My dog (aged 12) has begun to pace around the room, paw for attention and emanate restlessness. He no longer dozes comfortably, nor does he sleep contentedly at night. This all began quite suddenly on Monday night at bedtime. Yet outside the home, he is as he has always been. A similar pattern of behaviour occurred several months ago at my place of work. He is a placid and affectionate Border terrier who has given no cause for concern before these two episodes. We are finding it very difficult to deal with and are losing sleep. I would be most grateful if you would offer me some ideas. Thank you. Ms B.Driver [email protected]
He has no health issues as far as we know and he has had no accidents around the house.
He now wanders from the living room to the main door where he waits for a few moments and then wanders back. This seems part of his compulsive behaviour. He will approach and beg for attention, then walk around the room and then go to the door before returning and repeating this circuit.
When he sits still indoors, which is usually for only a few moments, he doesn't relax but either stares at some point in the room or simply looks into the middle distance.
When he does go out, he enjoys lying in the garden and behaves quite normally.
He behaves perfectly normally when out on walks.
He has had no unusual treats nor food and he doesn't scavenge indoors or outside.
He recognizes people that he knows but on a few occasions recently, has gone forward to greet strangers quite confidently.
I am writing this on behalf of my friend and I so do not know for certain when he was last checked by the vet. I think it was several years ago when he was treated for a minor skin disorder. It was described as 'hot spots' on his hind quarters.
Thanks for all the wonderful information. It is helpful. There could be a couple of reasons for this behavior. It is possible that he actually hears something perhaps in the walls or outside that is waking him up. If he can not identify what it is or where it is coming from, it will cause a dog to become anxious and roam from one place to another trying to locate it. A dog's ear are much more sensitive as is their noses. I had a dog that kept going to one room and barking at the ceiling. It turned out that mice had built a nest in the light fixture and the dog could hear them. When we ignored him going to that room, he started barking so we couldn't ignore it. So it is possible that their is a small intruder in the house or walls that he is reacting to.
Dogs this age often have organ dysfunction which can lead to seizure activity. Seizures do have a habit of occurring when a dog first wakes up perhaps due to low blood sugar. Most people think of seizures as falling to the ground and shaking, but often it is just repetitive behavior instead. After a seizure there is often a period of time when a dog doesn't seem like themselves. You can read up on focal and partial seizures on the site below.
Then there is the dog form of alzheimers called canine dysfunction syndrome (CDS) where a dog tends to have changes in their sleep schedules frequently bein gup at night, asking to go out to eliminate but forgetting and coming back in, getting lost behind doors or furniture and often getting stuck. They will frequently forget who someone is one day but be fine another. Since a change in sleep patterns is one of the symptoms and the dog is older, this might be the cause. The good news is that there is a drug called L-Selegeline (Anipryl (R)) which has been recently approved for use in the clinical indication of cognitive dysfunction (CDS) in dogs.
Please see this site for more information and other causes that may exhibit the same symptoms.
There are a few thngs that might help in the meantime. A long walk before bedtime to help tire him out often helps a dog sleep longer and thus through the night. Often as dogs age, they can develop issues with excess bile which can wake them up. Giving pepcid at bedtime might help. Read about Pepcid dosages and usage information here:
A small meal right before sleeping can also cut down on that excess acid and we all know most animals and humans sleep better with a little something in their stomachs. Another trick is to give the dog a special toy/ treat either at bedtime or when they wake up. What I suggest is putting peanut butter or yogurt inside the treat compartment of a kong and freezing it. Giving it at bedtime will keep him up a little longer and thus perhaps keeping him sleeping longer during the night.
I would be sure he gets a senior checkup done soon as well to check for medical causes for the behavior. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
Thank you so much for your response and we are very grateful for your help. Since I E-mailed you, the little dog in question ('Douglas') has been to the vet. The initial check-up shows that he is apparently healthy. A blood sample was taken in order to check other organs. He is as deaf as a beetle and the vet. says that this is age related so at the moment he feels it is most likely to be senility, as you suggest. I was very pleased to receive your information with regard to medication and this provides a very useful insight. We certainly intend to walk him more extensively in the evening, although last night I did walk him for over an hour with no perceptible change in his restlessness. If it is permissible, I would very much like to send you an outline of the vet.'s report when it arrives "within the next fortnight."
Thank you once again for your help and advice and if you could think of anything we could do with regard to handling him whilst we wait for the results, we would be very grateful. He has become very demanding and since returning home this afternoon, has begun to bark, for no particular reason. As you can imagine, it is very upsetting to see our little friend in this situation.
Mr A.D.G.Drake and Ms. B. Driver
Thank you for your help so far, Looks like we are in this for the long run. Will be in touch, thank you.