What You Need to Know About Behavior Changes in Senior Dogs
As your dog ages, he or she may change. The once-rambunctious puppy may play less, the once-busy baby may now rest more or the once-uncontrollable canine may lay around on the dog bed a little more often. While it is often difficult to see your dog alter behaviors, some personality changes are signs of more than just age. As your senior dog ages, pet owners must learn to understand behavior changes in senior dogs.
Some Behavior Changes Signal Treatable Medical Issues
Visit your veterinarian because changes in behavior often indicate medical issues, some of which are treatable. If your senior dog has become more chatty, he or she may have lost some hearing or could feel pain. Maybe your dog is waking at night, signaling hearing, vision or incontinence issues. If your dog is urinating inside the house, he or she may be facing bladder control issues or more serious problems like organ or brain issues. If your older dog’s behavior changes, visit your veterinarian to rule out medical issues that medication can help.
Understanding Cognitive Changes
Senior dogs often face cognitive issues. From aggressive behaviors to destructiveness to sleeping issues, as your dog’s body changes, so can his or her actions. As always, rule out medical causes of the behaviors then work with your dog to train him or her to act more appropriately.
Dealing with Senior Dog Anxiety
As dogs age, they often deal with anxiety. You may notice your older dog acting compulsively or suddenly dealing with separation anxiety. Make your senior dog comfortable by leaving him or her in a safe, comfortable space like a crate with items that remind him or her of your scent (an old T-shirt is perfect). If the anxiety seems excessive, see your veterinarian or a behavior specialist.
Appreciating Increased Vocalization
Dogs who are aging often increase their barking, whining or noise making due to cognitive issues, hearing loss or pain. Visit your veterinarian to ensure your pet isn’t suffering from a medical issue then try training your pet to quiet on command with the reward of a treat. If your senior dog continues to vocalize, love him or her for giving you a little extra companionship in their elder years.
Responding to Restlessness or Night Waking
Just like humans, age affects a dog’s sleep patterns. If you notice your senior dog waking at odd hours or having trouble falling to sleep, visit your veterinarian to rule out medical problems. Many dogs wake in the night due to pain or the need to use the bathroom. If you suspect your dog needs the restroom during the night, try feeding him or her earlier and limiting water before bedtime.
How to Handle House Soiling
Your senior dog may use the bathroom in the house because he or she simply can’t move to get outside anymore. He or she may have a more frequent urge to use the restroom or a more serious medical issue. See your veterinarian who may prescribe medications to help your senior pet.
Dealing with Destructiveness
You probably dealt with destructiveness when your dog was a puppy, but for years, you have had a calm and peaceful home. Now, suddenly, your beloved family dog is acting destructive. A medical condition could cause the destructive behaviors or the destruction could be a sign of aging. Try giving your dog toys designed for him or her to chew to discourage destructive behaviors.
The Old Dog House is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to giving older and senior dogs a second chance at a new life. At so many shelters, the age of a dog determines its chances of reaching the adoption floor to find a new forever home.As a result, many wonderful dogs are denied the ability to live out their lives in dignity, surrounded by love. The Old Dog House aims to enlighten the public to the joys of owning an older or senior dog through educational programs and to place rescued dogs into true forever homes through adoption programs. The dogs that come into the care of The Old Dog House will remain in our care until adopted. We rely solely on donations from the public to support our organization. 100% of donations received are used for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at The Old Dog House. Every penny makes a difference and is greatly appreciated!