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Old Dog Behavior Changes

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Older dogs often exhibit behavioral changes—here's what you can expect.

Older dogs often exhibit behavioral changes—here's what you can expect.

Help, My Old Dog Is Acting Strange!

Owners of geriatric dogs often call their veterinarian's office concerned about their old dog's recent odd behavioral changes. They may report that their dog wakes up in the middle of the night and starts howling. Others may report their very well house-trained dog gets up and has accidents or wakes up to drink and then shortly after urinates on the carpet. I know about these instances as I have personally taken these phone calls when working for the veterinary hospital.

I recall an owner one day calling concerned about her dog because he started wandering around the home at night, bumping into furniture and hardly recognizing her. He would then sleep for most of the day undisturbed. The owner was unable to sleep properly and was very concerned by this recent worrisome behavior. Afterward, the dog also changed his behavior; from an outgoing dog, he became quite passive and hardly listened to her commands.

Senior Dogs Get Alzheimer's Too

While all the above instances required a careful evaluation by the vet via a thorough physical and geriatric blood-work sent to a lab, most instances turned out to be simply signs of aging. Just as it may happen in humans, dogs tend to approach their golden years by losing parts of their cognitive function. Some may lose some, some may lose more.

Many refer to these cases affectionately as "doggy Alzheimer's" while medically, this condition is abbreviated as CDS, which stands for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

Look for signs of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in your senior dog if you notice certain changes in behavior.

Look for signs of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in your senior dog if you notice certain changes in behavior.

Symptoms Suggesting Senior Dog Behavior Changes

CDS has become pretty common as we hear more and more about it. If we think about it, after all, dogs are living always longer lives, and therefore, they are more prone to all the diseases and conditions that seniority seems to bring. There are a few typical key CDS symptoms that may help dog owners understand the condition better and prompt them to have the vet perform a thorough check-up. Below are some symptoms that may suggest CDS:

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks But Forget Commands

Senior dogs may forget some simple commands they have known all their lives. If your geriatric dog refuses to sit when asked to, do not scold him or think he is just acting out. Just as a person affected by Alzheimer's may forget a family member's name, a dog may forget a command and perceive it as something completely new you are requesting. However, it's also a good idea to check his joints checked out, as reluctance or refusal to sit or lie down may be also associated with degenerative joint disease.

A Blank Stare of Seeing Imaginary Things

Dogs affected by CDS may stare for no apparent reason at a wall or another object. Some may even chase imaginary objects or bark while nothing is there. A routine check-up is recommended as there are some neurological disorders and seizures that may cause this type of symptomatology.

Familiar Rooms Turn into a Big Maze

Some dogs will get up in the middle of the night and wander around bumping into furniture as they look for their way out. Some may get easily distressed and panic as they try to find their way back to bed. Some dogs will howl or get stuck in a corner without finding their way out.

From Normal Sleeper to Night Owl

Sometimes the dog may have difficulty recognizing the difference between night and day and forget all about the routines. These are the dogs that will wake up at night and start having accidents around the house or start drinking or eating in the middle of the night. Afterward, they will sleep during the day and have no more accidents.

Debating on Being Indoor or Outdoor

Some dogs may even forget why they are sent outside. While before, they would go out and do their business right away, now they will sniff around and ask back in, wondering why they were out in the first place. Just as some dogs forget about going outside, some dogs forget their name or that they already ate.

Memory Loss and Difficulty Recognizing You

Some dogs may even forget who their owner is and may growl or act unusually timid. At other times they may have moments of seeming to remember. This may be very heartbreaking for the owner even because the pet may appear not interested anymore in playing or being pet.

What to Do to Help Your Old Dog Cope With These Behavior Changes

Just as Alzheimer's disease does not have a cure, CDS care is mostly supportive. If your dog has just been diagnosed with CDS, there are some drugs that may help preserve some cognitive functioning a little bit longer which you may want to discuss with your vet.

There are also some things you can do at home to help your dog lead a better life and cope better with old dog behavior changes.

  • Take your dog out more often.
  • Pet your dog and show affection more often.
  • Do not move furniture around to prevent confusion.
  • Keep up with a daily routine and stick with it.
  • Have your dog wear doggie diapers during the night.
  • Place baby gates to seclude dangerous areas such as stairs.
  • Supervise your pet when outdoors.
  • Ask your vet about medications and supplements.

Often some dogs that appear to have typical CDS symptoms such as bumping into objects or wandering around may have become suddenly blind, or dogs not responding to their name or commands may have become suddenly deaf. Some cases of inappropriate urination have been linked to urinary tract infections or diabetes.

So if your pet has sudden behavior changes, have him or her carefully evaluated by the vet since CDS is mostly a condition that is diagnosed by excluding other possible physical issues.

More Advice for Helping Your Aging Dog

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why is our twelve-year-old border collie great during the day, but has started getting very sheepish and worried when it's night?

Answer: You would have to have your vet examine your dog to get an exact answer. What we know though is that as a dog ages, their senses decline just as it happens in people. So it can be possible that impaired eyesight can make an older dog become more reactive at night. Loss of sight, smell and hearing can cause confusion and disorientation in a dog. Other things to consider are canine cognitive dysfunction (senility), and behavior changes due to something at a neurological level. A vet visit can provide an insight. Share with your vet the signs you are seeing.

Question: Why is my ten-year-old American bulldog suddenly spaced out and isn't eating or drinking anything?

Answer: These are very generalized symptoms which may be suggestive of a vast array of problems. A vet visit is in order especially due to the age and not eating/drinking.

Question: My old dog suddenly started urinating in the house just after going outside. Why didn’t my dog urinate when he was outside?

Answer: There can be many reasons. Perhaps he got scared of something outdoors, or perhaps he got distracted and only remembered to go once back inside. Perhaps he has some cognitive decline. Perhaps he has pain when lifting his leg and has associated it with outside. Make sure he empties his bladder fully when outside, and praise and reward that with a treat.

Question: Can I feed my dog human chicken?

Answer: There should be no problem feeding dogs chicken designed for humans as long as it's skinless and boneless. However, digestive upset is possible if the dog is not used to eating this.

Also, if chicken is the only thing the dog will eat, you will have to have a veterinary nutritionist design a meal plan so to ensure your dog gets enough calories and all the vitamins and minerals needed.

Question: My 10 year old long hair Chihuahua is now afraid of sounds. Rain drops on the roof, wind, even my husbands snoring. She runs around barking and climbs on people in panic. Even my head while I am asleep. What can I do to help her?

Answer: A vet visit firstly, to make sure there aren't any underlying medical conditions causing this change. Afterward, if your dog has a clean bill of health, you can try the hear that method:

© 2008 Adrienne Farricelli


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 07, 2020:

Jane Quinn, if this is out of character, please see your vet to rule out any medical issues, Can be a change in vision, pain, not feeling right.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 07, 2020:

Hi Theresa, there can be many explanations such as the room is cooler or too hot, your dog got startled, your dog has initial signs of cognitive decline, your dog associated something in the room with pain. I would suggest a vet visit to ensure that nothing is going on in the health department.

Jane Quinn on August 12, 2020:

I bent down to pet my dog this morning as I do every morning and he went for me without warning. He's a rescue. I got him 7yrs ago so he should be used to me. I know he has a sore back leg, but it was the head I petted today. Had a bad life before me but he gets cuddles now.

Theresa Shively on July 07, 2020:

Why is my senior dog always wanting to stay by the backdoor and not in my room like she used to?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 10, 2020:

Pam, if this behavior started out of the blue, it likely is caused by some underlying medical issue that needs addressed. See your vet to rule out medical causes of aggression in dogs.

Pam stevenson on March 02, 2020:

My 13 year old westie was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago and now has arthritis. He has suddenly started attacking me and once actually bit me. What should I do

I love him dearly but now afraid of him

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 23, 2019:

Carol, it could be, but it can also be as you mentioned that he can't hear and see so he's struggling with many things such as following your directions or finding his way around the house at night. Your vet may have a better insight into what may be going on exactly. Placing some pee pads in the kitchen area may help, some dog owners use belly bands for male dogs. So sorry you are going through this.

Carol on December 22, 2019:

My Yorkshire terrier is 15 & for the past 2 / 3 years won't do as i ask him.(Come here lie down sit).Also when I've taken him for walks over the fields & let him off he just runs off.(he doesn't come off the lead no more.)He's going blind, can9 hear as well (or it's when it suits).He eats drinks well sometimes wets in the kitchen at night.My dad had alziemas & my mum has vascular dementia, I'm a carer in a old folks home .My hubby getting fed up of him is it dementia?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 01, 2019:

We have noticed the same with out dogs as they aged and their cancer progressed. I am not sure about the mechanism behind this, but both our dogs stopped howling when we left the home and barked less. Perhaps there's an evolutionary reasons to keep a "low profile" to not attract predators when a dog ages or gets frail.

Gina on August 01, 2019:

I have A 13 yo husky, he has rectal cancer and we know it’s bad. We are making best of his last few months. My concern is that he has stopped “talking”. He was always a noisy husky and now he is completely silent. Is this something different?

Joe on April 29, 2019:

My 10yr(human age) is constantly wanting to go outside, is this normal?

BucksKim on April 02, 2019:

I have an eleven year old lab that just a few months ago had not health issues, strong as an ox and weights in at 107 pounds (not over weight). He out of the blue started shivering, panting and wanting outside like the was no tomorrow. He would lay next to our house at the farthest corner of our backyard. He has been an inside dog in the evenings and at night all his life, so this is new behavior for him. Second behavior is that he started crewing his way through our fence into the neighbors yard. We could not let him into the backyard with out watching him. Third behavior is he would paw at us until we would sit and pet him to calm him down or let him outside which we would have to go with him or he would crew boards off the fence to get to the neighbors yard.

At first we thought it was to go see the female dog next door, she is fix, she has been there for two and a half year and he has never shown this behavior before towards her or any other female. (by the way is in an in-tacked male.) It seems as thought this behavior was only at our house and only in the evenings so this made since to us, but then the behavior started to be at different times of the day and now in different locations, so we know now it is not the dog next door. I have had him to the vet, all blood work is good, heart healthy, lungs good, hearing and eyesight great. The only thing we can come up with is something neuro and that is way too expensive for us to have diagnosed. Any suggestions?

Wayne Baldacchino on February 02, 2019:

My 6 year old Staffie has started pacing, staring into space, standing in corners, bumping into things. He seems very poorly and has gone from a fun, energetic, playful dog to a confused, sad and depressed dog. It is heartbreaking. I have been to Vet for medication (liquid pain relief, tablets for possible gum issue and tablet for muscle relaxation). I thought it was helping but sadly not. Not knowing what is wrong is driving me crazy. How can i help my darling boy?

karen on January 10, 2019:

my 14 year old boarder terrier has diabetes and is blind, he is happy enough but just lately he is barking all through the night, I always get up and check on him let him out and make sure he is ok there seems to be nothing wrong with him, not sure how long we all go without sleep he does sleep through the day i have tried to keep him awake through the evening till we go to bed but that does not seem to make a difference. Any help would be appreciated.

Jane on September 22, 2018:

My 18 1/2 year old is blind and deaf and appears to have dementia. Suddenly in the last three days she is walking around and them stopping to squat with no results. ( prior to that she slept most of the time). She seems so uncomfortable. I know taking her to the vet is what most will say but again she’s 18 1/2

laura on July 14, 2018:

My sweet 12 yr old Bichon Frise (will be 13 next month), Miles, is exhibiting these types of behaviors. It seems like he was fine at night and then without any warning changed to crying and whining at night and when I left for work in the morning. If I came back for phone or keys two minutes later, he was not crying so I felt like separation anxiety was short lived to my relief. Now it's become a nightly habit and I thought he just needed to be taken out more often since he is older and just cannot hold it in but that doesn't seem to be the case.

He has a history of occasional hot spots - constant licking his paws, medication has helped before but the whining/crying never accompanied it. So, the medication and melatonin suggestions may be right up our alley. Otherwise, he is a happy, active little boy who thinks he's still a pup. That has always been his personality. Thank you so much for a well informed hub.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2018:

Talk with your vet, perhaps she has a pinched nerve in the neck or something that vet-prescribed meds can help relieve.

Debbie on June 13, 2018:

My 12 year old Beagle was fine on Saturday but now seems she has a hard time lifting her head to howl and look up. She is eating and pottying fine. She's not jumping up in chairs like she did, she still barking at things but I don't know if it will pass or if i need to talk to the vet

Alicia M on May 03, 2018:

My 12 year old dog, who we've had since a pup started something new. We call her to come inside, she happily runs up to the door, and then panics, and runs back outside. It's the oddest thing. She is like a scared deer. That is what she reminds us of. And then when we call her, she just looks the other way. She could even be lounging by the back door, I'll open the door for her to come inside and she will run out onto the grass. She spends all day outside now, but we make sure she comes in at night. Is it due to her age?

Cynthia Kraus on April 14, 2018:

My 12 year old female chihuahua is acting disoriented and wants to go for a walk at 2 am in the dark

She eats and drinks well

But has started waking at odd hours at night and doesn't seem to want to come through the door to come in

carol hall on April 05, 2018:

i have a pit bull 5 yrs old. last few days been very withdrawn.. shes eating just doesnot play like she normally does..what could be wrong?

Lynn on March 26, 2018:

My 13 year old lab is wanting to sleep and lay behind the this a sign of something?

Yolandi on March 15, 2018:

I got a long leg jack russel and she is turning 9 this year. Lately she been weird not listening to stay out side follow me and wants to sit on my lap close to my face. I don't understand why she acting this way. And when I visit my mom she kept coming into the house and even did a number 2 in the house

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 17, 2018:

Unless you have some critters living in the basement, the scratching at the rugs, could be age-related/ medically-related. Most likely these latter if your dog is having accidents around the house.

Tricia on February 12, 2018:

My male Shitzu is 11. He has started standing and staring. He sleeps in our bedroom. He has started getting up in the night and scratching the carpet. He keeps doing it after I tell him to stop. 5 or 6 times during the night. He has also started going to the bathroom on the rug. He used to tell us when he had to go. He is walked twice a day. If I make him go out any other time he won't pee pee. Do you think it is just his age?

Tawny on January 08, 2018:

I have a 3 year old husky who has always been obedient and house broke he suddenly started using the bathroom in the house getting stuff off the counters and not coming in from outside when told to .

Julia on December 30, 2017:

My baby girl will be 14 this upcoming April 2018. I washed the sheets and comforter on the bed today. She was behaving normal then she just squatted and pissed all over the bed after being taken out 15 minutes prior to this. She only wants eat constantly and drinks more than I do. The vet says it is normal. Or has to be a quack. I don't know what to do. We have never slept without her in the bed but I can't allow her to pee in the bed no form or fashion. Please some advice.

Suzanne on December 26, 2017:

Thank you your read was very informable my 13-14 year old rottie is showing some of those systems he's also trying to squeeze into the smallest space he can find speratic eating trouble getting up once up seems ok then lay and won't move my vet has given us narcotics and arthritic Meds any suggestions ?

Vanessa R, on December 21, 2017:

My dog Happy is 17 going 18 and he constantly barks and howls for no reason. He keeps me and my mom up at night.

I’m worried that he’s going to “go”.

Please help me out

Helen on October 01, 2017:

Our Lad at the age of ten is very confused and has gone down in her back .We took her to the vet me received some very bad news but we refuse to have her put down . Is this the wrong thing to do for her or are we being selfish

Louise on August 21, 2017:

My Lurcher is 10 has started digging random holes in garden and doing the odd wee in the house she has also shredded 2 beds this month in the night.

Ron Gunter on August 16, 2017:

My Chow Chow is 14 years old. She has started pacing back and forth between myself and wife for the last three weeks. This goes on all day long. Now all of a sudden we left her alone for about three hours and she tore the house apart. What's wrong with her.

Boggy on August 07, 2017:

My friends dog is 97 and out the blue he starts barking uncontrollably and so wines,and tare up everything what would she do

Dee Barr on June 12, 2017:

I have a problem with my now 10 yr old pit bull. For the last 10 months he has been getting into the kitchen trash. He has also starting to go after toilet paper for about the same length of time. We Can't keep toilet paper on the the toilet paper roller. With trash I think he might go after I keep on the counter until I can put it outside. He has NEVER done this. We have had him since he was 2 weeks. With the toilet paper can he be lacking in anything???

Sarah on April 27, 2017:

My 13-year-old min pin (rescued 4 years ago) has been diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction. She gets very anxious and obsessively digs when we are gone during the day and at night when sleeping. Recently she dug a hole in the carpeting. She also takes off her diapers and makes messes in the house. Anti-anxiety medication and essential oils haven't done much to help. We have worked with a trainer to try to kennel her with no luck, and we also tried to gate her, but she is a master of escape. We are struggling to help manage her anxiety levels. Any thoughts on how we can we prevent our house from being destroyed as we try to support our senior dog?

Pat Yates on April 25, 2017:

My dog has deveolped a high pitched bark. He is 12 and otherwise he is fine. He eats, drinks water, sleeps well and is walked three times a day. Is this normal?

maria foster on April 17, 2017:

hi i have a ten year old jack russel cross boarder collie.she is very active for her age but has changed in her ways..she has had full bloods done and water test all come back normal..but she is wating to go out side more often..this happens at night..and when she goes out she sometimes sits at the bottom of the garden and looks up at the sky other times shes in out like every minute...any help with what this can be please

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2017:

Hello Donna, has your dog seen the vet? Sometimes medical problems like vision loss can cause the symptoms you see.

Donna M on March 01, 2017:

I have a 13 year old yorkie that has not been sleeping at night for about 6 months now every two hours he gets up and cry at the foot of the bed so I bring him down thinking he has to go out but all he does is go out and turn around ,right away so back up stairs again we can do this all night then he eats at 6:00 a.m because he starts to shake so bad that when I carry he downstairs he is crying and shaking, now it's almost day light out and he can sleep all day, but his day is bumping into walls going in circles and trying to fine me so I clap my hands so he can hear the sound to fine me and he is just walking around like he is lost. We try to take him with us when we can or we just don't go out. Life with a dog like this is hard but not going to put him down yet he is still eating and drinking a little not as much as he use to but he is drinking. I miss my boy who played all the time but when he is sleeping he is right next to me I guess to feel safe , but he also has a hard time when I call him by name or anything. I miss my boy and need some sleep.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 19, 2017:

Sommer, if could your dog is in pain, please see vet and discuss the behavior changes you are seeing.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 19, 2017:

Jackies discuss this behavior with your vet, perhaps melatonin may be helpful.

sommer on January 18, 2017:

I have a 10 year old cockerspaniel. And just the last 3 days for no reason start yelping here and there if you walk by her.wont sit near me anymore stays to her self .stares like she is some where else. And she is normally a loving clingy out going min she is ok mostly morning and after that goes in her shell.she is my baby to me and I'm concerned. I miss my old laila.

Jackie B on December 29, 2016:

My 12yr 10month male staffie won't sleep through the night unless one of us stays downstairs with him. This started about 4months ago, we go to bed then between 1 and 2 o'clock he starts crying , once someone is with him he's fine but it's every night, we now take it in turns getting up to be with him, please help

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 12, 2016:

Cindy, see your vet, there may be chances there is something health related going on.

cindy on December 12, 2016:

I have a mix dog who was left on our doorstep as a pup. She is now 16 years old.

she has a big pen with a dog house that she stays in at night or sometimes she sleeps in our shop if it is really cold out. Lately though she has this glassy-eyed look and she won't go in her pen or the shop at night. Like she is afraid or something. My husband checked to see if there was anything there that would be bothering her , and couldn't find anything. Last night it was 20 out and she slept in my flower bed. and i know she had to be cold. Can anyone help? She also gets to roam free all day but she usually stays in the yard.

Alexa on November 30, 2016:

Geeky girl, good to hear that your dog doesn't have any signs of doggy Alzheimer's! Not all dogs get it.

Geeky girl on November 27, 2016:

My dog is 14 and has none of these symptoms

sandy on September 09, 2016:

We have a almost 15 year old shis tzu . She is a female and her name is Teddibear.She is wonderful in every way, loves to eat, goes potty good, loves her morning walks. But, for the last week, she wanders into a few rooms and just stays there, sometimes sleeps or just sits.She will stay there for hours, we will pick her up and bring here in the room where we are, which she loves to be with her papa in his big chair or her soft bed but she jumps down and goes right back to the room where we picked her up. She comes out when she knows it is getting close for her to eat, then potty and then right back to the room. thank you

rGibson888 on July 31, 2016:

We've tried to put round baskets in several corners to eliminate the 90 degree angles but can eleminate them all. Yes, we try to keep the doors closed but he still finds a way to get stuck somewhere...any corner... It takes very little for him to get stuck. Approximately 20 times an hour more or less. And when he does get stuck, he eventually whimpers, howls, or barks until some comes to the rescue. He's been my alarm clock for the past 7 or 8 months. As difficult as it will be, I'm thinking of putting him down this week. I'm not seeing much joy in his life. Thanks for the comments.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 31, 2016:

Maybe you can clear all obstacles? Like close bathroom door, place tables away or if this isn't feasible keep him in a room that is as clear as possible? It sounds like he has disrupted sleep so he spends the night pacing and when he does he gets stuck.

John negrete on July 29, 2016:

I put my dog down as soon as cds began to get worse.

rGibson888 on July 28, 2016:

My 14 plus year old Dachshund Scooter has CCD. He has been taking Anipryl along with Rimidyl (for pain) for about 5 months. He is stiff in his back and rear end (common for Dachshund of his age) also gets melatonin to help with his Sundowners. His aggression has subsided and he is sleeping more at night after about 30 days on the meds. He doesn't respond to his name or any commands any longer, and has to be guided or carried back in the house after relieving himself because he doesn't seem to know which way to go, no more excited tail wagging or sniffing around either. He woke me up last night around 3am with whimpering due to being stuck under the table. He doesn't seem to know he has reverse! I give him a little tap on the rear and he turns around and is then unstuck. Shortly later he will be stuck again.. The vet recently gave me sedatives to give him for the bad nights. I gave him another one at 3:00 and he finally settled down and hour and a half later. Woke me up again at 7am. He gets stuck in the house constantly, behind the toilet, under bar stools, under footstool, behind doors, under table, and basically any right angle (seems to be getting worse daily) He has had bloodwork 3 months age and nothing came up. He also eats relatively normal (once he finds his food bowl. My wife thinks it's time to put him down but I'm having difficulty... Any advice here? Thanks.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 10, 2016:

Wanda happy my article on old dog behavior changes has helped you.

Wanda on July 08, 2016:

This is the best article I have read on old dog problems, pity I didn't see it when my last senior died. I am sadly at the point I have to make that hart wrenching decision for my remaining senior dog. This article makes me understand my 14yr old so much more.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 06, 2016:

Whining can be a sign of dementia, have you asked your vet for medication for this? There is a medication that can slow down its progression. Would check with the vet to make sure he's in no pain and ask about the medication for doggy Alzheimer's

ELEANOR on July 01, 2016:

Jacks is 15 years old and a staffie.lately showing signs of dementia and hind legs very weak small problem is he is whining through the day all day , he is not in amy pain as I am aware.we go to bed early as he goes straight to sleep and does not make a sound apart from his snoring bless.he goes for small walks numerous times throughout the day. X

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 30, 2016:

Yes, vet appointment, sounds like pain, mention the behavior changes as well.

Issac Estrada on April 28, 2016:

I have two dogs. Pidro (chihuaua) whom is 15 years old, and Shelby (border collie/heeler) whom is 16 years old. Both are acting very strange. Shelby seems to want nothing to do with Pidro. She goes out of her way to get away from him. Pidro recently started peeing on the couches again even though he has been potty trained. We can take him outside and he will deliberately go pee on the couch or floor after you turn your back. So we now have to kennel him overnight cause we just can't trust leaving him out free to roam the house. Now he screams bloody murder out of no where at any given moment and limps around like he is severely injured. Then literally 3 minutes later he is walking around fine and normal. Im almost sure he is faking for attention, but just now he didn't want to go outside so my wife went to pick him up and he bit at her hand. He has never done that in 15 years. He has done that numerous time with me but not with her. He has always adoreD her and followed her around. That is now what makes me think there is something more to this. Have you dealt with this before? Any advice? Just as a precaution I'm going to set an appointment with a vet. But all advice would help and be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2015:

So Sorry to hear about your loss Maggie, dogs seem to age so quickly. They are our babies and they die too young!

Maggie on October 14, 2015:

My 15 1/2 year old chow/lab mix Sheba died 3 months ago (July 8, 2015) from old age she had arthritis, little bit over weight (72lb). The past year I had to carry her down the stairs and help her up. She was my everything, my rock as I was attached to her she was to me. She died on her own at home with me there. I miss her so much. I love her with all my heart. She is my furry angel. I know what you are going thru and it is hard. God Bless All.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 27, 2015:

Yes, steroids are well known for causing increased drinking and increased urination. Thanks for sharing your dog's story.

Karen on July 27, 2015:

What an interesting and useful Hub. My nine-year-old dog suddenly started urinating in the house. I thought he was becoming incontinent.

However, I later found it was because the vet had described steroids for a dry skin condition and these made him drink more, So he just couldn't hold it in for as long.

When he was taken off the steroids, this behavior stopped.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 07, 2015:

Thanks, my Rotties are turning 8 and I have also noticed some cognitive changes already. Time just flies with no pity.

Tori Leumas on July 07, 2015:

My dog is starting to get older. He's about 12. He is starting to display some of these signs. He sleeps a lot during the day. Great hub!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 05, 2015:

Ask your vet about Anipryl, prescription drug for canine cognitive dysfunction. Also, look into a holistic vet and ask about melatonin for better sleep/wake cycles.

Dee on January 05, 2015:

My almost 16 year old dog will sleep all day long and be wide awake at night . Pacing and going in circles . Sometimes bumps into things only at night . Even though she's bkind she knows her way around the house pretty good during the day when she is up . She started having accidents in the house so we lock her in the kitchen at night and pick up hrt water . Is there any way I can get her to sleep through the night and stay awake during the day .

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 04, 2015:

Could be, please see your vet as if you catch it early there are medications that can help slow down progression. Even if it's not, this behavior change warrants a vet visit to see other causes of such restlessness.

Bonita on January 03, 2015:

My 15 year old Chow mix has started pacing and walking all the time. Even in the pouring rain and cold, he continues to walk from one side of the house to the other all night. We have a door open that allows him to go into the garage but he walks in and comes right back out. He has never enjoyed being indoors, so that's not an option as he will bark constantly until we let him out. Is this dementia?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 13, 2014:

Have her checked by a vet. At times, older dogs become more clingy and nervous as their senses start not working well as before. Hear loss or vision loss may create anxiety and a desire to stay closer, but some can other medical problems and cognitive dysfunction. After the vet has excluded medical issues, you can try to desensitize her to noises by using the "hear that" method explained in my hub Keep a treat pouch attached to your pants so you can toss a kibble each time she hears a noise. You want to change the emotional response to noises.

You can also desensitize towards your moving to getting up by repeatedly slightly moving as if getting up but without getting up, she should tire at some point to respond since the fact you don't get up doesn't reinforce it. If you then have to really get up and she gets up, return to your spot and then when you get up and she no longer responds to you, toss her a treat or give her a stuffed kong for rewarding her to stay in her spot. You may also want to train the stay command, no dog is too old to learn. Other helpful reads . and

Peggy on April 13, 2014:

Hello. I have 3 seniors, the eldest of which is a nineteen year old Chihuahua. My youngest seems to be the issue, though. She is an eight year old Shar-pei, and she's got me completely baffled and at my witts end. I recently quit work to become a full-time student and so I could be at home as my two eldest pups approached the end of their time with me, and since she has always had separation anxiety I felt she would be thrilled that I wouldn't be leaving her daily as well but I have noticed she has since become increasingly neurotic, shadowing my every move and seemingly nervous about any small change in routine or even noise level in the house. She will stand for hours next to wherever I am sitting and if I shift even slightly she jumps up as if trying to anticipate my next move. Noises, such as a bang outside or if I drop a fork will cause her to pace and whine for twenty minutes. I know she is miserable and I feel like a prisoner in my own home so there is negative tension building, but she simply doesn't respond to any attempt to comfort her nor does ignoring her behavior help. It just gets worse as time goes on. It's just me and the three pups, so I know no one is hurting her. What in the world could be going on?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 24, 2014:

It could be a sign of many things.Coughing can be kennel cough, but in older dogs it can be a sign of heart problems. I would have her see the vet just to be safe, best wishes!

caroline1176 on January 23, 2014:

Hi I have a 13 yr old jack russel who in past couple of days has started coughing its like shes got hair in her throat she is also very cold n shivers a lot, I am doing all I can to keep her warm. She seems ok in herself shes still eating n drinking n has wet nose. Could this just be a sign of old age. Has anyone else had similar experience x

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 22, 2014:

Poor girl sounds sick. I would take her to the vet, sounds like something is bothering her. I hope she feels better soon!

,hristy on January 22, 2014:

My fog is about 11 years old chihuahua she suddenly started have diarrhea on and off vomited yesterday but only once but suddenly seems depressed. She is a mamas girl. Fallows me every where bathroom every where sleeps in bed with me. Suddenly today she dont want to be around me. She wont come when i call i go to pet her she lets me for a min. Then gets up walks away. She still goes im bed but goes under blanket. I tried to talk and pet her she licks my hand thens gets up and goes some where else. Her one eye is scwinting a lot

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 02, 2013:

Good to see a vet when there are sudden behavior changes, especially if this is unusual. Get his hearing checked out, and explain what is happening. Once health issues are ruled out, you can then focus on the behavioral aspect. Try to recognize what noises scare him, and try tossing a high-value treat every time that noises presents over and over again, until he realizes that the noise becomes a cue that a treat is coming.

cincin on July 02, 2013:

I have a 8 year old Shih Tzu, he started acting a little confused but mainly afraid of outside noises, and it doesn't mantter what the noise is. He hides or wants on my lap, this is now the 2nd day he has done it, what could it be

Pet Artist on April 15, 2013:

It's so sad when they get to this age.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 30, 2012:

So sorry to hear that, I hope the diet changes and the meds do their magic. Sending best wishes your way.

janer on November 30, 2012:

Well I have the results of Lucy's blood test and its not good - she has kidney failure and is anaemic. I have been given some medication for one week to see if they make her more comfy and I have to change her diet, apart from that the vets can't do much more. They have told me to consider the inevitable if she gets any worse. As you can imagine this is very upsetting, but when you see a dog who is unhappy and in some sort of pain you try to think of the best way forward.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 24, 2012:

What was she diagnosed with? I hope the pain killers/antibiotics help her get some relief. Keep my posted on how she does on her next visit. Best wishes and kind regards!

janer on November 24, 2012:

Thank you for your reply, it certainly helps to get some advice. I have taken Lucy to the vets today, she did find Lucy to have some weight loss, she took a blood test and ruled out diabetes. She found her tummy to be very hard and tense so couldn't feel anything properly although she did say there were no lumps to be worried about. She injected Lucy with pain killer and antibiotics. I have another appointment on Monday for more blood test for her kidneys and liver in the mean time I have to monitor her water intake and try and get a urine sample.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2012:

janer, it's just sad to see this happen, but many times there are many things you can do to help these senior dogs feel better, please start with a vet visit, here is one of my more recent hubs on this:

Janer on November 23, 2012:

My Lucy is a 13 year old Westie, her behaviour now is changing very quickly. She has started to soil indoors whether I am with her or not, she just urinates in the same room as me. When she stands still she starts to tremble with her tail between her legs and her head down, this will go on until she sits down, her eyes are glazed and she looks so sad its heartbreaking. She wanders around the house pacing up and down and bumps into things, she jumps when I appear beside her and no longer greets me when I come home. I know she must be deaf as she is on longer afraid of fireworks or load noises.

T4an from Toronto, Ontario on July 17, 2012:

Thank you alexdry. I knew these days would come the moment I adopted him. As sad as it is watching him get older, adopting him was the best decision I have ever made.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2012:

I am sorry to hear about the problems Mickey is experiencing. Getting old is not pleasant. Thanks for sharing story and it may be helpful for others and thanks for the vote up! Best wishes!

T4an from Toronto, Ontario on July 17, 2012:

Voted up!

T4an from Toronto, Ontario on July 17, 2012:

This is a great hub. My dog will be 12 in October. He is 115 pounds and has been having a lot of problems with his hind legs. We took him to an animal chiropractor who helped tremendously. He could barely walk back in September. I wrote a hub on it. They saved his life. He was diagnosed with myelopathy but it was a pinched nerve. Now Mickey is really showing his age even though he can walk better. He has accidents in the house. Will go fo a walk and stop after four house and freeze. He panics and turns around to rushes home. We used to walk for 30 minutes. I feel so sorry for him.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 14, 2012:

Yes, cats get it too. It;s called feline cognitive disorder. Thanks for the votes up!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 14, 2012:

I never thought about this, but it makes total sense. Interesting that a dog can get an Alzheimer's like condition. Do you know about cats? Many votes on this one!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2012:

You are welcome, if you are worryied about a vet visit, try looking for a mobile vet, more and more vets come to your home. You can try a DAP diffuser if your dog is unable to relax. iF THE PARROT NOISES are bothering him try to give a treat immediately after the noise several times until your dog looks forward to the noise for a treat. best wishes

phoenix rose on May 02, 2012:

The reason I mentioned the hitting thing was because I have seen lots of people on the net asking similar questions and being told they must be beating their dog.

Anyway, thank you for your reply. I don't think Teddy is deaf as he seems to react to noises around the house. Or maybe I should say over react. We have 3 parrots which we had before we got Teddy and he seems to be over reacting when they are making their general noises. He has had 2 episodes of shaking since I posted the first comment. The only other time before this that he has physically shook with fear is when he visits the vet. He hates the vets and for this reason I am trying to hold off taking him. I worry that if he is already anxious, a trip to the vets could cause him heart failure.

He has a yearly check and is always fit. He has no health problems at all. The only thing he has ever had done was grass seeds removed from one ear.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2012:

Being hit did not even cross my mind simply because this sounds like a part of aging or a health problem. If your dog is extra clingy, I would recommend a vet visit, it could be she has become deaf, or it could be a sign of canine cognitive disfunction.

phoenix rose on May 02, 2012:

I have an 11 year old Bichon cross. Recently he has stated acting very odd. He suddenly has episodes of extreme fear. He jumps onto my lap and shakes violently as though something has frightened him. he seems to be paranoid and jumps at any noise, even noises he has heard all his life. It's like he has taken some sort of drug, obviously he hasn't, but he wont sleep and follows me everywhere, scratching and whining at the door, and sitting as close to me as possible. This is a dog that has never been scared of thunder or fireworks. He is a brave little dog so this is totally out of character.

Please don't suggest that someone has hit him or treated him badly as I know he is the most loved and pampered dog you could meet and no one would ever hurt him.

He has days where he is fine and then suddenly he changes and becomes this scared shaking mess.

Sooze on March 05, 2012:

Had my lad put to sleep this morning. His walking had become very unstable so we let him go.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 03, 2012:

I looked around and also saw that now, it said to give it with caution to dogs with renal problems. It looked like it said to not give it for too long and at small dosages. I would get a second opinion

Sooze on March 03, 2012:

Thank you for your response. The only other drug given was omeprazole to combat the ammonia the vet said would build up in his stomach. She did not prescribe anything else, she gave us a months supply of vivitonin and said come back if anything changes. A website I looked at said it shouldn't be given for renal problems! Today his breathing is quite laboured although he went willingly for his walk without issue but is refusing food.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 02, 2012:

Vivitonin sounds like a good choice for treating a stiff gait and other conditions related to old age. However, a website claims "It can improve quality of life in senior but if kidney or heart disease has been diagnosed then that should receive specific treatment."I am not familiar with the drug, but I think it would be a good idea to get a second opinion. Can it be he was prescribed something else and they forgot to give it to you? Renal failure is usually treated with diuretics such as Furosemide.

Sooze on March 02, 2012:

My 14 and half border collie dog went to the vet for arthritic pain relief and came out with a diagnosis of renal failure (after blood tests). He has been given vivitonin and has taken it for 10 days. He seems worse now than before and today started with rhythmic trembling although he seems ok in himself. Vivitonin seems an odd choice and most pharmacy sites don't recommend it for renal failure. Any thoughts please?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 01, 2012:

It could be, ask your vet about canine cognitive dysfunction. There is a medication that can slow down the process if your vet diagnoses him with this. Here is an article about it:

Chris on March 01, 2012:

So I thought my dog had to use the bathroom because it's 2:30am and he is just wandering in and out of all the rooms...I walked him, and he did his business, but when we returned the wandering continued. My mother freaked (3:00 now) and made him go to bed...he actually listened... 11.5 year old lab mix... Is it old age really?