8 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Out

8 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Out?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023

In this article you will know the answer to the query “8 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Out?“.

Are you aware that dogs and humans alike can also “act in” as well as “act out”?

Acting out is displaying behavior that is inappropriate antisocial or simply dangerous.

8 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Out

Because it is so literal it is a great phrase.

There is an explosion when a dog acts out because it is not coping for some reason.

They behaved in an unexpected way. 

My goal in this article is to examine all the reasons why your beloved pet (or pets) may move from acting into acting out.

As a side note “acting in” has to do with the ability to bear or to tolerate a situation so that a dogs reaction does not seem out of character but within it.

However enough of the psychobabble let me start with a subject that I am passionate about. 

Puppy terrible twos

A puppy is eighteen weeks old.

Despite having raised four puppies over the past fifteen years it is still a tremendous amount of work!

What a trick our memories can be about how joyous it is to raise a puppy!

Anyhow lets move on.

The “terrible twos” are a time when that angelic child transforms into something a tad more devilish.

Children who are normally quiet and cooperative can suddenly become loud demanding and uncooperative.

This phase occurs in puppies as well although it happens around the age of eight months instead of two.

Your puppy is just going through a phase if it is acting out at this age.

Keep your head down stay steady and keep smiling and hopefully everyone will come out safe on the other side.

Its interesting to see why they do it.

In the same way that a toddler does it so does a dog as they are figuring out their place within the pack. 

Change of routine or no routine at all

Dogs rely heavily on routines.

As a result they feel more secure and safe. Knowing what will happen next helps them to understand the world better. 

The likelihood of a dog acting out is much lower when he feels safe and secure.

When they are fed and when they are walked are the two most important elements of any routine for most dogs. 

It is now important to remember that some dogs require more rigid routines than others.

A puppy a recently adopted rescue dog or an older dog might require more strict routines than a dog you have had for five years.

It might be necessary for the former to be fed every morning at the same time whereas the latter may need to know that they will be fed before you leave for work.

Is it because their routine has changed if your dog has acted out of character?

Could it be that their day is not predictable and routine and establishing a routine may help them manage their behavior?

Change of person

Dogs love routine as we discussed just now.

Part and parcel of this are that they are constantly surrounded by people who are familiar to them.

For the last fourteen thousand years humans have lived with people give or take a few millennia.

However it does not explain why we are so close.

Maybe we both thrive when we have a close relationship with each other.

It does not matter why someone familiar suddenly disappears this can throw a dog completely off.

While separation can be tough for a person whether through a divorce or a child leaving for university at least we understand.

It does not matter what they know they just know someone they love has disappeared. 

Of course having a new member in the family can also be disruptive.

Most of the time this involves a baby or a new partner moving into the house but it also means a great deal of uncertainty for the dog.

Getting to know the individual will take some time and they will have to determine if they will be a friend or foe…

Changes in the pack

In the same way that dogs react negatively to changes in human personnel in the house they can also react negatively to the loss of another dog or the addition of a dog to a household with several dogs.

I want to start by talking about loss because this is something I have been through recently.

We owned three golden retrievers 18 months ago: a grandmother a mother and a daughter.

Because they did not sleep together or play together for hours every day I would never have said the mother and daughter were very close.

As a result I did not think that losing the mother would have much of an impact on the remaining dogs.

Nevertheless it did.

I know for her that chewing sticks is an anxious behavior because she began to do it more frequently. 

I had not realized the impact it would have on her. She missed her mother which was bad enough in itself.

I spoke to someone last week who told me that he lost a dog and his other dog stopped eating.

Is that not tragic?

I’m not sure which is more distressing for a dog- the loss of a member of a pack or the addition of a new one.

If dogs are capable of acting out when a member of a pack dies you can certainly expect them to display some challenging behavior when a new member joins the pack.

Getting to know a new (friend) causes emotional and physical distress since the wearisome process of establishing a pecking order must be completed

Moving home

One of the most common expressions in the UK is “An Englishmans home is his castle.”

This expression illustrates how much importance the English place on their homes. 

Our dogs also appreciate the importance of our homes although it is a bit of a stretch.

It is comfortable and familiar for them to be in the same place.

In addition my dogs tend to move from room to room at different times of the day.

Dogs would be shocked if they were suddenly moved to a new house with the same owners.

They would be lost at sea.

Additionally they would be in an unfamiliar environment for the first few weeks as boxes would be unpacked and furniture moved.

The stress levels of the family members might also be higher than normal due to all the upheaval and your dog may pick up on that. 

Old age

As part of this section I want to address an issue that has had a profound impact on my life.

It may be that an old or too old dog is acting out due to their age.

It might be that we have too high expectations for them or that we do not change our expectations as our dogs get frailer.

In retrospect it makes sense why we do not change our expectations as our dogs age but there is a valid (but misplaced) reason for this.

Our inability to deal with the prospect of them aging and dying is the reason for this.

In December one of my golden retrievers will be fifteen years old which is a great age for an animal that size.

Her general behavior is good and she has been that way since she was a pup…

Over the past few years her stubborn streak has definitely grown stronger.

Even though she hasnot “acted out” I am mindful that things might just become too much for her.

Have you changed your expectations enough if you have an old dog that is acting out?

Lack of exercise

A lack of exercise makes me antsy or ratty far more often.

The same is true for dogs. 

Dogs benefit from physical exercise in many ways some of which are not physical.

Well-exercised dogs are much less likely to develop diseases like obesity.

In addition to being happier a dog that goes on lots of walks will also be more mentally stimulated.

In addition to walking and running dogs explore on a walk.

Next time you walk your dog keep an eye on it.

What is the average number of times they stop and sniff?

As a dog explores its surroundings it is able to exercise its brain.

It also helps maintain the relationship between “man and dog” by taking them for a walk.

I find this to be an interesting point. 

Its been a while since my sister-in-law has taken her dog for a walk so his behavior has deteriorated.

She would not take him out on walks due to an injury that means she can not walk herself.

The dog walker goes out with him regularly but he has become much more challenging when she is with him.

Have you been exercising your dog enough if their behavior has changed recently?

Inconsistent expectations

At the moment I’m highly vulnerable to another possible reason for our puppys bad behavior.

Dogs get mixed messages from their main carers – if they live with a family their varied expectations will be coming from their parents.

The one parent wants to be a lovingly strict “bad cop” while the other parent wants to be their best friend and “good cop.”

The dogs will have a field day driving buses through these inconsistencies. 

The situation is much the same with children and it is incredibly common and damaging for children whose parents are divorcing. 

My wife expects great things of our puppy when walking on a leash and our puppy generally lives up to those expectations.

Leads do not interest me and I do not give them the attention they deserve so guess what?

The moment I put a lead on her she turns into a blasted nightmare!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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