

Clomepramine                              1-2 mg/kg                                        4 weeks
Sertraline                                      1-2 mg/kg                                        4 weeks
Selegeline                                     0.5-2 mg/kg                                     4 weeks
*Selegeline improves confidence and it is contraindicated in status based aggression. 

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Jumping up:

It is a normal canine greeting. Generally jumping up is a delightful expression of devotion by the dog, but it is less appealing when one gets muddy paws on clothes of owners or those of others.


Teach the dog not to jump by conditioning him to “sit” whenever you meet him or somebody comes home.  Teach the dog “off” command which tells the dog to remove his paws from whatever he is touching.  Use breath spray with instructive reprimand “off”.  Muzzle grab in small puppies may be tried.  The best way to manage the dog is to counter-command “off”.

Chasing motor vehicles:

It is dangerous and may lead to a serious accident.  It is difficult to keep the dog away from the traffic than a lesson to stop the habit is necessary.  If the dog is exercised near the public roads; the behaviour never starts.  For teaching the dog a lesson, allow the dog to chase the vehicle in a safe place, but instead of appearing to be chased away stop the car and lay down empty tins/ cans from the car.  In extreme cases, a well-directed bucket of water or hose pipe may be tried.  Repeat the lesson several times.

Straying/ running away:

1 Generally bored, neglected dogs that are isolated from the family are more prone to this behaviour.

2 The intact male, female in search for partner may run away.


Bring the dog home, show strong leadership qualities.  Give the dog obedience training.  Make the dog to feel a family member.  Define the place of the dog in the pack.  Neutering/ boundary training is a possible solution.  Take the dog for regular walks & don’t give the dog the opportunity to run away.

Climbing on the furniture:

Getting into chairs and sofas is a habit which needs to be stopped before it starts and train your dog not to do so when he still is a young puppy.  Dogs that refuse to get off the furniture are often seen as dominant.  Excessive scolding for the behaviour which has been in the past acceptable may make the dog aggressive & turn against the owner. To improve this behaviour the dog may be lured with food or mild unpleasant stimulus like a balloon going down on bursting may be made from under the chair.  Repeat the treatment several times.

Abnormal sexual behaviour:

Inability breed is frequently observed in dogs that have been over-petted.  Sedative drugs may help in an excessively nervous bitch.  Clasping objects or other dogs with the forelimbs and making pelvic thrusts is a normal activity in young males at the time of puberty, but an embarrassing habit of clinging to people’s legs by an adult dog needs to be stopped.


Castration should be done and sufficient exercise should be a routine.




-Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad
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