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Why is My Dog Suddenly Naughty?

My “adult” 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 normally doesn’t bark.

Why is 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. Did your kid just start spring soccer practice? Did you start a new work project that’s taking more time than you realized?

Why is my dog suddenly naughty?

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

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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

Why is my dog suddenly naughty? Sometimes there are other factors, such as:

  • You are stressed. Or sick?
  • Could your dog be in pain?
  • Your dog is overly tired or sore
  • Is something scaring your dog?
  • Is your cute puppy hitting “adolescence”?
  • Your dog is hitting his senior years

Why is my dog acting so wild and crazy suddenly?

My dog Remy will definitely act up if he hasn’t had enough physical exercise. He’s a weimaraner, after all. Weimaraners are 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. 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.

Why is my dog suddenly naughty?

Changes in a dog’s routine affect his behavior.

After overthinking this, I realized my dog’s recent behavioral issues are related to our busy schedule. We’ve had 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

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My dog Remy suddenly naughty

An overly tired dog and behavior problems

Remy felt mentally worn out in April. This 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 also “act out” if we’re tired.

Not enough exercise and a dog’s behavior problems

On the other hand, sometimes Remy doesn’t get enough exercise 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 reasons a dog could be in a naughty phase

Lack of 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.

Not enough real downtime: I set Remy’s kennel up again. It was folded up 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: My dog is kennel trained.

My dog Remy in his kennel

Not enough 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, bully sticks and Nylabone toys.

Older dog’s change in behavior due to age

Who knows, my dog just turned 3 in February. Weimaraners are slow to mature mentally. Maybe he 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 older dog misbehaving 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!”

See my post: My dog growls at other dogs

My dog Ace suddenly naughty

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). 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.

A 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 crabby and nippy when he comes home from dog daycare. He’s mentally exhausted. He has no frustration tolerance left.

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 aggression around the puppy. A good trainer can help you work through those issues, too.

Puppy naughty phase

One final thought, sometimes puppies just go through various “naughty phases” with age. That will vary from puppy to puppy, but you might notice your puppy acting up when he reaches 6 months or so.

This is a time when puppies might have more energy but they are still puppies in an adult dog body.

If your puppy is suddenly acting naughtier, I would think about how you might change your routine to accommodate. For example, maybe you need to add an extra midday walk to your puppy’s schedule.

Or maybe you need to re-visit kennel training. Or adding a day of dog daycare each week might help.

When do puppies stop being naughty?

So much depends on the actual puppy as well as the puppy’s breed. I will say that I did notice some maturing in my weimaraner puppy once he reached 1 year old. And again at 18 months and again at 2 years old.

Then, every year since he seems to get slightly more mature and less naughty! Haha. He’s now almost 5 and still has his moments but it’s so much easier now!

Why is my dog suddenly naughty?

So, to summarize, why is my dog suddenly naughty?:

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 ever become suddenly naughty?

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 …

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Why is my dog suddenly naughty

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.

Carol (Mattie's Mom)

Sunday 22nd of March 2020

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.

Carol North

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

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!!!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

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

Shilpa Darvatkar

Friday 17th of May 2019

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.

Elizabeth Druay Kleweno

Tuesday 14th of May 2019

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!!

Michael B.

Monday 13th of May 2019

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!

Nancy Hilliard

Monday 9th of December 2019

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.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 13th of May 2019

Ugh, that freaked me out when he swallowed a sock. I got him to throw up!