Why did my dog do __________?

why did my dog do

Did you ever ask yourself, “Why did my dog do __________?”

Most of the time it is hard to separate facts from stories, for example many have a hypothetical theory on why a dog does something. So many people honestly believe what they perceive a dog to be thinking when they explain why a dog has done something in a certain situation. This is why scientific thinking is so important. Science is a way for us to weed out facts from stories when it comes to animal behavior.

In my opinion the most important skills for scientific ways of thinking are;

1) stick with behavioral explanations that can be observed and measured;
2) consider alternative explanations for what you observe that are based on the interaction between behavior and the environment; and
3) ask anyone making assertions about dogs, “How do you know that?”

Asking any professional this question and they will be happy to answer you!

Example if we take 20 people that is a mix of  professionals along with non professionals and ask them: Why did my dog growl at my other dog when it entered the room?

We would probably hear answers like:

  • Territorial Aggression
  • Protective Aggression -e.g resource
  • Possessive Aggression
  • Fear Aggression
  • Defensive Aggression
  • Social Aggression
  • Frustration-Elicited Aggression
  • Redirected Aggression
  • Pain-Elicited Aggression
  • Sex-Related Aggression
  • Predatory Aggression

“Feel free to add your own labels/constructs or hypothetical theories __________.”

The only thing we know for sure is the approach of the dog was the trigger for the growl which is what ABA does (applied behavior analysis). The smallest measurement of behavior which is antecedent, behavior and consequence.

Therefore the growl either worked or didn’t and that will determine what may happen next. This is where we start our training and or behavior modification. We can never ask the dog why he growled therefore hypothetical constructs e.g labeling dogs does not help! All behavior must have environmental conditions!

For more read ABCs of behavior and ABC, Its Functional Assessment and Intervention Program.



  1. I was playing ball with my dog when my neighbor started walking up to get the ball when my dog started jumping on her and hitting her feet and flip flops. I don’t understand y my dog did these. It’s not the first time it has happened.

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