Jan 28 2021

Aging Dogs and Declining Curiosity

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Curious puppies! When you think of a puppy, you may think of a cute little pup playing with the newly discovered doorstop or barking at himself in the mirror. Or a curious pup peaking around the corner ready to pounce on unsuspecting toes as they approach. Or maybe a little soft snout rooting into your hand when it appears you have something more interesting than the toy he was chewing on. You only need to scroll social media for a few minutes to find yourself laughing at then seemingly endless videos of curious puppies getting into mischief!

Of course our pets don’t quite act the same in their senior years as they do when they are youngsters. But just when does their personality begin to change? When do puppies begin to lose their curiosity? Or do they lose it completely?

New research shows that, indeed, a dog’s personality changes as it ages, especially attraction to novel experiences, the desire to explore, and the urge to run around (think puppy zoomies – they certainly don’t happen as often with 12-year-old dogs as they do in 3 month old pups!).

However, as with humans, the study noted that a dog’s personality is both stable and impressionable, meaning that if your dog was super active and curious as a puppy, he will remain active and curious as he ages. But if your dog was more of a lap dog even as a puppy and couldn’t be bothered with those silly bouncy puppy games, he’ll be even less interested with novel experiences and even more interested in hanging out on your lap as he ages!

In simple terms, while every dog will become less active and less curious as he ages, it is relevant to their own history. You may have noticed this yourself—have you ever met a 12-year-old dog that you could have sworn was a puppy?! You can bet that this senior dog was even more curious and active when he was a young puppy.

This study’s findings also showed that dogs maintained their desire to socialize and tolerate frustration as they aged. A dog’s attentiveness and problem-solving ability improved up to about 6 years of age and then remained stable as the dog grew older.

As one might expect, the researchers found that when dogs reach about 3 years of age, their curiosity about novel objects and situations starts to decline. That’s the age when most dogs begin to mellow out.

If you have a puppy that is so active you wonder when (or if) it will ever slow down, fear not, given a little time, your furry friend will become less active soon enough!

LifeLearn News

Note: This article, written by LifeLearn Animal Health (LifeLearn Inc.) is licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by a veterinarian.