Most dog owners are aware of the physical changes brought by the aging of their dogs. However, did you know that their behaviors can change too? Here are some of the changes that you should look out for.
Dogs who are prone to anxiety when they were still young have the potential to become more anxious as they age. Some signs of anxiety include:
- Increased irritability and sensitivity
- Fear or aggression towards strangers or unfamiliar pets
- Decreased tolerance for being touched
- Refusing to eat
- Destruction of doors (usually when you are about to leave)
Positive reinforcement can help in this kind of situation. You should also take note that you have been dealing with an anxious dog since he was young. Make a concrete plan on how to deal with those issues as he gets older.
As your dog ages, he may also start to startle more easily which can result in unprovoked aggression.
This situation may require sleuthing together with the help of your veterinarian. This will help you understand the triggers of his behavior. This may also need the help of a veterinary behaviorist, as he/she can help you implement a modification protocol and treatment plan.
Sadly, some dog may become destructive as they age. You might lose some things in this stage of his life or he might end up hurting himself.
Your dog might start licking or chewing things around your house causing destruction. He might also start biting you or his own self.
Talk to your veterinarian about how to control this kind of behavior so you can avoid the physical damage that it may result into. Also, make your home is destruction proof. Keep all the things that you think he can possibly destroy and offer other chewing or biting alternatives such as dog toys and/or toy bones.
4. Nighttime Restlessness
Some dogs experience an inability to sleep through the night as they grow older. Other age-related issues that cause this behavior change, are loss of sight or hearing that may affect his sleep quality or an increase response to noise that never bothered him before.
If your dog doesn't exercise regularly, then you can start making it a habit either by walking or running with him. If he is already active, then you can just increase the time of his exercise daily. The goal is to tire him so that he can sleep better at night.
You can also let your dog sleep in your bedroom as sleeping with a human companion may help relieve his anxiety due to nighttime restlessness.
5. Hypersensitivity, Fears or Phobia
If your dog starts to show aging signs such as loss of vision and hearing, even your own home can become frightening for him.
It is important that at this stage of his life, you keep his environment consistent. Don't rearrange your furniture around the house. Don't transfer his toys, bed, and food and water bowl. Be consistent with his mealtimes, potty walks and exercise time.
If your dog is becoming sensitive to sounds, play some music or keep your TV on to mask the other sounds that might startle him.
Excessive vocalizing is more common in cats than dogs. However, if your dog becomes "talkative", it can be a nuisance not just to you but to your neighbors as well.
Excessive vocalizing can be caused by a disorientation that comes with a decline cognitive function. This can also indicate that your dog is not hearing things as well as he did before or he is in pain.
Have your dog checked by your veterinarian as this behavior may be caused by an underlying medical condition. However, if your vet has ruled it out then you can try training your dog to respond to a gentle cue such as "Shhh" or "Quiet" and give him rewards for his effort.