Dog Barking And Acting Weird: Here’s What You Need To Know

It can be quite odd to see your dog barking and behaving strangely. It’s completely normal to feel worried and concerned.

When this behavior occurs, should you panic? What does dog barking and acting weird mean?

Learn why dog barking and acting weird means, what to do and when to seek help.

Here’s why dog barking and acting weird happens

Dog barking and acting weird happens due to illness, injury, stress, boredom, a reaction to diet, fear, surge of hormones, and aging. Understanding which dog behaviors are normal is the key to identifying any changes in your dog’s behavior, either behavioral or medical problems that are a cause for concern.

Dog barking and growling in sleep

Reasons Behind A Dog Barking And Acting Weird


A dog can act strangely due to illness because it leads to a change in behavior, appetite, and attitude.

This includes different symptoms that are expressed due to the specific underlying condition that makes a dog act strangely.

Strange behavior due to illness can include a dog becoming lethargic, retching, disinterest in any activities, loss of appetite, irritability, eating of grass, abnormal gait, and other strange behaviors.

Related: Dog barking and growling  at nothing: Find out why


Injury can also cause a dog to act weird because of the pain and discomfort. They may snap, bark, growl, be disinterested in activities, or refuse to be touched.


A stressful situation can trigger a dog to act strangely. Stress can come from situations such as a change in their routine, a new environment including a new home, people, pets, or separation anxiety.

Weird behaviors due to stress include pacing, barking, growling, crying or whining, yawning that is unrelated to tiredness, tucked ears and tail, lip licking, and body stiffness.


Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. When they do not have enrichment activities to serve this purpose, they may act strangely.

Weird behaviors due to boredom include crying, destructive behavior such as digging, chewing furniture, books, shoes, and other undesirable behaviors. 

Therefore if your dog doesn’t have anything to do and is bored, they will find activities to engage in to pass time.

Reaction to their diet

Food intolerance is common in dogs which means a dog is not able to properly digest some food ingredients in their diet. 

Food intolerance causes a dog to have gastrointestinal upset and display strange behavior due to the discomfort from abdominal pain, including retching, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Allergic reactions to food ingredients can also occur, causing a dog to have skin issues that cause them to act strangely as their body responds to the allergens. 

Behavioral changes due to allergic reactions include constant scratching, licking, and sneezing caused by itchy skin, eyes, ears, and hives.

Common food allergies are due to proteins, grains, or filler material in dog food.


Frightening situations can scare a dog which results in weird behavior. This is a normal reaction to the stimulus which includes coiling in fear, hiding or avoidance, defecation in the home, and aggression. 

Loud noises, traumatic experiences such as mistreatment, and exposure to new people or pets are some examples of what can cause fear in a dog. 

A surge of Hormones

A surge in hormones in a dog especially when they’re pregnant, in heat, or unneutered male dogs can lead to strange behavior because of the hormonal change. Hormones affect their mood and behavior. 

A pregnant dog is easily irritated, also more affectionate, has nesting behavior, tires more easily, and has an increased appetite.

The weird behavior observed in a female dog in the heat includes excessive licking of the genital area, humping, lower energy levels, aggressiveness, frequent urination, a change in leg raising while urinating, and an aggressive search for a mate. 

Unneutered male dogs also engage in strange and destructive behaviors.

They are possessive over toys and food, resist following commands, pull on their leash, howl, bark, cry, pace, roam, jump, mount on people, engage in excessive grooming of their genital area, and scent marking when outdoors.

A neutered or spayed dog is less reactive and its behavior is less erratic.


An aging dog can also act strangely because of the decline in cognitive function commonly known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). 

The condition is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, in that, when a dog gets older, their cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, audio or visual processing, and mental sharpness decline. 

Strange behavior at this stage includes sleeping a lot, sleep cycles disturbance, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, staring, getting lost, barking, clinginess, disorientation, house soiling, or pacing for no reason.


What to do when your dog is barking and acting weird

If your dog is healthy with no signs of illness and acting weird there is no cause for concern because it is normal for dogs to have behaviors that seem weird to us. However, it is important to know the meaning behind your dog’s behavior so that you can address the situation.

First, generally assess the possible reason behind your dog’s behavior, whether it is due to illness, injury, or any other stimulus. 

Second, consult with your veterinarian so that they can rule out any illness as an underlying cause of the strange behavior.

The veterinarian will determine whether it is a medical or behavioral problem. Treatment and management of a dog acting weird depend on the specific problem identified. This includes:


Medication to treat illness, injury or stress may be required. Treatment helps a dog feel better and also stops the strange behavior.


Training is important to teach a dog the desired behavior that they should have. Training helps to stop destructive behaviors such as digging, chewing, or fear due to traumatic experiences.

An animal behaviorist helps with training to bring back your dog’s confidence especially if they experienced trauma.

Your veterinarian will recommend a certified animal behaviorist to assist in the behavior modification of your dog.

Change of diet

If the reason behind a dog’s strange behavior is linked to food intolerance or allergic reaction, the veterinarian will recommend a different diet. 

The diet could be a limited ingredients diet that reduces the chances of an allergic reaction and also with digestible ingredients. 

Exercise and activities

A bored dog will always look for something to do to relieve their pent-up energy and keep them entertained. 

Therefore to prevent destructive behavior due to boredom, engage your dog in different activities.

This includes daily walks, enrollment in obedience classes, and also interactive toys for mental stimulation.

Stress management

If stress is the underlying cause of weird behavior, minimize your dog’s exposure to stress triggers and also remove them from these triggers.

This includes taking your dog to a quiet room in your home where they can relax and regroup. Provide them with a safe place where they can escape from anxious situations.

Physical activities such as walking or playing also help to relieve your dog’s stress, therefore engage them in these activities.

The veterinarian may also recommend anxiety-relieving medication which also helps in the management of stress.

Spaying or neutering

Dogs that are maturing physically will always act strangely because of the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies. 

To reduce and stop these weird behaviors, have your female dog spayed and the male dog neutered.


A dog acting weird can be confusing and in some cases a cause of concern. As a dog owner, it is important to be aware of behavioral changes in your dog to know what to do in these situations.

Contact your veterinarian when you observe your dog acting weird to get their guidance and determination of the underlying cause especially if your dog shows signs of illness.