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Help advice needed

? on: 7:38pm on 7th Apr ? Quote Quote Modify Modify Remove Remove



Hi all

Could use a little advice about our 21 month old spayed Border Collie.

We have had her since she was 5 months old,and have little knowledge of her life before coming to us.

From day 1 she has seemed a little nervous at times,for instance,she will run over to you for a fuss,but when being stroked will often start swallowing hard repeatedly,while turning her head away,yet looking at you out of the corner of her eye.If you go near her belly or hindquarters she becomes much more agitated,at times turning her head fast as though to bite,but pulling away at the last minute.

While we have kind of got used to her being nervous,things are getting worse.

Over the last few months she has started showing outright aggresion towards several people-Myself included.

(One instance,i was sitting in an armchair watching tv at night,both dogs laying on the floor.Sally (The Border) suddenly lifts up a little,and starts a very low threatening growl-while staring at me the whole time.

(A sharp word did stop her,but-was a very unpleasant moment..)

She has also taken to snarling and growling at visitors to the house,and our own children at times too.

She will be sat perfectly happy,one of the children will walk into the room-and she is instantly lowering her head,snarling and growling at whoever has walked in.

Yet wihin moments she is happy again and wants to play! (The growling beforehand is in no way "playful" though)

Since being with us she has never been smacked or hit or anything like that.She is a beautiful dog,and it would break my heart to have to part with her.But it's getting to the point where we just can't trust her.

Any advice about this behaviour would be gratefully received!

Sally has been to vets for checked up 2 weeks ago and all is well infact vet said she is in perfect health


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Hi Mandy, and welcome to the boards!


We see post after post where people are having behavioral problems with their dog, and there is a common thread with all of them.


Sally needs plenty of daily exercise, plenty of socialization, plenty of rules, plenty of daily training and games to keep her mind sharp, and a competent leader that she respects (as opposed to blows off).


Which of these is Sally not getting?

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Hi Mandy,

I'm guessing you've had her into the vet, but if you haven't, I'd be sure to rule out some physical problem causing her pain or affecting her bahavior in some other way.


I'm a big believer in TTouch--Linda Tellington's massage techniques for dogs. There are books and videos available. I think one advantage to them is that you're interacting with your dog w/o talking or looking at them (both can be difficult for shy dogs). Your dog may be uneasy as you start to work with her, but the different kinds of touch are very calming to dogs. It also makes the dog more comfortable with you touching different parts of her body.


You might also want to check out the 'shy dogs' yahoo group, which I think you can find via google. Lots of good advice there on shyness, fearfulness, aggression.

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I would almost suspect a type of petit mal seizure, given the odd timing of these episodes. It might be worth discussing with the vet imo.

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That's not a bad thought, MaggieDog, because the description seems odd... normal affect one second and totally abnormal the next, then back to normal. Epilepsy CAN cause that sort of thing in the absence of a full grand-mal seizure. The other thing that a basic veterinary exam might not detect would be a partial visual defecit or a blood chemistry abnormality. I've seen a few dogs with liver shunts that went all bizarre temporarily and episodically, but were normal the rest of the time. I've seen the same in dogs with periodic hypoglycemic events.


Unfortunately there's no blood test for epilepsy, so you have to back into that by ruling other things out. Also, do you have access to a veterinary behaviorist, MandyG? This needs to be a veterinarian who specializes in behavior, not a trainer who is not a vet. A veterinary neurologist might also be of use. Also - and I know this is a bit subtle, but you might be able to tell - have you noticed any pupillary dilation when this is occurring? Any facial twitching? does the dog seem 100% normal after the events, or is she "off" in any way - subdued, tired, hiding, slinking, drooling, etc?


TTouch is great, and CAN help a dog who is sensitive to being touched in general or in a particular area, but I'm not sure that's all that's going on here. It can certainly help a physically sensitive dog or one that's physically timid, however, and it's GREAT on teething puppies, IMO... I used to TTouch Finn's gums all the time when he was teething. He loved it. To this day he enjoys a nice gingival massage. But to me, the description sounds as if there are two things going on... one is the physical senstivity &/or timidity, and the other is the behavioral episodes - which may be strictly behavior, or may have an underlying physical cause.


In the meantime, while you are figuring this out, I'd do everything possible to be sure she isn't put in a position where she can bite anyone, most especially the children. Good luck with this.

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Thanks everyone for your advice,

Sally dont show any signs of face twitching,pupillary dilation nothing no shaking,i have thought and asked about epilepsy,Sally shows not one sign ever of it,she is 100% before any growling and straight after maybe a few seconds thats all,she had alot of attention,when she growls you say a firm NO she stops,she is great when off lead outside,and just walking never growls at anyone,this is why it seems odd,she is protective over her home im sure about,we do have another dog Merlin a JRT,she gets on great with him and all other dogs,cats are another story she HATES them,as with children we have 5 ages from 15 down to 7 she plays with them for hrs but one of our boys she loves and hates at the same time Reece is 10 coming up 11 and she often growls at him why?? we ask ourselves is it because he wears glasses ??no she hasnt known him any different,anyway i am going to call our vet tomorrow and see, what they have to suggest,many thanks again


thanks again

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I could be off base but what about pack order issues guys?



When she growls and you say NO do you allow her to stay there or send her to crate for a time out?

Here when Sam misbehaves he goes to crate no cookie either for the crate. A few minutes or so later if he isn't napping he can come back out but on my terms not his.

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Hello Mandy, this transient unassignable behavior may need the evaluation and intervention of an animal behaviorist. We're lucky here in the Seattle area to have several available. Is there anyone there?


I believe there is an academic behaviorist on the boards here but I'm not sure that they are clinical practicioners. Any body remember who that is?

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