What would cause your dog who never had behavior issues to suddenly change behaviors? After several happy years, your dog starts to bite you or develops separation anxiety, fears or phobias. Or even begins to have accidents in the house. Why? Dog owners are usually clueless as to why their beloved friend’s personality has changed. Change is the key word. Something about the dog or his environment probably has changed. Some investigative reporting is required!
The very first thing to do is check your dog’s health. Aside from old age, pain or discomfort may elicit biting or cause your dog to become nervous and upset when you leave her. If your dog’s health checks out fine, then begin looking at you, your family, your home and your environment.
Ask yourself some questions:
What has changed about my life – any illnesses, new job, new baby, new pet? Did my routine change which affects my dog? Did a new person enter my life and possibly change my relationship with my dog? Did a person exit my dog’s life, such as a separation/divorce or a child going away to school? Did we move to a new home that is much larger or smaller, or has a yard or doesn’t have a yard? Or maybe even something as minor as a rearrangement of furniture? Did I switch my dog’s brand of food? Am I giving my dog more people food or treats than usual?
Any of these scenarios and more can create insecurity in a dog, especially one who is sensitive to change. If you uncover what’s changed in your dog’s life, it will be easy to work with your dog to help him or her to adjust to the changes.
If you cannot think of any physical change to your dog’s environment, consider if you have changed how you interact with your dog. Have you become more permissive? Or more dependent on your dog for affection? Or have your changed the amount or type of exercise you give your dog?
So many factors can contribute to our dogs’ behavior. The bond we have with them can make them very tuned into our feelings. It’s good to be aware of how seemingly small changes can have big effects for your dog.
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