WHY DOES MY DOG DO THAT?
Everyone wonders why dogs do certain things. Below are some common behaviors and reasons why some dogs do what they do.
Jump on everyone he meets regardless how much we ignore him?
Your dog has gotten something positive out of jumping, or he would not do it. Many times this is the result of the dog being allowed (and even praised) for jumping when they were a smaller puppy because it is very cute for an adorable off balanced 10 lb lab puppy with big ears to jump on you (obviously it does not hurt and who can resist a cute puppy). However, when this tender faced, fat cheeked, ball of fur turns into a 70 lb dog with real toenails…it is no longer cute or pleasant. This dreadful behavior got them so much positive attention for so long, and suddenly when the humans start to “ignore” the behavior….the dog is thinking, “oh, they must not see me, let me jump a little higher”.
Chews our remotes, sunglasses, and socks, even-though he has plenty of his own toys?
Dog are companion animals, so they do enjoy company, but they were also originally bred for purposes (other than just being our friends) so they need mental stimulation. Many dogs chew out of boredom and not being properly shown the correct structure in the house as to what is allowed and what is not. For many dogs that have not had this structure implemented, the whole house becomes open game for how they see fit. So when they are slightly bored, they look around and say, “hmmm what would I like to clean my teeth on today? And remember they are also “companion” animals, so that side of them says, “I wish mom or dad were here”, so it is logical how they ultimately go with: “I think I will chew on that remote today because it smells just like my mom and dad, this way I can clean my teeth and hang out with mom and dad….YAY for me!” If given the opportunity and not having the proper structure, a dog will always choose an object to chew that has the strongest scent of the owner (remotes, books, socks, underwear, sunglasses, phones, etc).
Dig holes in our yard?
As mentioned in an earlier answer, dogs are more than just companion animals. Every dog breed was bred for some purpose. Dogs had jobs. Therefore, these innate traits are in them, no matter how much sofa time we allow them to have. As a result, these dogs need some mental stimulation to keep them sane. Certain breeds and lines absolutely require more than others, but all require some. So, a dog is going to provide his own mental stimulation if it is not provided for him….hence hunting down all the traces and smells of moles your backyard has to offer, or just seeing how far he can dig that hole. Many dogs form the “digging habit” from digging early in their life and no one telling them not too. When these dogs arrived in their new house and yard, after everything they could possibly explore above ground had been accomplished (about 5-7 months), it is only natural they would begin going downward to continue the exploration process and satisfy their mental needs. If dogs do this for so long with no direction not to, there is a very good chance they will form a habit of digging. Of course, certain hunting breeds are much more prone to dig, but any dog will dig if they have not been shown proper structure and/or provided proper mental stimulation.
Act aggressive toward people that are trying to be nice to him?
The root of all aggression is fear 90% of the time. So (even if there is not one incident to pinpoint), somewhere along the line your dog has had some negative experiences with strangers. Sometimes it is a series of physical abuse by strangers that have made them not trust human’s intentions. But for many it is as simple as them being a shy insecure dog, and time after time people they did not know were constantly invading their space by petting them and or picking them up. Meanwhile, the dog was giving all the proper signals of being nervous and requesting some space. However, these clear canine signs were being ignored or not recognized by the humans. This results in the dog having to resort to aggression, which when he/she does….typically humans back up quick, so this style of communication works much better for the dog.
Plays fine with certain dogs he knows, but acts aggressively
toward strange dogs (who just want to play)?
A common misconception about dogs is they are naturally social animals without fail. It is true that dogs are born with social communication skills, but many dogs have to continue to practice these social skills by continuing to socialize with strange dogs in order for this “skill” to remain fresh. This is similar to learning a foreign language for humans, and if you stop practicing this language…..many loose the ability to communicate in that language. If a dog is acting aggressive toward a friendly dog, then this dog does not understand the other dog’s body language and friendly communication. A bouncy goofy dog approaching fast can seem like a major threat if they do not know how to recognize “bouncy, goofy, playful” signals and actions. The reason this same dog would play well with your mom’s dog is that “familiar” dogs no longer require social skills.
It seems logical that any dog should understand another dog (seeing that they are the same animal), but unfortunately that is not the case. If you think about it, what if another human came running, jumping and screaming at you in a foreign language you did not understand? Depending on your past experiences, you may be tempted to run or you may even punch them? You may perceive their actions as a potential threat, or you could recognize the joy in their face and learn that they just won the lottery. The point is, when we do not understand another’s intentions…we can perceive them wrong and often act inappropriately.
Break out of a crate?
Dogs can do this for a number of reasons, but the most common is a simple explanation that we see all the time. When the owners brought their new puppy home, they heard a crate was necessary, so they have one ready to go. The first day, they hold the pup all day long, sits on the sofa with them, and naps in their lap. The first night, they put the pup in the crate, many for the first time, and the normalcy of the day is unsettling to the dog, so he begins to cry and bark. Depending on the pup’s self-confidence at this age, he may cry harder and harder. Most owners can’t take the crying, so they go get they pup and let him sleep with them. After all, it allows everyone to get some sleep. Fast forward to when the pup turns into an adolescent, and they no longer want the dog in their bed (and due to not being able to trust him), they need the dog to go back in the crate. Now the pup is older, stronger, and unfortunately, did not develop his self-confidence about being alone and in the crate. He first tries crying, but it doesn’t work like before so he starts trying to find a way out….if successful once, most dogs will do it over and over again.
Other possibilities are what we refer to as containment phobia, this is similar to claustrophobia for humans. And lastly, some dogs had a bad experience in a crate and it causes them much anxiety to be in one until we change that association. A “bad” experience for a dog might be harder for us humans to recognize, so many owners see no correlation and continue to force them in a space they are very uncomfortable.
Use the bathroom in the house (even though we take him out all the time)?
Dogs that do this feel they have two bathrooms, one inside and one outside. Somewhere along the way, you allowed this dog the freedom to roam and have accidents in your house that you did not (and probably still do not) catch in the act. For a dog that has gone to the bathroom many times in a certain area without anyone telling them not to (at the split second they are doing it), then in their mind….there is nothing wrong with going to the bathroom in the dining room. So when you go outside, they are more than likely focusing on other things like sniffing, playing, running, etc., and when they get back inside and you turn them loose again, they calm back down and remember that they need to use the bathroom, so they calmly walk into the other room to their indoor bathroom and go.
Use the bathroom in his crate?
This is a tough one, and it dramatically impacts the ability to house train a dog. It is a natural instinct for a dog to desire to stay clean, so if it will go to the bathroom in the crate and lay in it consistently, then there is good chance your dog has suppressed his natural instinct to stay clean. Other possibilities are sometimes owners put too much bedding in the crate that soaks urine up, so the dog can actually urinate in the crate and not have to “lay” in it. Sometimes the crate is way too big, also allowing the dog to urinate on one side and hang out on the other. Sometimes anxiety about being in the crate, whether that is from containment phobia or bad association of the crate, can cause urine or bowel movements.
Bark furiously at another dog when on leash, but off leash will play happily?
Dogs are born with levels of drives: prey drive, food drive, play drive, social drive, and even fight drive. Typically dogs that exhibit this behavior, have high social and play drives, so in human terms that would be a “physically active extravert”. What happens is these dogs are out walking on a leash with their owner, and they see another dog walking down the street or at the park. The dog will typically pull forward, cry, moan, and exert many signals that they want to go interact. Typically, if the owner is out for a walk, they keep walking and ignores the dog’s request for social interaction. Over time this unanswered request (from a dog that desires it badly) becomes very frustrated, and when a dog becomes frustrated they typically start barking and growling. They also associate this frustration with the leash. Over time this can become habit without even thinking. When they are off leash, that same frustration has not manifested because typically owners have dogs off leash when they are allowed to play. (Please understand that the answer to this problem is not to let your high social drive dog run up to every dog he sees because that can be dangerous. Allowing your dog to meet his social needs in a safe way while providing the proper structure will resolve this). Other scenarios that can cause this behavior is a dog that has been attacked on leash, so they (out of fear) expect a fight, so they go on the offensive to push dogs along verses waiting to see if they are going to invade his space.