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Natashja

Help - senior dog becoming aggressive

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Natashja   

It’s been about 10 years since I last posted on DOL. My formerly young Mini Poodle has now become an elder gentleman and for the last decade has lived with my parents (we moved overseas and couldn’t take him).

 

While for the most part he’s now a spritely 12.5 year old there have been some concerning changes in behaviour that recently resulted in him baring teeth and growling at my 2 year old nephew, and on Tuesday snapping at both my 4 year old daughter and then later at me. While he’s always been a dominant personality, the growling and snapping is entirely out of character for him.

 

When he snapped at my daughter it was completely unprovoked and there had been no cues from him that he was anxious, uncomfortable or being threatened in any way. My daughter was standing still, was quiet and calm - it was literally out of the blue. 

 

He lunged and snapped at me when I removed him from the room (told him to leave, then used my voice and body to get him to go), and reached down to touch his collar when we were in a different part of the house. 

 

Anyway, I’m just back from the vet who has done bloods,  noticed some arthritis in his mid and lower back and in his left hip. He’s been put on weekly injections for the next month as well as glucosamine and chondritin supplements. I’m hoping that this may offer some arthritis relief but I’m concerned it won’t improve his behaviour. 

 

The big issue is that the dog lives with and is for all intents and purposes now my parent’s dog. They’re in their 70s and it’s going to be an uphill battle to get them to work with a behaviourist. They treat the dog like a child and I believe this has something to do with the shift in behaviour. 

 

My biggest concern is that if this thing isn’t nipped in the bud (pardon the pun) the dog could wind up hurting someone.

 

For now I’ve insisted that the dog be physically separated from any of the grandchildren when they visit (ie. if they’re inside, he’s outside or locked in the other side of the house) and that he is not walked anywhere that there are people. 

 

I wondered if any of you have had to go through a similar thing? How did you deal with it?

 

Is there a sensitive behaviourist who has worked with older/elderly human and dog clients who could do a home visit? 12 years ago Steve at K9 Pro was an enormous help to me and I liked his style but I’m not sure how receptive my folks might be.

 

Apologies for the long post and thanks for any advice or recommendations. 

 

I’m absolutely besides myself!

Edited by Natashja
Grammar!

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:(  I am wondering if it is a more organic problem ..like senility ...an eye problem, or a hearing problem .

Ageing  in any animal can result in all sorts of processes not working as they should ...sending odd messages ...misinterpreting what IS seen/heard/smelt ..
There is also the possibility of  a growth somewhere .... 

Pain can be a factor ..glucosamine & that sort of thing take weeks to help, if they are going to .Hope whatever else the vet is using will help with the actual pain . 
Is your vet interested in /a specialist in geriatric  dogs? maybe a second opinion  with someone who is  would be a plan ? 

and sensible management seems a very wise idea .Well Done .
Make sure  though,Old dog is comfortable ..has all his usual  treats etc ....& is kept calm ..he's obviously not feeling happy or comfortable .
 

Edited by persephone
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Natashja   

I thought it could be ears or vision too but the vet checked both and they are in tip top form (although there is some nuclear sclerosis). 

 

I didn’t realise there are canine geriatric specialists. Any recommendations for someone in Sydney?

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Horrible predicament to be in.  You seem to have all the medical issues addressed so keeping everyone safe when you visit would now be the consideration.  With one little dog, this is pretty easy.  For his safety and that of the children, make sure he is in a separate room or confined somewhere.  But it would need to be somewhere where he can see what is going on.  There isn’t anything much more stressful for a dog who is used to being involved in everything to be suddenly shut away on his own.  

 

As for your parents’ ages ...... I am early 70s and have four elderly dogs myself, really elderly with the youngest being nearly 15 and oldest nearly 18, so don’t let your parents use age as an excuse to do nothing :) :).  It can be hard, I acknowledge, but eternal vigilance and all that.  One of my dogs has a tendency to snap when I try to wipe his eyes so whereas before I would happily let the neighbour children surround us, sit on the ground and pat the dogs, I either avoid a gathering of them or if I can’t, I watch very very carefully and tell them not to touch his face.  They are all old enough to understand.    

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Natashja   
11 hours ago, Rebanne said:

buy a crate that the dog can go into and still be part of the action.

I agree! He had a crate - my parents refused to use it when the dog went to live with them and in the intervening years got rid of it. I’m afraid there’s no winning that battle :(

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Natashja   
On 15/09/2018 at 10:11 AM, Dame Danny's Darling said:

As for your parents’ ages ...... I am early 70s and have four elderly dogs myself, really elderly with the youngest being nearly 15 and oldest nearly 18, so don’t let your parents use age as an excuse to do nothing :) :).  It can be hard, I acknowledge, but eternal vigilance and all that. 

I want to try and manage the situation so I don’t end up putting either my child at risk or needing to give them an ultimatum. No one wins with either option unfortunately. Everything you have said is fair and logical, I need strategies for dealing with what unfortunately is an emotional issue as much as a practical one. 

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3 hours ago, Natashja said:

I agree! He had a crate - my parents refused to use it when the dog went to live with them and in the intervening years got rid of it. I’m afraid there’s no winning that battle :(

If you and your parents see this situation as a battle, then there is going to be one loser and one who doesn’t even know there is a battle ........  the dog.   :(  :(  

 

12.5 years isn’t all that old for a Toy Poodle, many live into their late teens and often longer.  I adopted one when he was nearly 17 and he lived very happily and well for another three years.    As you say the snapping and growling is something new, I’d be taking the veterinary investigations further.  

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Doesn't sound like dementia - there are usually earlier signs hard to miss - spaced out, dislike crossing threshholds, any un-usual behaviour not part of sight and/or hearing fading.  I agree it's basically a family emotional issue as you say, might be a pain management need - along with general management.  And I don't like the age of parents made a part of the problem, with the crate being ditched long ago it sounds like they have always had their fixed ideas, nothing to do with age.  (I'm in my late seventies, and get snotty when people, anyone, plays the 'age card' - it's no reason or excuse for being inflexible or bloody minded - people are what they are).

 

Hope you can sort it with least stress all round Natashja, glad you thought of Steve right away. 

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Rebanne   

tell your parents you will no longer be visiting with your child unless dog is in a crate.

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Dogsfevr   

To be honest this doesn't sound that concerning.You have an old dog who is now bombarded with toddlers,running around & an expectation it should just deal with .

I get the impression you expect the dog to just resume to its normal way of life now your back & it isn't.
Its lived a nice quiet lifestyle with two people & hasn't had to share its home with such over stimulating intruders aka little people .
This is not about the age of your parents  YOU ALL have to change your mindset & the fact you say lock the dog away shows that & doesn't show alot of feeling for the the poor dog who is obviously feeling anxiety/discomfort  even if you cant see it or want to see it.
Get a puppy pen ,dog sits in that when your there KIDS learn to not touch or go near the dog .It is unfair to just shut an old dog outside to suit you .
12.5 is old in any breed ,how each dog ages is a factor & lifestyle ,hearing,eye sight
Plenty of dogs live daily without a crate & thrive  & i agree with the other poster to imply age is an issue with your parents is not very nice ,you may be younger but it doesn't mean your ways are any better either .
You need to meet in the middle ,not demand


 

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