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Hi, I just introduced my dog Troy in the Welcome forum.  We got him six months ago when he was 14 months old.  He is neutered.  His previous owner got him from a rescue organization when he was 6 months old.  I don't know anything about his past except that the woman I got him from had other pets (a husky and a cat).

From day one, he was an absolute sweetheart.  He is very obedient and well-mannered.  He is very friendly towards anyone who comes over, and until recently he was always well-behaved towards other people and dogs, at home and at other people's houses.  We have no other dogs, but he interacts with dogs every couple of weeks or so, since we know people with dogs and occasionally watch them at our house.  Until recently he would just play with other dogs, and he was always friendly towards people.  The only aggressive behavior I saw was him barking at the gardener when he was on the other side of the fence.

About six weeks ago we had a smaller female dog at our house for about two weeks.  At first they played a lot and it seemed pretty friendly, but after a few days I noticed that Troy was snapping at the other dog when she tried to eat.  After that I fed them in separate rooms.  Near the end of the two weeks, the playing seemed less friendly, but not vicious.  It seemed that the little dog always wanted to play and Troy was getting annoyed with her.  

A couple weeks later, Troy snapped at the vet when she tried to clean his ears.  The following day we took him camping for the weekend.  There were a lot of people, a lot of kids, and a lot of other dogs, many of which were not on a leash (like they were supposed to be, according to the campground rules).  During the day, we had Troy on a 15-foot leash (when he wasn't with us in the car, boat, or on a walk).  Other dogs would come up, and people would come up and pet him.  As the weekend progressed he became less friendly towards both the people and the dogs.  He would snap at any dog that came close, and he would bark at kids that tried to approach him.  He actually snapped at an adult that he had never met.

We figured that he was just overwhelmed with the situation - a new place, tons of people and dogs, and being chained up.  After the camping trip, he didn't interact with any dogs for a few weeks.  I did see him chase our cat around the living room after the cat tried to drink from his water bowl (I had never seen that happen before).  This weekend we went out of town and left him with my in-laws, who have an older black lab.  Troy has spent a few weekends and days there without incident.  He knows my in-laws and their dog and has always gotten along with everyone, so we thought he would be fine.  But, the first night he attacked their dog twice.  The first time was in the house (I forget what exactly happened) and my father-in-law just yelled, and Troy stopped.  The second time was in the middle of the night.  The other dog went outside, and when he was about to come back in through the dog door, Troy started barking at him.  My mother-in-law opened the door to let her dog in and Troy attacked him.  This time, yelling didn't work.  There was no blood or damage of any kind, but they had to wake up their son to pull Troy off of their dog.  After that they kept the dogs separated.

This latest incident has us very worried and we're not really sure how to deal with this.  I don't want any dogs or people to get hurt.  I am going to do some research and there is a good chance we will be consulting a professional.  I just wanted to find out if anyone has any idea why this might be happening, or if anyone has had to deal with a similar problem.  Thanks...
 

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Normally when there's a huge change like that, it's a good time to take him to the vet.

there could be something wrong, and that's his way of showing you, or maybe he's in pain. But you should call your vet for sure.
 

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That's a pretty radical change in behavior. First question is why his previous owner gave him up? You might want to talk to her again. Lots of times a new event, be it a camp-out, or whatever is too much for some dogs (my Samson is one) and they will go on the defensive, but this really sounds worse than that...I would definitely have your vet check him out, that kind of change really isn't normal and like Dieselsmom said, it could be his way of telling you..Poor baby, he sounds like he's such a sweetheart too..Please let us know what you find out....
 

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I called my vet this morning and she said it sounds like a behavioral issue and not a medical issue.  He had a checkup about a month ago when I took him in to get microchipped and started on HeartGard (that was when he snapped at the vet when she was cleaning his ears).  She recommended a couple of dog behavior specialists in the area.

It seems to me that if there was something wrong with him, if he were in pain, it would be manifesting itself in some other way besides the territorial aggression that we have been seeing.  Other than that, he is acting completely normally.  He is as energetic as ever, and he is very friendly to people who come over to our house.

I do want to track down the previous owner and find out if she ever had any problems with him.  Her reason for giving him up was that she was moving and couldn't take him with her.

Thanks everyone, any more advice/input is appreciated.
 

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Advice from a trainer/behavioralist:

Get a new vet!!!  The dispays you have been seeing are to sudden and a medical cause needs to be ruled out (blood work-up and physical exam).  In my experience, a vet that has been snapped at by a dog is less likely to ask you to come in immediately for a check up/ work up out of fear.  a lot of vets will want an owner to see a behavioralist first to "clear" the dog of "behavioral issues".  In general, when I am contacted by an owner of a dog that has "behavioral issues" I tell them that I will do an assessment first and then REQUIRE that they take the dog to the vet for a full workup to rule out medical causes of the inappropriate behavior.

I'm sorry, but this really does sound like a medical issue.  Behavioral issues don't just crop up of a sudden like this.  You have reasonably good warning (an incident or something that starts off the behavior) and an escalation of sorts.  In this situation you don't.  When there is a lack of spark (something that is SEEN to set the dog off) and an escalation of behavior then we largely look at it to be a medical issue that has gone on for a bit, but has been undetected.  Dogs have a very high tolerance for pain.  Boxers have an AMAZING tolerance for pain.  It is part of their breeding.

Hope this helps and let me/us know if you need more help.

Liz and Lilly
 

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Check out my dog behavior/ what dog are telling us post.  I think samsonsmom turned it into a sticky.  It just a list of dog behavior and body language.  Read it and watch for it in your dog.  It will tell you alot!!!

Liz and Lilly
 

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I would take him to vet it doesnt sound behavioral to me
 

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Take him to the vet and insist on a thyroid panel.  Boxers are notorius for hypothyroidism.  Could be the cause of this sudden behavior.

Nano
 
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