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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18960
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Our dog that w got as an adult dog was very happy with us

Customer Question

Our dog that w got as an adult dog was very happy with us very social very keen to go for runs and exploring on our farm. More recently he has become a recluse doesn't want to go anywhere and when we try and make him he gets aggressive growls in his kennel won't come out. He is not good with anyone but myself and my husband now if we ever go away he won't go to his kennel at night and just growls and barks and gets his own way. We feel a need to get help as i am scared that he may one day bite someone and be a bigger problem. He has had a few electric fence shocks these didn't seem to be a big problem at the beginning and I'm not sure this is his problem hope you can offer some advise thanks Mandy Paterson
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 10 months ago.

Hi Mandy,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I have and have had a great deal of rottweilers. Some of have been in an invisible shock fence and others in a dog electric fence. I've have trained with a lot of dogs in the country who have been inside of livestock electric fences as well. Non of them has exhibited the behavior you describe.

I do want to ask a few questions so I can give you some possible reasons for his behavior and some possible solutions as well. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

What breed is your dog?

How old is your dog?

Does he growl or bark at you?

Has he ever bit anyone or snapped at them?

Have you done obedience training with him?

You say he hasn't wanted to do anything. Do you mean walks on the farm and exploring?

Do you mean car rides?

Is your farm relatively flat?

Does he still want to be outside or does he want to stay inside?

Are there a lot of steps to get outside?

Does he jump up normally?

How long have you had him?

How long ago did he get hit by the electic fence?

Did the behavior change right after that?

Could he have had a run in with an animal on the farm?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Morris is a German Wire haired Pointer, He is 7 years old yes he growls and barks at us only when we try and get him out of his kennel sometime he come willingly. never bitten anyone but has snapped at people only when they are trying to get him out of kennel or off the back of the ute. No training has been given. No he does not want to do anything. Still goes in the ute up to the other farm but wont get out. Home farm is flat runoff is very steep. No steps to get anywhere at home he jumps up on to the back of the ute no worries. we have had him 4 years. Got hit by the electric fence ages ago behaviour didn't start then at all. He has had a couple of fights with the other dog on the farm a working farm dog he seemed to be the one who started it and it was over food. Up at the runoff he runs off free range lots of bush creeks and all sort of animals (wild) up there unless something has had a go at him up there (pig) no signs of this though he3 has never come back to the vehicle beaten up or looking worse for wear Hope this helps you
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 10 months ago.

Thaks for the additional information. It is helpful.

One thing you desperately need to do is get him obedience trained. A dog should not be growling at his owners regardless of the reason. If a dog is in a lot of pain, they might growl if they think you are going to make that pain worse, but a well trained dog is still unlikely to growl even then. At his age, which is considered elderly even at 7 and thus may be experiencing some pain due to arthritis or joint issues. In addition, behavior problems can develop as the result of hypothyroidism which is a problem in the breed. Read about this here:

http://orivet.com.au/hypothyroidism-german-shorthaired-pointer/

Hypothyroidism can cause behavioral changes as well as sudden aggression so you should rule that out. If a medical cause is ruled out, then it is behavioral in nature. In that case, start obedience training. Dogs that are acting aggressively toward their owner and others needs training by the owner so the owner can be seen as the boss. Dogs growl to reprimand others or warn them. If you ignore the growls the next step is to nip or bite. Dogs do not reprimand their boss. The fact that the dog is doing this shows he either has a medical issue or feels that he is the boss. Obedience training helps because each time a dog obeys a command (even if for a treat) they become a little more submissive to the person giving the command. So training leads to you being the boss. As the boss, you give the reprimands, not him. He also is required to do what you tell him to even if he doesn't want to.

The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

So I would start with a good physical and thyroid panel with bloodwork. In addition start the training. Use hot dog slivers as treats for training as they are high value treats and most dogs will gladly work for that treat. Liver is another good choice for treat but messier. All family members will need to work with him and who ever comes to take care of him when you are gone. You can also keep him socialized by having friends give him commands and then treats when he obeys. These things should help if it is behavioral in nature.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer so I am compensated for my time.

If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well.

Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms.

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
JANE Morris has had lots of training as a puppy and his behaviour has been absolutely fine up until recently have had bloods done and all appears normal his diet is organic fresh meat and veges he loves all his food also gets calf pooh in the spring and rotting afterbirth that he loves to eat and roll around in. It is weird that he has just changed over a period of 4 weeks to being non interested in life. We were thinking of getting a brain scan done to see if there are any problems there ?? So really you have no idea why my dog has gone weird and really nothing to add that I haven't already done :(
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 10 months ago.

Training as a puppy is just that. Puppy training. Dogs need training their whole lives or they start thinking that they make their own decisions about what they do or don't do. Once they get that idea they will start growling and even biting people including their owners. You even state that he is growling and barking to get his own way. So that has to be corrected and obedience training and practice as an adult is the way to correct that IF it is not a medical issue.

I mentioned ALSO that hypothyroidism is a possibility and it can cause behavioral changes as well as sudden aggression. Thyroid imbalances need only be slightly off to cause aggression and behavioral changes. Blood work would not show a problem with the thyroid. He would need to specifically have a thyroid panel done. Most vets do not run a thyroid panel automatically. You can certainly have a brain scan done but it would be more advantageous to have full body scan and rule out growths throughout the body. Since pain can lead to aggression as well, that would be a better use of the diagnostic imaging.

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