Personality disordered dogs?


While there aren’t official psychiatric diagnoses for dogs, I think dogs (and other pet animals) can and do develop psychiatric conditions, including the canine equivalent of the personality disorders. As in humans, “personality disorders” in dogs develop when a dog has been abused or neglected, usually in puppyhood. Neglecting a dog is just as bad as abusing it, because they are social creatures who need “mirroring” from their humans and regular social interaction. Without these things, a dog can become aggressive, aloof, or learn to fear everything and everyone. Since disturbed dogs do not make good pets, they are usually euthanized.

Because dogs and other pets aren’t capable of higher level reasoning, there’s no doggie equivalent of a “false self,” gaslighting, triangulation, or splitting, but we do find manipulative, attention-seeking, unpleasant behaviors.

Here’s an article about the behavioral problems dogs can develop. Next to each item, I’ve named the personality disorder that would be the human equivalent for that behavior.


Problem dogs usually exhibit difficulties with:

Selfishness and Aggressiveness: Some dogs aggressively guard their food and possessions, and bite any dog or human foolish enough to challenge them. Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Impulsiveness: Some dogs are very impulsive. They impulsively run off chasing after something at the slightest provocation. Often this behavior either gets them lost or run over by a car. Antisocial or Borderline Personality Disorder

Dominance: Some dogs are very dominant and literally control their submissive owners. You will see these dogs pulling their owners around on a leash, or involved in some other power struggle with their owner. Antisocial or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Fear or Wariness: Some dogs are very fearful and wary of strangers. Some fearful, shy dogs eventually learn to trust their owner. However, other fearful dogs never learn to trust their owner and remain wary, aloof and distant. Schizoid, Avoidant, or Dependent Personality Disorder

Separation Anxiety: Some dogs become hysterical when their owner leaves them. They howl or tear up furniture in a fearful rage. Some dogs bloody themselves trying to paw through walls or smash through glass doors trying to reunite with their owners. Borderline Personality Disorder

Attention-Seeking: Some dogs constantly demand attention from their owner. Yet the more attention the owner gives these dogs, the more excited and attention-seeking they become. The end result is that these demanding dogs are always jumping up on their owners or otherwise pestering their owner for more attention. Borderline, Histrionic, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Lack Of Affection: Owners want an affectionate dog that loves them. Unfortunately, some dogs never warm up to their owner and remain aloof and cold. In addition, other dogs never learn to trust their owner, and remain suspicious and isolated. Paranoid, Schizoid or Avoidant Personality Disorder

Read more about animal psychological disorders:

8 thoughts on “Personality disordered dogs?

  1. I had trained dogs for 20yrs, in my experience, all dog problems are a result of living with humans. We are making them live in our ways, without realizing that we have to teach them how. In their natural environment, they wouldn’t have these problems within their society.

    One of the biggest causes of dog behavioural problems is “Little Dog Syndrome”, from the owners. Most of my dog training is removing the dominance that this creates in a dog.

    Dogs are mirror images of their owners. If you want to know about the owner, read the dog’s body language, it will tell you everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you can tell a lot about the owners by looking at the behavior of a dog. Recently I encoutered a very aggressive, out of control Beagle (who are usually hyper but not VICIOUS) and immediately suspected that dog was being abused in some way. Not too surprisingly I heard that the owners had taken that poor abused dog to the pound. I don’t know if they abused the dog, but they didn’t seem at all able to control it and seemed actually intimidated by it, as if they were allowing the dog to control them. If they weren’t abusing the dog, it had already been abused and his behavior problems were far too ingrained for them to be able to reform him. He would never have made a good pet. 😦
      What is “little dog syndrome”? Is that like Napoleon syndrome? I’ve known a number of very aggressive, small dogs. They seem to be trying to make up for their lack of size, lol. Chihuahas seem to be especially aggressive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Little dog syndrome is when the owners teart the dog like a human baby, & spoil them. The dog becomes aggressive & dominant. The dogs have no trust or respect for the owner this way. A dog without discipline, rules, & boundaries, is a mentally unstable animal, with all sorts of behavior problems.

        Dogs know someone has to be the leader of the pack, for survival. That leader needs to be the owner, not the dog. Besides you wont have a close bond with a dog if they don’t trust or respect you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My parents adopted a dog with PTSD. She was abused from when she was a pup so she always coward and piddled on the floor and would run from us and also poop and pee in the house. She was not aggressive. Every animal is different so obviously not all of them will get violent. But she eventually got over it when we earned her trust. It was very hard having her the first few months. Just by looking at how she react to our tone of voice and to other things, it was pretty obvious what her owner did to her so i knew she did more than just beating her with a newspaper or else she would be afraid of news papers only.


    • That’s great you were able to work with her and earn your pooch’s trust. Yes, I believe dogs can definitely develop PTSD if they were abused, in fact that might be a real diagnosis for animals as well as people. But the important thing is, she has overcome it or at least is well on her way. She’s lucky to have loving, attentive pet-parents like yourself.


  3. Pingback: Small Dog syndrome | My World

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