First let me say Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian Family and readers; party it up. Now onto dogs; over the years living with our dogs we get to know their ins and outs but your dog's behavior can change, age can bring on a change or they can simply start doing things they've never done before for no apparent reason. Often we cannot figure out what the change is all about. A couple of nights ago I came downstairs after dinner to watch some t.v. I noticed Tilley sniffing around the coffee table; something she has taken to in her age. I ran upstairs for a moment to grab a glass of water and came back down to see Tilley eating money. She had taken a dollar bill off of the table that I put there earlier in the day; I found it in the dryer. So not only did it have nothing good in it; it was really clean. She has always been one to eat wrappers; but those typically have residue of some sort in them, this was new. "HEY; DROP IT," I startled her. She dropped the money and lay her ears flat down; whooooops. I asked her "since when do you eat money?" Of course she didn't answer but she kept her ears flat realizing she had been caught doing something she shouldn't have been doing, a rare occurance.
The day before this incident Tilley had gotten into the garbage; very uncharacteristic. For anyone who knows Tilley personally or knows of her; she is.................well Lassie in poodle clothing. She normally would never think of doing anything rude; let alone bad. I remember my male poodle Clyde; now long gone but in his old age he resorted to eating lipgloss. Having two young teenage daughters at the time there was much conflict in the house. Bonnie Bell made a killing on all the replacements I bought that year.
If your dog is displaying a new and strange behavior it can be due to you having inadvertently trained it. You could have created an association that you were not aware that you'd even produced but presto a new behavior. Often if you sit and think about what your dog is doing; pick it apart, you will discover the cause. Jessie is displaying a new behavior; when I start making dinner, our dinner she wants to go outside. She goes out the kitchen door and just stands there. It is like clockwork now; and if I don't let her out she will just stand there staring outside. She doesn't need to go outside; she just wants to stand on the other side of the door. I've been trying to piece together this behavior; did I somehow create an association between going outside and food? She is a little pig so food is where I start. It could simply be that she is 14; but to do it day after day and only at dinner preparation time. Strange.
Many new behaviors start from a reaction; a reaction from us towards a needy dog. Luke is needy; he likes special treatment, he likes to be fussed over. He has recently taken to eating 3/4 of his food then hesitantly walking away. He is waiting for me to say "Luke finish your dinner or breakfast." He then turns around and comes back and finishes. Funny guy. This is a quirky behavior; one that he has made up to suit his need to be fussed over. Some behaviors can be worrisome and these may require immediate attention; you might just have to figure them out or at least counter condition the behavior whether you figure it out or not.
Canine behaviors are a reaction to an action; they are caused by an association of some sort. Most can be changed with just a little intervention; some need more work. But almost all behaviors can be counter conditioned; which means to teach a different association response, one that is incompatible with the current behavior. For example; your dog wants to stand outside the kitchen door while you make dinner. You teach your dog that it is beneficial to lay on the bed in the kitchen while you make dinner by rewarding this behavior. She can't do both at the same time and she will choose the behavior that is rewarded.
Dogs are amazingly smart and learn things we don't want them to learn. If I grab a towel and head to the downstairs bathroom; all the dogs run for the hills. Towel in Mom's hand in the downstairs bathroom can mean only one thing; bath time. If your dog is exhibiting a new a strange behavior; first look at yourself, have you taught your dog something you didn't know you were teaching them?
**Of course there are some instances where a dog will change their behavior due to illness. If you suspect this could be the cause; get your dog to the vet immediately. Illness or pain can be a cause for a change in behavior or exhibiting new behaviors.**