Behavioral Condition Coverage for Dogs

Written By
11 min read
11 min read

Updated - Mar 31st, 2024

Key points
  • Excessive barking, separation anxiety, aggression, jumping up, and leash pulling are the most common dog behavioral problems.
  • Pet behavioral therapy can be an effective solution for addressing and correcting mental health difficulties.
  • Pet insurance from the right provider may help protect your pup’s health if mental health issues arise in the future.

Every dog parent wants to see their pooch happy, healthy, and thriving. However, dogs are not so different from humans, and multiple factors can impact their wellness and mental health.

A change in routine may cause dogs to become anxious, boredom may trigger excessive barking, and different fears may cause them to pant or shake. Whenever dogs struggle with behavioral problems, it’s almost always a symptom of another issue.

Although some dogs will require a visit to the veterinarian if their behavior is due to a medical condition, others may benefit from behavioral treatment or expert training. Understanding dog mental health can help you identify what your dog needs. It can also help you find the best behavioral coverage for dogs.

This article explains what you should know about mental health care for dogs and how pet insurance could help cover treatment for different types of behavioral conditions.

Why is mental health care for dogs important?

The mental health of dogs is crucial in ensuring their overall quality of life. Like humans, dogs can grapple with various emotional and psychological issues that significantly impact their health and wellness.

A dog with a leash in mouth, with a chewed sneaker and pee pad in background

Prioritizing mental health care for dogs directly contributes to their longevity and overall happiness. After all, numerous factors — including separation anxiety, a lack of physical activity, and exposure to loud noises — can lead to dogs developing mental health conditions. In turn, this can lead to trouble for both you and your pup. 

Pet owners may not always be aware of anxious or depressive symptoms and behavioral changes in their dogs. But even subtle signs such as lethargy or sudden changes in appetite and sleep patterns can clue you into a possible underlying mental health disorder.

Like many illnesses, the sooner symptoms are caught and treated, the better. This is the case when it comes to your dog’s mental and behavioral health.

What are the most common dog behavioral problems?

The following are the most common behavioral issues reported in our canine buddies.

Leash pulling, jumping up, leash aggression, eliminating inside, and destructive chewing are common behavioral problems in dogs

  • Barking: While barking is natural for dogs, if excessive, it may indicate a more severe problem. They might bark out of boredom, territorial instincts, and fear, but also due to pain and discomfort.
  • Separation anxiety: Dogs often experience this issue when their families leave them alone, even for a few hours. They may react to it with excessive barking, destructive behavior, or self-harm, as they fear abandonment. 
  • Aggression: It may be challenging to identify the root, but various triggers might cause dogs to turn to aggressive behaviors, such as illnesses, lack of socialization, and territoriality. This behavioral problem ranges from growling and barking to stiff body language and showing teeth.
  • Jumping up: Although dogs often jump on people as a form of greeting or excitement, this behavior can be disruptive and potentially harmful. 
  • Leash aggression: Some dogs may behave aggressively toward other canines or people while on a leash, often resulting from fear or frustration. 
  • Leash pulling: If a dog constantly pulls on the leash during walks, that can make outings much less fun and potentially risky. The cause might be as simple as lack of training, but also more serious, such as anxiety. 
  • Chewing: A dog chewing on a new fluffy toy is adorable but it’s another story when they start targeting shoes and furniture. The causes vary from teething and boredom to anxiety and stress. 
  • Elimination (peeing or pooping) indoors: Puppies and untrained dogs can be prone to excessive house soiling, but if this is happening out of character for your dog it may be a symptom of physical health issues, such as UTIs, or a behavioral condition.
  • Anxiety: Humans aren’t the only ones to struggle with this problem; pets can often experience the same. It may manifest in a variety of ways such as excessive vocalization, trembling, panting, and hiding. 
  • Fear: Various conditions and situations may cause a dog to be scared, such as unfamiliar environments, traumatic experiences, and sensory impairments. 
  • Compulsive behaviors: Anxiety and stress often cause dogs to develop excessive licking, paw chewing, or tail chasing. This can even become as serious as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Nipping and mouthing: Even though puppies and dogs engage in mouthing and nipping during play, this may become a problem if excessive and uncontrolled.
  • Begging for food: This isn’t rare among dogs, but it might point to something more serious, such as anxiety and lack of social interactions.
  • Herding or chasing behavior: Breeds with a prominent work background are prone to this behavior, but it could also be due to boredom and insufficient mental stimulation. 

What can cause dog behavioral problems?

A 2021 study found that 72-85% of dogs exhibit at least one behavior-related issue at some point in their lives.

Saying that dogs are fur “children” is not an exaggeration, especially considering how similar factors impact their mental health just like human children. They can also develop behavioral problems that can be challenging for them and their human families. 

Let’s explore the primary causes of mental health issues in dogs and how they manifest.

Visualization showing common causes of behavioral problems in dogs. Icons of toys, stethoscope, DNA, and broken heart around a sad pug.


Genetic factors may impact a dog’s temperament and behavior, as each breed has distinct predispositions. For instance, some are genetically more prone to herding or chasing, while others are inclined to anxiety. But a dog’s breed background is only one piece of the puzzle.

Poor early socialization

Inadequate or a lack of socialization during a puppy’s crucial development stage (first 12-16 weeks) can result in anxiety, fear, and aggression toward people, other dogs, and new or unfamiliar environments. This may manifest as fearfulness, anxiety, high reactivity, and inappropriate play behavior. 

Traumatic experiences

Surviving abuse, attacks, or accidents may lead to fear-based behavioral problems. Like their human companions, dogs can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in fear, anxiety, aggression, loss of appetite, and avoidance of places or things related to what scares them. 

Environmental factors

Environmental factors significantly influence a dog’s behaviors. Exposure to unexpected, stressful, and chaotic situations and elements can cause stress and mental health issues. 

For example, dogs living in noisy and unstable environments may develop fearfulness, anxiety, and hyperactivity. They might also try to escape their living area, lose their appetite, or have fur fall out due to the continuous stress.

Separation anxiety

Saying goodbye can be hard on some pups, even temporarily. Dogs are no different and may develop separation anxiety when separating from their families or guardians. 

A recent study has found that after being abandoned by their owners, dogs were increasingly prone to behavioral problems. That may include excessive drooling, distressed vocalization, howling, chewing, and destroying furniture.


Dogs can develop irrational fears of specific situations, people, and stimuli. Thunderstorms, fireworks, and specific objects are among the most common causes that could trigger trembling, panic attacks, destructive behaviors, or even escape attempts. 

Compulsive disorders

Many factors, including boredom, a lack of early socialization, or medical conditions may cause dogs to develop compulsive disorders. That often results in repetitive and obsessive actions, such as excessive licking, shadow-chasing, and tail-chasing. A little is fun; a lot is not. 

Lack of training

Inconsistent discipline can lead to undesirable behaviors and disobedience. That often results in ignoring commands, jumping on people, or elimination inside. 

Household dynamics changes

A new family member or fur sibling can impact a dog’s routine and result in stress, anxiety, and territorial behavior. 

Inadequate exercise and stimulation

Dogs need physical exercise and mental stimulation to thrive and stay healthy. Otherwise, they might respond with excessive barking or compulsive behaviors when they get bored. 

How to help dogs with mental health and behavioral problems 

Although socialization and love are essential for a dog’s wellness and personal growth, pet parents can also integrate basic behavioral therapy into their daily routines to mitigate behavioral problems. 

Qualified professionals know advanced methods that help create a positive impact on a dog’s quality of life. However, people can also include reward-based training techniques in their pet’s daily life to foster improved mental well-being. Most dogs enjoy obedience training or learning tricks as mental stimulation, and dropping treats behind the vacuum cleaner goes a long way toward making it less scary. 

What is pet behavioral therapy?

Pet behavioral therapy is a specialized approach to addressing problematic behaviors in pets, including dogs and cats. It typically involves an animal behaviorist or certified veterinary behaviorist who evaluates a pet’s behavior, identifies the underlying causes, and establishes an effective treatment plan. 

That plan may include behavior modification techniques, environmental changes, training, or medication. Behavioral therapy can help dogs struggling with anxiety, stress, fearfulness, excessive barking, compulsive behaviors, separation anxiety, and other mental disorders. 

What is the average cost of behavioral therapy or treatment? 

The price for pet behavioral therapy depends on multiple factors, including the type of approach, the provider’s cost, location, and your dog’s breed. It’s also challenging to say how long it may take to help any one pooch with a significant behavioral and mental health difficulty because every dog is different.

For example, some dogs may need only three therapy sessions for their owners to see improvements, while others may need 12 or more sessions. In general, costs for mental and behavioral therapy for dogs can run between $50-$500 per session.

A happy golden retriever surrounded by illustrations of a tennis ball, trophy, paw bubble, and hearts

Does pet insurance cover behavioral therapy for dogs?

Depending on the provider, pet insurance may cover behavioral therapy or treatment, regardless of whether the cause is social or medical. The quickest way to find this out is to consult a provider’s pet insurance policy and look for any sections or references to behavioral conditions.

Pet insurance may be able to offer coverage for conditions such as:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Excessive chewing and licking
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Phobias
  • Fearful behaviors

Pet insurance may also cover more rare issues, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to panic attacks, though each case would be evaluated individually. 

Remember that most pet insurance companies have exclusions for pre-existing conditions. That means if a dog had a condition (or symptom of a condition) during the waiting period or before the pet insurance plan coverage begins, treatments for that condition would not be eligible for coverage.

Is it worth getting pet insurance for behavioral conditions?

Behavioral problems are extremely prevalent in dogs, especially anxiety, aggression, barking, house soiling, and hyperactivity. That means having pet insurance coverage to treat these issues can be very valuable for dog owners, as ongoing treatment can be costly.

Although pet parents can address and correct some minor disorders at home, veterinary or pet behaviorist intervention is often necessary. In most situations, mental health conditions require multiple therapy sessions or medication for lasting results. It can be extra reassuring to know that you’d have the support of a pet insurance policy to help cover those ongoing eligible expenses for your dog.

How should I choose behavioral coverage for dogs? 

Start by researching different pet insurance providers and assessing their plans to find the best one for your pup. You should also make sure your pup is covered for a wide range of accidents and illnesses that may come about during their lifetime. Ideally, you should make sure the coverage includes behavioral conditions in the policy you enroll in. We highly suggest checking the coverage limits, annual deductible options, and reimbursement rates for any prospective pet insurance providers you are considering.

Do Pumpkin plans offer behavioral condition coverage? 

Yes! Pumpkin insurance plans provide extensive accident and illness coverage that includes coverage for behavioral conditions. Pumpkin plans can cover consultations, diagnostics, treatment, and prescription medications for behavioral conditions that are diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. 

Best of all, Pumpkin plans can help you afford the best veterinary care for behavioral conditions by giving you 90% cash back on all eligible vet bills.

Behavioral Therapy and Pet Insurance FAQs. Graphic shows corgi on hind legs and cat peeking out from behind a question mark.


When should a dog see a behaviorist?

 If a dog displays symptoms of mental health disorders or behavioral issues, and training isn’t helping, it’s advisable to visit a veterinary health professional such as a veterinary behaviorist.

What is the difference between dog training and behavioral condition treatment?

Many dog owners may want to seek the help of a trainer to assist with things like crate training, potty training, and obedience training. However, this type of training is not considered a treatment for behavioral conditions. If your dog is diagnosed with a behavioral condition by a licensed veterinarian, they will likely refer you to a veterinary behaviorist or similar professional who can administer behavioral treatment.

Does pet insurance cover behavioral condition treatment?

If the pet insurance provider includes behavioral condition coverage, they will reimburse you for eligible treatments. However, you must research or contact the company to ensure your dog’s specific needs are included in your policy for well-informed decision-making. 

What is a pre-existing condition for pet insurance?

Typically, any medical condition, or symptom of a medical condition, your dog had during the waiting period or before the pet insurance coverage started is considered a pre-existing condition and isn’t eligible for coverage. Please see the policy of your pet insurance provider for more details. 


Your pup’s mental and behavioral health are just as important as their overall physical health. Keeping our dogs happy, healthy, and full of energy is the goal of every pet owner. To ensure you can be ready to provide the care your pet needs, it’s wise to consider getting a pet insurance plan with extensive accident & illness coverage.
Ready to learn more about Pumpkin plans? Fetch your free quote today.

Pumpkin Team

Pumpkin Team

Passionate Pet Experts & Parents
We are a team of writers, designers & product developers who all double as passionate (ok, obsessive) nerds of the pet world.
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