Elderly Dogs - Pain or Fear Aggression
As humans get older they can become less patient, more irritable, less secure or downright cantankerous - so can dogs! As your dog ages, you will almost certainly notice changes in his behavior and reactions. Fear or pain may cause him to be aggressive at times when you would not expect him to be; most dog owners become confused as to what has changed their loving, loyal and gentle pet into an animal that they do not recognize.
There are several things that you can do to assist your dog during his twilight years and the starting point should be in observation. Does your dog have difficulty standing up just after he wakes or with walking - this may be due to arthritis or joint problems for which there is no real cure and it will cause pain.
You may want your dog to get up and go for a walk with you and if you try to force the issue he may display aggressive behavior such as growling or even snapping at you. Many people who are arthritic have bad days, so why should a dog not have them too?
If your dog even thinks you are going to make him do something which is going to cause him pain, he will be afraid and that might cause him to bite you. The answer to the problem is not to force the dog to do anything which you know is likely to cause him pain. Understanding and consideration for his age and condition can serve to avoid unpleasant confrontations.
Aged dogs and small children should not be together because a child will not fully understand that their gentle playmate is now no longer capable of joining in the fun. If you consider that the rule of thumb is that 1 dog year equals 7 human years, depending on the breed, you dog at 10 years old is actually 70. Children trying to play rough house with a 70 year old grandparent might get a clip round the ear but an elderly dog will bite them. The best thing for you to do with the children is limit the time they are near the dog. Explain to them that the dog is getting old and is in pain so must be left alone. Also make sure that they understand that the dog may bite if they don't keep away.
If you own more than one dog and they are younger, you should separate them from the elderly dog as much as possible. Puppies are boisterous and may accidentally cause pain in which case the elderly dog may seriously damage a puppy. However, puppies are pretty smart so if your dog warns them off with a growl or a nip the puppies will quickly learn to steer clear of his space. Generally, it is not fair to expose an elderly dog to anything which might cause him fear or pain so use your own discretion when deciding what you will do to protect the dog from actual or perceived harm.
Written by Jeff Nenadic from My Dog Shop - Shop for great deals on an orthopedic dog bed to relieve pain in older dogs.
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