As dogs age, they can develop symptoms similar to dementia in humans. It is termed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or CCD. Dogs with CCD can show a variety of symptoms. These include forgetting how to do simple tasks such as how to climb stairs; or they may forget how to back up and get stuck in a corner. Another common symptom is becoming fearful. Because the dog is fearful, their personality can change causing them to growl or bite. Many dogs will also develop a fear of the dark. These dogs often pace restlessly at night.
There are medications available that will slow the progression of CCD, but similar to humans, there is no cure. The best treatment is our understanding of these changes and doing the best we can to accommodate them. For instance, if the dog has grown fearful, we can try to minimize the amount of stress in their lives. One example, would be allow them a safe place to go if there are small children in the house. If they have grown fearful of the dark, give them a nightlight. Also, they will need patience and understanding for when they grow forgetful.
Geriatric dogs can be a challenge. Our dogs give us unconditional love and the least we can do is give them our patience and understanding as they age.