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Okay so where should I begin... My name is Will and I'm 24 yrs old. I have a two year old pit-bull mix named freeway who is trained to hand signs, has his AKC canine good citizenship, and once he calms down a little bit will be trained as a therapy dog... well for the past few years whenever I went over my friends house I would see how they kept their beagle named scooby. He was never house trained, and was never groomed. I vividly remember the smell, and thought of calling animal control several times, but seeing as how I was very close with him and his family I decided not to.

I recently moved close by to where he lives. His mother is on vacation for the next three weeks, and my friend, to say the least is not taking very good care of scooby... not that scooby was ever cared for properly. My girlfriend and I decided to take scooby in with us.

We were already aware of some of scooby's problems... the lack of training and that he was not house broken, as well as issues that would arise because of his age. The extent of which was not realized until we had him for a few days.

Scooby has extreme joint issues. His legs bow out and shake... we immediately started him on glucosimine. We at first believed that he was incontinent, but have discovered that he can hold his bladder, just chooses not to because of lack of training... is not house broken. Today is actually the first day he has not had an accident. Next I tried to do a simple hearing check. I snapped my fingers about 1 to 2 feet away from his head to try to get his head to turn towards me. He did not turn towards the sound on either side. In addition to the hearing loss when the light reflected off of his eyes i noticed today that he appears to either have cataracts or is partially blind. I know he is not fully blind because when I pretend I am holding a treat he goes towards my hand. Lastly we recently discovered that he is food aggressive... yes i got bit... and he growls if you even get close... Oh yea that reminds me... he has no control over how much water he drinks. If i put a kiddie pool in front of him I believe he would drink it to the last drop. At first I thought he was very thirsty, until he started puking up water, and then tried to continue drinking.

My girlfriend and I have been able to manage with the smell... we gave him a bath with pet head "defunk the mutt"... and have not allowed him to wallow in his feces as he was before.

I guess my questions are simple... is it possible to house break a dog who has never been trained for 15 years. Can I curb his food aggression, and at what point do I know he is in too much pain, and the proper thing to do is humanely euthanize.

I appreciate any help or advice. I only want to do what is right for scooby. At the end of the day if none of the behavior can be changed I will simply try to keep him comfortable, and clean. Thanks in advance.

Will
 

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Only advice that I have is to get something legally signing the dog over to you. If it is mom's dog, that might not be possible until she gets back. I would just worry that if he needs to be euthanized for health that you are not held liable and sued.
 

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It's a very good family friend, so not only do I doubt that would happen, but I would not do anything without consent from the mother. Most likely they could be prosecuted for animal cruelty with how scooby was being kept. Thanks for the concern, but my bigger issue is what I should do with him currently, and how I might be able to curve his behavior. I found it pretty easy to train my dog, but I have no experience with a special needs or aged dog, let alone combining the two. His legs sometimes give out and he yelps, and I feel horrible, I just am inexperienced with this kind of dog, and am trying to figure out what I can do to help him be comfortable with his end of life.
 

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Can you explain the food aggression a little more, please? Is it just with your dog?

As for the housebreaking, I'm firmly against the "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" saying. It will be a long road, but I'm sure you can potty train this dog efficiently. You have to be diligent about taking him outside at least once an hour and giving him a treat each time he potties outside. While you bring him out, saying "Let's go potty" or something along these lines helps connect the word with the deed.

Are you planning on giving Scooby back, or offering to take him off of their hands? It would be sad to see your hard work go to waste. Another concern is how much he is drinking water. You mentioned his legs get wobbly. Has he been to the vet recently, and if not would you be willing to take him in? These can be signs of diabetes. Cataracts also tend to come along as a package deal.

Regardless of your plans, I am glad that (for now) Scooby is in good hands. Good on you for being so kind.
 

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First off, thank you so much for taking Scooby in. Not many will adopt an elderly dog with so many problems.

I agree that he needs a trip to the vet. You need to try and figure out why he is having trouble with his rear legs, it could be arthritis or something else it's important ot figure out which. The amount of water he is drinking is another concern and as OliveLove said it could be diabetes.

Yes you can teach and old dog new tricks, and they do adjust to new situations and living conditions. My 16 yr old dog still loves his training sessions.

Go back to house training 101 with him. Until he catches on to going outside you should keep him in a crate or attached to you by a leash, unless you can keep a really close eye on him, so he cannot sneak away and use the bathroom. Take him outside every hour or two till you figure out how often he actually has to go outside then adjust the time. When he does go outside give him a treat as soon as he's finished, and pet him and praise him

Try checking him with frequency of sound, he may be able to hear loud or high pitched sounds. If he has cataracts he may still be able to see light and dark, and he may still be able to make out shapes in bright light.

At his age, with him being partially or completely death and blind, the food aggression will be harder to work with. Once he has his food I'd just leave him to it and try not to mess with it. You can try walking past him and dropping little tasty treats, and you can try feeding him only a few pieces of kibble at a time. You'd put a couple pieces in the bowl, put the bowl down and let him eat them, then add a little more to the bowl, or you can try hand feeding him. The general idea is to try and teach him that humans by his bowl = food, or humans are who provide the food and theirs no reason to fear them by the food.

Whatever you do please do not try and "claim" his food and bowl, that's a sure fire way to make him worse and potentially get bit.


When he no longer has any interest in doing anything that he usually likes to do, when he's no longer interested in love and attention (if he normally is), when nothing you do can ease the pain he's in, then it's time to let him go
 

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have you considered belly bands to catch his pee (this is if you can't potty train him)?

He might have some medical issues causing the excessive thirst.

You're doing a good thing- best of luck!
 

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so a little clarification. My dog (Freeway pit-mix 2yrs old) is a rescue and has just about zero issues... he is slightly special at times but has no food aggression and is trained to hand signs, very socialized, and will even listen to my four year old nephew. I was just including a little about him to let everyone know the situation. Scooby is the dog with all of the problems who I have "rescued" from my childhood friend.

It is Scooby's front legs that bow out and shake excessively. His back legs also shake but it is not as bad as the front. I have attributed a lot of this to his lack of exercise. To my knowledge he has not been walked in about... 5 to 10 years. I have been using a harness to support his weight as we walk... baby steps only about 200 to 500 feet a few times a day, as he is able.

I am not planning to give Scooby back. We have offered to take him permanently, however at the end of the day he is not our dog and if they decide they want him back, there is not much I can do.

As for his food aggression, I spoke to my friend about an hour ago and he tells me that they never kept him on a regular feeding schedule... This is a very clear cut case of neglect, and I am going to do my best to correct some of the issues. It is still very early on in his recovery, and to be honest he may never fully recover. My girlfriend and I have no problems with this and are in for the long haul.

Next is the vet. They have been keeping up on his vaccines, thank god, and have been giving him yearly checkups. As far as I know it is arthritis, and I will be taking him to the vet if he starts to deteriorate, but his mobility appears to be getting better not worse. He will also be going to my vet after I speak to my friends mother and make sure he will be staying permanently.

His water drinking is extremely excessive. He will cry after he finishes a bowl. He is getting about 6 to 8 ounces of water 3 times a day. I even mix a little extra into his food. I think it may be diabetes, however from what I know understand, he has had these issues for as long as my friend can remember, which doesn't mean very much. Once again it could be as simple as never being left water regularly, so now whenever he sees it he goes crazy.

Thanks for the comments about just keep up with the dog 101 and give him time and space. I was just not sure with his age and potential disabilities whether or not he was capable of learning. We also have been crating him at night, and we have been getting up several times throughout the night to take him out. Last night was his first night not wetting himself, and consequently today was his first day without some kind of cleaning.

On a positive note he can't seem to get enough of being pet. He will even roll over and give u his belly, which really does show, that regardless of all his problems, that he is still very sweet. And on top of it, no matter where you pet him it seems to make him kick.

Thanks for all the help and I will keep everyone updated. If anyone has additional tips please feel free to comment I will try to respond in a timely matter. It is nice to be able to talk about this freely, and if nothing else vent a little bit. Thanks again.

Will
 

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Thanks for taking on this old guy - not many people would've done that.
Sounds like you're on top of things. The excressive drinking is probably what would worry me most...
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First off - you are doing a very very good thing for this sweet boy.

I would take him to the vet sooner rather than later to get his kidney values checked as well as checked for diabetes. Both of these conditions would involve excessive water drinking. It'll also allow you to discuss with the vet his possible arthritis as well as a plan of action for how you will take care of him medically at his advanced age.

I think given his sight and hearing problems as well as lifelong neglect and lack of training you are doing very well with him. I don't have any specific training advice just to keep it up - you are already seeing results :)

You and your girlfriend are so awesome for taking him in!! I can't say that enough. Thank you for doing that!
 

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My advice FWIW.

1) Get Scooby to the vet for a check up and blood work. At this age he could have diabetes or kidney issues or thyroid problems or other things such as Cushing's disorder, that would be affecting his ability to be house trained, and/or might account for the shaky legs. Many of these potential problems are fairly easily treated, so don't be afraid to get him checked out.

2) Yes, puppy house training 101. It does not matter the age of the dog, the way you house train is the same for all. Follow that link and keep it positive. Absolutely no punishments for this old boy... as you probably already realize. The point of house training is simply to pattern him to pee/poop in an area outside. Build the habit by guiding him using the techniques in the link, and that will be his preference.

3) About the food aggression, I would put him on a reliable schedule, and let him eat somewhere where absolutely no one, not dog or person, can disturb him. For example, feed him in a big plastic kennel crate (good for house training too) so he feels safe about eating. I'd do that for at least a few weeks before starting any sort of program to help him over the food aggression.... if indeed he still has that issue once he gets used to regular meals that he does not need to worry about.
The basics of food aggression training just involves always demonstrating for the dog that you are not a threat to his food or bowl, by A) not taking his food away, and B) putting tasty things in his bowl as you walk by. For a more thorough discussion of Resource Guarding you can go here, but again, I'd just make his world feel safe for a few weeks, then re-assess the issue.

By any reasonable measure, this is a dog with not a lot of time left. So I'd be focused on helping him live a stress-free, happy life, with lots of love, safe warm place to eat and sleep, and reasonable medical care to keep him comfortable.

You'll know when his time has come, so don't worry about it until it becomes clear. Trust yourself. You'll know it when you see it. Could be days, weeks, months or even a couple of years. You'll know more after you get him checked out by a vet. However long you have him, you are giving him the greatest gift that can be given.
 

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Beagle lover here!!!!!

Many thanks for taking the leap for this one! You have a very big heart. I wouldn't worry about your friend.

1st: I've never had problems housebreaking a beagle. These loud-mouths love approval (unless chasing a squirrel when they ignore all), really like to poop and pee in the yard and they're intelligent. However.......I've adopted 2-6 year olds. Age 15 is 3 years longer than a beagle's life expectancy.

2nd: All dogs lose hearing and eyesight as they age just like people. That part is not the fault of your friend.

But here's a hint. Beagles love food. Reward him with a delicious, healthy treat every time he poops & pees outside. I know that you have probably tried that already, but keep it up and make going outside exciting with that additional food reward. A beagle will do almost anything for food.

The other hint is to rub, pet and scratch him when he does a good potty job. Beagles love to be touched.

3rd: Is the food aggression about stealing from your other dog's dinner bowl? That's a beagle! We've feed ours in different parts of the room so they could be separated while eating. We've also remained in the room until they've finished.

One great thing about beagles is they they don't fight to the end and they don't lock their jaws on the subject of their anger. They growl and snap sometimes, but that's the worst that it gets and that is seldom.

4th: Glucosamine only helps if the cartilage is still there. Once the cartilage is gone, glucosamine won't rebuild it.

There are pills that the vet can offer to lesson the pain from arthritus. There are a variety of them. Some reduce inflammation. Some kill the pain. Some pain is so excessive that the pills don't work.

5th: Excessive drinking could mean many things: (a) Cushings Disease (b) Kidney Failure (c) etc., so the vet needs to do tests.

I wish you the best of luck!!! I think you'll have it.
 

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We also have been crating him at night, and we have been getting up several times throughout the night to take him out. Last night was his first night not wetting himself, and consequently today was his first day without some kind of cleaning.

On a positive note he can't seem to get enough of being pet. He will even roll over and give u his belly, which really does show, that regardless of all his problems, that he is still very sweet. And on top of it, no matter where you pet him it seems to make him kick.

Thanks for all the help and I will keep everyone updated. If anyone has additional tips please feel free to comment I will try to respond in a timely matter. It is nice to be able to talk about this freely, and if nothing else vent a little bit. Thanks again.

Will
Crating is usually the easy way to train an older dog. I have rescued a few older dogs that were not house broken. The crate over night for a month usually gives them a clear idea of what you want. No dog is to old to learn. Kikopup is a great trainer to follow. I have an idea that just feeding and loving this dog will go a long way to his recovery. The glucosamine is a great thing to give. Just make sure to give at least 1500 2x a day. Good luck with your new rescue.
 

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I agree with all the above. I just wanted to say you and your GF are awesome to be willing to care for this beautiful dog. No matter how long he has he will be grateful to you for your kindness. Definitely get him to a vet though. If your friends mother says you can keep him get it in writing. Even friends can turn in an instant. God bless all of you and keep up being the great person you are! :)
 

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I am not very experienced in the dog world, I just wanted to say you and your girlfriend are saints for taking in this old dog with so many problems. Bless your hearts, you guys are amazing.
 
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