Nearly everyone has smelled puppy breath and seen puppies scratching fleas or licking an ant bite, but what should be done about really strange behaviors? Before calling in the Dog Whisperer for intervention, try these simple suggestions for the oddest doggie pranks.
Physical Distress in Puppies
- Eating non-food items. In humans, this condition (known as pica) represents a serious psychological condition in which people consume paint, detergent, clay and other toxic non-foods. In puppies, however, eating rocks, feces, or other noxious substances is usually a sign of not getting enough nourishment.
- Suggestions: Check the package of the puppy chow to be sure that the dog gets enough to eat. As its weight increases rapidly over the first few months, food amounts continue to increase also. Stay on top of these changes or the puppy might start eating non-food items to sound the gravy-train alert to its owner. (Puppies sometimes won’t eat out of a bowl that another dog has used. Replace the bowl if another dog’s scent is keeping the puppy from eating its food.)
- Straining during bowel movements. If a puppy has difficulty with bowel movements and especially if it screams in pain while defecating, then there’s a definite problem. It’s important to notice whether or not the puppy is successful in its attempts to relieve itself. Straining with pain and without success may indicate an immature pancreas or other part of the digestive tract (this is mostly seen with puppies born prematurely or under duress, such as in cases of abuse and animal cruelty).
- Suggestions: Describe the symptoms to a veterinarian, including whether or not the puppy was premature, how often it attempts to defecate, and its success rate. A laxative for mild cases and a prescription pancreatic enzyme for serious cases may solve the problem.
Emotional Distress in Puppies
- Crying. The trauma of adjusting to a new home upsets some puppies very much, especially at night when crying may begin and continue for what seems like the entire night. They may be cold, uncomfortable, scared, and alone for the first time in their short lives.
- Suggestions: Make their bedding area soft and comfortable in a warm spot in the house. Sometimes a night light takes away the fear of the dark, a radio on at a low level makes them feel like they’re not alone, and a clothing item from their new owner placed in their bed may also provide comfort. An additional trick to try: Buy a soft, stuffed animal about the same size as the puppy and place the new “friend” in the bed to relieve the loneliness.
- Neurotic behaviors: Puppies may have anxiety attacks (during thunderstorms, fireworks displays, car rides, etc.) and eating disorders (arranging food before eating, spreading kibbles around the house, finicky eater) just like people. In fact, most veterinarians conclude that neurotic dog behavior comes from the family.
- Suggestions: If these behaviors seem dangerous or especially bothersome, such as extreme anti-social behavior, consult a veterinarian or dog therapist. Otherwise, just accept the eccentricities of your puppy as making it uniquely special.
In addition to love, puppies need special care like human infants do. Rather than ignoring potential problems, seek answers immediately either online or through a local veterinarian.