Strange Behavior

Dear WOOF:

A week and a half ago I brought home a dog that I rescued at work. He is a shepherd/chow/pit bull mix (we think). He has been very good with learning housetraining. He tends to nip/chew. He also whimpers
and whines a lot. He will whimper and pace around the house. I can't figure out what he is trying to tell me. All of the blood work at the vet came back normal. He is not yet neutered. I have an appointment for that on Monday. I'm wondering if you have any ideas or know of any reasons he would be doing this.

Thank you in advance.


Hi:

You don't mention the age of this dog, is he a pup? I have no off-the-bat ideas as to why he is acting this way but here are some possibilities to consider.

Maybe he is just trying to signal that he needs to go outside? It's also possible that this is some form of a stress response. Was he an indoor dog before you adopted him? Often times, with dogs that have
never lived indoors, the transition can be rough, and very stressful. Another thing to consider is that he may be worried about other people (particularly males) that live in, or frequently visit your home. If you know this dog/pups history, it may be possible to find out more about his experiences with men in the past - they may not have been pleasant. If that is the case, you'll need to contact a qualified behavior specialist that can help you with a protocol to desensitize him. Also, be aware of any patterns that may be evident -
for example, does the pacing and whining occur at certain times of day? Perhaps around the time that loud trucks come by, or some other noise that is possibly frightening to him? Again, a qualified counselor can help you to identify a "trigger".

Try not to reinforce it by paying attention to him while he is acting this way (other than perhaps to ask him if he needs to go out) because he may just find that the attention from you is happening when he does, and you'll have inadvertently trained him to continue with it because of the attention from you that it brings. Also, avoid giving him toys, treats or other such things too during his episodes - you'll undoubtedly reinforce him to continue.

One final suggestion is to enroll in a positive reinforcement (preferably clicker training) class as soon as possible. This type of training does wonders for bonding, and can help reduce stress.

I hope that this is helpful. Please let us know if we can help you further.

Best of luck,
Lisa Patrona,  Dip. CBST, CPDT-KA, ACDBC, AABP-CDT