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BrittClarke

Sudden biting. Psychological issue?

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I like all the advice given above but have a another couple ideas to throw out there.

Declan has had his world turned upside down. What seems to you as an easy transition. Might not be for him.

I'd still be looking at pain but...

I have a 5 month old puppy. She is as friendly as can be. When she gets over tired she directs a sort of agressive plaything with her mother. Growling harshly and trying to bite her with meanness. Her mom just walks away and goes to where Nanny can't get to her. She will then come flying over to me acting like she wants to play or be petted. But she is all riled up and will growl and try to bite at my hand, again way to hard. If it's play, it's way to rough. As of now I correct her (say her name harshly and tell her to knock it off and make her lie down for a rest. She gets up a few hours later back to her angle self.

But Declan might be on sorta of semipermanent overdrive given his surroundings being in a sort of holding pattern of stress. Mostly he manages but sometimes he might be over whelmed or tired.

I read Nanny's body language and kinda know when it's going to happen.

Is your father one of his play buddies most of the time? If So could he be more likely to snap at his buddy? And his age is right at another fear stage...could be confusing him more.

If you can see the trigger starting to happen and if you watch close I'll bet he's giving a sign you just haven't seen it yet, have him go to his crate before it happens. Not as punishment but happily with a treat for a nap or a calm down period.

Best advise I've read up above since we don't really know what is wrong is to not give ace....ever...bad drug!

Omt...I have an old dog who I got at 5 weeks old, (long story too) he has never been "right" on his reactions to stress. Although he has never snapped at a human, his social skills are a mess when it comes to other dogs. He is old, he is much more manageable now but the most important thing I learned is when he's upset or "freaked out" I never yell or sternly correct. I redirect and it works perfectly for him. When I got angry or scarred it was like I was telling him to mirror me and it was very ugly.

There is hope no matter what. Tomorrow is a new day for all of you!

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An update for you guys: I've been trying to get an episode on video the past couple of days, but even with a little bit of pushing, we've had no instances of even a snarl. His appetite also seems to have increased (it changed a bit after we moved here, but he would eat at night, so we weren't too worried--figured he was just too excited to play) in the past couple of days. We'll see how the next days leading up to his vet visit go.

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Not trying to be contrary at all, but wondering . . . wouldn't you want to have a pretty firm diagnosis before you'd start looking into a rehab vet?

 

Especially if it isn't pain but something else, possibly neurological, or anything other than pain, it seems to me that a rehab vet might be barking up the wrong tree.

 

Just thinking out loud here. . . .

Yes, yes and yes....A diagnosis is a very important part of any medical condition and sadly gets overlooked all too often when it comes to treatment...especially in regards to orthopedic conditions.

 

I hope you figure out what is going on with your boy. It may not be an easy process but if you've ruled out any medical conditions you can at least start behavior modification.

 

 

I agree that some sort of dysfunction of neurologic process should not be overlooked.

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I wouldn't throw money at veterinary investigation until the behavioural aspect had been fully considered. Go for the easiest option first.

 

Someone earlier mentioned the possibility of his going through a fear period and I agree that this could be an explanation, and the upheaval in his life won't have helped.

 

Dogs can be conflicted in their interactions with us - they appear to want physical contact but then find it too stressful, especially when it involves what to a dog is a threatening approach over the head.

 

If a dog doesn't want to be petted don't do it. Get advice as to how to desensitise your dog to touch and how to use non threatening body language. Avoid anything þhat involves confrontation.

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Thank you guys very much for your continued attention to our boy!

Update 8/20: Today as I was working with Declan, I could tell he was a little less thrilled about it than he had been the past couple of days. We've been doing only the most basic training at this point: treating for behaving well when pet. I've been suspicious of some sort of sensitivity about his front limbs, so I begin with petting his rear, then his back, his belly, his head, and his neck--no reaction. The very first time I tried to pet and treat for his front limbs, he gave a pretty good snarl.

We'll have him on Rimadyl for the next few days leading up to his appointment with our regular vet, and his activity is going to be very limited. We'll see if that makes any difference.

 

Update 8/26: Our appointment with the vet was yesterday. THANK GOODNESS he reacted in front of the vet this time. We told him about our honing in on the front limbs, so he and an associate sat down with him and manipulated the front paws a bit--that's when he started the growling. I thought, "There we go! It hurts him!" But our vet looked up at me and said, "I'm not even petting pressure on. His pupils are dilated; he's terrified." He continued to move toe-to-toe without any pressure as Declan's behavior escalated. Then he moved to the back limbs--no reaction. Moved back to the front limbs--no reaction this time. He didn't suspect Declan was feeling any pain, only fear. So we got x-rays done of his front paws, and they confirmed his suspicion that nothing was wrong with them.

My heart sank, because I'm dying to put a name to what's going on with him and because I knew that if it was a physiological problem the experience at the vet would probably set him back. And it seems to have. He's snapped at me a couple of times in the last 24-hours since the vet visit, breaking a streak of 4-days. The vet has upped him on Clomicalm and wants me to keep him on Rimadyl--both for the next 2 weeks before we decide the next step.

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Hey, friends. I could use some input. (See last update of previous post.)

I'm worried about the setback with Declan's snapping when pet. Again, it's not all the time even now, but it is much, much worse (more frequent and more intense) since his vet visit yesterday morning--no question about that.

Do those of you with more experience suspect that if we get back on the progress track that seemed to be working before the visit he will once again improve? Or might this be a more permanent setback? It's quite upsetting seeing him like this. It breaks my heart every time.

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I would be inclined if you are rather sure it is fear and not pain to be careful of your reaction to his snarling and attempting to bit. You want to send him the correct signals and that is that biting is not acceptable. If you are pulling your hand away or reacting quickly you may reinforce his behavior. He may be thinking " ok I dont feel like being touched and if I growl I get my way" I would lightly hold his front leg, paw until he is still and quiet. He does not get me to let go until then.

 

He is at the right age for shoulder OCD, also can be in elbows. Some lesions are small and not all vets see them. If he is limping at all without the noninflammatory I would check that.

 

It is possible his dislike of paws being touched started simply by being stepped on. If there is something that most dogs do not like it is their feet held and nails trimmed. Some to the point of needing a muzzle, others need sedation. It is the single most common thing I would say. Most of the dogs can be taught to be still and allow it but you can't give in to their tantrum or they win. Some are calmer laying on their side, some take two people one holding and one playing with his toes.

Even if it started as pain it can become behavioral.

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Before risking getting bitten you may want to start by touching your dog's feet and foreleg gently with an extension of your hand to begin with eg a stick or spoon with a padded end. You can get false hands on a stick for just that purpose.

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Thanks for the responses.

There's never been a limp or any sign of pain. It didn't seem too farfetched that he might be disguising it well, but after two trips to the vet and two thorough examinations with x-rays, I'm convinced it's not pain. Or if there is/was any pain, that's not the bigger issue.

 

I would be inclined if you are rather sure it is fear and not pain to be careful of your reaction to his snarling and attempting to bit. You want to send him the correct signals and that is that biting is not acceptable. If you are pulling your hand away or reacting quickly you may reinforce his behavior. He may be thinking " ok I dont feel like being touched and if I growl I get my way" I would lightly hold his front leg, paw until he is still and quiet. He does not get me to let go until then.

 

I actually use an oven mitt if I feel I'm at risk and have to touch him somehow, because if I do get a snap I don't want to have to jump away. Usually, though, I meet him when he's happy with treats. Your suggestion about letting go when he calms is good, though. I think that would be doable for us. He's also getting good at hand targeting, so maybe these small things will do some good over the next 2 weeks.

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Britt, he might have gotten pinched or shocked, (like from the human walking across a rug in cold dry weather) accidentally when his legs were touched. So, it might not be a current hurt, but the memory/fear of that same pain recurring when he is touched there.

 

I'd recommend going with the 'keep trying to touch his front legs' approach. You can touch, very softly, then remove your hand and reward. This might work. You could also use something else entirely, like a folded towel, to softly brush a front leg. Reward if he remains calm.

 

Try using a long handled wooden spoon, or dowel rod if you suspect he might have been shocked accidentally.

 

If he gets worse with these approaches, then go back to the medical possibilities. Good luck!

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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The past couple of days have been bad. I didn't want to do it, but I went out and got a nylon muzzle for training. I wasn't comfortable leaving my hand exposed anymore. Surprisingly, he didn't freak out about it. With a little clicking and treating for cooperating while I slid it on, he did just fine.

 

He's definitely more reactive to being pet by the oven mitt and long, wooden back scratcher we've tried. He wouldn't tolerate a light touch anywhere with either, so I tossed them aside and went back to my hand. I suppose after the terror of the mitt and spoon my hand seemed great, because he laid there quietly with his muzzle on while I scratched his belly. He definitely didn't seem to like it, but he didn't react, so FINALLY I had the opportunity to click and treat for the right behavior. Then the muzzle came off, and he continued performing tricks happily. It was nice to finally end on a good note.

That was just round one, though. I'll keep updating on our progress.

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I might do that if I expect him to wear it for any long period of time, but at this point it's just for 10 minutes (or so) of training, and I'm not exactly wanting him to be thrilled about it. I don't want him to fear it, but my intention is to reward him by removing it (coupled with treats) when he relaxes while I'm petting him. It seemed to work well today. And he can still take bits of cheese through it for smaller victories, which I like.

I highly considered the basket muzzle, though, so I am definitely not discounting that if he ends up needing it for longer periods of time or if the nylon one doesn't work out.

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Yeah, that makes sense. Gabe's not great at the vet (hasn't tried to bite, but definitely looks so not happy he ends up with a nylon muzzle on just in case). We're working on muzzle training with a basket muzzle to avoid the trigger stacking that comes with him being already hyped up about the vet, and then having his mouth clamped shut. I'm okay with him being thrilled about it, because it's better than being upset by it. Plus, you might get a better idea of what kind of signs of stress he's showing before he goes to snap- lip licking, yawning, etc. which might help you stop before he gets over his limit, and can help him learn that you'll stop before he needs to tell you to. Good luck on working through this!

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This might not even be the same thing but I've had several male dogs who thought they were a really big deal and they didn't like being messed with. Especially their feet. I'm afraid my response was a really loud "Knock that shit off"-wop. If my dogs snap at me and there isn't a good reason like they are in pain or scared to death of something I come down really hard and fast.

I would never do that with someone else's dog. But my own dogs are not going to snap at me.

 

But my dogs have really good temperaments and they take corrections really well. They know there are just some things I'm not going to put up with and they know by the tone of my voice that they better start paying attention.

 

That would not work with dogs with real temperament problems. And the people who stated it could make things worse are completely correct.

.

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We have a club member who has been advised by others to take that line. It has progressed to biting from just warning.

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^^ And that's the danger with using that approach.

 

Regardless of how you feel about positive or correction based methods, there's a very real risk of applying corrections to a dog exhibiting aggression. It's a good way to teach him that he's got good reason to be defensive.

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I apologize for updating so frequently, but the input and support from each of you is invaluable.

In earlier posts I believe I mentioned that Declan likes to sleep under our bed sometimes. He'll go under there during the day for a nap or at night to wind down with us before going into his crate. A month ago when this all began he got in a good snap when I went to lead him out from under the bed to get him to his crate for the night. Since then he's been left on his leash when he goes under there, and we just nudge him out with the leash when it's time for bed. That had been working just fine for the past month, but last night, for the first time, he growled when my husband gave the leash the little tap to get him to come. That is the first time he's ever growled over something over than being pet.

For a little context information, we haven't been pushing him (hardly petting him at all) for the past 5 days because the increased dose of the Clomicalm is making him very tired. We're waiting for that to adjust in his system before we get to working with him again.

If this growling under the bed was just an isolated situation it wouldn't be so concerning to me. My concern is that his larger problem is escalating. And perhaps it's not really a fear thing? What would you make of it?

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I have forgotten certain particulars that may cause me to come to incorrect advice, but it sounds like you have tried very hard. Things are not working, and Declan may be regressing. (Very hard to say over the internet.)

 

At this point, I might be thinking something medical (and I believe you have had certain tests performed? thyroid? - but it must be done by Dr. Jean Dodds, not by the lab used by your general vet) -- or perhaps his 'sensitivities' may be genetic, in which case, I am so very sorry.

 

Have you consulted with a veterinary behaviorist? And I would want such a person to come to my home to observe how Declan and the family are interacting.

 

One specific thought I had from your latest post: I would also have kept a leash on a dog to bring him to or from places if I was unsure of behavior, but have you tried luring him from under the bed with treats, rather than (gently) pulling on the leash? Will he respond to that technique?

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I have forgotten certain particulars that may cause me to come to incorrect advice, but it sounds like you have tried very hard. Things are not working, and Declan may be regressing. (Very hard to say over the internet.)

 

At this point, I might be thinking something medical (and I believe you have had certain tests performed? thyroid? - but it must be done by Dr. Jean Dodds, not by the lab used by your general vet) -- or perhaps his 'sensitivities' may be genetic, in which case, I am so very sorry.

 

Have you consulted with a veterinary behaviorist? And I would want such a person to come to my home to observe how Declan and the family are interacting.

 

One specific thought I had from your latest post: I would also have kept a leash on a dog to bring him to or from places if I was unsure of behavior, but have you tried luring him from under the bed with treats, rather than (gently) pulling on the leash? Will he respond to that technique?

 

I keep reading about thyroid-related aggression, and it sounds like him, but since the vet ran his blood and said 'no' I guess I discounted that. What is the likelihood that our general vet would miss it? I'm certainly willing to get it sent off to CA, but I feel like I'm just shooting money blindly in all different directions at this point.

 

Declan does have some of the signs of a dysfunctioning thyroid, but no weight gain, no lethargy (until the increase of Clomicalm), and if anything his appetite has decreased. He does drink a TON (always has), has the dull/ashy appearance to the fur underneath his tail and under his hind legs (again always had that), and just recently we noticed he's been shedding like mad, way more than he ever has, and he is very itchy. I'm trying not to "create" symptoms in my mind, though.

 

And to the coaxing him out from under the bed with treats, that does work. That is the method we have to use when we forget to leash him, but it takes a little while, so the leash has been the preferred method.

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I totally understand where you are coming from - as in, am I just throwing money down the drain with yet another test?

 

I mention Dr. Dodds, not because of any personal experience, but because I have read several stories on these Boards of dogs that had 'normal' thyroid test levels, but when the blood sample was tested by Dr. Dodds, the test result was different.

 

I hope someone else can pipe up and throw some light on this issue, i.e. the accuracy of the Dr. Dodd's testing protocol and its diagnostic helpfulness.

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What is the likelihood that our general vet would miss [low thyroid]?

 

Umm. Honestly, I don't think it's all that far fetched. I've seen it happen too many times.

 

Do you know exactly what they ran? Was it the full thyroid panel? Who interpreted the results?

 

I just wrote in another thread about a friend whose dog was exhibiting what I suspected was thyroid related aggression. She asked the vet about it and he kinda dismissed it, for one thing because the dog was very lean and didn't show any other signs. He humored her and ran a test, which he said was normal. Turns out he only ran T4.

 

I encouraged her to have another sample drawn and have it sent to Dr. Dodds. Guess what? The dog was hypothyroid. She began treating him and now he's fine. (I will give her vet credit. He learned from this experience and didn't just blow it off.)

 

Too many vets don't run the full panel and some don't know how to interpret it even if they do.

 

Another problem is the "low normal" range -- it's actually low! People run into the same problem with this. My GP kept telling me my thyroid was fine, low normal, but I later found out it wasn't. I asked my endocrinologist why they don't change the ranges to reflect this and he told me it's a political thing. Seriously!? So much for science. :wacko:

 

So if I were you, I'd consider having a sample sent to Dr. Dodds. It would be such an easy thing to treat if that's what's causing this, although with some dogs there's a bit of difficulty figuring out the right dose. But Dodds is very supportive through that process if it is.

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Thanks, guys. That was very, very helpful. Our vet is going to call us on Tuesday to check in, so I'll discuss thyroid with him again and see if we can get that checked out.

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