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Old dog question

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wifehad5 posted 12/15/2013 10:39 AM

When my Dad died last year we adopted his one year old cat and his 14 year old dog. Ace is an English Setter that my Dad got when he was about 18 months old. We've spent a lot of time together, and are great friends. When my Dad came to visit, or we went to visit him Ace always came to me, and would climb up to sit on my lap. Nothing like a boney 50 lb. dog making himself comfortable on you

Where he lived, Ace used to run free. Not just a little, but all day. He loved to be outdoors and run. If you walked a mile, he'd run 5. The transition to our house was made a little easier in that he has slowed down considerably the past couple years. Heart problems and arthritis have taken their toll. His hearing and sight are going too. He spends most of his days on the couch now.

So to the purpose of this post. About 3 months ago his demeanor towards me changed. He appears to downright hate me. He sees me and starts growling. Not just a little, but he ramps it up puffing up his chest and making himself as imposing as possible, until he gets tired (which luckily doesn't take long).

I've tried everything. We put him on medication for the arthritis in case it was pain. I've tried showing him who's boss, I've tried ignoring him. He'll come up to me wagging, and then realize who I am and start with the growling. So far it's just me that he does this to. Nothing happened to start this. My big concern is that it's going to ramp up at some point, and with young kids in this house, that's not good.

Dog people, any ideas?

caregiver9000 posted 12/15/2013 10:45 AM

If his sight and hearing are going, he is at a disadvantage in his world. Is his spot on the couch a position that protects him on three sides? Just curious.

Maybe you smell weird? If he can't see or hear well, he is living even more in the scent world. Try carrying a dog treat in your pocket?

I would caution the kids to move slowly and not pop up out of nowhere. A blind deaf dog is easily startled.

Good luck. I hope you can get some answers! I commend your family for taking in the pets.

[This message edited by caregiver9000 at 10:46 AM, December 15th (Sunday)]

wifehad5 posted 12/15/2013 11:29 AM

You saying I smell?

That is a good point about the couch. It does protect him on 3 sides

We have warned the kids. There have been a couple of incidents that ultimately turned out OK, but they are very careful around him

debbysbaby posted 12/15/2013 12:01 PM

Well I'm sorry that your dog has entered this phase of his life. It could be that he is becoming senile. Dogs get dementia as well as people. I would also put some high-value treats in your pockets and make a habit of detouring by him and giving him a treat every time you go near him. Maybe you could recondition him to thinking of you as a pleasant person. I would caution against using any negative approach like "showing him who's boss". I think this is the time for totally positive reinforcement training. You don't want to give him more reasons to dislike you.

[This message edited by debbysbaby at 8:22 PM, December 15th (Sunday)]

DixieD posted 12/15/2013 12:12 PM

WH5,
Just some thoughts I had, are you the one giving him medication? Or any other procedure he may not like, so he's associated you with something unpleasant?

I also thought of smells, of another animal or chemicals or anything he wouldn't like.

Is it happening only around certain areas, such as the couch, that could be associated as his territory now?

Is it when you walk into the room? If his eyesight is going....ummm, you cast an intimidating shadow (no offense!), and he can't see it's you. Does he respond positively to your voice? If so, maybe talk to him when you enter the room.

He'll come up to me wagging, and then realize who I am and start with the growling.

This is the odd part. I agree with Debby about positive reinforcement and maybe he is going senile. But if you start to look for patterns of what happens just before he growls at you (does he sniff you, are you sitting or standing, is it in the same part of the house or all areas?), maybe you will see what his 'triggers' are, if any.

It's a shame, he's a cute little guy.

wifehad5 posted 12/15/2013 12:28 PM

Thanks for the feedback everyone

He's sleeping peacefully on the couch next to me now.

With regards to the medicine, this behavior started before we started him on the medicine. I do not give it to him. Usually BR or the kids do after he's eaten. He takes it like a treat, and seems to like it.

tushnurse posted 12/16/2013 14:27 PM

Seems something about you is offsetting to him. Do you use anything that has a strong odor to it, like BenGay, or Absorbine Jr, or even alcohol? All of these have amazingly strong scents for a dog. It may hurt his nose.

The only other thing I can think of, and non dog people will say I'm nuts, and I am, but do you sound like your dad? He may be confused as to dad's abscence,and your presence. Usually when they bristle and growl it's because they are frightened. IT's their way of saying I don't know what's going on, and I don't like it, so stay back.

Can you be the good guy and feed him and give him his treats to see if that changes his tune. I would be very leary having a dog like this around with kids. Even though he isn't huge he is big enough if he got pissed off and bit he could do some real damage.

(((and strength)))

wifehad5 posted 12/16/2013 14:56 PM

Nothing has changed scent-wise. I'm very sensitive to any perfumey type smells, and don't wear any cologne. No topical ointments either.

I do feed him and give him treats. As soon as they are gone, he goes back to snarling when he realizes I'm sitting next to him.

Catwoman posted 12/16/2013 15:39 PM

Get a blood panel done. Haywire thyroid levels can cause aggression like this.

Cat

TrulyReconciled posted 12/16/2013 15:53 PM

I only looked because I was *sure* this thread was about YOU

gardenparty posted 12/16/2013 19:12 PM

Have you been sick or changed YOUR medication lately. My friend from way back had a golden retriever that got mean at 9 years of age but only towards the father of the house. Turns out the father was quite sick and the dog sensed it.

million pieces posted 12/16/2013 20:01 PM

Nothing to add other than I am soooo happy that you took in a dog that old. You and your family are awesome

Bigger posted 12/17/2013 08:58 AM

Are you by any chance still wearing that chess dress when he growls at you?

wifehad5 posted 12/17/2013 12:29 PM

Bigger, you're not supposed to tell anyone

I'm on no medications, and recently saw the Dr and was given the all clear

nowiknow23 posted 12/17/2013 12:36 PM

(((Ace))) I don't have any dog advice, but I hope you are able to figure out what's going with him quickly, wh5. This has to be difficult for all of you to deal with.

wifehad5 posted 12/17/2013 15:58 PM

Nothing to add other than I am soooo happy that you took in a dog that old. You and your family are awesome

Million Pieces, there was never a question that he had a home. There were actually some other people who would have taken him if we didn't, but that wasn't an option

Deeply Scared posted 12/17/2013 20:55 PM

WH5...

I just wanted to add that you have our full support no matter what you choose to do. He's a really great dog that has had a wonderful life

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