Why Is My Dog Acting Differently?

By Amy Brantley

It's alarming to see your normally energetic dog turn into a couch potato, or if your people-friendly pooch suddenly starts growling and being aggressive. If no cause for the behavior change may be evident, a closer investigation may reveal that your buddy is anxious, in pain, experiencing the normal symptoms of advancing age, or another reason. It's important to find the cause for sudden behavior changes so that you can help your pal get back to being the sweet, happy pup you know and love.

Fear

Fear and/or anxiety are often top reasons for a dog's sudden behavior change. If your dog growls, stop what you're doing and try to determine the cause of his fear. If the dog is growling at a particular person or area, find out why. For example, if you turn down the television, you may hear a noise outside that is alarming the dog. Remember, growling is a dog's way of warning someone he is being pushed too far. It is never a good idea to train your dog not to growl, because this could lead to the dog biting without warning.

Anxiety

Closely related to fear, anxiety will change a dog's behavior. It may be the introduction of a new pet into the home, or it may be something as simple as a troubling odor. Consider any changes that have been made in the house to determine what is triggering the anxiety. Disease or sickness can also make your pal anxious. If you cannot determine the trigger, take your dog to the vet for a complete checkup.

Pain

Pain can be behind a sudden behavior change in your buddy. If he normally is a playful pup who loves to run and jump, but now lies around not wanting to be touched, he may hurt somewhere. Gently check his muscles and joints to see he reacts. If he whines or growls when you touch a certain area, let him rest. If the problem continues for more than two or three days, take your pal to the vet for a checkup. If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, however, you must take him to the vet immediately.

Annoyance

Dogs are a lot like humans: Things can annoy them. The annoyance may be a child who will not stop petting too hard or pulling his tail, and he's fed up. Again, this will require you to stop and take notice of what has changed or what has triggered the behavior. Once you know the cause, you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Dementia

As dogs age, dementia can sometimes cause sudden behavior changes of various kinds. Your elderly dog may begin to forget who you are and may growl and snap when you approach him. He may become disoriented and lost in familiar surroundings and may not respond to affection. He may sleep constantly or hardly at all, and he may forget house training. This can be heartbreaking, but sometimes is part of aging. Again, a trip to the vet for a checkup is in order. He may be able to prescribe medications that can help.

By Amy Brantley

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References:
VeterinaryPartner.com: Changes in Behavior with Physical Causes
PET MD: Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
VetInfo: Symptoms of Dog Dementia

About the Author
Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.