Pay attention to these behaviors of your dog: should you worry?


Be alert to possible changes in behavior

You notice it weird. He barks non-stop, is sad or down, licks his paws excessively… There are certain behaviors in our dogs that should make us alert. But should they be cause for concern? In relation to behavioral issues, we should pay special attention to two aspects: firstly, to any change in our animal’s behavior and, secondly, to the frequency, intensity and consequences that a certain behavior may have. And we cannot ignore the fact that detecting changes in behavior is important because they often reflect the appearance of another underlying problem.

For example, our dog may be sadder and more depressedas a result of some disease that causes discomfort or pain, or it could start licking its paws compulsively due to stress or some skin condition that causes it to be very itchy. In all these cases, it is important to find the cause of the behavior change in order to treat it successfully.

And, on the other hand, it also has to call our attention when a behavior manifests itself very often and with great intensity, since it is usually related to the severity of the problem. In the case of excessive barking, for example, we would first have to identify when and why our dog barks , and then apply the appropriate measures to mitigate that behavior.

Reasons to be alert

But, what are the main behavior problems that we can find in dogs? The most common problems that dogs develop are: aggression problems (towards other dogs or people), fear or phobia problems (to a specific stimulus or generalized fear), urination and/or defecation in inappropriate places, destruction, barking , excessive activity and problems related to separation.

When should we see a specialist?

As a general recommendation, we should go to the specialist when a behavior appears that negatively affects the well-being of our pet and/or that of the people who make up their family or third parties. For example, in separation anxiety problems , on the one hand we have the animal that suffers from anxiety when left alone, and on the other hand its owners, who are going to find damage to their house, may receive complaints from the neighbors for the barking of the dog when he is alone, etc. This would be an example of a case that requires the intervention of a specialist, and in which the well-being of the animal, that of the owners and also that of the neighbors is affected.

Another clear example would be cases of aggression, especially if the dog showing aggression has a high potential to inflict damage on others, either because of its size or because of the intensity and impulsiveness of its attacks.

Possible causes

What are the behavioral problems that dogs usually have? There are many causes that can lead to the appearance of behavior problems in dogs. Perhaps the most common are:

  • Fear , especially in animals that have not been adequately socialized as puppies or animals that have experienced a traumatic experience.
  • Pain , due to illness or after surgery or an accident.
  • Lack of stimulation , either because the walks are very short or because of a lack of stimulating games at home, such as toys that dispense food.
  • Involuntary reinforcement by the owner of behaviors that are annoying, such as when a dog asks for food at the table and is occasionally given food.
  • Use of verbal or physical punishment , since it negatively affects the bond between the dog and its owner and can sometimes reinforce unwanted behaviors, that is, the punishment can cause that behavior to be repeated more and more.

Are they usually temporary problems?

As the expert tells us, a behavior problem can be temporary if two conditions are met, mainly: first, that the motivation for that behavior is temporary (such as age) and, second, that the animal does not learn to perform that behavior. problem behavior. For example, when a puppy plays by biting, it may be a temporary problem because it is associated with a certain age, but it will be very important for the owner to teach the puppy to play with toys instead of biting so that the biting behavior really disappears. Another example would be aggressive behaviors that appear due to pain, which will disappear when the pain is properly treated.

How can we know if our dog is happy?

A dog is happy when it has its basic vital needs covered, and also its emotional needs. The emotional well-being of our dog depends mainly on the bond it has with its owners, on the possibility of interacting and playing with other dogs and with other people, on being able to do enough physical activity and finally, on receiving some cognitive stimulation (finding games).


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