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  1. #1
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    Default Snarling/snapping incidents

    Hello!

    Novella warning. You have been warned.

    We have a 5 year old Pyr, Benaiah. He has, overall, been a very good Pyr, as best we can tell For better or worse, he is both our first dog and first Pyr.

    He's half a family dog and half an LGD... well, the proportions there may not be quite right But he does s pend most of his time outside, doing his own thing as necessary. The biggest complaints we had were that he didn't realize how big he was when around our kids, and that he likes to ... patrol, and he's quite the escape artist.

    We were in CA up until two years ago, and moved to OR. He has more room, and generally seems pretty content.

    We've had three "incidents." The first was in December; he was up at my in-laws, and snapped at a friend of my wife's. This, we determined, was probably our fault... he was (1) depressed due to the circumstances of traveling/staying at my in-laws (and we don't take him there now), (2) was backed up against a wall, (3) was met with someone who had met him before and was friendly, and also carrying a large bag.

    The second was in our car, actually. He got into the back of our new van and refused to come out. I think that was some fairly severe anxiety about us leaving or something, not sure exactly. He didn't want to be forcibly moved out of the back of the van.

    The third time was last week. We were again, traveling, to CA, visiting my family. He stayed with us literally the whole time, and actually seemed to be totally happy... splayed out on the floor on his side, letting two little kids play all over him, etc. He was happy with everyone on Sunday night through Wednesday.

    Thursday morning, some of the family had gone shopping early. Benaiah seemed to be in an "off" mood, and wanted to go back into where we were sleeping while down there. Sister in law came in with grocery bags (bags, again...) and he barked. He seemed to calm down, but later she came back and came to pet him, and he snarled/snapped at her. Later, he was outside and barked at her again when she walked outside.

    I'm throwing anything out that I think could possibly be related, so here are some other circumstances.
    1. He was not really allowed to roam while at the cabin, so that would have been a change. But he seemed non-depressed, overall.
    2. He was sticking *very* close to us. We actually went on off-leash walks with just a remote noise-making collar.
    3. He seemed happy until that morning.
    4. Starting that morning, he got more and more .... nervous/edgy until we left.
    5. His breath smelled bad, like dead fish, that morning.
    6. He ate and defecated very little. Actually, he didn't eat anything until Tuesday night, if I recall correctly.

    At this point, we're thinking a few things.
    1. He likes being at home, so we won't take him on extended trips. He seems to be cool with a couple days. It was his 5th day away, in this case.
    2. We didn't properly read his anxiety that morning, nor his odd behavior all week (sticking super close to us on walks, "coming" immediately, etc), so it's partly/mostly our fault. :/
    3. Something seemed to be bothering him, hence the smelly breath? It is still like that, thought not as much.
    4. He has strong guarding tendencies, so we should treat him more like an LGD. We already do that at home, since we just don't really trust him with anyone except close family that he's essentially lived with.

    If anyone has thoughts/ideas/"you are totally wrong"/"you're probably right" comments... we're definitely open. We love our dog a ton, and will do what we need to do so that he doesn't have incidents like this... but it's like trying to be a dog psychologist

    Oh, and for the record, other than these three incidents, and one barking incident where we just didn't realize that he needed to be properly introduced even though the person was in our house already, he really hasn't shown any aggressive behavior that isn't relatively warranted (i.e., strangers at the gate, that sort of thing). Good thing he's big, nobody really takes it for granted that he will let them come hug his cute face :P

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Given the age and the impression I'm getting that Benaiah's behavior really did seem to begin "out of the blue", my first recommendation would be to take him to his vet's office and have his thyroid checked. This is going to be a specific blood test that is NOT part of his routine blood work. The vet may have other test s/he wants to run to rule out other medical conditions.

    My next recommendation would be to have Benaiah see a Veterinary Behaviorist. The directory of board-certified VBs can be found here:
    http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

    Hopefully, you'll get this figured out soon!
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  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    So he's not shown similar type of behavior prior to December? What has he been like with taking trips and going places previously? Do you guys take him out on a regular basis? Would you say he handles change pretty well on a normal basis? If he doesn't go out regularly, as he gets older, he can get more anxious when you take him to places and the anxiety could build up to cause him to react.

    He is at an age where thyroid could set in. But before you get a thyroid panel done, read up on the questions you need to ask because thyroid testing could be a bit tricky.

    It is very difficult to know what to suggest because the 3 incidences were spread out over a period of time.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    SebastiansMom - thanks, we'll take him in and get that checked out. I'll have to read up on that, too, and see if there are any other symptoms of thyroid issues that he might have exhibited.

    So he's not shown similar type of behavior prior to December?
    I guess that partially depends on what you mean by "similar type." Snapping at people he already knows, no... during puppyhood, he would have "I don't want to!" episodes. Those petered out by the time he was ... 1.5 or so, I think. His rebellion became passive, he would just lay down if he didn't want to do something.

    The one in December, I can understand; he was depressed already, backed-up against a wall inside, and a person with strange things hanging off her comes in the door and immediately goes for his head, thinking he would remember her (from at least a year ago).

    The one most recently, he had already been cool with my sister in law (like, totally cool, laying on his side, presenting his belly to be rubbed, everything) for almost two full days.

    What has he been like with taking trips and going places previously?
    In the past, we've taken him down to my parents, and he had an acre of yard to run around in (and get out of ) He generally has been okay, although more recently, he has gotten depressed... to the point he took up residence under a bush and slept there most of the time. He also tended to get skunked down there, which made things worse. So ... overall, it seems like a shift in his trip-taking-ability, too. He loves to get in the car and go places with us, but extended trips seem to be getting more difficult.

    Do you guys take him out on a regular basis?
    No, we don't. We travel for a week maybe once or twice a year (visiting family), and a couple days here and there (visiting more close-by family). Other than that, he's at home on the hobby farm... not actually *in* with them, but protecting goats/chickens/cats (well, he's "in" with the cats).

    Would you say he handles change pretty well on a normal basis?
    He seems to be liking change less and less. He gets worried when we clean too much, because he thinks we are leaving (we've moved a total of two times with him). I would say ... no, he doesn't like change.

    If he doesn't go out regularly, as he gets older, he can get more anxious when you take him to places and the anxiety could build up to cause him to react.
    That is honestly what I've been wondering... the surprising part was, reacting to someone he was totally friendly with for two days already? That seemed surprising. He *was* acting really anxious on the morning of the incident. I wish I had been more proactive about that. :/

    He is at an age where thyroid could set in. But before you get a thyroid panel done, read up on the questions you need to ask because thyroid testing could be a bit tricky.

    It is very difficult to know what to suggest because the 3 incidences were spread out over a period of time.
    Well, the thyroid thing is good to know about. I am a big read-about-it-online-before-going-in sort of person, so I'll definitely read up on it. Thank you

    - Paul

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    Vet visit for thyroid test is scheduled for August 2nd, so. We'll see if there's anything going on there

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I have thyroid issues and it is a good idea to test them for this when there is a temperament change. I've definitely hulked out sometimes lol.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    Well, the vet recommended a full panel, so he got his thyroid, liver, and pancreas checked.

    Thyroid and liver were all fine; pancreas was pretty high... normal was something like 24-120 and his was something like 480. I don't know what the numbers actually mean.

    Apparently, it can be caused by fat (table scraps), and can be painful. He likely did have a fair amount of fat... overall, he tends to. He likes pork. :P

    Anyways. The vet did mention that it could have been a factor in showing aggression, just because it could have caused pain (and reading online, depression is a symptom, too).

    For now, I guess we will not take him on extended trips since he seems to like being home, try to limit his fatty food, and make sure we pay attention to his signs of acting weird (which has happened in all three cases).

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Pancreatitis is exquisitely painful, and can definitely contribute to someone not feeling like himself. I'm so glad you took him in and got that figured out!

    I hope he is feeling much much better soon!
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  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    So glad you found out about the Pancreatitis. Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon. If you read a little about 'trigger stacking', it might help you see why Benaiah could be reacting in a way that seems out of proportion to the situation. If you add in the fact that he was also in pain, the little things could add up rather quickly and push him beyond what he's able to deal with in a normal way.

  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Yes, pancreatitis is very painful. Poor guy. That could very well be the major cause of his being irritable and lashing out. Good thing you found out!

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