Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 18, 2017
Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed

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Your dog's personality may change due to different factors, life experiences and maybe even for no reason other than the passing of time.

As a result of these changes they may become more sympathetic, fearful or even grumpy. In this article we want to guide you to understanding what causes can change or modify your dog's behavior.

There are many different causes that may influence this change, including castration, poor socialization or other everyday problems. Read on to discover why your dog's personality has changed.

You may also be interested in: My Cat's Personality Has Changed

Reasons why my dog's personality has changed

Your best friend also has feelings. Remember that due to certain reasons, whether these have a direct relationship to you or not, your dog may feel lonely, sad, anxious, worried, tired... The mental imbalance suffered generates a discomfort which results in a change in behavior. Any unstable and intense energy that we hold can be transmitted and cause negative excitement in the dog.

What should we do to get started?

Like humans, dogs need a healthy mental and physical balance that is healthy. We must ensure that all its basic walking, playing, hygiene and dietary needs are met, we are talking about the five freedoms, the basic dog welfare. Both when we get home and on the street we have to be energetic but remain relaxed, showing an exemplary attitude and dominating the situation. Not dominating or understanding the situation will make your pet want to take over.

Which are the most common reasons for a dog's change in personality?

  • Castration: It is very common for a change in personality to occur after sterilizing your pet. We may find ourselves with a relaxed and submissive dog or rather the opposite.
  • Old age: In old age our dog undergoes physical and mental changes such as the loss of some capabilities. For this reason we may observe a change where it becomes more unsociable or passive.
  • Sexual maturity: At this stage of growth the dog explores changes in its body. It is very important that we continue to support socialization with other pets, people and environments during this phase. It must learn to behave in this new stage of life.
  • New pet: If we add a new dog or cat to the family it may be that our beloved dog will show some jealous behavior or dominance towards the newcomer. Although this is normal behavior it is very important that it respects the new family member. We will put limits on the dog, though it is very important that it believes it is above (hierarchically speaking) the new pet.
  • Disease: A sick dog may show abnormal behavior. If you think a change in behavior may be related to some kind of disease do not wait further and take your pet to the vet.
  • Incorrect socialization: If your dog has not learned the importance of playing properly with other dogs as a puppy, then you will have to teach it to do so as an adult dog. Never stop encouraging socialization with other members of their own species as well as humans. Very important.
  • Changes in the environment: If you have decided to move from a house to an apartment, you have taken away its toys without realizing or your pet lately spends a long time alone then you should ask yourself if these are the reasons that explain your dog's change in personality.
  • Loss of a loved one: Whether it is another dog or a human, the dog will deeply feel that loss much like you. It is a psychological problem that requires handling with care and providing the animal with new stimuli and motivations that distract it and help it overcome these difficulties.
  • Baby at home: The arrival of a baby to the household can generate jealousy and envy in a dog. Although it is very important that a distance be maintained between the newcomer and our pet, we will try to ensure that each receives equal attention, care and pampering. Fostering a good relationship between the two is essential.
  • Aggressiveness: Aggressiveness is a serious behavior problem as it feeds back and creates other problems seen in this list. It should be treated by a specialist.
  • Depression: A multitude of symptoms can indicate that our dog is suffering from depression (lack of appetite, avoiding playing games, not interacting with others), this will likely be for a specific reason. We must look for the trigger to fix the problem.
  • Anxiety: The lack of interaction with other dogs or an unattended basic need may be grounds for anxiety. Find out what the problem that generates anxiety in your pet is to fix it as soon as possible.
  • Bad communication: A dog and its master do not always understand each other perfectly. It is important to learn and be informed about canine communication and how to deal with it. If you and your dog are not on the same wavelength this can cause confusion and discomfort in your environment and this will directly affect its personality.
  • Phobias and fears: It is true that many dogs have irrational fears (other dogs, water, cats, cars, fireworks...). If the thing that causes fear in our dog is inevitable and present in our everyday environment we will have to practice a socialization process so that our pet understands that it should not fear that element, or at least learn to ignore it. Even if it results from a bad experience it is never too late to help your pet overcome its fears and apprehensions.
Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed - Reasons why my dog's personality has changed

Reshaping our dog's personality

Having identified the problem, we must be aware that it is us who in our daily lives will encourage our pet to display again the stability it had before and recover it previous personality. Above all, we will avoid the problem getting worse.

It can be very useful to see a specialist to receive advice regarding the problems of changes in behavior, he or she will discuss your errors and improve your technique. If you do not have this option for economic or other reasons you should work it out yourself and thoroughly commit to it.

As we already mentioned above, your dog's change of personality is due to your pet suffering from a mental imbalance and this may become chronic if you do not treat it. Avoid at all costs pulling at its lead, aggressiveness, nervousness in front of the animal, etc. We will act in a very calm manner in the presence of these changes and we will encourage the dog to take more sociable and relaxed attitudes.

Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed - Reshaping our dog's personality

Translating your dog's emotions

When explained, many people perfectly understand that they should display a relaxed and firm attitude towards their dog, but in practice they do not understand what these behavioral changes mean and therefore adopt attitudes of nervousness or intolerance when faced by their dog's enigmatic emotions.

To avoid negative situations that produce instability we must adapt to our dog's language, to do this we'd like to give you some tips:

  • My dog whines when it sees another dog: Dogs are social beings that can get on better or worse with others, remember that they will not always be best friends. If you observe this behavior at the moment when it sees another pet dog it simply means that your dog wants to run, chase and have fun with a companion of its kind, still you should always be cautious. We will congratulate its relaxed and positive behavior with affectionate words and treats and will never force it to interact if it does not want to.
  • They study the environment with their nose: Seeing your pet sniff another dog, a person or a strange object is a positive thing, it means they want to get to know it and we should congratulate our pet for this. If on the contrary you see it studying the dog, person or object only using the ear or eye then your pet is distrustful or showing a hostile attitude. Give your dog a reward when it sniffs plants, dogs, pees... Even though it does not like it, if it is vaccinated it will not suffer from any disease. Smelling is how your dog communicates with the environment and it also means it is relaxed and having fun. It is very important that your dog takes its time to smell whenever it is taken out for a walk, this is why you should take it to places where it can smell different aromas that motivate it and generate curiosity.
  • My dog stares at other dogs or objects: Even if your dog does not bark, growl or become aggressive you can see that it maintains an attitude of excessive alert when it meets other dogs. It raises its tail and ears as well. Too much time engrossed means that the dog's anxiety and fixation for another dog or object are increasing. In this case we suggest you distract it to make it disconnect from the stimulus that is making it stay alert. Congratulating it when it takes notice of you and comes to you is a good trick if it is sometimes somewhat intolerant of other pets, this way you encourage it to pay attention to you during its walks, something positive between you both.
Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed - Translating your dog's emotions

Other dog emotions

If translating the dog's language is not enough to understand its psychology and the reasons for the change in personality then we recommend you go to a specialist or continue informing yourself to better understand the attitude and behavior of your pet.

Do not forget to browse our website and read the different articles on dog behavioral problems, you will find different and very useful information for solving everyday problems.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Has my Dog's Personality Changed, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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my dog has gone from sleeping with me every night from not wanting to stay even upstairs with me at night, but he loves to stay with me in the basement. something doesn't seem right but i cant tell if it is anxiety, depression, or something completely different. please help me build a stronger bond with my dog again and help me find why he is acting this way?! :) thank you
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