Understanding the 5- to 7-year-old dogs

In my last several years of training, playing and working with dogs, I have noticed many dogs typically change in behaviors between 5 ½ to 7 years.

Whether environmental, illness, hormonal, plain middle life, there is sometimes a subtle or even a major change. Some dogs become more defiant, lethargic, aggressive, and fussy about food, potty habits, and weather or are prone to injury.

Heide's Pet Care PlaygroundOn the same note, a smaller dog may reach their peak at 5-7 years. You may need another tip in training because of a possible peak energy span. Depending on the size of the smaller dog, they can outlive a large dog double in years. When selecting a small breed, you better be ready for long-term training, discipline, and a higher activity level you must provide your dog. Oh yes, just because it is a small dog – they need social manners too!

How old is the dog?

When a client tells me about a slight change in their dog or I notice a change, the first question I ask is how old is the dog? Next, when was the last time you took your dog to the vet?  If your dog is doing some odd things, it could be behavioral but never rule out health conditions. Many dogs take on a new personality when they don’t feel good, just like humans.

Remember, they cannot tell you, YOU need to observe your dog’s behaviors. Watch behavioral changes, if your dog is drinking or urinating more frequently or less, and their skin and hair is changing along with body structure. Take note when you notice changes, ask others in contact with your dog for their opinion too, and seek veterinarian care. Sometimes it can be a simple adjustment with some training or home modifications to help them through a bump in the aging process.

Is it midlife anxiety for your 5- to 7-year-old dogs?

If there is a new addition to the family, be it human or animal, your dog may experience some anxiety, depression, or aggression to the newbie, you, and others.  Don’t punish your dog but seek the advice of someone who can help make the transition a more comfortable and fun event. Please keep in mind your dog’s midlife age (5-7 years) they may make emotional and health adjustments too when new events enter their lives.

Seek help for your 5- to 7-year-old dogs

Dogs can become complicated, but when in doubt seek help to avoid a sad situation. Aging is not a disease. It is part of all life and for some, it approaches quicker than others.  But while in good health remember to treat your dog like a dog.  They are not handbags to be carried – that is an insult to them, they have 4 legs, you only have two.  They are meant to run like the wind and trained to walk with you not ON you.

They are not bling; they have a brain so make them work and think.  They are not meant to be sanitized and perfumed like you.  Let their skin breathe and do what their skin needs to do. Let them experience rolling in the dirt, getting a burr caught in their hair from a field, swimming, and even a sports injury while in fun (once in a blue moon) to ensure they are alive! Socialize your dog with humans and other dogs on all levels from an early start for conversation and fun!

Don’t treat and think of your dog as if they are human, and don’t treat your humans like a dog.   Humans are always on the top rung and should be LEADERS and caregivers to their dogs. Dogs are not meant to manage your home, NO  MATTER  WHAT  THE  AGE.

Heide Maxwell is the owner of Heide’s Pet Care. Heide’s Pet Care provides doggie daycare, dog training, and a pet food store. Call her at 715-571-1252.