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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

Change In Your Dog’s Behavior? What Could Be Happening

By Optimeal Team


It can be alarming and confusing when your furry friend’s behavior changes suddenly, especially if you are a first-time pet parent. Maybe they developed a new habit, like growling at other dogs or no longer find joy in their favorite activities. 

Although every dog’s behavior will change somewhat as they grow and develop, noticeable shifts in your pup’s behavior may cause concern. Like humans, your dog’s behavior is affected by their physical and mental health. 

This article will provide you with several potential behavioral changes to look out for in your dog and the potential causes of those changes. 

What Behavioral Changes Should You Look Out for in Your Dog?

This section will closely examine five behavioral changes you should look out for in your dog. Remember that if you are extremely concerned by your dog’s change in behavior, it is always advisable to take them to the vet or a behaviorist and get a professional consultation. 

Appetite Changes

One common behavioral change that may shock pet parents is if your dog’s appetite changes. You may notice two main changes when it comes to your furry friend’s appetite. 

If they seem insatiable after their meals and you have not changed the amount of food you give them, there may be an underlying medical issue. Additionally, your pup may completely lose their appetite if they are sick. 

Unfortunately, loss of appetite in dogs can be a symptom of a minor stomach virus to something more serious. For this reason, you should always take your dog to the vet if they stop eating. 

That said, it is important to remember that your dog’s appetite will change as they age. Usually, as dogs age, they tend to eat less as they become less active. 


It is very uncommon for dogs to suddenly become aggressive without a physical or environmental trigger. It is especially rare for a senior dog to suddenly become aggressive. If your pup rapidly develops aggressive habits, there may be a few different underlying causes. 

Sometimes the only way your furry friend can tell you that they are in pain is by growling or biting when you touch the wounded part of their body. This is your dog’s way of protecting their wound. 

Your dog may also become aggressive if they feel particularly vulnerable, like if you introduce a new dog to their environment or if they are becoming blind or deaf. Sudden aggressive behavior can also be a sign of more severe neurological issues in dogs, such as seizures and brain tumors. 

Excessive Tiredness

Another common behavioral change your dog may experience is sudden excessive tiredness or lethargy. If your dog is normally full of energy and loves going on walks, it is immediately obvious when they begin to lack energy. 

However, if you have a more sedentary pup, paying close attention to their changing energy levels is important. Lethargy is a symptom of several illnesses in dogs, so it is important to take note of it as soon as it arises in your furry friend. 


For many pet parents, the best part of the day is coming home to their dog's energetic and enthusiastic greeting. If your furry friend is normally the first person to greet you when you come home and begins to hide from you and other family members, you should consider taking them to the vet. 

Dogs are inherently social animals, especially in their home environments. If your dog becomes more reclusive and less social, it may be a sign that they are in pain or something serious is going on. 

Weight Fluctuation

If your pup’s weight rapidly fluctuates, they may be dealing with an underlying health condition. When your dog’s weight suddenly increases or decreases, you should consider taking them to see the vet. 

Serious health issues like cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease can all cause weight fluctuation. For this reason, getting your dog medical attention as soon as you notice their weight change is advisable. 

Resource Guarding

Another change you may observe in your dog’s behavior is resource guarding. If you rescue your dog or they are naturally more anxious, you may notice that they become territorial over their food, toys, or safe space. 

They may growl or bite at a family member or another furry friend that tries to take what they perceive to be a valuable item. 

Excessive Panting

Every pet parent knows that it is normal for dogs to pant. It is the way that they regulate their body temperature. If your pup is panting after rigorous physical exercise or on a particularly hot day, there is nothing to worry about. 

However, if you notice that your four-legged friend is panting while lying down or when they are in a cold place, you should take note. Panting can be a sign of stress. Emotional stress induced by triggers such as lightning or separation from a loved one and physical stress due to pain can cause your dog to pant. 

What Are the Main Causes of Behavioral Changes in Dogs?

Now that you know some of the most common behavioral changes to look out for in your canine, it is important to know the main causes of these behavioral changes. The following section will examine the three most common causes of behavioral changes in dogs. 

Physical Changes

One of the main causes of dramatic behavioral changes in your dog is changes to their physical health. If your dog is experiencing pain of any kind, it will likely cause some kind of behavioral shift. 

Bringing your dog to the veterinarian to have them evaluated is always a good idea, but you can also perform an at-home check-up to have more information when you see your vet. 

Try asking your dog to perform simple tasks like sitting and standing. If they resist any tasks or struggle to do them, this is valuable information about their physical health. You can also try checking on your dog’s ears, paws, and teeth if they let you. 


Another main cause of behavioral problems in dogs is stress. Just like humans, dogs experience stress and anxiety. If you move homes, introduce a new pet into your dog’s environment, or drastically change their schedule, your dog may become stressed. If their stress continues over a long period, your dog may develop anxiety. 

The most important thing to remember if you think your dog is stressed is to look for potential triggers and remain calm. Eliminating stress triggers from your dog’s environment will help them feel at ease. 

Punishing your dog when they exhibit signs of stress may only worsen the issue. Stay calm and use positive reinforcement once your dog calms down to help soothe their symptoms. There are several ways you can calm a stressed dog. 

Some stress-management options for pet parents include:

  • Distraction: Try and distract your dog when they are exhibiting anxious behavior. By showing your pup their favorite treat or toy, you may be able to get their mind off the situation or trigger that is causing stress.

  • Make a Safe Spot: Dogs are territorial creatures by nature, so creating a safe space in your house that is just for them can greatly reduce their stress. You can put their bed, a mat, or a crate in a specific spot in your home. When they start to look stressed, bring them to that spot and try to soothe them.

  • Exercise: Much like humans, you can help calm your dog down with exercise. If they are obviously stressed, try adding more exercise to their daily routine. Having a physical outlet often helps canines feel more relaxed and tranquil at home. 


Just like humans, dogs experience considerable personality changes as they age. However, unlike humans, they experience these changes in a relatively short period. 

Between the ages of one to three, you may notice dramatic shifts in your dog's personality as they mature from a puppy to an adult dog. They may lose interest in high-energy activities and become less curious about other dogs. 

That said, it is always best to check with your veterinarian before you assume your dog’s behavioral change is due to aging. Although dogs naturally change as they mature, it is always best to have a medical consultation if you notice a distinct change in your dog’s personality. 


As a pet parent, we know your main concern is your dog’s health. It can be concerning when you see a sudden change in your furry friend’s body language or personality. 

If your dog’s behavior suddenly changes, the best thing to do is bring them to the vet to have them assessed for any possible medical conditions and health problems. That said, your dog’s body and personality will change as they mature, which can lead to behavioral changes as well.


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