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You may be sick of me talking about it but that's too bad! My experiences may help someone else someday.




Boy is acting "off" today. Now I know that it's his way of saying he's in pain.


Just like last fall, he's messing with his ears, except I don't think it's his ears, but his neck that is bothering him. He's got that "off" look. It may not look like much to anyone else, but I know the expressions my Boy makes, and these are not his normal expressions under any circumstances. My vet is very familiar with him also, and recognized something was "off" right away when she saw him like this.


His "off" look can vary from distrust or wariness, to a guilty/pitiful look, to a cold, hard, "if looks could kill" stare, or a combination. Here's from a few minutes ago:




This is what he's been doing today, more and more. He will come up to me and look at me like this, maybe put his chin on my lap, and maybe even nudge my hand. Boy does not solicit affection from me often and when he does, it's not in this manner. He loves head and neck scritches and I realized today that that's what he's asking for.


I learned more than that. Pressing on the back of his neck, even lightly, causes him to back away from me and give me a dirty look, but scratching and massaging the sides of his neck causes him to put the full weight of his head on my lap and close his eyes.


Pressing on his rump, even lightly, causes him to sit. If he's already sitting, or if he's lying down, then he will tense his belly and give me a dirty look. He might even lick my face or just lick his own lips.




After the neck scritches he went and layed down in the sunroom. Rarely does he go far from me, so although it probably doesn't seem like much to anyone else, the above picture and look on his face is abnormal for him. I think this is his way of saying he wants to be alone.


I didn't give him a pain pill today because he was so happy and active yesterday. I wanted to see how he would be today without anything to mask any pain. Now I know. His pain pill should be kicking in any minute now, so we'll see if there are any changes, now that I know what to look for. One other sign is when he holds his head low. Remember that in case you ever come across a similar situation.


What had me and the pro's so confused last fall was that he would respond to cues and suddenly be completely normal. For instance, "go outside" would cause him to perk his ears up, wag his tail, hang his tongue, and play like normal when out there. He'd go through obedience commands, happily and seemingly easily. Then he'd all of a sudden be grumpy again.


Twice today, within a half hour, he lashed out at both cats (first one, then the other). Both times he was lying on the floor next to the couch where I sit, and both times the cat was walking by the kitchen doorway, about 6 feet away from him. He never bothers the cats, so I was wondering what was going on. He didn't actually jump up and lunge at them, but he faked like he was going to, and got real snarly and growly for one quick second. It scared the crap out of the cats and startled me too.


I'm guessing this type of behavior is related to pain also. He was like this alot last fall, towards everyone and everything, even me sometimes, and he was grumpy like that with Fynne very recently and put a few holes in her muzzle.


I just now did one last experiment. He just came up to me and looked at me funny. I told him to sit and held a piece of kibble above his head. I wanted to see if he could bend his neck back on his own but he couldn't.


It all makes sense now. At least I know what's going on now. It's not behavioral, it's physical.


This post from RaisingRiver might be spot on:


posted 04-18-2006 01:27 AM


If Boy does have an injury - he would know it and feel he must fiercely defend his position in the pack, since it will soon be apparent to all that he is weaker then before.


The guarding, hoarding, etc. could all be a front to cover that he is weaker then he appears.


I'll be awaiting to see what his x-rays show...


I hope it works out.

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Miz - It's great that finally you know the reasons behind his odd behavior. I wonder how many dogs get put down because the cause is never found, you know?


And don't feel bad about posting a lot - I know I for one find your whole journey very inspiring and interesting. Ever thought about keeping a journal? I keep one just about the pets... it's really great to read back and see how progress was made... I like keeping all my stuff in one place.

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Hi Miz,


I don't post offten on these boards but have been keeping up on your situation with Boy. I am sorry, you are going thru this.


I am a trainer, and this might be related to how Boy is behaving. Last year, I had a nice family bring their golden retriever puppy to one of my classes. All statred out fine, my assesment of the pup was that she was an average nice golden. She had one problem in class, she would sometime refuse to sit...and get very determined not to do so if confronted, but she would gladly lie down or do any other bahavior. A few weeks into the class the mother started telling me that the dog was acting funny at times...she would get under a table or bed and refuse to come out, and if anyone bothered her she would growl and show her teeth at them. I was supriced since I knew her as a nice girl, and could not figure why she would be gaurding space all of the sudden. The next week in class I made a piont of watching her carefully, and noticed she was trying to ecape from the building when given a chance, we use all positive methods so this made no sense and she was not fearful or shy of anything. She had a wadely gait that bothered me so I send the family to the vet for x-rays which showed severe displastic hips, ocd in both shoulders. The orthepedic vet did not feel surgery on her mangeled skeletal system would bring her any comfort, just more pain in the long run. So the family opted to just manage her pain with meds. Unfortunatly the dog strarted associating her pain with what she saw in front of her, when she was feeling crappy and their cat walked by she lashed out at it since she thought it must be the cause of her discomfort...after a few months she started having aggresive outburst at her owner aswell when she was in pain. Finally the decision was made to put her to sleep, since she was loosing herself in the pain and the family had small children.


Boy might also be bursting out in agression towards you, the cats, Finn, or your Husband...simply because he does not know why he is hurting. Dogs associate what they feel with what they see, ie. Boy hurts, he sees cat, and thinks that it's the source of his discomfort. If he is really in that much pain, he needs to be on daily meds for his chronic pain to keep it below threshold and then extra meds for break thu pain. This will help his behavior. Do research on cronic pain managment in humand or animal.



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By "pain meds" do you mean an antinflammatory or some type of narcotic? Antinflammatories work best if you use them prophylactically, ie, if he was active yesterday, then you'd start him on them as soon as he starts or even before if you know he's going to be active.


Like we give Doug the Dog a Rimadyl the night before he's going to be working all day, or before traveling (staying in the crate for a long time makes him ouchy).


Or, like I just took a Tramadol because this afternoon we wrassled half grown lambs and Julie showed me how to hand shear (though she did most of the actual wrassling and clipping). I probably should have taken one BEFORE - because I already feel twinges in my hip, and every time I let a flareup get by, a little more damage is done to the joints.


If you are talking about an actual pain med, never mind all this. :rolleyes:

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Thanks for the similar story Jeanine. We just found out that he has pain and he's taken pain meds every day since then. I just didn't give him his pill first thing this morning, but waited instead.


Becca, the vet gave him 10 days worth of Deramaxx, an anti-inflammatory. Medication is one of the things I will find out more about when we go to the specialist.


You hurt today too? My pain has been pretty much unbearable all day today. I have strong narcotics and am fixin' to take another one. :rolleyes:

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