Doggie Dunce Caps: Bad Behavior or Serious Medical Issue?

Have you ever found freshly dug holes in your backyard? Or bits of your favorite chair strewn across your den? Are you the proud parent of a canine that greets your guests by repeatedly jumping on them? Does your furry friend beg at the table, bark incessantly or strategically deposit her poo next to the dining room table? Simply put, if your dog could star in a film entitled “Dogs Gone Wild”, then you share a common complaint among dog lovers worldwide: frustrating behavioral problems.

There is one thing that unites all behavioral problems – they are undesirable to the pet parent. Behavioral problems are the most common complaint received by veterinarians at annual exam time. Whatever the complaint – whether it’s barking, chewing, digging, chasing, biting or aggression – many dogs exhibit problem behaviors. If you’re wondering what could cause these ongoing stresses in your relationship with your canine, you’re not alone.

There are many possible reasons why a dog exhibits bad manners. The easiest and most common explanation is a lack of proper training. Much to the chagrin of some new pet parents, dogs are not born fully trained – it’s up to us to teach them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Other contributing factors of bad behavior are loneliness and boredom, which is especially common in young dogs of active breeds. Destructive behaviors like hole digging and fence chewing are often physical expressions of cries for attention.

You might be surprised to learn that medical conditions can be at the root of bad behavior. For example, aggressive outbursts might be the result of a serious and painful hip, a broken toe nail or even an infected ear. If your dog has ever snapped at you while you were petting her back or neck, a bulging disc or a pinched nerve might be the culprit. These conditions are extremely painful, and dogs are predisposed to bite when experiencing this level of pain. In fact, aggression and biting are common indicators that your dog is in pain.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah discusses common medical causes of unacceptable behaviors, what you can do about it, and the kind of training veterinarians recommend.


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Posted: 08/21/2010 at 11:25 AM
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Posted: 08/21/2010 at 11:25 AM
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