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Canine Behavior/Senior Maltese


Hello Melissa,

I have read your bio but I do not see where it states you do not answer private questions. So I am resubmitting my problem and question.

I work with a rescue in my area. I was ask to foster a senior male Maltese, Charlie. He is 10 years old and not neutered or house-trained. This Maltese came from a breeder.

I honestly do not know if this is a medical issue or behavior but I am starting with you. I have spoken with the vet that works with our rescue and he did not seem that concerned over this as with the other medical issues happening.

Charlie walks around in circles. He moves from room to room in my house and it is in circles. When he sleeps it is in a spot that he has laid down from walking in circles. He will rest for a few minutes and get back up walking in circles.

Having been owned by dogs, cats, and especially bunnies I know this is not normal behavior. I do not know if it is an anxiety issue or something else.

What can I do to help this dog? I have tried placing him in an exercise pen but he kept walking in circles. None of the other dogs or cats I foster have ever done anything similar to this. I am at a loss on how to help. If he was unfriendly that would just take time but circling is new to me. The only time he stops walking in circles is to eat (canned food only, he has no teeth), has a bowel movement, or hike's his leg.

None of the other animals bother Charlie and lets him do what he wants. The cats and dogs just walk around him. And my bunnies just sit and watch him like he is crazy. I swear I get dizzy watching him sometimes.

I would love to help in so he could find a forever home but right now I honestly do not think that is possible.

Just one question. What can I do to help this amazing little guy.

Thanks for everything

Suzie aka KyBunnies

Hi, Suzie. I apologize if somehow I didn't get your original message. And to answer short and sweet, I have a client with a dog that acts the exact same way and it seems to be simply put as literally going senile. That's the only way to explain it. There is no rhyme or reason other than old age. There is really nothing you can do accommodate him, just let him be and make sure he cannot hurt himself.

Thank you for getting in touch with me and feel free to respond back with any other thoughts or questions.  

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Melissa Burg, RVT/Behavior Consultant


I have experience with multiple obedience issues, including anxiety, different types of aggression, introductions to a new pet and basic obedience situations, such as housebreaking, excessive leash pulling and excessive barking. There are several approaches to each behavior issue, depending on the animal's environment, as well as the breed, sex and age. I can also help you decide whether the problem sounds medical or behavioral.


I recently graduated with a Veterinary Technician degree with an emphasis in behavior and obedience training. I spent 5 years working in animal shelters where I trained shelter dogs in basic obedience and corrected behavior issues and educated adopting owners how to continue the training at home.

"Pawfect Pets;" a weekly column on canine and feline health and behavior tips.

Associate's Degree in Veterinary Technology from Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

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