Behavior Management Strategies for Oppositional Defiant Disorder
How to Manage Behavioral Dysfunction in Older Dogs
Elderly dogs often experience varying degrees of behavioral dysfunction, which is often due to declining cognitive and sensory function. If you notice any behavioral changes in your dog, you should first seek professional help from a veterinarian or an animal specialist. More than 60 percent of elderly dogs suffer from some form of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which you can help your dog with by improving its diet, providing plenty of exercise, and enriching its environment. For an older dog with separation anxiety, you can alter your routine or train your dog to become more comfortable with being alone. Finally, for an aggressive older dog, you will need to limit its exposure to anxiety-inducing stimuli and be on the lookout for any signs of stress.
Seeking Professional Help
Address problems as soon as they arise.If your dog displays any type of new or extreme behaviors, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Although behavioral dysfunction may be a result of a dog’s diminishing cognitive capacity, it may also be a symptom of a treatable medical disorder.
- For example, increased irritability may be a reaction to arthritic pain, which can be managed with pain medications.
Visit your veterinarian.The first step in managing your dog’s behavior issues is visiting your veterinarian. Your vet will work to diagnose the underlying causes of your dog’s behavioral issues. Depending on the problem, your veterinarian may recommend various medications or practical strategies to manage your dog’s altered behavior.
- You should take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup before your pursue any other steps towards managing your dog’s behavior.
- If your dog suffers from CDS, separation anxiety, aggression, or any other disorder, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about medications. A combination of medication and training may be the answer to managing your dog’s behavioral issues.
Talk with a specialist.Your veterinarian may also recommend that you visit a behaviorist or a trainer. A behaviorist or a trainer will help you better understand and address your dog’s behavioral dysfunction. They may be able to teach your dog new behaviors and tricks that will make it easier for you to manage your elderly dog.
- Be sure to visit a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).
Treating Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Alter your dog’s diet.If your dog is showing symptoms of CDS, changing its diet may improve its cognitive abilities. A diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids may improve your dog’s behavior. Look for dog foods that advertise high levels of either antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids.
- Feed your dog fruits and vegetables such as spinach, carrots, oranges, lemons, and tomatoes. However, make sure that you too do not feed them too many fresh fruits and vegetables. Talk with your veterinarian about how much to feed your dog.
- Giving your dog fish oil is a great way to make sure that it gets omega-3 fatty acids.
- Your veterinarian may also recommend that you feed your dog antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
Increase environmental stimulants.Providing your dog with new and stimulating experiences may also improve your dog’s brain function. Buy your dog new and complicated toys, such as dog puzzles. Take them to new places and introduce your dog to new animals and people.
- However, if your dog shows any signs of distress or anxiety around unfamiliar people or pets, be sure to remove them from the situation.
Addressing Separation Anxiety
Recognize separation anxiety.Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral disorders in elderly dogs. Typically, a dog suffering from separation anxiety will become very anxious when its owner prepares to leave. Once the owner has left, the dog may become destructive, bark and howl, urinate and defecate, or salivate excessively. This increase in anxiety may be the result of cognitive decline or decreased hearing or vision.
- Talk with your veterinarian if you believe your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
Alter your departure cues.Your dog is sensitive to your routine. It knows that you are about to leave when you pick up your keys and put on a jacket. In order to mitigate your dog’s anxiety, change your leaving cues so the dog does not know when you are leaving.
- For example, pick up your keys and then sit on the couch instead of walking out the door. On the weekends, do your normal get-ready-for-work routine but stay at home.
Build to longer departures.Leave your home for small increments of time, a few seconds to a few minutes, and reward your dog when they remain calm. Start with short excursion and work your way up to bigger ones, always returning before your dog gets anxious. Over time, your dog’s anxiety about you leaving will diminish.
- This method may take weeks or months, so you will need to be patient.
Associate leaving with something good.As you leave, give your dog a treat, some praise, or some physical affection. This will condition your dog to have a positive association with your leaving. You may also want to consider leaving your dog a treat inside a hollow toy, which will distract it while you leave.
Create a peaceful atmosphere.You can also create a positive association with your departure by creating a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for your dog. Leave soft music playing, set the right temperature, and provide some natural light. If your dog likes being outside, let it be in your backyard while you are gone. Find out what your dog likes and do that when you leave.
Have someone visit the dog.You may also want to have someone come over and hang out with your dog for a while during the day. This person should be a friend or family member who you trust in your home and around your pet. Have them walk your dog or take it outside. This will help break up your dog’s day and keep its anxiety from building.
Dealing with Aggression
Determine what is causing the aggression.Aggression in older dogs is relatively common. It is sometimes the result of declining cognitive function. However, aggression may also be the symptom of declining vision or hearing. For example, dogs with poor eyesight are startled easily by loud noises, triggering their flight or fight response.
- Be sure to have your veterinarian evaluate your dog and determine the cause of its aggression. They recommend medication for your dog’s anxiety.
Avoid anxiety-inducing situations.Once you have determined the roots of your dog’s aggression, you should avoid situations that increase its anxiety. For many older dogs, anxiety and fear are the root causes of their aggression. Avoiding situations that may trigger your dog’s fear response will help you manage its aggression.
- For example, if your dog is anxious around other people or animals, you should avoid taking them to places, such as parks, where they may be overwhelmed by new stimuli and act aggressively.
- If your dog is dealing with vision problems, avoid creating loud noises around your dog or going places where there is a lot of auditory stimulation.
Watch for signs of stress.If you are out with your dog, be on the lookout for signs of anxiety or stress. Heavy panting and growling are often an indication that your dog is overwhelmed and becoming irritated. Once you see these signs, remove your dog from the situation and take it somewhere familiar with a lower stimulus value.
- If you are in public, it may be best to simply take your dog home. Try not to take it somewhere new. This will only increase your dog’s anxiety.
Use a head collar and leash.For elderly dogs with decreased cognitive capacity of poor vision and hearing, a head collar and will offer you more control over your pet. This will allow you to prevent your dog from lashing out and possibly hurting others. It will also help comfort your dog by reminding it that you are in control.
- If your dog is particularly aggressive or unpredictable, you may want to consider a basket muzzle. However, you should not leave a muzzled dog unattended. This could lead to series oral and facial damage.
Video: 7 Types of Child Behavior That Are Dangerous to Ignore
Trend to Try: Floral and Leather, Courtesy of Lily James
51 Pictures OF Women’s Street Style Fashion In NYC
MAC Honours The Simpsons 25th Anniversary with Vibrant New Collection
Apply to Become a Wedding Destination and Honeymoon Tester
Tomato, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Global markets: Sell-off pauses as futures point to US rally
7 Ways to Style Your Denim Jacket This Spring
Sesame Ginger Noodles
TRX Workouts: 44 Insanely Effective TRX Exercises
How to Use Venmo
How to Clean Cabbage
Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts Are REAL
How to Train Poodles
Best Workout Songs: The Top 10 Most Popular, According to Spotify