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Strange change in behaviour

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by iainw77, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Hi All
    Looking for some advice. We have a 2 year old welsh sheep dog. Up until today he has enjoyed a fuss but has snapped at anyone who tries to stroke him since we got home today.
    The odd thing is he wants to play as usual and does not seem ill or anything, but if we sit down he will come over wagging his tail and put his head in my lap or try and lick my face or nudge my hand as though he wants some fuss or a stroke but the moment I try and stroke him no matter how or where he tries to bite me.
    Any ideas? Thoughts?
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    With a sudden change of behaviour like this, it is best to have a vet check him over. He may be in pain and want the comforting but at the same time be scared you are going to catch his sore part.
     
  3. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Thanks for the response. We have booked him to see the vet tomorrow. However, if he was in pain I would have thought it would affect him playing. I just took him a walk and he played fetch as normal
     
  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    On a walk, he's distracted, and he's in control, whereas if someone touches him, he's less sure what they might do. (Though he's not twigged yet that if he doesn't want you to stroke him, he shouldn't put his head in your hands.) Pain is a funny thing, what feels OK in one context doesn't in another.

    Another thing to consider is whether something might have happened to put him off being stroked/petted, but this might be impossible to work out - maybe he got a static shock when someone stroked him, which has now spooked him.
     
  5. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Thanks both, this morning he was really excited to see me as usual, I didn’t try and stroke him since we have not determined what is wrong. We went out for a walk, all normal, when we got back and I took his lead off he nipped at me again. Hopefully the visit to the vet this afternoon will help us understand what is going on.
     
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Good luck - let us know how it goes.
     
    leashedForLife likes this.
  7. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    The vet could find nothing wrong with him physically, but said that he seemed anxious judging by his body language. She said there is no sign of aggression but something was bothering him.
    She has given him a pheromone collar to try and relax him. I have sat with him for a while and stroked him without him nipping at me, so fingers crossed
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Have you heard of the five-second rule? You stroke the dog for five seconds, then stop. If - and only if - he initiates further contact by nudging you or similar, you stroke for another five seconds then stop. Again, you repeat only if he asks. Continue for as long as he asks but if he stops asking, you stop petting. This puts him in control of the petting and because he can choose to stop it, he will feel more in control and therefore more confident.
     
  9. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Thanks, it sounds logical. I will give it a go.
     
  10. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Well he has me confused. Took him for a walk this morning and he was fine, when I got home and held out my hand he growled at me, he also growled at my wife and daughter. I have just been sat with him and he would not stop trying to lick my hands and face and climbing on me, if I stopped stroking him he would nuzzle my hand for more strokes. Now everyone is on edge since they don’t know which way he will be.
     
  11. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I would guess he's confused - something has really upset him that means (a) he wants your love and reassurance but also (b) he's scared of being touched.

    Is there any indication that it's a specific area that's bothering him? e.g. is he happy to have a nice bum scratch but not to be approached from the front?

    Do you groom him regularly and does he usually enjoy it? If so, this might be a way in to touching him but letting him know he's in command - so show him the brush, if he's happy, a quick brush on the rump and then stop... and gradually build up, following @JoanneF's 5-second rule, building his confidence and maybe getting an indication of which part of his body he's worried about.

    Is he eating OK? Could he have toothache?

    The vet might want to give him some pain relief - if he seems better on this, it would suggest that there is something causing pain rather than that he's suddenly developed a fear.

    I hope you can get to the bottom of it - it must be very worrying.
     
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  12. JenniWDog

    JenniWDog Member Registered

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    If you can, try and get some video. I’m just wondering if it might be some kind of seizure. Maybe he comes over to you for reassurance when he feels it coming on and then reacts as it’s happening. Is he making any other repetitive movements?
     
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  13. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    This is a great idea - a simple way to rule out pain (or not) so you can start to look for other causes if necessary.
     
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  14. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    We have had some pain killers from the vet and gave him some this morning, hopefully we will see some benefit from that.
    Watching him and thinking about it, I think something is making him nervous or anxious, or at least his body language indicates this. I’m trying to figure out what might have changed to cause this so we can address it and get his confidence back.
    Thanks for the advice from you all, it’s really helpful!
     
  15. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    I will try and video him and post it, I don’t feel it’s a seizure though. He does not really make any unusual repetitive movements.
    He shows traits of being anxious, low posture, ears back, yawning and licking his lips etc, I need to get to the bottom of this I think.
     
  16. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I read about one dog who showed unexplained signs of anxiety which turned out to be a burglar alarm emitting a regular high-frequency beep, very close to the dog's bed. Has there been any electrical changes in your house, or even a neighbour's? Does it happen more in one room of the house than others? Or in someone else's house? What if you pet him on a walk?

    No need to answer all these - the more seemingly unlikely things you consider, the more likely it is that something might, eventually, make sense.
     
    JoanneF likes this.
  17. Biker John

    Biker John Well-Known Member Registered

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    Their is also association, for example my girl up until a couple of months ago was not bothered by the TV at all, but I put it on once a bit early for what I wanted and their was a silly game show on with a stupid woman blowing a whistle. Folly did not like the sound and left the room. I switched it off and waited till I was sure the daft thing had ended. But since then she is still bothered a bit when the TV is on, she stays in the room but looks up when any loud noise comes on, she is slowly getting more relaxed but she obviously still remembers.
     
  18. iainw77

    iainw77 New Member Registered

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    Hi All, I think it has something to do with anxiety separation and also strangers in the house. I have been making mental notes when he growls or nips. It occurs mostly when we just get back home from work or school or when strangers come to visit. For example he has been his normal self with us all weekend, no growling or nipping. As soon as anyone he is unfamiliar visits he will growl at them, but only if they hold their hand out to him.
    If I am right, I will continue to monitor, how do I go about dealing with his?
    We have a few visitors, family, friend, children’s friends etc and I don’t want our house to become a place to avoid because people are conscious the dog will be growling at them... or worse.
     
  19. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Make him a safe place - a room, a crate, a den under a table. Get him used to spending time in there - maybe give him a bone or frozen kong. Then when people can come over he can go in there with something to occupy him, and hopefully feel safe. It also stops him coming up to people he's anxious about and then growling/snapping - the more he does this, the more it will become habit.

    I'm not sure why he does it when you come home - maybe just because of the anxiety he's felt while you're out. When you come home, keep it low key until he seems more himself. I would record him - video if possible, audio if not - so you can see if he shows anxiety when he's left. If he does seem anxious, there's an excellent booklet called I'll Be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell which can help. There's also a behaviourist - https://www.thecanineconsultants.co.uk/ - who can monitor your dog remotely and give you all the support and advice you need.
     
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  20. Poodlepal

    Poodlepal New Member Registered

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    Given that there is a risk you dog might bite a visitor and that could be extremely serious even if he doesn't cause any particular damage, I would strongly recommend you seek the advice and support of a really good behaviourist. Be very careful in who you choose to approach if you do this though as the world of dog training and behaviourism is unregulated and there are folk out there offering services that are not always as good as they might be. When dealing with a dog who has bitten even when no damage has been caused it's really is critical that any behaviour modification is done very carefully to avoid making the problem ant worse.
    I'm a dog trainer and a member of a reputable professional body. If my dog behaved as you have described I would want to consult a behaviourist and would take video with me. It's really good to get someone outside of your own situation to look with fresh eyes at what is happening.
    Good luck whatever you choose to do. It's clear you are concerned for your dog and I hope it's all resolved quickly and as easily as it can.
     
    leashedForLife likes this.

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