Does a dog's personality change over the course of their life?


Whether you have the perfect dog or an incorrigible young pup you might be interested to know that yes, your dog's personality will likely change as they get older.

Similar to humans, a dogs personality changes as they age and exposed to different experiences over the course of their life. Personality change most prominently occurs until the end of middle age (~ 6 years of age) and then slows down as dogs become seniors.

Why does a dog's personality change?

Some researchers believe that personality development is genetic, while others think personality changes in response to the dog owners lifestyle and beliefs. For example owners actively shape their dogs’ behavior via training, especially at a young age. They may expect or tolerate certain behaviors from puppies or adolescent dogs than from adults or aged dogs. A dogs routine can also change with age. Older dogs generally receive less training, off-leash activity and play. All of these factors can cause personality changes as they age.

Because of this it's important to keep an eye on personality changes as they are unique to each dog. Observing the changes, can be helpful in understanding your dog's experience and how to best support them. Plus sometimes they reveal underlying health issues

A few things to remember:

  • The good news, your young puppy's attentiveness and ability to solve problems will likely improve in adolescence and early adulthood
  • Your adult dog will likely become less reactive to moving objects, compared to young animals that are still learning and exploring
  • Unfortunately most cognitive functions, including problem solving abilities, decline in old age (which is why playing cognition games is so important!)
  • Dogs suffering from cognitive decline may become hyperactive and show activity levels similar to young dogs. So a sudden increase in activity in old age could be an indicator of problems. We will talk more about this in our next blog. Stay tuned

Learn more about your dog's personality and cognition by joining our Dog Cognition Meetups! It's a great opportunity to play some fun games, understand your dog's abilities and personality, and meet other pet parents like you.

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