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Thread: 9.5 year old dog suddenly very clingy and anxious?

  1. #1

    Default 9.5 year old dog suddenly very clingy and anxious?

    My four little dogs have been doing great lately except I've noticed a few little changes in them - at night they are reluctant to walk up and down stairs, and my oldest has started following me around the house constantly with the ball, dropping it and whining at me. I usually ignore her and only play ball with her when she is not doing her clingy routine. I was happy that I could finally leave them for about 4 hours without their anxiety wraps.

    That all changed for no reason when I went to a work christmas party on Thursday. I was out for 6 hours max and they barked for a WHOLE hour. I didn't do anything different - took them for a walk before hand, at put them in the front room with the blinds closed and some food.

    On Saturday, I had to go to a family thing - same routine except I put their anxiety wraps on after the work christmas party debacle. I even shut the windows and put the air con on. This time I had a whopping 1.5 hours of barking in 5 hours.

    Today, I had to go to another family thing and was gone 10 hours (the joys of having family living 2 hours away) and they barked for 3 hours. All my neighbours are away on holidays so it's not people having back yard parties.

    The question is - why have my dogs suddenly become super clingy and started barking constantly when I am out? The have not done this for a year and a half and this is the absolute worst behaviour I have seen from them.

    There has been no sudden change either in my routine or to me.

    I have a specific routine when I go out and they seemed settled into this barking 15-20 mins tops all day, now they are barking 10 times as much.

    I am just so glad the neighbours are on vacation but when they come back I don't know what I will do.

    Do you think the dogs somehow know it's Christmas and they are being left out? I know it seems ridiculous but I can't think of any other reason. They seem too young at 8-9 years old for dementia.

  2. #2


    'Megan Tones' - with what you have put in your post - it is not Christmas - it is purely a change in routine for your pups.

    You say that nothing has changed - but - how long have you left them before last Thursday ?

  3. #3


    Usually when I go to work (1-2 days per week) I am gone for 4 to 6 hours. I did wear different clothing to the party. It is usual for us to go out for long periods on weekends but we did have a 10 hour outing to visit family three weeks previously and the dogs were exceptionally well behaved. I might have expected a bit more barking (say 30-40 mins) but this is really excessive. I am a bit worried that the older one is becoming more clingy due to age related decline and that behavioural aids won't work with her. The past three times I have been out it's like the anxiety wraps did nothing (they usually wear them if I am out on the weekend or for longer than 4 hours).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I have one friend who had this problem with her dogs. She came home and found them all stressed out and freaked. And she had been leaving a recorder on to check how much noise they were making while she was out.

    She was very shocked to find that someone had tried to break in - and stuck his head through the dog door and yelled at the dogs... Freaky stuff. But her dogs took a long time to get over it.

    I don't know how you know your dogs are barking for how long but some recording might help you identify some triggers apart from you going out.

    The other thing I did / still do to my dog is I forget stuff and have to go back into the house to get whatever it is - sometimes five or six times. I often give her a treat when I go out which gets her more enthusiastic about the idea - for as long as the treat lasts (about five to fifteen minutes).

  5. #5


    I use a recorder on my computer. Today I tried again and found out it wasn't one of the original 2 barkers - it was actually one of the others who gets visibly upset when I leave, but was never a barker. The dogs are quiet for about 45 mins and then he starts a repetitive loud bark - it is not frantic sounding but now and then the others will whine a bit on and off. On the video (which unfortunately doesn't capture the whole room) I did not see them pacing and looking out the window which means they must have stayed in the bedding area. This is an improvement because in the past they paced around and attacked the doors etc.The other dog who used to bark alot also doesn't bark much.

    I will need to take another video to see exactly what is happening.

    I went out a second time today and allowed him to go into the laundry which is a smaller space - he seemed more settled in there with a bed and even showed a bit of interest in a chew toy. I am considering trying a pheramone collar because the anxiety wrap doesn't cut it for him. I spoke to a trainer in the dog park today who recommended a petsafe vibration collar. I am a bit worried about this due to his anxiety. He is such a sook when he gets in trouble (even though I only verbally scold and occasionally spray him with water if he is doing something really bad or potentially dangerous).

    Found these great links last night and will try teaching them to be in a part of the house alone every day. Was not doing this in my routine as they did not seem to have any issues:

    The science behind dog separation anxiety | Canis bonus
    Independence training for dog separation anxiety | Canis bonus

    My trainer friend also told me I would likely have limited success in "curing" their problems due to their age. I don't think this is true as mine have gotten alot better.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    If they are a little more comfortable in a smaller room, have you considered crate training them?

    Oh, I forgot to ask, has there been fireworks or anything similar that may have gone off while you have been away?

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by The Pawfectionist View Post
    If they are a little more comfortable in a smaller room, have you considered crate training them?

    Oh, I forgot to ask, has there been fireworks or anything similar that may have gone off while you have been away?
    I am a bit wary of this due to the amount of time I sometimes have to leave them for (8-10 hours, not often) - but tomorrow I hope to get a better video of them - it seems like they don't move around much anyway.

    We've been out in the day so I doubt it was fireworks. There could have been something else going on though. At any rate getting my little man more independent will surely help - and I think having his own space in the laundry is helping with that.

    I think I would consider some of the dogs as having mild anxiety - if I continue with the exercise/ enrichment toys etc, what are your views on a vibration collar to make sure they don't bark (more as insurance rather than a sole form of treatment). I am currently job hunting for part time work and if I do find something I don't want to be concerned about the dogs barking all day if my employer doesn't let me work from home (or course I would still get up to walk them and leave food toys).

  8. #8


    We survived Christmas! Had to spend part of the day with family so I put Adaptil collars on the troublemakers. Cut the barking down from about 1.5 hours (what it was on Sat when we were away for the same amount of time) to 12 mins. I'm hoping after a month on the collars and leaving them in their alone space for a bit of time each day we will be back on track.

  9. #9


    Great News ! Must be a relief that you have found something that works for you and them !

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