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Difficult situation RE dog reactivity

(76 Posts)
damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 15:47:12

Please be sensitive. I've nc as this is difficult. We have 2 rescue dogs. One is a collie type. We've had him 3.5 years. I take him to the stables and I used to run with him. He gets at least twice a day walks. Fed good quality diet.

He's always been reactive but it appears to be getting worse. He first snapped about 2 years ago. Unprovoked. Really strange. Frightening. He just turned and snarled at my son. I was there, watching.

He is very collie-ish in nature. Sensitive and herdy. Anyway this seems to now be getting more frequent and aggressive. He hasn't bitten anyone but he jumps and snaps as if started. He'll then slink away grumbling.

We have tried meds and some alternative stuff like zyklene. He is on long term loxicom. We've had training and a behaviourist home visit. We've taken him to the chiropractor, used plug ins, collars, thunder shirts etc. We have a stair gate to keep him out of the lounge if we're busy (using wii for eg). He's scared of peoples feet as we think he's been kicked in the past.

Last night after kids were in bed he was next to me on the sofa. Twice he jumped and snapped. Like I'd frightened him. Definitely not provoked.

We have had a long discussion and frankly I'd like to pts now. He's 8 and I think he's in pain. Chronic, not acute but in the background making him cross. (Fair enough).

We're going to increase pain meds, and review in a month but I'm on bloody eggshells.

I don't really enjoy walking him now as he's reactive to other dogs. He's fine with dog 2 at home, but meeting other dogs is unpredictable. Worse on lead. I can control him. Nobody else is at risk but it's pretty miserable.

Thanks for reading but please can anyone suggest anything we haven't tried or give some thoughts about when enough is enough.

Kurkku Sun 04-Feb-18 15:53:38

I think you've answered yourself. It sounds like you have investigated every possibility and treated all physical and psychological symptoms that may be causing him to be uncomfortable.
He is probably feeling as miserable as you are, if not more, and it sounds like the kind thing to do would be to let him go. Better a day early than a day late is what most vets say.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 15:55:37

I say that too. It's hard that there hasn't been a defining moment. It's just lots of little things that have gradually become 'normal' for us but otoh it'd be worse if he really did bite/attack.

Pasithea Sun 04-Feb-18 16:04:30

He obviously does not want to hurt anyone. But how else does he tell you he’s in pain and had enough. We usually ignore the little changes and it’s not until they display undesirable behaviours that us humans seem to take notice. Eg snapping, weeing or pooing indoors. Etc.

I’d take him to a vet and explain to them and take advise. Also what do you want to remember him by. A lovely dog that got the grumps a bit at the end. Or one that did something drastic and was put down as it was only then that he was taken notice of and all for the wrong reasons.
My heart goes out to you. But. Dont let him turn into a “bad” dog just cos he’s desperate to communicate his grief.

BiteyShark Sun 04-Feb-18 16:04:45

I have no ideas but it sounds like you have tried everything you can. Are you happy to increase the meds and give it a month or do you think it's just prolonging the decision?

tinymeteor Sun 04-Feb-18 16:05:17

I think your instinct is right, sadly. He's not a good candidate for rehoming with those problems, and would be stressed by the change anyway. He sounds like his behaviour is deteriorating. You've tried the full works. Balance of risk is becoming unacceptable. PTS is something responsible owners sometimes have to do. Sorry.

KarmaStar Sun 04-Feb-18 16:09:32

Hi OP
You sound like a fantastic dog owner who has tried everything.
It does sound like he is in pain.
Has the vet considered a brain tumour?this can drastically change a dogs personality.
If he has no quality of life then it would be kindest to let him be put to sleep.
Heart breaking it is but also very heart wrenching to watch him suffer.

rightsaidfrederickII Sun 04-Feb-18 16:09:48

This is beyond my knowledge and experience, but I would recommend reposting on Reactive Dogs (UK) to get some feedback from people who are very experienced with reactivity - I've found it a helpful group to use when dealing with PestDog's relatively minor reactivity www.facebook.com/groups/1633448230248202/?multi_permalinks=1999290756997279¬if_id=1517566431834287¬if_t=group_highlights&ref=notif

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:11:12

Thanks all. Thanks for giving your thoughts.

I meant to say I took him to vets about this 3 months ago when he snapped at my daughter. We did think he was in pain that time as he'd hit his back on the fence as he ran under it. She was also a bit 'in his face' which was a rare moment of madness for her.

My kids are very sensible and definitely don't wind him up. She felt terrible.

Technically that was her fault but we did get him checked.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:13:23

I was on that fb group for ages. But I'm off fb now.

I did get advice from them. Thank you.

I thought about tumour but it's been a very slow burn and he's been checked numerous times. He had a cruciate ligament injury and was lame with that. Maybe a residual hangover from that ?

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:14:48

I agree about not letting him turn 'bad'

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:17:26

@BiteyShark I think a month is fair as my dh feels if we do decide to pts we know we've exhausted every avenue.

Greyhorses Sun 04-Feb-18 16:21:00

I was in this situation not so long ago.

Long story short we tried everything, behavioural therapy combined with medication however the dog was affecting our lives in such a negative way that we had him PTS aged 3.

I felt a mixture of relief and incredibly guilty as we did love him but clearly there was something seriously wrong that couldn’t be fixed. Possibly I could have tried him in another home but I couldn’t cope with the thought of him feeling abandoned and stressed as he was so close to us. Plus like you we had tried everything so I didn’t feel there were any options left to him as he was quite frankly dangerous and always anxious and stressed inside or outside the home. Walks were a nightmare as I was constantly worrying about him attacking a dog that got too close or even a human as he would react with snapping teeth and lunging. Eventually he did nip someone which caused the final decision as he had proved he wasn’t all talk and would actually follow through.

Life is much easier now without the worry and anxiety so I do feel it was the right albeit very hard and heartbreaking decision. I can walk where I want, it’s nice to talk to people again and I don’t feel that constantly anxiety in the home any more. Our behaviouralist said these constantly anxious dogs are almost always unhappy sad

Hope you find the decision right for you and the dog.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:27:39

@Greyhorses you've really articulated how I feel. Thank you.

What did the vet say? Was there a build up of visits beforehand? Despite him having a known history of this behaviour I worry that they'd refuse to 'put a healthy dog down'. Is that even a thing vets say?

What did friends and relatives say? When I've discussed it mildly with friends I've been told 'oh I could never do that' (pts)

Definitely wouldn't re home. No way.

Greyhorses Sun 04-Feb-18 16:38:02

I do feel for you. Those first few days were the worst as I just wanted to go back as I felt so so guilty about it, but I couldn’t live like that any more. It’s easy to say train the dog or whatever but until you’ve lived with it Day in day out for years nobody has a clue.
I couldn’t relax with friends or relatives around, DS couldn’t have friends over and I hadn’t been on holiday in 3 years as I was terrified of what he would do without the strict rules I kept him under!

At the end of the day there are worse fates than a quiet end surrounded by the people who love him. He won’t know any different.

I work for a vet so probably a different situation to you as they knew him and didn’t question my decision. I would speak to your vet and explain the situation with evidence from behaviouralist and just request euthanasia if that’s what you want, I very much doubt they will question your decision. We do it quite regularly at work and although we won’t euthanise for someone’s convenience this situation is very different. In my opinion the dog is clearly loved and if his own family who love him can’t cope then it’s stupid to ask someone else to take him on so I doubt they would refuse your request.

I didn’t have anyone say anything negative really, a few dog walkers asked where he was as I have another dog so still saw them. I just said he died and didn’t elaborate. My behaviouralist supported the decision and my family knew what the dog was like and so were sympathetic. A few people did say things like ‘I couldn’t do that’ mainly from dog training but they didn’t live with a 30jg dog (also herding breed!) trying to bite people constantly so I didn’t really care about their opinions.

I still think of my dog and feel sad about the whole thing, sad I couldn’t fix him and sad I gave up on him but I wouldn’t go back in time to change my mind, if that makes sense?

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:45:36

@Greyhorses thanks so much.

I had old dog pts and just 'knew' when it was time. I know that feeling of doing the right thing at the right time as our animals don't have a voice.

I'm going to talk to vet tomorrow but yes- it can't be a huge surprise can it? Owner brings in 8yo dog with history of snapping. Having tried loads of solutions. Wanting peaceful euthanasia before he bites someone.

Greyhorses Sun 04-Feb-18 16:51:20

It was an end of my tether point for me. Exhausted all options (we had seen 3 behaviouralists at this point!) and I couldn’t cope with the thought of living like that for another potentially 10 years despite how much I did love the dog. It was like living with a ticking time bomb all the time.

I have a ‘new’ dog now who is everything a happy well adjusted dog should be...it makes me realise how sad the old one must have been to have lived such a stressful and miserable life sad

PinkBlueYellow Sun 04-Feb-18 16:56:08

Maybe ask your vet to increase his pain meds, just to see if that has any effect on his behaviour and then you can definitely pinpoint it as pain causing the behaviour, or not if it continues?

If it continues then yes, PTS is the right decision here. You can't live your life on eggshells and he could do some real damage to you or your family.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:56:54

The other dog we have isn't perfect (no recall) but she's very reliable. We've never had any aggression from her.

She will resource guard food if we're not careful, but we all know what to do to avoid a problem (like never giving her a bone that takes a long time to eat) we put this down to being a street dog. My point being that on reflection there are many faults a dog can have that I can tolerate but dog1 just feels wrong now.

He's anxious and stressed but unpredictable. If I knew his triggers (I know most of them) then I can (& do) avoid them.

But last night the sofa incident just made me realise how little I trust him now.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 16:59:56

@PinkBlueYellow yes we have some meds (codeine type?) ready to go.

He got that prescription after he snapped at my daughter.

Dh had weaned him off them as he was worried about his liver or something? We've agreed today he goes back on full dose.

This poses another question that if it works and he quietens down then what kind of life is that being drugged long term?

PinkBlueYellow Sun 04-Feb-18 17:10:46

Yes I would definitely put him back on the full codeine dose and see what happens.

I do see what you mean about being on long term medication but if it solves the problem then great, although I guess your vet would want to investigate the cause of his pain and it's whether you want to go down that road. Plenty of animals are on long term meds to prolong or improve quality of life but it's a very personal choice in your case, as he has so many other issues.

No judgement from me at all, if you think that PTS is the best option for the dog and your family then that is what you should do.

PinkBlueYellow Sun 04-Feb-18 17:12:02

Just another thought - how long was he on the codeine before you weaned him off? Could he be going through a withdrawal type situation?

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 17:28:19

Thank you.

He wasn't on it for long. Maybe a couple of weeks? So not had any for about 2 months. Definitely none in his system now.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 22:47:37

Just had (another) long chat with DH. Dog is in the lounge and looking uncomfortable.

We've agreed the following:

No more trips to the stables. We've only just realised he jumps and 'bites' bugs/hay bits (?) there. He dances around. Gets over excited, over threshold and probably hurts himself each time he's there.

Just ordered adaptil collar, plug in refill and zyklene tablets. He's back on proper dose of Codeine as of today, and will continue with loxicom.

The other thing is that he isn't allowed to jump up, but when he does (fil encourages this 😡) he gets pushed back and jars himself. Dh lowers him down. He has agreed to talk to fil again and enforce no jumping rule. Not a big deal as they're infrequent visitors but just another piece of the jigsaw.

We will do a final push on this and review in a month.

damnderek Sun 04-Feb-18 23:34:47

Ok. Dog just got up from his bed and looked very stiff. Maybe lame. I'll take him to vets tomorrow for a check.

Dogs will have separate lead walks from now, to keep them calm. No car journeys for now to lessen jumping in and out.

Any other thoughts or advice appreciated smile

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