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Senior Dogs: Common Behavior Changes

Senior dogs Puppies have their behavior problems, and older dogs have theirs. For older dogs, in many cases it is not that they do not understand the 'rules,' but that they may, for many reasons, be unable to follow them.



Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavior problems seen in older dogs. A dog who has separation anxiety will become very anxious when he senses his owner is about to leave. When the owner does leave, the dog often becomes destructive, barks or howls, may urinate or defecate, and may salivate profusely. A dog with separation anxiety will often be overly exuberant when his owner returns.

Older dogs may have a decreased ability to cope with changes in routine. Vision or hearing loss may make them more anxious, overall, but especially when they are separated from the owner. Neurologic changes may also limit an older dog's ability to adjust to change.

Some of the main considerations in treating separation anxiety are:

  • Do not make a big deal about leaving or coming home - that simply reinforces the behavior.

  • Teach your dog to relax. If your dog can learn to relax in a 'stay' for extended periods while you are there, he will be more likely to learn how to relax while you are gone.

  • Change your departure cues. Many dogs know as soon as the alarm goes off, that it is a work day and you are going to leave. They start getting anxious as soon as they hear the alarm. We need to change our routine so the dog does not know we will be leaving. For instance, pick up the car keys and then go sit on the couch; on a Saturday, get up and dress like you are going to work, but stay home.

  • Start with very short departures. Determine how long you can leave your dog before he gets anxious. It may be only 10 seconds, so start there. Leave for 5 seconds, return, and if the dog has remained calm, reward him. Gradually increase the time you are gone, always returning before the dog becomes anxious, and rewarding him for staying calm. This may take weeks to months, so patience is the key.

  • Associate your departure with something good. As you leave, give your dog a hollow toy such as a 'Kong' filled with a wonderful treat. This may take his mind off of you leaving. Anxiety tends to feed on itself, so if we can prevent the anxiety from occurring when you leave, the dog may remain calm after you leave. Make sure your dog's environment is comfortable: the right temperature, a soft bed, sunlight, 'easy-listening' music. Some dogs will be more relaxed if they can see the outside world, others may become more anxious. Similarly, some older dogs are more anxious when left outdoors, and do much better when they can stay in the house. Determine what is best for your dog.

  • Break up the dog's day. If you are gone for extended periods during the day, you may want to think about having someone come in during the day to let your dog out and give him some exercise. Older dogs, especially, may need to go outside more often to urinate and defecate. Giving them this opportunity may decrease their anxiety.

  • Crate your dog. Many dogs feel safe in a crate, and being in a crate will help reduce their destructiveness. This will make it safer for them and your house.

  • Use a team approach. Anti-anxiety medications such as Clomicalm are often needed to break the cycle of separation anxiety. Medication alone, however, will not solve the problem. Work with your veterinarian and an animal behaviorist to develop a plan that will work best for you and your dog.



Older dogs may become aggressive for several reasons. Aggression may be the result of a medical problem such as one causing pain (arthritis or dental disease), vision or hearing loss, which results in the dog being easily startled, lack of mobility so the dog can not remove himself from the irritating stimulus (e.g.; an obnoxious puppy), or diseases having direct effects on the nervous system, such as cognitive dysfunction (see below). Stresses such as moving, a new family member, or a new pet may make an older dog more irritable and more likely to be aggressive. In a multi-dog household, an older dog who was the 'dominant' dog in the past, may find his authority being challenged by younger dogs in the household.

By determining what factors may be contributing to the aggression, we may be able to eliminate or reduce those factors. Treating medical conditions which contribute to the aggression is paramount. Watch the dog for signs of stress (increased panting), and remove the dog from the stressful situation which could cause aggression. Using a 'halti' headcollar and leash may provide more control over an older dog, especially one who has decreased hearing or vision. In some cases, a basket muzzle may be needed to assure the safety of human and non-human family members. DO NOT LEAVE A MUZZLED DOG UNATTENDED. Medications can be helpful in reducing aggression that may be due to fear and anxiety. As with separation anxiety discussed above, medication alone will not solve the problem. Work with your veterinarian and an animal behaviorist to develop a plan that will work best for you and your dog.



Some older dogs who have been housetrained for years, may start having 'accidents.' As with other behavior problems in older dogs, there may be multiple causes for this change in behavior. Medical conditions which result in an increased frequency of urination or defecation may be the underlying cause for this behavior problem. These conditions include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, bladder stones or infections, inflammation of the prostate, Cushing's disease, and kidney or liver disease. Medical conditions which cause pain or make it difficult for the dog to go outside to eliminate can also contribute to the problem. These conditions include arthritis, anal sac disease, loss of vision, and some forms of colitis. Treatment of these medical conditions may help to resolve this behavioral problem. Some medical conditions can result in a loss of control over bladder and bowel function and include hormone responsive incontinence, prostatic disease, and cognitive dysfunction. As discussed earlier, separation anxiety may result in defecating and urinating when the dog is separated from his owner(s).

Any older dog with a house soiling problem should be examined by a veterinarian and the owner should be able to give a detailed history of the color and amount of urine (or stool) passed, the frequency at which the dog needs to eliminate, changes in eating or drinking habits, the dog's posture while eliminating, and whether the 'accidents' only occur when the owner is gone.

Medical conditions contributing to the house soiling problem should be treated appropriately. If arthritis or painful movement is involved, an owner may want to build a ramp to the outside so the dog does not need to maneuver on stairs. Slick floor surfaces should be covered with non-slip area rugs or other material. Areas in the house where the dog has urinated or defecated should be cleaned with an enzyme cleaner. For dogs who need to urinate or defecate frequently, owners may need to change their schedules or find a pet sitter who can take the dog outside at appropriate intervals. A dog's food may contribute to difficulty defecating, and attempts should be made to determine if this could be a reason for the house soiling. Other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, bladder stones, or hormonal incontinence should be treated accordingly.



Some older dogs become overly sensitive to noise. One may think the reverse would happen since many older dogs will acquire some hearing loss. Cognitive dysfunction, immobility resulting in an inability of the dog to remove himself from the source of the noise, and the decreased ability of an older dog to manage stress may be factors contributing to noise phobia.

It is important to identify which noises the dog may be afraid of. It may be noises we can hear, such as thunderstorms, but remember that a dog can hear frequencies humans cannot; the dog may be fearful of a sound we can not hear. For this reason, also try to relate the dog's behavior with other occurrences in the environment (e.g.; a train whistle, which may produce some high frequency sounds).

Treatment of noise phobias can include medication, desensitization and counterconditioning. For instance, if the sound is identified, play a recording of the sound at a very low volume level and reward the dog if no fear is displayed. Gradually (over days to weeks) the volume can be increased and rewards given appropriately.



Stress in an older dog may translate itself into increased barking, whining, or howling. This can occur during separation anxiety, as a means to gain attention (if the dog can not come to you because of decreased mobility, he may be asking you to come to him), or because of cognitive dysfunction.

The cause of the increased vocalization should be identified, if possible, and medication should be given if appropriate. If the dog is vocalizing in order to receive attention, he should be ignored. It may also be helpful to use 'remote correction,' such as throwing a pop can containing a few coins or pebbles toward the dog (not at the dog), which may startle him and stop him from vocalizing. He should not associate you with the correction or he may increase his vocalization just to get your attention. If the increased vocalization is an attention-seeking behavior, review the amount and type of attention you are giving the dog. Maybe you need to set aside some time for you and your dog (on your terms).



Some older dogs may become restless at night, and stay awake, pacing through the house, or vocalizing. Pain, the need to urinate or defecate more often, the loss of vision or hearing, changes in appetite, and neurologic conditions can contribute to this behavior.

Any medical condition contributing to this behavior problem should be treated. Again, remote corrections may be helpful, or it may be necessary to confine the dog in a location away from the bedrooms during the night.



According to Pfizer Pharmaceutical, 62% of dogs age 10 years and older will experience at least some of the following symptoms, which could indicate that he has canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD):

  • Confusion or disorientation. The dog may get lost in his own back yard, or get trapped in corners or behind furniture.

  • Pacing and being awake all night, or a change in sleeping patterns.

  • Loss of housetraining abilities. A previously housetrained dog may not remember and may urinate or defecate where he normally would not.

  • Deceased activity level.

  • Decreased attentiveness or staring into space.

  • Not recognizing friends or family members.

When other factors are ruled out (if decreased activity is due to an advancing arthritic condition, for instance, or his inattentiveness due to vision or hearing loss), and your veterinarian has determined that your dog has CCD, a treatment for this disorder may be recommmended. The drug called Selegiline or L-Deprenyl, (brand name Anipryl), although not a cure, has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of CCD. If the dog responds, he will need to be treated daily for the rest of his life. As with all medications, there are side effects, and dogs with certain conditions should not be given Anipryl. For instance, if your dog is on Mitaban for external parasites, Anipryl should not be given. If you think your dog may have CCD, talk to your veterinarian.



Senior dogsSince older dogs do not handle stress well, getting a new puppy when you have an older dog showing signs of aging may not be the best idea. It is best to get a new puppy when the older dog is still mobile (can get away from the puppy), relatively pain free, is not experiencing cognitive dysfunction, and has good hearing and vision.



Many of the behavioral changes we see in older dogs can be due to medical conditions. If your dog's behavior is changing, have your dog examined by a veterinarian. Your older dog is more easily stressed, so attempt to reduce stress by making any necessary changes in routine gradual, and decreasing the exposure of your dog to stressors. With patience, understanding, and treatments recommended by your veterinarian, you can help make your dog's older years a quality time for you and him.


© 2009 Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from
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any dog should not be left outside.. they are all social animals and need companionship!

My 12 year old Shih Tzu (female) has been doing the same thing you've described for several months now... Except, she does not refuse treats. Has any light been shed on why your baby is acting up at night? I'd love to hear your feedback if so. My poor baby is pretty much on my head in the middle of the night. Needless to say, that makes for very restless nights for myself and my husband.

Hi there, I have a 9year old bullmastiff x, iv been recently been having trouble with him in the night time. He barks and whines alot. wakes everyone in the household up. Not too sure if there is something wrong or if it is a attention thing. If so what can I help and do about the situation? My email address is

Our little Shih Tzu is very sweet but not a cuddly type. Recently, in the middle of the night, she has consistently asked to be picked up onto the bed even though she can easily get onto it herself. Then she wants to be right up against me, close to my face, and suddenly must climb up onto me side, back or chest, whichever is immediately available. If I hold her back she just keeps trying. When we give her the treats at night that she normally asks for, she is now starting to refuse them, or even walk away. We have an 11 year old male Shih Tzu that she always defers to. He has not been more aggressive with her that we can see. We are very concerned that there might be an underlying medical cause that our veterinarian cannot see. She eats her meals, nothing wrong with her feces, no vomiting.

i have Jack Russel cross who is now close to 17 years old and she was showing signs of agression similiar to your dog. She sleeps under our bed and never liked to be disturbed and if you happened to accidently touch her bed she would fire up and bare her teeth. She has always been a bit tender near the back legs and over timeprogressively worse. Over time Vet started her on a course of arthritis injections and then arthritis tablets which she is still on They are called Previcox quite expensive, but only giving her a 1/2 tablet daily and she became a different dog. She no longer enjoys her walks but walks around the house every few hours for exercises, Her body is failing but her mind is still working . She is also deaf and her eye sight is failing but she is amazing still. so it may be a case of pain that your dog si suffering from. Hope this helps

I moved into a two story apartment complex around a month and half ago. I have two dogs, one is a chihuahua mix and the other is a Australian Shepard/ sharpei mix who is 60 pounds. When we moved in things were great, Marley (the Australian shep mix) was doing perfectly. I have a dog park up the road and a nice scenic trail down my street. Marley is 9 and within the past week he will not come up the stairs to my apartment. He goes limp and refuses to walk up. I know it isn't arthritis because when this started I had my mom and dad come over and he came up just fine and went to my parents house for the day and ran up the stairs right after I couldn't get him to come . I was previously living at my parents and Marley was outside for a good part of the day . We have a pool and a canyon that runs behind the house so h enjoyed being outdoors. I was taking him on 40ish minute walks and he did great, but now he just refuses to go up the stairs and I don't know what to do, I have school coming up and work both early in the morning and I cannot have him do this. Please anyone help me!

HI my 7 year old staffie keeps acting really strange its like he has sum kind of panic attack can't settle down walks back and forward in 1 room keeps panting fast and looking at me and then trys hiding under things like real small chair which he can not fit under but still trys I thought it could be the heat but putting a fan near him still don't change the way he is acting can any 1 help please.

Your dog is old enough to be considered "geriatric". He may perceive outside threats with the knowledge that he is too old to defend himself against these threats. Or he may be ill. He is clearly trying to communicate something to you. Please, please let this dog into your home and try to meet his needs. btw -- lab-retriever mixes are very "people-centered" dogs. He needs you.

Thank u 4 applying some info: here that I had no knowledge of...especially bout the 'garlic issue'..

I've noticed at times my 9 year old Boston Terrier's front leg trembles when she's sitting up, and at times this affects her head. Its sad to see her this way, she's an active 9 year old. She did fall down the stairs 2 weeks ago and we don't know if the trembling had something to do with it or if she just lost her footing, or if something else happened.

Dogs that never get to come inside (so-called "outside" dogs) really are being denied the right to full family membership. Here are some reasons why dogs want to sleep inside when they have been used to sleeping outside for all or part of their life:

1. they are not bitten by insects like fleas, tics, and mostly mosquittos;
2. inside is warmer in the winter and cooler / less humid in the summer unless you do not have air conditioning;
3. they have a strong God-given "constant yearning" to be with their "pack" which is your human family;

Simply put, it is more comfortable inside; and, they have a strong emotional tie to you even if you have been treating them as a second-class family member.

Some reasons why masters do not want dogs inside are:

1. they consider dogs to be dirty animals
2. they have preconceived prejudices against house animals
3. they think the dog may carry a disease that can make them ill
4. they would puke if a dog fur got on their dinner plate / food
5. they don't understand the great capacity for dogs towards humans
6. Note: continue to the end of this reply to see the note about lethargic dogs

Simply put, dogs ARE dirty; but, even if you only bathe an outside doggie once a month, it will be cleaner. Never bathe any dog more than once every two weeks because it depleats natural skin oil (butyric acid) that keeps their skin healthy.

Most adult dogs kept in clean yards / homes will not carry any disease that can be transmitted to humans. If you clean their feces from your yard, there is less chance of it being tracked into your house.

Listen, you will know you love your dog as much as it loves you when you simply flick the dog fur off your pizza, think nothing of it, and chow down.

LETHARGIC dogs may have a medical problem. WebMD has a list of human foods that you should NEVER feed your best friend, perhaps the sneakiest is GARLIC. Even a small amount of garlic in pizza sauce, or whatever, can destroy your pet's red blood cells and smother them because they cannot get oxygen, making them lethargic. When they are not feeling well, they want to come inside just like you do.

FINALLY, please reconsider your prudish notions about dogs being dirtier than you. Soap can't wash away sins, but it does wash away germs and dirt. Your dog will become so much more appreciative of you and crazy in love with you when you take them inside where there is COMFORT (air conditioning / heat; and NO BUGS) that you have to do it to believe the difference! And if something goes wrong inside (smoke, intruder attempt), they'll be all over it before your electronic devices will.

Shed your dirty mind about these loving best-friends of mankind. You'll have new found respect and a CLOSER BEST FRIEND.

I have a 14 year old Collie who really only started showing his age within the past several months. It started with difficulty getting up, and it was obvious there was pain in his back legs. He now takes medication for his arthritis, had an orthopedic bed, and a foam pad with a fitted sheet in front of his bed. He loved the bed at first, but now he rarely sleeps in it. When I take him out, I could see that getting his back legs up the steps was difficult, so I began helping him, just as I would do if I saw that he was struggling to get up after sleeping. He has now reached a point where he will not even try to get up on his own, he simply gives me a specific bark, I pick him up to a standing position, and he walks on, as if he is fine. He does have difficulty standing in one spot for extended periods of time, but really no difficulty walking. Have I just spoiled him? Oftentimes he wants to walk around the house at night and, of course, he wakes me up to do this! I teach school, so I am home most of the time right now, but when I am not, I worry that he needs my help and I wonder what his days will be like when school is back in session. Any help will be GREATLY appreciated.

Hi, I have a 7 yr old Maltese that did that same thing last night and was freaking me out. He was on the bed but walking around sniffing looking all around. Sometime he would sit for a few seconds but get right up again and do the same thing. I tryed to pet him but it was like he didn't even know I was there. I took him outside at 2AM (in the rain grrr) he made poopoo and when we came back in, he settled down and went to sleep. I wonder its sleep walking or something. Scared the heck out of me.

@Lauren Why not let her stay inside from now on? Obviously she no longer wants to stay outside. Maybe she's uncomfortable, too hot or too cold, or her joints ache, or she just wants more human contact. Dogs change physically and mentally as they age. She probably feels more comfortable and secure indoors. You should probably take her to the vet too, to make sure everything is okay with her.

We have an 8 year old black lab cross golden retriever who has always been an outside dog but now try's to get inside all the time and won't sleep outside anymore. She wines and scratches the door until she is let in. I don't want to be a push over and let her in but at the same time I don't want her to be upset and scared outside. I have let her sleep inside the past 2 nights but I don't know if I am doing the right thing.
Please help

My 8 year old female boston terrier was walking around in my bed during the middle of the night confused, sniffing, afraid to jump down. We brought her into the kitchen with the light on, she was happy, but still confused, sniffing everywhere. She wouldnt go down the stairs in the yard. She is staring around like she is unsure where she is, shaking a little and acting like she did something wrong, ears down.

Hi Deb,

You really need to take your dog to the vet. Older dogs moan and groan for a reason and it's usually because they're in pain. I have a 10 year old dog and she has arthritis in her back and some joints. She is on medication which helps. Your dog needs to be checked for arthritis which is common in older dogs. Your dog is suffering with pain and you can't tell because animals have a great way of hiding their pain. But if he is uncomfortable, then please do him a favour and get him checked he is in more pain then you think....good luck.

We take her out 2 or 3 times a day. to pee. Everytime we take her out we make sure she pees enough and poop too.

When I go to sleep, she sleeps with me at the bottom of my feet. but lately, I don't sleep with her because she sheds too much and it's affecting my lung. I sleep very early so after I sleep after awhile, I hear footsteps that she is coming to the room to sleep with me.. but I don't open the door for her. the day before, my husband was watching TV at the sofa as usual because he sleeps very late, my dog come to the door and door won't open so went to my husband so he picked her up and put her with him on the blanket, short after she pees on the blanket and she suddenly gets down and go to her bed on the floor?? so we had to wash the blanket and all the next day.. than today again, we let her sleep with me than in the morning before I go out I took her out from the room and let her go to her bed in the living room... when I came back after short hours, she peed on the kitchen mat!! and all over the floor........ I think she is doing this purposely... I had to wash the mat by hand all the crapt all morning.. I kind of smacked her on the butt.... and yelled a bit for what she did...
How can I correct her in this case???
I remember she use to do this a lot when she was younger, everytime we leave she will pee and poops all over the house. but she stop for long time than she is starting again....... please help.

i have a 12 yr old beagle/lab about 40-45# he is slowing losing his eyes but since his birthday last oct 2012 he moans and groans every time he lays down or sleeps he doesn't seem to be in any pain but i think it just might be arthritis or joint discomfort. i have not taken him to the vet he is a very good dog and well behaved and goes out side to potty. please let me know what you find out thanks deb e mail me thanks again

I had a 13yo mini schnauzer that began to get stuck in corners of our home, shaking and nervous at times and would get confused between standing at the door to go outside or standing at the gate that we had to keep him out of the living room. Once he even stood at the patio door, looking outside and then relieved himself as if thinking he was outside already.

A friend told me about giving her elderly dog a supplement called Phosphatidylserine, 100mg, once a day. My dog was about 20lbs. You can buy it online or at a health food store but be sure to get only that ingredient as the active ingredient. There are some products that have other active ingredients included. Anyway, after only 3 days on this product my dog was back to his normal self! No more walking around whining in confusion, potty accidents or shaking! He lived another 2 years without a return to dementia/alzheimers.

Please google this supplement for more info. I have heard of other dog people using it with success. Certainly worth a try and since I try to only use natural supplements, I decided to try the phosphatidylserine before pharmaceuticals. I have a natural veterinarian and he was fine with me trying it. The brand isn't as important as making sure there isn't other active ingredients in it.

Good luck to everyone!


Sorry to hear about your Bichon, Anonymous. Have you tried leaving a radio on at night or when he is left alone? Maybe that will help to mimic having "someone" there. He might have dementia. If his quality of life is no longer any good, if he's not having fun or enjoying the things he used to do, it may be time so say good-bye. Talking to your vet may help to clarify things for you. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Love your dog and enjoy whatever time you have left with him.

Our 15 year Bichon has always been exuberant and a very good sleeper. In the past year he has become totally deaf, and his vision is at about 80%. He has a great appetite and enjoys walks. However, within the last 2 months, he has increasingly become more agitated at night. He now paces all night long, he will paw at his dog bed/ blanket for hours at a time, and will whine on and off the entire night. We did have 6 tumors removed last year. I am wondering if he may have a tumor on his brain? He does not appear to be in pain during the day, and only whines when I leave his imediate vicinity for any length of time (during the day). His separation anxiety began when our other Bichon passed April/ 2012 and has gotten increasingly worse within the last 2 months. We are exhausted (not getting sleep) and wonder if we should have him put to sleep. Our other dog had stopped eating and drinking but never had any behavior changes prior to passing at age 17. We have tried every behavior modification / scene / light / exercise change that we could think of, and he is getting worse.

HI everyone
We have a seniour dog that has always been an easy keeper. We got her from a shelter when she was about 7, in 2004. She is about 60 pounds, and a mixed breed. She stays in at night. We live in a cold climate.
The last 3 weeks, she has been panting, and pacing all night. As soon as the lights go out. I have left lights on, stayed up with her, slept on the floor with her, and had her up on my bed. Today I ordered a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheremone) collar. From our research, Blondie's behaviour has been documented in other dogs. She does not soil in the house overnight. Lately, I take her out throughout the night, but when I am on nightshift, she never has an accident. I guess if the collar does not work, we will try oral drugs. I am exhausted and so concerned of her extreme anxiety I am considering putting her down. However, our daytime walks, her great appetite, good elimination, and happy interaction throughout the daylight hours makes me realize she still enjoys life... just not the days.

Thanks for listening.
Erin D.

Here I sit with 8 stiches and my hand is a mess. My dog is 13 started having aging issues while sleeping if you accidently woke him he would turn into attack mode. He did not attack I would always talj to him he took a while before he knew it was me. He has become nuts with separation we list our home and have been living in different situations. I have taken him to 3 different vets due to teavel. He has liver ussues new diet when discuss that he acts like an attak dog told some dogs get old and grumpy. Well it is a littlellittlelate for old and grumpy I should have yelled louder demanded more answers now what? He is my best friend we were always together people thank that he is cute and harmless. The jokes that my dog doesn't bite but maybe his owner are no longer funny. What now a full time muzzle? I am stuck with putting him. Down as only option most persons thst see my hand it is a no brainet going on 13 yrs covers a lot if territory I knew he just might leave me sokn but not like this I blame myself.

Hi! What did they diagnose your dog with or did they? My 12 year old changed in about 3 hours from being completely normal and now has not stopped pacing, panting, won't sleep, shaking, etc. The Vet can't give us any answers so he's now on a cocktail of anti depressants and Valium. I've given the meds a 1 week chance and now we're throwing in the towel. I'm not having him drugged all the time because the Vet can't figure it out. They've ruled out Vestibular and a Stroke so just curious what the Acupuncturist said. Thanks!

i have a 13 yr old who moans and groans quite a bit while sleeping. it doesn't sound like pain so i'm just curious if anyone else has encountered this. i know dreaming may account for some, but surely not all.

Hi Karen,
Could you tell me what has worked for your border collie. Our vet has prescribed xanax and it didn't seem to work so he has doubled the dose and it is still not working and giving the dog some bowel and stomach disturbance. I am very interested in finding meds that have worked for others so I can suggest to my vet as he is reluctant to use other meds. My dog is an 11 year old fox terrier who has gone deaf and now has extreme confusion and increased panic and anxiety (always had separation anxiety).

our lovely lab, shakes when we leave her alone, we thought it was separation anxiety.
it wasn't till we noticed she wasn't shaking and we thought we had solved it.
then the next time we went out, we came back and she was shaking, when we went close to her she barked and growled at us.
You know it was her protected her bone, so we only give her bones when we are in the house or with her in the garden, no shaking no growling and no separation anxiety.

My senior dog ( 11-12) year old lab mix has been a lot more prone to 'escaping' the yard ( 2 acres) these days. I even had to start to put him in a kennel when we left the property. Sometimes that results in a hole in the chain link fence and sometimes he stays and is safe. Other times I don't kennel as he seems quite okay with me leaving and he never goes anywhere.
He has a fully insulated ( all 6 sides ) dog house that in 15 degrees cooler than the outside temp and many mature trees for shade, We bring him in on high temp days.

There seems to be a pattern of him leaving when we have been gone for a while and I am not sure what to do about it since he does get out of the kennel as well. I was glad to find this site and would love to find out anyone else's ideas on the problem. This dog has NO car sense at all. He is collared, tagged and micro-chipped but I do not want him to be off the property. He is also very scared of fireworks and loud noises.

Would it make sense to use some of the stress tabs like you can buy over the counter at pet stores for him. Has anyone used them successfully? I am going on vacation soon and cannot leave him here with a pet sitter coming twice a day like we used to do. Things have certainly changed as he has aged.


I have a 15 year old border collie with doggie alzheimers - he has been on medication for 2+ years. Have you talked to your vet about medication to help with the sleepless nights?

I have a Alaskan Malamute who is roughly 9 years old, I know when I give him a bone you cannot touch him. But just yesterday I gave him a milk bone to get him in the garage so I could leave for work. Normally I would play with him with the milk bone and take it away from him playfully and it was always a game to him. But not this time, he started growling and actually bit me. Why? I do not know what I am to do now, I have never seen this type of aggression from him with exception to an actual bone or getting in a fight with another dog. Can someone help?



Our old girl is going on 13. She has had her share of health problems. It's so important to find a vet you trust. Our vet prescribed a painkiller for our dog (who has arthritis in her front legs and spine) and now she is doing great, happy and playful especially for her age.

Hi Karen, and welcome to the site. We have an elderly dog as well (almost 15). We had thought he might be going senile as he was up all night, panting and pacing. Then we thought maybe he was in pain and not wanting to put him on any other drugs - he also is taking cardiac meds - we took him to acupuncture. What a difference! A couple of days after his first treatment he slept through the night. We take him every week or two and most nights, he sleeps soundly. It wasn't senility after all!

I don't know if acupuncture will help Yoda but maybe it's worth a try. For Yoda's nighttime bathroom breaks, maybe you can encourage him to use astroturf (indoors)?

Good luck, I hope both you and Yoda feel better soon.

I have a 15 year old chihuahua, Yoda, with doggie alzheimers. The most difficult symptom for me to deal with is his lack of sleep at night. He will get up every hour to be let outside and whines most nights in between his potty breaks. He takes medication for his heart which includes a water pill. This causes him to have to go alot. I have tried unsuccessfully to get him to use the potty pads he used during the day, at night. He insists on going outside to pee. If I ignore his whines, he will eventually pee on the floor. If I ignore his whines, they turn into barks, and living in a small apartment community, that is not good.

If anyone has a remedy for his sleepless nights, please advise. I have not slept all night in over a year.