Most dogs enter their senior years at around 7 years old, a little sooner for larger dog breeds. They begin to slow down, they may gain weight more easily, their senses start to dull. An older dog's behavior will give you plenty of hints as to what he needs, but sometimes it helps to put it in words.
A dog's personality changes over time, and, on average, every dog becomes less active and less curious as they age." To study how dogs' personalities might change with time, Turcsán and her colleagues recruited 217 border collies who were participants in the Clever Dog Database in Vienna.
Dogs don't just have shorter lives than humans, their bodies actually do age quicker. So, while the answer is never perfect, a dog's biology is typically 7 to 8 times older than their chronological age.
From Birth to 10 Weeks
They have boundless energy and curiosity. They spend most of their day playing and learning the foundations of being a dog: chasing, running, pawing, biting and fighting.
Undesirable behaviours such as barking, chewing, counter surfing, house-soiling and jumping up commonly begin to occur at around 3-6 months of age.
As puppies age, they grow more independent, and by 6-12 months you may notice your once obedient pup is developing some unwanted behaviors. Don't worry, some simple training tips will help you both get through these growing pains.
Small dogs are considered senior citizens of the canine community when they reach 11-12 years of age. Their medium-sized friends become seniors at 10 years of age. Their larger-sized colleagues are seniors at 8 years of age. And, finally, their giant-breed counterparts are seniors at 7 years old.
Experts recommend at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day for adult dogs (and many dogs do better with even more). And while your senior may not be up for the half-day hikes they used to do, if they're mobile, keep to a regular schedule of physical activity, including at least a half hour of daily walks.
As one might expect, the researchers found that their curiosity about novel objects and situations starts to decline when dogs reach about three years of age. That's the age when most dogs begin to “mellow” out.
Physical and Mental Development
A 10- to 12-year-old dog, depending on his size and individual variation, is roughly the equivalent of a 60- to 90-year-old person. By now, you've likely realized that your dog is slowing down. He may still enjoy a long walk, but he is not quite as zippy as he used to be.
Just like senior citizens need more sleep, an older dog sleeps a lot when compared to their younger counterparts. On the higher end of the scale, a senior dog can sleep up to 18-20 hours a day, says Dr. Rossman. She estimates that the lower end is probably around 14-15 hours per day.
Slowing down or difficulty getting around: An older dog may have trouble with stairs, jumping into the car, or just getting up after a nap. You might notice weakness in her back legs. While we all slow down as we age, your dog's mobility issues could be caused by arthritis or another degenerative disease.
Most dogs can tolerate 20-30 minute dog walks on a daily basis if they have a relatively good body condition. Some dogs in great physical health can tolerate walks up to 2 hours or go hiking for hours at a time.
Some need 1-2 hours of exercise per day, others need more than 2 hours, and some – mostly working breeds – need significantly more, plus mental stimulation throughout the day.
While it's important to exercise your dog, it's equally important to make sure they get enough rest to allow them to recover and avoid injuries. This is particularly true after an active day where you've been on a long walk or cani-cross, for example. The occasional rest day can be greatly beneficial for your pup.
Licking is a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs. For them it's a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help soothe themselves if they're stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them!
Generally, small dogs are considered senior citizens when they reach 11 years of age, medium-sized dogs at 10 years of age, large breeds at 8 years of age, and giant-breeds at 7. So a Mastiff becomes a senior citizen much sooner than a miniature poodle.
It is okay to have feelings of regret about getting a puppy. It doesn't make you a bad person and it doesn't mean you shouldn't have your puppy. Feeling inadequate as a pup parent is quite common, but luckily there are things you can do to help with those feelings!
The most frequent causes of dog death and pet disease among old dogs are cancer, cardiac failure, and renal (kidney) failure. In younger dogs, bloat, and immune-mediated diseases are significant.
Even if your dog is considered senior, you'll still want to give them at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Because of their age, exercise might need to become shorter but it's still necessary to make sure they're getting the required stimulation. Choose low-impact activities. Go on walks, not runs.