Pets are the most pampered family members. Aren’t they? You love them, care for them, enjoy their company, tail wagging, and many cute gestures. Are you aware that, as per stats, 72%–85% of dogs exhibit at least one type of problem behavior?
Canine behavioral issues are one of the significant concerns among pet parents. Your pet may reflect behavioral problems such as barking, aggression towards guests, travel anxiety, fear-related stress, etc. Some behavioral issues also arise from medical or behavioral pathology among canines, such as generalized anxiety disorder or compulsive behavior.
Often the canine behavioral issues impact the human-animal bond. And when the behavioral problems in your furry friends are untreatable, it increases the risk of relinquishment. But as a compassionate pet parent, you need to deal with the behavioral issues in your pet with empathy and ensure to provide the best possible care to your furry friend.
Whenever you witness any problematic behavior in your canines, consult a pet behaviorist immediately. Remind yourself of the good times with your best companions, and consult with your vet in every possible way to save your puffball from the risk of euthanasia. Most importantly, make yourself aware of behavioral issues in canines, keep a tab with your vet for any guidance, and give your pet enough time to uplift its conditions.
Unfortunately, there is very little awareness about the proven ways to handle behavior problems among dogs. We have discussed some of the standard behavior issues among dogs in this article. We also have glazed on the role of a board-certified vet in treating these behavior issues among dogs. Let’s scroll through:
What Are The Stages Of Behavioral Problems Among Dogs?
Experts classify behavior problems among dogs in three stages:
- Behaviors within the normal range:
Depending upon your dog’s breed and age, they may show some weird behavior. However, you need to understand how you can effectively manage these behaviors.
- More complicated or challenging behavior
Some issues may fall beyond the normal range of behavior and might be tedious to manage for you as pet parents. For example, mouthing, urine marking, mounting, barking, chasing, predation, overactivity, etc.
- Pathologic and abnormal behavior
Your dogs may undergo emotional or psychological issues, leading to severe behavior issues. This category may rise if there may be any genetic issues or if your dogs were not socialized at the right age. The stressful perinatal environment, medical conditions affecting brain health and development, or particularly traumatic environmental events are also primary causes of such issues.
Treatment includes both environmental management and behavioral modification to cure canine behavioral issues. And often, in combination with medication such as natural products diet, vets prescribe drugs to improve underlying pathology and facilitate learning.
How To Identify If Your Dog Has Some Behavior Problems?
Pet owners should know some signs of behavioral issues among dogs. Sometimes, these behavioral changes may not be problematic. You need to determine if the change comes under normal behaviors.
- Excessive Barking
Barking is familiar among dogs. In the first place, you must determine if your dog’s barking is due to playfulness and excitement or a sign of alert or some warning. Your dog may seek attention through barking and whining too. Also, the barking may result from boredom or a response to other dogs in sight.
- Destructive Chewing
Though chewing is an everyday activity for dogs, especially puppies, you should consider it a behavior problem if it turns destructive. Chewing among puppies may be due to teething or curiosity. At the same time, dogs may chew due to boredom, extra energy, or anxiety.
Do you own a terrier that has a predator history and prefers digging very often? If not, is your dog digging to seek comforts like cooling or nesting? Your dogs may be trying to hide their belongings by digging too. You must make out the reason behind your dog’s digging. It may be an alarming sign if it is due to anxiety or boredom.
- Unacceptable Urination and Defecation Habits (Inappropriate Elimination)
You must have trained your dog to poop and pee properly. Yet, you may face embarrassment if it urinates or is defecated in places, like your interiors, surroundings, and other homes, or goes on urine marking. Inappropriate elimination is among the most frustrating behavior problems among dogs.
- Separation Anxiety
If you or other family members spend a lot of quality time with your pet dog and suddenly stop it, your dog may fall prey to separation anxiety. You can glance at the detailed blog on the possible separation anxiety in the post-pandemic era.
If you find any of these signs persistently in your dogs, you should understand the severity of the situation and begin treatment for your dog as soon as you can.
When Should You Take Your Dog To A Veterinary Behavior Specialty Clinic?
The behavioral pattern of your dogs depends upon various factors, such as their breed, age, socializing frequency, and early life. As a sensible pet parent, you need to analyze the causes of behavioral problems well before jumping to a conclusion about your dogs’ behavior problems.
You should understand what makes your pet aggressive or shows any behavioral issue. Often the factors may include:
- Fearfulness: It is seen that fearful dogs are much more likely to behave aggressively than non-fearful ones.
- Pain: If your pet has any medical condition such as arthritis, or hip dysplasia, which caused them pain and marred their overall wellbeing, they can act aggressive, or you may witness problematic behaviors.
- Age: Age is also a significant factor to consider. Older dogs often act aggressively if they suffer from a disease that causes pain or sensory impairment, which makes them fearful.
- Environmental factors. Dogs who live alone in a house with no playmates are more likely to be aggressive than dogs with canine housemates or experienced owners.
If the abnormality reaches the second or third stage, it’s time to consult professional veterinary behaviorists. Before that, prepare yourself to define the exact issue precisely. The animal behavior specialist would interview you to diagnose your dog’s behaviors, it’s routine, any pain it experiences, and more.
When choosing a veterinarian, you need to consider many angles and corners. Pet behaviorists are specialized veterinarians trained about the medical problems persisting among dogs, causing behavioral issues. Thus, vets can provide more comprehensive treatment for behavioral problems among your dogs. They are board-certified as veterinary behaviorists or animal behaviorists.
They can analyze the underlying medical conditions causing pain, aggression, or anxiety. They provide training for behavior modification as a line of treatment to overcome behavior-related issues. So to cure your canine behavioral problems, looking for an animal behaviorist is a wise step.
How Can You Find An Animal Behaviorist To Tackle A Behavioral Problem With Your Dog?
Let’sLet’s be honest- you won’t find a vet or an animal behaviorist browsing through newspapers and magazines. Your friends and colleagues may own pets or may not. So, how can you find a veterinary behaviorist? Online vet directories such as GreatVet can be your faithful companion to find a best-suited vet. The platform has a robust database of online veterinarians. You can conveniently find the best-rated vets, a specialist dog behaviorist, vet clinics, vet hospitals, and more in your city or area.
You can go through the profile and rating of registered veterinary hospitals and pet behavior specialists. Then, you can fix an appointment online. The platform allows you to find a vet based on your zip code, city, metro, or neighborhood. So, leveraging the platform, you can find a dog behaviorist, get the contact details and schedule an appointment to get your pet dogs examined even on the go.
How Pet Behaviorists Diagnose And Treat Behavioral Issues Among Dogs?
The professional vet certified in pet behavior would initiate the diagnosis by talking to the owner. The tests to diagnose health disorders leading to behavioral issues follow the next.
During the first step of diagnosis, a vet focuses on:
- The stimulus elements that trigger aggression,
- Diagnosis of underlying causes of pain in your pet dog,
- Fear related behavior among puppies, like fear aggression, aggression toward visitors, or aggression toward other dogs,
- Analysis of your pet dog’s play and expected behavior,
- Any signs of anxiety, and more.
Your fluency in answering these questions depends upon the quality time you spend with your dog to walk and play with it, play with it, pet it, and create an emotional bond.
During the detailed diagnosis, the dog behaviorist determines if the behavioral issue includes some signs of aggression, fear, compulsive behaviors, or issues related to your pet’s environment. Understanding the normal behavior and stimulus elements causing disorders is another priority.
The treatment can be broadly divided into the following three steps:
This step includes
- Analyzing your dog’s behavioral history,
- Conducting some tests to rule out any underlying health issues,
- Observing the video recordings of the problem, and
- Watching the pet dog during consultation.
During the counseling sessions, the vets ask pet parents to fill up a questionnaire regarding the particular behavioral issue in their pet dogs. This questionnaire compiles valuable information to decide the line of treatment and informs pet parents about the seriousness of the behavior problem and the tentative duration of the treatment.
Moreover, animal behaviorists study behavioral problems in depth. They suggest training methods and educate the pet parents to improve the environment for dogs at home. The behavior of the dogs may improve as the approach of the pet parents alters. Significantly the fear-related behavior issues need the owner’s attention to eliminate the stimulus elements and bring their dogs to ease.
Vets carry out a thorough diagnosis of behavior issues among dogs, such as aggression directed toward guests, other pets, or other dogs, pain due to some stress, anxiety, and other factors. Accordingly, they design a pet-specific treatment plan. Then, they inform the owner regarding their role and cooperation.
Educating the owner
The expert dog behaviorist explains the causes and remedies of the behavioral issue in detail in the beginning stage of the treatment. The experts put forth the veterinary perspective, changes required in the environment where the animals live, and why it is crucial to rectify the signs of behavioral issues, like aggressive behavior, anxiety, fear leading to abnormal behaviors, etc.
Management of the environment
The veterinary behaviorist suggests environment management initiatives to owners. The intention of this process would be:
- Avoid exposure to the stimulus factors manipulating the pet’s brain to act weird
- Avoiding access to problem areas related to the causes of abnormal behaviors among pets
- Creating some drain points to let the pets express and normalize
This phase of the treatment emphasizes changing the pets’ response to stimulus agents, like fear, aggression, and anxiety. The vet designs a dog training program specific to the diagnosis of the behaviors, like the signs of aggressive reactions, compulsive disorders, pain, fear, etc.
The vets may suggest some behavior modification products to address the dog behavior problems during the training. Examples could be head halter, dog collar, and other objects to control dog aggression.
How Vets Train Dogs For Behavior Modification?
Training for behavior modification includes various techniques. The methodology is preventive and also for cultivating positive habits to reduce the response to stimulus elements. The dog behaviorist tries to redesign the thinking process and reactions controlling the dogs’ brain.
Here are some of the proven training methods to tackle behavior disorders related to fear, aggressive responses, anxiety, stress, and more:
This method involves repeated exposure to a stimulus situation without any rewards to the dogs. They are made habitual to face similar problems, and their response would be gradually modified to normal.
The dog may react if the duration between two consecutive stimulus situations is longer. Here, the owners are suggested to ignore their barking or similar acts to let them recover spontaneously.
This method involves repeated rewards to your dogs for a positive response they give to a situation. This increases the chances of positive behavior and trains the dog’s brain to overcome the crisis.
This method involves stopping a reward from discouraging a behavioral issue among dogs.
This method teaches a dog to tolerate an adverse incidence and maintain the behavior in the normal range.
Likewise, there are several other behavioral modification training methods. Dog behaviorists are well-versed in implementing specific strategies to treat particular behavior disorders. Thus, the behavioral problems are gradually minimized.
Do Dog Behaviorists Prescribe Veterinary Medicines To Treat Behavior Disorders?
Dog behaviorists prescribe veterinary medicine to overcome behavior disorders, such as fear, aggression, compulsive disorders, fear-related issues, etc. Yet, the designing and implementation of the drugs and dosage depend upon the experiences and expertise of individual pet behaviorists.
It may take longer to get results, and there might be reactions and allergies due to some medicines. The vets share the possible adverse impacts with the owners. However, the use of medication is an emerging trend to treat behaviors.
Some of them the medicines that are used in the do behavioral issue treatments are benzodiazepines (BZs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Vets use different prescribed medicines for various behavioral issues when required. TCA, SSRI, the 5-HT agonist is used for general timidity and fear of new things. BZ, TCA IS used for thunderstorm or noise event phobia. Its medication is also used for distress at being left alone or separation anxiety.
For compulsive behavior, vets prescribe TCA, SSRI, 5-HT agonist, and MAOIs are used for Cognitive Dysfunction.
Sometimes your pet may be fearful only in specific situations, such as during fireworks or other events with loud noises. In such cases, benzodiazepines can help by reducing fear and its effect quickly. However, note that these mentioned medications should be only when a vet prescribes; using the medicine on your pet by yourself should be strictly refined.
There are many steps that owners can initiate to help their dogs get rid of a behavior disorder. The supportive elements are ignoring them, spraying some water to normalize them, using a head halter, proper leash, head techniques, etc.
The key factors are providing proper attention to your dogs, petting them, spending quality time with them, and noticing minute changes in their behavioral patterns or body language. Try providing nutritious food, a healthy routine with a good scope to play and socialize, and a happy and healthy environment.
The issues related to behaviors among your dogs require immediate attention to be treated before they worsen. The veterinarians specializing in animal behavior help you address numerous behavioral issues among your dogs.
The owners must notice any signs of problematic dog behavior and approach the best-rated dog behaviorists. Veterinarians offer multidisciplinary treatment for dog behavior issues, including counseling, training, medication, etc. Trust your vets to help your dogs regain their normal behavior.
Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.