Have you been walking around lately thinking “why does my dog ignore me?” Maybe you’re wondering if you’ve done something to piss him off, and he’s getting back at you. Maybe he’s just being bratty?
Bratty is possible, getting back at you…not.
Have you considered the possibility he can’t hear you? Perhaps he’s become a bit confused and not sure what’s going on? These two scenarios are much more realistic and should be explored further.
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He can’t hear you calling
Age does not automatically bring loss of hearing, but if your dog is not coming when called, doesn’t seem to hear when people enter the room or even your home, doesn’t react to noise like he used to, hearing loss is one possibility.
Other signs his hearing may be affected
- He shakes his head a lot
- Doesn’t know you’re in the room unless he sees you or you touch him
- Paws at his ears
- Barks more than usual
- Sleeps much more soundly
Drop some keys behind him and see how he reacts. Does he turn his head? Do his ears move? Does he turn around at some point – how quickly or slowly?
What, you expected something more high tech?
Treatment and prevention
I’m afraid there’s not a lot you can do about hearing loss as a result of aging. What you can do is make sure you have his ears checked during his twice yearly checkups, and ask your vet if you should be cleaning your dog’s ears regularly, how and with what product.
If he has an infection or something similar that is causing the hearing loss, treating it may resolve it.
Here is a link to an in-depth post about this issue, with lots of helpful information including how to communicate with a dog suffering from partial or total hearing loss.
Another possible reason your dog is “ignoring” you is confusion, or more accurately doggie dementia or canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).
Dementia in dogs, as in humans, causes confusion and your dog may not understand what you’re asking of him. My senior dog Red suffers from dementia and when she’s having a bit of an episode where she’s circling, it’s like she can’t hear me.
Signs of dementia
It’s unlikely ignoring you is the only sign of dementia, it just may be the other signs are less obvious – especially if you didn’t realise dogs could get dementia. Some other ones include:
- Circling, usually in one direction (vestibular disease could make the circling worse)
- Getting stuck in corners, behind doors, under or behind furniture
- Having accidents in the house
- Having trouble eating
Treatment and prevention
There are two drugs typically prescribed for dementia – Selgian in the UK and Anipryl in the U.S. There are also several “natural” treatments used with success by many. If you’d like to learn more about possible alternatives, I recommend you speak to a holistic vet.
Based on my own experience, seriously consider starting your dog on the dementia medication, then feel free to investigate other options. At least you’ve gotten him/her started on something faster acting, then alternatives can be added if you wish. I noticed a change in Red within just a few days of taking Selgian.
Providing your dog with mental stimulation such as games and puzzles, can help keep the brain active. A healthy lifestyle with a wholesome nutritious diet can help our pets either stave off some of these conditions, or at least be in better shape to handle them.
To learn more about dementia, including how I care for my dog…
READ THIS ⇒ All About Dementia in Dogs
READ THIS ⇒ How I Care For Red Who Has Dog Dementia
Why does my dog ignore me – conclusion
Keeping an eye on your dog and calling attention to even the slightest changes in behaviour, can go a long way to nipping a problem in the bud. A problem caught earlier is certainly easier to deal with.
Your vet is an important partner in helping with the health and wellness of your dog, so call him with any concerns. Don’t be uncomfortable calling, feeling like you’re making a big deal out of nothing. I never hesitate to call my vet’s office when I know something is off with Red. I know her well enough to realise when something isn’t right, and I’m always right. I could say “unfortunately” but I also know a problem caught early stands a much better chance of being treated, or at least managed.
What signs or behaviour changes have you noticed in your dog? What conclusion did your vet come to, and what’s been decided in terms of treatment and care? Sharing helps others so please leave your comments below, or on my Facebook page.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.