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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19543
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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Older dog acting strange

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My 9+ year old shepard mix is a very sweet and kind dog. "Kind" is always the work I use to describe him, he goes to work with my husband every day at his store, plays with children and greets everyone so he is social - and has a LOW energy level. Like a manatee. Never snaps or growls, except occasionaly at our 11 month puppy when he is getting on his nerves. This morning I was petting him and the puppy (usual) and he looked right at me and growled at me. I was shocked and got up - his tail started wagging and I gave him breakfast - which he ate immediately which he normally does not do. unually it takes some cajoling and always has. As I was leaving in the morning he seemed distant, not coming for his treat and when I was getting ready to leave he laid in the floor and barked up in the air non-stop. Not really an aggressive bark but a bark like when someone comes to the door or he hears a strange noise. My husband told me to just hurry and leave and he'd watch him, but Im really concerned. Can dogs at that age stop liking a family member? He just didnt want to have anything to do with me today. Am I doning something wrong.


My husband wanted me to add we let him on the bed for a while last night which we almost never do. I dont think that makes a difference but he said it was the only think out of the routine so I should mention it. He has also been on Dinovite for about 60 days. It has made him a little more active but not much.

Hi Jacustomer,


My name is Jane. I have worked with animals professionally for over 17 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. .


Some dogs are dominant dogs by nature. If you do not keep working with these dogs regularly, they can start thinking that they are the boss. This is frequently the case with many dogs that are allowed on the bed and furniture, so your husband is correct, letting him on the bed may be contributing to the situation.


However, older dogs can become hypothyroid which can lead to aggression. Also conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia can cause pain which can also cause them to nip or growl if they think you are going to do something that might cause them pain. So these might also be the cause. I would have him checked over by your vet to see if these conditions are present and to get some pain relievers if they are causing him some discomfort.


Another condition that does occur in older dogs is Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Here is a wonderful site that explains it well and it has been seen in dogs younger than yours. Please see this site for more information.

I would keep him on the floor for now and have that senior checkup done to ensure pain is not contributing to the situation. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

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