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Ask Lisa Your Own Question
Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16475
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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Just curious about my dogs recent strange behavior, Willy. A

Customer Question

JA: Hi. What do you want help with?
Customer: Just curious about my dogs recent strange behavior
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: Willy. A shihtzu Maybe 12-14? We don't really know
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Willy?
Customer: Very restless lately. Want to be outside a lot
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 11 months ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question. Just like an in person consult, I have a couple questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....

How long has this been going on?

Have there been any changes in your home?

Is he eating/drinking normally?

Does this new behavior happen all times of the day, or does it seem to happen more often at one specific time?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
A few weeks now. Eating and drinking normal. Seems confused or lost at times. Lately he just keeps going to doors to be let out and just lays outside
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Happens all times of day. Yes
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Anytime you go near a door now he comes with you. Normally since we got him 1 1/2 yrs ago he just sleeps most of day
Expert:  Lisa replied 11 months ago.

Does he seem confused at all?

Does he have any other new unusual behaviors?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Confused at times. At times I am not sure he knows where I am
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Just very restless
Expert:  Lisa replied 11 months ago.

Great. Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

Some older dogs can have unusual changes in behavior for reasons we really don't understand. Often it seems to happen more frequently at night, and at our clinic we refer to it as 'sundowning', where the animal is fine all day, but then becomes restless and agitated at night. Obviously, your dog is a bit different as he seems to be having some new unusual behaviors all during the day, but it's not out of the ordinary for that to happen.

Some vets refer to it as geriatric cognitive dysfunction, and you can find more information here:

Something you could consider would be talking to your vet about a light sedative for your pup. One that we use is called Clomicalm and really seems to work well. Of course, you'll have to talk to your vet to make sure that this is a good option to use with him. The vet may want to run some blood work, just to rule out any sort of an actual medical reason for the change.

Another option would be something to help with the anxiety that doesn't have to be ingested (eaten). I love using the DAP collar:

These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

I've used the DAP collar in my own dogs and with some of the dogs I've rehabilitated and I really, really like the results. Just keep in mind that the collar only lasts for 30 days, so you'll have to replace it monthly if it works for you.

I hope this helps.