Dog Training: What Happens When Your Dog Is Aging
The 2 Sides Of Dog Aging
The aging of our four-legged friend is often something we feel embarrassed about. Dogs age much faster than we do and reflect the image of our own future senescence.
At the beginning, signs of aging often remain unnoticed. Then we start noting some changes: greying coat, bad breath, lack of energy.
Over time the symptoms become more visible and we need to worry about them. Many disorders may occur that will make us consult a veterinary surgeon. They are by decreasing order of frequency: respiratory (most often heart disease), locomotion disorders (most often joint disease), skin, neurological, digestive, ocular, and urinary.
Physiological aging is a natural process. But aging also shows another face: the increased risk of getting life-threatening chronic pathologies. Just as we do, dogs may suffer from chronic diseases that reduce their longevity and severely impair their quality of life.
In dogs this risk varies considerably from one breed to another. You should know the diseases frequently affecting dogs of the same breed as yours. The infographic below designed by Animal Patient (https://animalpatient.com/physio/dog-age-infographic/) will help you get prepared for health issues that may occur to your dog.
The consequences of aging in dog training
Of course, as dogs age, their behavior may change in many areas. Urinary incontinence in aging dogs is usually due to hormonal imbalance. This is a medical condition and you can’t do anything about it apart from consulting your vet. But, the most disturbing modifications in behavior are linked to neurological impairment. They may destabilize the training of your dog. Thus, aging may increase aggressive behavior, impair sleep, decrease sensory acuity or generate untimely barking, crying or whining. In addition, poor general condition reduces the level of interaction with the family and obedience to instructions.
That’s true, it is more difficult to train aging dogs. But old dogs have still the ability to learn. You will have to be aware of your dog’s new limits, to be more attentive to the signs of decreased capacity and to adapt to them. Also be less demanding (or more forgiving). Focus on what is really important for maintaining a good interaction with you and your family.
Whenever necessary, and more often than previously, consult your vet!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.