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PLEASE HELP! I'm just looking for some advice about my 8-year-old springer. We've had Max from 12 weeks old, he's not neutered but has almost always been a gentle, friendly dog. But suddenly his behavior has changed. Last week I was playing with him on the floor in the sitting room, nothing out of the normal, my family were watching television. My mother was cooking in the kitchen and Max went out, my brother went out to get a glass of water and tried to pick Max up while walking past. Max suddenly latched on to his hand and shook. Thankfully there was only one deepish wound.
In this scenario I would have put some of the blame on my brother, he shouldn't have picked the dog up and potentially Max was being protective over the food he thought he might get from my mother. The following day Max was sitting in the kitchen (no food was in sight and he had no possessions) and my brother walked in, Max started to growl and I was genuinely afraid he would go for my brother on the other side of the room.
Later that night, he attacked our terrier, who he's never had any issues with before.
A very similar thing happened with him about 4-5 years ago and we talked about getting him snipped as well as bringing him to a dog behaviouralist but it passed so we put it down to an 'adolescent' phase.
I would consider him my dog and have always made an effort to show him leadership and obedience. He's well socialized and has never had issues with other dogs or people. I spent a lot of time training him and he listens to my commands and to the rest of the family for the most part. I don't live at home anymore for college (2 years) but spend a lot of time at home, my family has never had any issues with him when I'm gone. I find it difficult to explain to them how to deal with him if he does act up (little things like telling him to go outside when he comes in dirty) as they tend to shout wildly rather than be calm and assertive, but again, there's been no real issues up until now.
I know you have to know a dog's triggers, protective aggression, etc but he has never had any, this change of mindset seems sudden and unprovoked, it's like a different dog! I'd be more sympathetic if he was a younger dog but he's been here so long I can't see why his personality would change now.
I'm genuinely worried about him. It feels like he has a different energy and I'm scared because I don't trust him like this. I feel like I want to keep him with me at all times for everyone's sake but I know that's not possible. It makes me sad because I would consider myself to have a good understanding of dog behavior but I can't say the same for my family and I don't think I can change that with them. I love the dog to bits but I have to put my family first. They won't tolerate that kind of behavior and I definitely don't want to put anyone at risk.
It could potentially be a dominance thing, he's intact and has started to go roaming in the last few months but has always been happy. My brother has a good relationship with him but isn't firm with him at all.Hes deeply upset by the whole thing.
I'll definitely get him castrated if that'll help and dog therapy would be considered too but it might not be feasible for the foreseeable future. please if anyone can offer any advice about what's going on with him I'd really appreciate it!
 

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The first thing with a sudden and unexplained change in behaviour should always be a vet check. Dogs can be very stoic at hiding pain and discomfort, but of course can react if a sore spot is touched, or they think it might be.
 

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While JoanneF was writing the above, I was also responding with the same advice. Your first order of business is to take your dog to the vet. Any number of health issues could be affecting your dog. Rule these out first. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, you may or may not be able to get your dog an appointment, but make the call to the vet. (Right now, my vet is only seeing emergency cases.) In the meantime, give your dog plenty of space.

Remember that your dog is still that same wonderful dog you've always loved. This behavior is not in his control. Something, mostly likely health-related, is causing this change. Please let us know how it goes.
 

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Your vet will want to do a thorough examination of your dog. As @JoanneF pointed out, your dog may be acting in because of pain. Another consideration is his thyroid function. You might find this article helpful:


We obviously can't diagnose your dog, but I strongly suspect that the cause of his sudden change is health-related, not behavioral.
 
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