A Great Dane acting weird can be concerning when you see your well-behaved dog not acting their usual self but acting strangely.
Strange behaviors such as eating dirt, constant licking of paws, spinning in circles, staring, and walking strangely, among other unusual behaviors can raise many questions as to why they occur.
So, why is your Great Dane acting weird?
In this article, we will look into the reasons behind a Great Dane acting weird, and what to do about it.
A Great Dane acting weird is commonly due to illness, injury, stress, boredom, a reaction to diet, fear, surge of hormones, and aging. Knowing which Great Dane behaviors are normal is the key to identifying any changes in your dog’s life, either behavioral or medical problems that are a cause for concern.
Reasons Behind A Great Dane Acting Weird
A Great Dane 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 Great Dane act strangely.
Strange behavior due to illness can include a Great Dane becoming lethargic, retching, disinterest in any activities, loss of appetite, irritability, eating of grass, abnormal gait, and other strange behaviors.
Injury can also cause a Great Dane to act weird because of the pain and discomfort. They may snap, growl, be disinterested in activities, or refuse to be touched.
Related: Do Great Danes attack?
Reactivity to situations or stimuli
A Great Dane may react to a situation, objects or people with aggression. This behavior usually is due to a lack of training and socialization to get along with people or animals.
They might be triggered for example by bearded men, small children, other pets in the home, or even an innocent gesture from you which can be perceived negatively.
Sudden aggression is mainly due to injuries when a Great Dane gets hurt on any part of their body which can include bone fractures, broken bones, cuts, or internal injury.
A stressful situation can trigger a Great Dane 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.
Related: Why Is My Great Dane So Annoying?
Great Danes 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 Great Dane 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 Great Dane 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.
Recommended reading: Why is my Great Dane throwing up?
Frightening situations can scare a Great Dane 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 Great Dane.
Surge of Hormones
A surge in hormones in a Great Dane 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 Great Dane is easily irritated, also more affectionate, has nesting behavior, tires more easily, and has an increased appetite.
The weird behavior observed in a female Great Dane 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 Great Danes 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 Great Dane is less reactive and its behavior is less erratic.
Related: How often do Great Danes go in heat?
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 Great Dane 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, clinginess, disorientation, house soiling, or pacing for no reason.
Related: Why is my Great Dane so clingy?
The below video shows how cognitive dysfunction affects a dog.
What To Do When Your Great Dane Is Acting Weird
If your Great Dane 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 Great Dane’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 Great Dane acting weird depend on the specific problem identified. This includes:
Medication to treat illness, injury or stress may be required. Treatment helps a Great Dane feel better and also stops the strange behavior.
Training is important to teach a Great Dane 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 Great Dane’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 Great Dane’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 Great Dane 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.
Related: What do Great Danes like to do?
If stress is the underlying cause of weird behavior, minimize your Great Dane’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
Great Danes 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 Great Dane spayed and the male dog neutered.
A Great Dane acting weird can be confusing and in some cases a cause of concern. As a Great Dane 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 Great Dane acting weird to get their guidance and determination of the underlying cause especially if your Great Dane shows signs of illness.