Most dog owners are aware of the physical changes that can take place as their canine companion gets up in years, but did you know your aging dog’s behavior may also change? Here are some changes that may occur in our dogs as they age.
1. Aggression. Unfortunately, along with an age-related reduction in hearing, eyesight and sense of smell, your dog may startle more easily, and in some dogs this can result in unprovoked aggression.
2. Anxiety. Dogs who are anxiety-prone as youngsters and adults often become more so as they age.
3. Destructiveness. Sadly, some dogs become destructive as they age. You might lose a cherished belonging or two at this stage of your pet’s life, or she might turn her destructive urges on herself.
4. Hypersensitivity, Fears, and Phobias. It’s important at this stage of your dog’s life to keep his environment consistent. Don’t arbitrarily move his food or water bowl, his crate, his bed, or his toys. Try to avoid rearranging the furniture in your home. Mealtimes and potty walks should be consistent from one day to the next, as well as exercise and play time.
5. Inappropriate Elimination. Initial steps you can take to resolve the problem include taking him outside more often to eliminate, and/or introducing/re-introducing him to a crate.
6. Nighttime Restlessness. Some older dogs develop an inability to sleep through the night. Age-related issues that can cause this change in your dog’s behavior include loss of vision or hearing that affects sleep quality, the need to relieve himself more often, or an increased response to noises that never bothered him before.
7. Obsessive-Compulsiveness. These are behaviors your dog may perform over and over, for no apparent reason. They can include constant licking, which can result in hot spots. Other O-C behaviors include repetitive tail chasing, spinning, jumping, pacing, “air biting,” and staring blankly into space.
8. Vocalizing. Excessive vocalizing is more common in older cats than dogs, but if your dog is growing more “talkative,” it can be unsettling because as her guardian, you want desperately to understand what she needs from you.
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