How Dog Behavior Changes With Age

If there’s anything we need to learn to accept, it is the concept of aging. Every living thing grows old, and that includes dogs. In this article, we discuss how dog behavior changes with age, and how to cope with your senior dog’s change in behavior.

golden retriever

Everyone grows old, and this is a normal thing in life that we have to accept happens to everything, including your dog. One of the things that is going to change first is your dog’s behavior. In this article, we discuss
how dog behavior changes with age. Like all living things, behavior tends to change as we age, and this is also a normal phenomenon that we have to adapt to. 

If you have ever grown up with a pet, you will know how difficult it will be to transition from living with a lively pet to caring for it during its old age. One of the things you should be aware of is how to handle changed behavior in your older dog. 

Loving an animal in their old age can be a challenge, but we’re hoping that this article will make it easier for you to care for your senior dog and help you adapt to any behavior changes that they go through when they reach old age.

Let us know which dog behavior you encountered and how you dealt with transitioning your life to cater for your fur friend when they got older and changed their habits. 

How Dog Behavior Changes With Age 

It is undeniable that as your dog ages, its behavior tends to change. However, most dog owners aren’t able to identify how their behavior changes. Luckily, some researchers conducted a series of tests and they were able to pinpoint the changes dogs go through as they age. 

Tests To Determine Behavior Changes 

Dog and it's puppy
  1. Frustration test: This test was done by swinging a piece of meat just a little out of reach in front of your dog for a minute. When you have puppies, you can expect them to be intolerable, but as dogs age, they get less vocal about their frustration.


  2. Exploration test: The exploration test is done by allowing your dog to wander around the room with you in the middle of the room, ignoring the dog. When dogs are young they enjoy the feeling of exploring and are less likely to listen to you when you call for them; however, older dogs are more obedient and will not explore rooms as much.


  3. Problem-solving test: To administer this test, the owner shows the dog how to remove the lid from a bin that contains a piece of meat, or any treats. If the dog is able to determine how to remove the lid on his own, he receives an award. Some older dogs have lower problem-solving skills compared to their younger counterparts.
  4. Ball-throwing test: This test is done by throwing a ball three times and encouraging your dog to fetch it. Older logs are less inclined to go after the ball, while younger dogs will follow gladly.
  5. Obedience Test: In this experiment, the owner of the dog gives 4 basic commands: come, sit, lie down, and stay and the experimenter will distract the dog with noise or other stimulators.
  6. Novelty toy test: For this experiment, the dog is made to interact with a self-moving toy that makes noises on its own for a minute. Most senior dogs lose their interest in novelty toys, but this is also dependent on the breed of dog.

How To Care For Senior Dogs 

It’s known that dogs age faster than humans, which is why we’re responsible for making sure that their last years are comfortable because dogs are more than just animal companions, they’re family. Here are some tips to care for your senior dog. 

Tips For Caring For Your Senior Dog

  1. Take them to the vet: If you notice that your dog is ignoring you more, or just isn’t as active, you should take your dog to the vet to confirm if your dog has reached old age. Old dogs will have more difficulty hearing and seeing, and you might even notice a cataract develop. A trip to the vet’s clinic will help you determine if there’s something you need to treat in your aging dog.


  2. Interact with them: It’s never easy to watch your friend approach old age, especially when it’s clear that they can no longer do certain activities. Instead of leaving them, make sure you still play with them so that you can cherish every last moment before they pass.
  3. Adjust their diet: Some old dogs experience a change in diet and the food you fed them before might not be appropriate now. Ask your vet for recommendations and check if they have developed any allergies.

Key Takeaways: 

If you have a dog that’s still in its prime years and you’re anxious about them growing old, you should read up on how to care for them. We hope that knowing how dog behavior changes with age can help you transition your life with your best friend.


Inevitably, you will have to deal with the fact that your dog is getting old, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t savor your last moments with them. Despite their age, your dogs will love you forever and always treat you with the same affection as they did when you first adopted and loved them.

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