Michigan Humane Society

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Ask the Behaviorist: Changes in Aging Dogs


Check out the Michigan Humane Society blog on Wednesdays to see common pet behavior questions answered by our Senior Director of Operations and pet behavior expert, CJ Bentley. If you have an immediate behavior concern with your pet, please call a qualified trainer or behaviorist! If you have a non-urgent question you would like answered on the blog, you can comment here or email us at mail(at)michiganhumane.org.

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

“My older dog…she is beautiful and smart…but over the last several months…she has stopped being social, she spends most of her day in a closet. She has stopped listening to her training such as sit, stay, come, she refuses things she always ate in favor of new things. She doesn’t want to play anymore. She seems to be afraid of things she never was afraid of before. Thunder, me moving pots and pans in the kitchen. I am at a loss as to what to do.”

Wow. What a change, right? If you haven’t already, I would certainly consider taking your lovely dog to a veterinarian. There’s a chance that her behavior is caused because she’s physically uncomfortable. Or…since you didn’t mention how old “older” is…there’s a chance that she has developed a sort of “doggy senility.”

So a veterinary visit needs to be step one. If her veterinarian feels that she’s medically fit, we certainly have our work cut out for us. I totally understand your concern. This one is complicated. Was there a change in your life that may correlate with her change in behavior? While not critical, it will help if we can somehow identify what caused (or at least contributed to) her change in behavior. Because this one could take some unraveling you may want to consider contacting Dr. Theresa DePorter at Oakland Veterinary Referral Service. She is a veterinarian and a behaviorist and could be an excellent for your dog. You are right to be concerned. Please take care.

See our veterinarian’s take on pet aging here.


2 thoughts on “Ask the Behaviorist: Changes in Aging Dogs

  1. my Pomeranian is 12 years old and all she does is sleep up in her bed all day she comes down in the morning and goes potty and then goes back upstairs to her bed till about 5 pm , is this normal is she sleeping to much she’s well taken care of and goes to the vet on a regular basis
    Thank you


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