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Thread: 10-year-old dog with sudden (weird) fears

  1. #1

    10-year-old dog with sudden (weird) fears

    Our dog (a beagle/small shepherd mix) is a humane society adoptee. We've had her for nearly 8 years (she'll be 10 in 09/12). She has her quirks, mainly some fear (aggressive if cornered or on leash) of men, particularly bald men. Yelling and anything that vaguely looks like a weapon also freak her out. We figure that something must have happened to her before she was left at the HS. She's never been scared of thunderstorms, fireworks, etc.

    She's getting older; this past winter she acted as if she were a little stiff getting up in the mornings, and her back end seems to slip on the hardwood floors nowadays (to me, it looks like she "shuffles" her back paws). This past spring, she had a spate of episodes that my sister commented as sounding like "sundowning". She would pace, pace, pace during the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes she would settle after going outside, sometimes not. Thankfully that only happened for a couple of weeks (or maybe now we sleep through it).

    In the past month, she's developed some new, strange behaviors that have us puzzled. She started acting like she forgot how to turn around in the hallway. Instead, we hear her "shuffling", and she BACKS around the corner in the hallway before finally turning around. Most recently, she's become fearful of coming around the corner of the hallway, period (just the one hallway into our living room). She stops at the corner, peering around at us. She'll back away, make several more approaches, try to come down the other side, back away. Then she'll make a sudden scoot/dash/slippy scramble the 3 feet between the corner and the rug in the living room. We haven't changed furniture, so we're really scratching our heads about why she's suddenly doing this. Her vet appointment will be in the next month, so we'll discuss it with him too, but I'm curious as to whether anyone has any experience with this? I've wondered if this is early doggie dementia.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Waltham, MA, USA
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    How are her back paws? is there any abnormal wear patterns on them? There are several things that could be causing that shuffling, from arthritis to Degenerative Mylopathy(which shows up some in Shepherds in particular), all of which the vet can look for. But they should also do blood tests to rule out any imbalances in her endocrine system, which can sometimes result in mental changes. I hope the appointment is soon, and you can begin to get some answers, it could be several unrelated things, on all one issue.

    Any changes in the family or new animals or anything?
    I've Been Frosted

  3. #3
    I don't see anything that looks like abnormal wear on them. Sometimes she walks normally, others not. She's not mixed with german shepherd (as far as we know), more like australian(?) based on her size - ideal weight about 30-35 pounds - and coat patterning, so I'm not sure if those problems apply to all shepherds or not.

    No new animals, but I am pregnant (due in September). She's "my" dog in the sense that she tends to follow me around, come to me for affection and attention, etc., and she has been somewhat more protective of me since I got pregnant at the beginning of the year, but at the same time, she's actually tended to go off on her own and nap elsewhere more than usual. She does seem to know, but it's been 4 months, so I wasn't inclined to connect it to her behavior.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    It's a good sign that there's not abnormal wear on them, that means she likely still has feeling in those paws, so it probably isn't DM. Maybe you can help her with her fear of turning that corner. Try putting her on a leash and walking her around the corner several times, and praise her when she does it normally. Something may have inadvertently spooked her about the spot, so now you have to work on her getting used to it again as a normal, safe spot! It's good you have a vet appointment scheduled, so they can check for any medical issues. The pacing at night will sometimes happen if an animal is uncomfortable, sure would be easier if they could talk and say "Mom, my tummy hurts" and the like.
    I've Been Frosted

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    This sounds a bit like doggie dementia. Have you talked with her vet about these actions?

    Especially the shuffling, not being able to navigate well, the "sundowning." I've just been through this with my Marlin.

    Only a vet can make a ccd (canine cognitive disorder) diagnosis. There are things you can do for it, some help with one dog, some help with another dog. Sort of hit or miss. Anipryl = Selegiline is the medication the vet can prescribe. You can get it reasonably priced at Wedgewood Pharmacy, and it arrives at your door in 3 days. I got the oral suspension, chicken flavored, for Marlin, and just put it in some food in the morning. Marlin doesn't DO pills. So this was great for him.

    I'd say start with a vet check. If the vet thinks it is appropriate, get a script for selegiline. The vet can order it at Wedgewood for you, just give the office the phone number for Wedgwood.
    http://www.wedgewoodpetrx.com/items/...uspension.html

  6. #6
    Thanks for the info and advice She's still doing it in one hallway and has now started doing it in the other hallway to the master bedroom. If she's excited (playing), she'll move through pretty readily, but otherwise looks distressed and struggles with getting past those spots. Last night she also freaked out about a clothes basket that has been sitting against our bedroom wall for weeks (husband just tends to leave it there). Sigh!

    We do have a vet appt for next week though, so we'll talk with him about it and see what he says.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    I did many of the things on this page, some worked, some worked for 2 or 3 days.
    http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2010/02...og-what-to-do/

    Ask the vet also about Benadryl. The proper dose is based on your dog's weight. It will make her sleepy, I used it at 8 PM so I could get a good night's sleep. You make sure to buy the Benadryl allergy (not cold and sinus etc) and get caplets not capsules, so you can cut them to the proper dose you need.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    Cincinnati, Ohio USA
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    I wonder if her sight is going.....how well lit are these areas that she is doing this not turning around? The clothes basket...is it casting a shadow or something?

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I was wondering if your dog had a rabies shot in the last few days? Asking because the symptoms seem to be exactly what one of our Shepherds went through 2 days after a rabies shot.
    But it could be her back, the pain could be scaring her or even the lighting and her eyesight as was mentioned.
    I hope things get better for her.
    Asiel


    I've been defrosted---thanks cassiesmom

    I've been Boo'd -

  10. #10
    Im sorry for your dogs situation, he have almost the same situation with my close friend's senior dog with dementia..
    In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog. ~Edward Hoagland

    2.5 years old dachshund Dan

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