Have you seen your dog ignoring commands nowadays as if they are not feeling them anymore? Are there days when they want to hide – to be left alone?
If these are indeed true, perhaps your baby is experiencing mood swings. As a pet parent, mood swings can be frustrating. But as a phenomenon, it is not uncommon at all. Research has shown that dogs of all ages, sizes and shapes could experience this, and this could happen regularly.
Now, there are several reasons why this could be the case. It depends on the temperament of your dog and the stimuli causing the mood swings.
Because this could happen to us as well, this is not something that should take you by surprise. We always have days when our mood feels all over the place.
One minute we feel all content and balanced, and the next moment we feel like screaming or crying our lungs out. It is hard to predict what is going to happen on such days. The same thing can happen to our canine babies as well.
The signs that your dog is experiencing a mood swing
Mood swings in canines get manifested in many ways. It could be bouncing excitedly or cowering in a corner. The most evident sign of such behavior is that your dog is switching from one extreme to another in a short time.
For example, they could be playing as they usually do one moment, and at the very next moment, they go hiding under the bed. If your dog is shy, it will show mood swings by nipping at people they wish to approach while they are resting.
Has your dog started jumping excitedly just when you mentioned a walk? Were they resting before that? If yes, this is technically a mood swing. But, it is a welcome mood swing.
In terms of behavioral signs of mood swings among dogs, the following are the primary indicators:
- averting eyes
- ears back
- tense jaws
- wrinkled nose
- whale eye
There are some other signs you should know of. These include hiding, wincing, snarling, nipping at the air, and biting.
The history behind the mood swings
Dogs were domesticated by humans around 14,000 to 30,000 years back. During that period, “the best friend of humans” must have figured out ways to communicate their needs and emotions. Since dogs have existed with us for thousands of years, they have now developed a strange ability to understand the emotional cues communicated by us, and the same can be said about us as well.
Dogs are particularly good at understanding when we are sad. According to a recent study, a dog is likelier to respond to you, if you were crying than laughing.
Studies have also shown that dogs tend to imitate human emotions. At times, this impersonation gets manifested in the shape of a mood termed a mood swing.
There are plenty of movies where canine mood swings got portrayed. The film named ‘Old Yeller’ released in 1957 is a classic example of the same. Here the protagonist – a dog named Old Yeller – was a faithful companion till the time he got bit by a rabid animal.
The owners had to put him down since the disease could not get cured, considering how Old Yeller had started to nip and growl.
The science behind the mood swings
There are several reasons why a dog could experience mood swings. Some of the common reasons cited by the experts are below:
- They may be in pain
- They may be afraid
- They may be showing maternal instincts
- They may become aggressive over food
- They may be mirroring your mood
If you are a parent of teenagers, you should be pretty familiar with teenage mood swings.
Puberty can also affect the listening skills of your pup as well as their mood. Pain is a primary reason for mood swings in dogs. Hence, dogs tend to snap when afraid of being hurt. Fear is a huge factor in this regard as well. It could lead to such problems among humans as well.
If your dog has recently had pups, they may experience mood swings. Guarding resources such as food is a reason dogs often become aggressive. As has been said already, our pet dogs tend to feed off our emotions and often mirror them.
Is it possible to train your dog to snap out of a mood swing?
The good thing is that you can mitigate them with proper training. Professional behavioral therapy and socialization can prove highly effective. It is especially true of temper-related issues such as reactivity and food aggression.
With exposure therapy, you can help them deal with the fear triggers such as places and people. In case you notice the sadness in your dog, try to offer them treats and pet them as a way to improve their mood.
Even a short walk in the area or a simple game of fetch could prove effective as far as boosting their spirit is concerned. Is your dog hiding and afraid? In that case, you must never force them to interact. Try comforting them with a soft voice that reassures them and some pets.
You may be tempted to offer treats. But, it is unlikely that a scared dog would take you up on such an offer. All you have to do is assure them of your presence and support – make them feel safe.
Experts always suggest that you must never punish your baby no matter what sort of mood swings they show, as that can make the issue worse than it already is.
Rather than that, try to reward good behavior such as obedience with treats. Praise them a lot when they do something that you want them to do in such cases. Clickers come in handy as they can get your dog to behave the way you want them to in certain situations.
So, there are a few things that you should do when your furball is showing signs of mood swings. If they are afraid, reassure them calmly without raising your voice. When they are aggressive, let them be and get help from professionals.
If they prefer hiding, let them be. But, assure them of your support. If she has recently become a mother, let her be with the babies. Never punish them as this can worsen matters.
If it seems like they are in pain, take them immediately to a doctor.