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My almost 12-year-old Dachshund mix has been sleeping in my bed his entire life, along with my cat, but about six months ago he started jumping off the bed whenever I got in to go to sleep, and now he goes to sleep on the couch. I can't think of anything that has changed that would cause him to do this, and honestly, it kind of hurts my feelings. What would be the cause of this sort of change in behavior?
Since I am approaching your question primarily from a trainer's perspective, I will assume that you have already ruled out any type of physiological, neurological, or other health problems by discussing the situation with your veterinarian. This is especially important since he is nearly 12 years old.
So, what could be the cause of this behavior change? You said that you could not think of anything that would cause the change, but let me step into your dog's shoes (his paws, really) for a moment and give you some not-so-obvious (and yes, remote) possibilities. Scents: Has there been a change to the laundry detergent or fabric softener? Has your room been painted? Are you using any different personal hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant)? Is there anything different with your floor (new carpet, refinished wood)? Sights: Have you changed the lighting (incandescent, LED, fluorescent)? Have you moved the lighting, added new, or removed any lights? Have you added a TV to your room? Have you rearranged anything in the room that would be in his line of sight? Sounds? Has there been any electrical work in or around your room (including the lighting or internet service)? Do you snore? Other? What is your activity just prior to going to bed that might cause a change in your room, where he would not want to stay? Is there anything different about the cat?
Again, those are remote possibilities, provided as "food for thought." But in the absence of any definitive stimulus that would prompt his behavioral change, what can you do? I would suggest either taking him for a walk or playing with him for a while just before bedtime. Of course, you know best what level of activity is appropriate and will be just enough to get him tired. He may sleep soundly with you just as he did prior to six months ago. Whatever the reason, I am pretty sure that he is not doing it to hurt your feelings. So, make sure you give him a scratch behind the ears, a belly rub, or whatever he likes best, each night before you go to sleep.
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(This content was taken from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "Ask A Trainer" column, published the last Saturday of each month in the 4Paws section.)
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