Dog Impulsivity & Frustration

Dog Impulsivity & Frustration

Seeking Solutions For Your Impulsive Or Frustrated Dog?


Acting on impulse a dog acts without thinking. Motivation to perform the behaviour, emotions involved and the temperament of the individual dog, will influence how impulsive the dog is. A frustrated dog may be conflicted, or highly aroused but expectations are not met. A dog could perform displacement, or redirected behaviour. This emotional state plays a key role in behaviour problems, for example aggression McPeake et al (2019).

Frustration is an emotional state, a reaction. The dog is motivated and engaged in behaviours it cannot finish. Physical, or psychological barriers prevent completing what the dog is motivated to do. A dog may be frustrated by a range of circumstances for example: unable to obtain or keep a resource, barriers to avoiding aversive, or accessing desired objective, individual, or item, lack of predictability. There are several other reasons for frustration. The dog responds as an individual. Research has also found emotion, motivation and temperament can affect impulsiveness and degree of frustration. Experience and learning will also play a part Overall K (1997), Piotti P et al (2018,) McPeake et al (2019).

Frustration evolved to optimise survival. Research by Piotti P et al (2018) found that a dogs impulsive reaction was partially overlapping with how humans react. However there are, many factors, affective traits, circumstances and environments that influence a domestic dog. Studies found that different aspects influencing dog behaviour, were relevant, also active, or passive avoidance to stimuli. Research by McPeake et al (2019) to assess behavioural and affective traits, measured frustration tendencies in dogs Piotti P et al (2018,) McPeake et al (2019).

Owners try various methods, perhaps searching the internet to resolve the problem, wanting an instant fix. Dog behaviour modification needs a thorough history assessment, by a Clinical Animal Behaviourist and a behaviour plan tailored to the individual dog. Progressing in stages, using compassionate ethical methods, is more effective. Any dog will need to first be assessed by a veterinarian to eliminate, or diagnose any underlying medical cause.

When our dog acts on impulse without thinking, or due to frustration, it feels stressful for us as owners too. How we react to our dog can impact on behaviour exhibited and how the dog behaves. By booking a behaviour consultation we can guide you, to help your dog. Our reaction to our dogs behaviour can compound, or aid the problem. Learning what to do and what to avoid, to help your dog is important.

There are ways we can help our dogs impulse control with training and play, along with a tailored behaviour modification plan, to address the reasons your dog is behaving in a way, that concerns you. A behavioural assessment on your dog, is needed to assess underlying eliciting stimuli, identify other important factors including social and environmental, that are influencing your dogs behaviour and emotions. We can then derive a behaviour modification plan with management to help your dog.

Overall K (1997) Clinical Behavioural Medicine for Small Animals. Mosby, Piotti P et al(2018) Impulsivity and behaviour problems in dogs: A reinforcement sensitivity theory perspective. Pubmed. Available from:, Wright et al (2011) Dog impulsivity assessment scale (DIAS). Available from: , McPeake et al (2019) The canine frustration questionnaire- Development of a new psychometric tool for measuring frustration in domestic dogs.Frontiers in veterinary science. Available from: Accessed 10/5/22