There are many factors in your dog’s life that could potentially trigger sudden behavior changes, including schedule shifts, new family members entering your life, house guests or visitors staying over, vacations and holidays, vacationing abroad or moving abroad, illness/death of family members as well as degenerative conditions of age. All these may affect their mood or behaviors so it is crucial that any significant differences be reported to your veterinarian immediately.
Most often, dog behavior changes involve increased aggression. Aggression typically stems from anxiety, fear or frustration underlying beneath the surface, with environmental or situational triggers usually being responsible. As soon as your dog exhibits unwanted behavior, it’s essential that you remove him/her from their environment or situation that triggered it and redirect them towards a positive behavior (like lying down). If this is not feasible, a “mark and punish” approach may be used instead, which involves communicating clearly to your dog what they must do to gain your attention – this might involve saying things such as, “(dog name). Off!” followed by giving petting or treats when they have stopped acting out unwanted behaviours. Repeat as necessary until your pup begins performing desired behavior on his/her own.
Behavior modification for dogs that misbehave is also necessary; specifically house soiling. This issue must be tackled head on by providing extensive training, behavioral modification techniques and desensitization exercises – in extreme cases medication may even be suggested as a remedy.
At times, dogs develop ritualized behaviors which appear ritualistic to them. These can range from excessive grooming or overlicking that causes hot spots; tail chasing or spinning; jumping and pacing; air biting/fly snapping/staring into space while appearing disinterested to air biting/fly snapping or staring out into space with apparent disinterest – usually an indicator of stress or anxiety and it is important that these issues are discussed with both your veterinarian and certified behaviorist in order to address them effectively.
Your veterinarian should always be informed if your dog displays sudden changes in appetite, is reluctant to go for walks or climb the stairs, or exhibits signs of clumsiness associated with aging. In some instances, these changes could indicate medical conditions requiring immediate treatment such as brain tumors; but in other cases they may be treatable; your vet can advise how best to manage symptoms for each pet.