Why is My Dog Suddenly Naughty?

This post was originally written in 2019. I wanted to re-visit it now because many dogs are facing boredom or difficulty adjusting to the new “routine” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be patient with them. Hope this article helps! -Lindsay

My 3-year-old weimaraner went through a two-week period recently where he was very … “asshole-ish.” More so than normal for him! Haha.

How do I explain?

In those two weeks, he did things he normally wouldn’t do. For example:

  • He swallowed a sock! (he’s fine)
  • He chewed on our wooden TV stand. (He’s never chewed furniture in his life.)
  • He got brief “zoomies” where he tore through the hall, barked and jumped up and bit at me, like a puppy.
  • He played more rough than usual with our cat – mouthing him and “grabbing” at him.
  • At agility, he barked at me in a deep, demanding tone while waiting our turn. He’s never done this before.
Why is my dog suddenly naughty?

Why was my dog misbehaving all of a sudden?

Whenever someone tells me their adult dog is “suddenly” naughty it almost always comes down to:

  • Some sort of change has occurred in their life/routine

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic change like having a baby or getting a new roommate. It might just be that your kid started spring soccer practice or you picked up a new work project and it’s taking up more time than you realized.

The good news is you can almost always help your dog get back to “normal” by making sure you’re doing these four things:

  1. Truly providing enough physical exercise
  2. Daily mental challenges (like training or puzzle toys)
  3. Enforcing your rules and structure
  4. Providing the dog with downtime to decompress
My cat Scout and dog Remy

In most cases if you simply increase your dog’s exercise, spend 15 minutes a day on training and enforce your rules, you’ll get these “sudden” behavioral issues under control.

See my post: Exercise ideas for dogs

Sometimes there are other factors, though, such as:

  • Are you stressed out for some reason? Or sick?
  • Could your dog be in pain?
  • Could your dog be overly tired or sore?
  • Is something scaring your dog?
  • Is your cute puppy hitting “adolescence”?
  • Is your dog hitting his senior years?

Why is my dog acting so wild and crazy?

My dog Remy will definitely act up if he hasn’t had enough physical exercise. He’s a weimaraner, after all, a dog bred to run hard all day, every day.

Remy the weimaraner

But on the other hand, Remy also acts up even more so if he’s overly tired!

It’s a difficult balance, and honestly the overly tired Remy is much more of a hellion than the Remy who hasn’t had enough exercise. Think, tired 3-year-old throwing a tantrum while leaving Disney Land.

Changes in a dog’s routine affect his behavior

After overthinking this, I realized my dog’s recent behavioral issues were probably related to a busier month than usual in April as far as his little dog brain was concerned.

  • My parents visited for a long weekend (mentally tired)
  • We took Remy on a road trip 3 days later (mentally tired)
  • On our road trip, we ran 18 miles on a trail (physical and mental)
  • We increased our running miles in general that month
  • On top of this we still did weekly agility and dog daycare
My dog Remy

An overly tired dog and behavior problems

I think my dog was mentally worn out in April, and that’s what caused his sudden behavioral issues. Family visiting followed by a weekend road trip with a LONG run followed by agility on Monday is a lot, even for a dog who can go, go, go!

Oh, and by the way, we stayed at a dog friendly casino of all places during our roadtrip (Deadwood, S.D.).

I’ve written about puppies turning into little demons in the evenings because they need to go to bed sooner! This is what happens to my adult dog as well. (Heck, this is what happens to ME! Most of us “act out” when we’re tired.)

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Not enough exercise and behavior problems

On the other hand, I think Remy is sometimes under-exercised on our lighter running days mid-week. When I only run 2-3 miles, I need to give him more off-leash time to get the “zoomies” out.

A weekend long run does not make up for less exercise in the middle of the week for my particular dog anyway. Welcome to owning a fit bird dog.

Like I said, it’s a fine balance between under-exercised and overly tired! Both result in a crazy Weimaraner! God help me …

My dog Remy running on the trails

Other factors for us:

Rules: I’ve been laid-back with rules lately. Little things like allowing Remy to beg or letting him be pushy when asking for attention. So, I’m making a point not to tolerate these things and his behavior has improved.

Downtime: I set Remy’s kennel back up, which had been folded away in the closet for months. I will send him to his kennel when he’s home alone (which is hardly ever) and at night. Dogs that chew furniture lose their privileges! Haha. He doesn’t mind his kennel, and it’s a good place for him to truly “turn off” and relax.

See my post: Why I’m glad my dog is kennel trained.

My dog Remy in his kennel

Things to chew: Chewing helps a dog relax, so I’m making a point to provide Remy with plenty of his own things to chew – Kongs, dental rawhide chips and Nylabone toys.

Dog’s change in behavior due to age

Who knows, my dog just turned 3 in February. Weimaraners are super slow to mature mentally so maybe he’s hit some sort of “maturity” milestone where he’s finally an adult and challenging me. I have no idea! Haha.

Age is definitely a factor in a dog’s behavior. Some dogs turn uncontrollable when they reach “adolescence” which could be anywhere from 6 months to 12 months depending on the individual dog or breed.

Two good boys Remy and Ace

If your dog is heading towards the “senior” years, changes in his behavior could be due to not feeling good. Maybe he has arthritis or he’s losing his hearing. Some dogs will start to show signs of dementia as they age, and different medications can also affect each dog’s behavior differently.

Why is my dog being aggressive all of a sudden?

Dog’s aggression with old age

If your dog is showing increased aggression “all of a sudden” or just seems “off,” it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet. Your dog might be in pain or acting out because of an ear infection or arthritis or something more serious.

My senior dog Ace got noticeably grumpier as he got older. He was always tolerant and friendly with other dogs but as he aged he did not hesitate to snarl out a ferocious “back off!”

My dog Ace

If you’re having behavioral issues with your dog that don’t seem to be improving, it’s helpful to consult with a local trainer who can observe you and your dog and offer some suggestions.

People are emotional over their dogs (myself included), and a good trainer can take a step back and make suggestions in a non-emotional way. It might be something simple like increasing his exercise or providing him more downtime in his crate.

Dog’s aggression due to being tired

Also, like I said earlier, think about if your dog could be overly tired. My pup Remy is more likely to get crabby and nippy after a day at dog daycare because he’s mentally exhausted. His frustration tolerance is completely drained.

Your dog might be tired and crabby after an all-day family picnic or from your friend’s dog visiting or whatever it might be.

Older dog aggressive to new puppy

Senior dog Ace and puppy Remy

And finally, if you recently added a puppy to your family it’s normal for some older dogs to show mild aggression around the puppy. A good trainer can help you work through those issues, too.

So, to summarize:

If your dog is acting up lately, try to figure out what might have changed in your life/routine recently and then just make sure to provide daily:

  • Exercise
  • Mental challenges
  • Rules/Structure
  • Down time

Most likely, your dog will adjust just fine and be back to normal in no time!

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Has your dog’s behavior changed recently?

What did you do to help your dog?

Let me know in the comments!

As for Remy, he seems like his usual self again. It was just that odd 2-3 weeks where he was acting like more of a psycho than usual! Dogs …

*If you would like to receive our down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

Related posts:

Does my dog need a rest day?

Help! My dog is out of control!

Ultramarathon training with dogs

9 thoughts on “Why is My Dog Suddenly Naughty?”

  1. I started reading this, and when I got to the part where you talked about Remy eating a sock, I thought you were talking about my dog, Pat. Pat would swallow them whole, and we didn’t know it at first! Thank goodness he’s well over that!

    As you mentioned, I think all dogs go through stages as they age. I know mine seemed to.

    Enjoyed the post!

    1. I had to have surgery 3 weeks ago and I am still not weight bearing but my 6 year old lab has suddenly stopped listening to me, barking more and I understand part is because he isn’t getting the exercise and stimulation that he normally gets but is there anything you can suggest to help him get back on track he is normally a great guy. Jack is on the invisible fence so he has run of an acre and a half but I am just not able to hike and play at this time. Unfortunately I don’t have anyone to help me run him out. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Do you have puzzle toys like kongs (black color) he can chew on and get food out of? Maybe also work on some tricks or obedience with him if you’re able.

  2. Elizabeth Druay Kleweno

    We just moved and our young pup loves it!! He has more room to run, throw sticks and just be a dog. The weird thing he is doing is hiding under the desk. I guess its his safe spot. So we let him be and comes out when he’s ready. Our old man doesn’t like it to much because we now have stairs. So we are watching that a little more carefully!!

  3. Shilpa Darvatkar

    Our dog also loves to chew socks, thank god he has not swallowed any. He is hyper sometimes and loves to play after dinner. After reading you post I noticed that even my dog Cocoa’s behaviour is a bit changed. Definitely will try your suggestions.

  4. I really appreciated this post. Yesterday, we left home for less than 2 hours for lunch nearby. We placed the dreaded collar over Murphy’s head, as usual, to keep him out of trouble (cat food, paper chewing). He had been so good for months. We returned to find he had figured out how to maneuver the cone/collar so he could destroy my coffee table arrangement, and he dismantled a large pottery bowl of pine cones and greenery on the sofa table behind the sofa. Your suggestions will be followed!!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Using a cone to prevent chewing, now that’s a new one! Haha. They force us to be creative, that’s for sure!

  5. Carol (Mattie's Mom)

    Our dog, Mattie, hasn’t stopped being naughty. We adopted her at 6 months of age (like adopting a teenage with no previous relationship) and she has been a handful since (9 months ago). We contacted several trainers who ran the gamut. Last month per our agility instructor recommendation (after Mattie had bitten my hand), we had a consult with a behaviorist who said that Mattie had no impulse control and suggested that we take her back to the rescue where we got her. When we (my husband and me) got home, I thought, I must have said only negative things; that she didn’t see Mattie’s potential or maybe she saw that we are two old people not capable training this dog. She has been jumping/lunging and nipping at us followed by the zoomies at least once a day. She has improved in the fact that she sees her kennel as a safe place and usually will eventually go in of her own free will. What triggers these incidents; sometimes it is the cat, other times it is anyone’s guess. Just this evening I had her out for a brief walk (we had had our playtime earlier in the afternoon), and she came in and within 10 minutes I was standing with my hands in my pockets and she started biting my hands, then came the jumping/lunging at me and then came the zoomies. Mattie knows “it’s your choice”, she does sits, downs and stays, but when she is in this full arousal state… (The behaviorist recommended that we discontinue agility class because of her high arousal state. It was my hope that she would learn to be around other dogs in a controlled setting.) After reading your suggestions, I will not feel so guilty putting Mattie in her kennel earlier.

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