Why Is My Dog Misbehaving and Being Unruly?
Mon, April 19, 2021

Why Is My Dog Misbehaving and Being Unruly?


Puppies exhibit excitable and rowdy behaviors that will diminish as they grow into adults or if they have proper early training, explained Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB and Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, DECAWBM. Unruly behaviors can be difficult to control or manage once the dog passes puppyhood or six to nine months.

During this time period, puppies may be excitable or hard to train, but such traits are not seen as excessive when you consider normal puppy behavioral development and the time required to train it. What if your grown canine still fails to listen or respond to commands or barks for attention after sufficient training? Maybe you’re doing something wrong.

Characteristics of Excitable Dog Behavior Based On Owners’ Report (2016)

Anastasia Shabelansky and Seana Dowling-Guyer of life science and biomedical journal portal PMC posted a recruitment ad for their survey on a local Boston newspaper website, blogs, and several social media platforms between September and November 2012. Employees of two urban shelters in Massachusetts forwarded the link of the online survey to people who may have highly excitable dogs. 

The recruitment criteria were highly excitable dogs who are difficult to manage, aged six months or older, weighing over 11 kg, healthy, up to date vaccinations, and able to participate in walks and exercise. 60% of dogs frequently or always jumped when their owner came home and when the owners played with them. 40% of dogs frequently or always put their mouths on a person’s body but caused no discomfort. 15% of dogs frequently or always grabbed a person’s clothes with their teeth.

11% of dogs frequently or always put their mouths on a person’s body but causes discomfort when playing with owners. 40% frequently or always put their mouths on a person’s body but caused no discomfort. During mealtimes, 70% of owners said their dog never or rarely jumped up when they were preparing food for their pet. 46% of owners reported that their dog frequently or always uncontrollably jumped up when their owners picked up the leash to take their pet outside.

When asked “Does your dog typically show any of the following reactions when he/she sees other dogs ON leash?” 5.7% of respondents said their dog growled or showed its teeth, 16.6% said their pet snapped or lunged, 25.7% reported aggressive barking, and 61.1% said “none of listed.”  Regarding aggression towards off-leash dogs, 4.6% said their dog growled or bared its teeth, 9.7% said their pet snapped or lunged, 18.3% noted aggressive barking, and 72.6% indicated “none of listed.”  



When asked about the owners’ perception on their dogs’ excitable behavior, 8% rated their dog a 3 (with 1 being “Not excitable at all” and 5 being “Extremely excitable”), 52.6% rated their dog a 4, and 39.4% rated their dog a 5. Majority of the owners were also shown to be frustrated with their dog’s excitable behavior with 34.9% rating their frustration a 4 and 22.3% giving a 5 (1 being “Not frustrated at all” and 5 being “Extremely frustrated”). Further, 10.9% rated their frustration a 2 and 32.0% gave a 3.

Regarding behavior problems that coexist with excitable behavior, owners cited disobedient and destructive behaviors. These behaviors were pulling on the leash (20.0%), climbing furniture (6.3%) and destroying household items (8.0%). Some owners reported their dog not listening or responding to commands (12.6%).

The authors concluded that there is a need for increased awareness of excitable dog behavior. Future research needs to tackle what owner-related factors lead to excitable behavior, they added. The study should aid behaviorists, veterinarians, and shelters in developing better tools to manage excitable behavior.



Why Is My Dog Misbehaving?

1.     You Haven’t Trained Your Dog Enough Or Given It Enough Exercise

Stephanie J. Smith of the American Kennel Club (AKC), a website dedicated to publishing dog-related content, said you need to exert more effort if your dog’s training stopped after it learned to sit, lie down, or go to the potty. Smith recommended to teach your dog a new command each week, as well as to practice old commands with it.

If you’re away from home for 12 hours a day or if your dog’s walk consists of a quick run in the backyard, then you’re not providing it opportunities to exercise. When your pooch does not have enough exercise, it will chew your shoes, steal your feel, or scratch your house’s walls.

2.     You Don’t Know Its Breed

Let’s say you own a Border Collie and you give it a walk every night and morning. Did you fulfill its exercise requirement? No. Taking your dog for a walk twice a day might suffice for a Greyhound or a Labrador Retriever, but Border Collies needs something “sportier.” For instance, you can try playing a fast-paced game of fetch or any agility-oriented sport to stimulate your Border Collie.

3.     Your Dog Is An Adolescent

Like humans, dogs also undergo a rebellious phase when they are around five or 18 months old. Dogs at this age will probably test your patience and see which behaviors they can get away with. Be firm and consistent with your pet’s training and establish boundaries. Chances are, they will outgrow that phase.



What Do I Do to Stop My Dog From Being Disobedient and Unruly?

You will need to retrain your dog by attending an obedience training class that utilizes rewards and non-disciplinary techniques. In fact, most traditional training techniques and devices use punishment to stop your dog from misbehaving.

Punishing your dog may teach it the things it should not do, but it does not teach it to “perform the desired response.”  But this does not mean you should reinforce bad behavior. Misbehavior should be met with inattention instead of giving your dog rewards or attention and even patting it.

Is it Possible for My Dog to Get ADHD or to be Hyperactive?

A hyperactivity disorder is likely to exist in dogs, but it’s rare. Dogs that are hyperactive (hyperkinesis or ADHD) can be diagnosed by examination and testing. Those with hyperactivity disorder are hard to train, have poor response to tranquilization, and may bark or circle incessantly.

Dogs with this condition may also suffer from gastrointestinal disorders and show extreme resistance when restrained. Dogs with hyperactivity disorder respond to amphetamines, which calms them down and enables them to focus on training. Managing excitable and unruly behavior is challenging for owners. Carers should ensure that their dogs are getting enough regular exercise. Retraining may be recommended if the dog fails to obey or continues to misbehave.