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My girlfriends 10 year old bichon acts really strongly

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Hi, my girlfriends 10 year...
Hi, my girlfriends 10 year old bichon acts really strongly around me. We've been together for a year and I've seen the dog a lot, taken it for walks, fed it, been alone with it. However now when I arrive it doesn't come and sit near me, and clings to my girlfriends side, stares at me a lot and has been sleeping under the bed when I'm there. It has weed under the bed for no reason recently. One night it spent the whole time scratching the floor, another morning it had a weird bruise on its back leg and this morning it's bum was swollen, like it had dragged itself on the floor too much!
What's odd is that the first 6 months the dog would happily come and sit on my lap, stay with me when my girlfriend left the room etc. Now when we're alone the dog looks at me for a bit then runs to cling onto my girlfriend, yet happily sits on the sofa next to me and fall asleep when my girlfriend is there.
Not sure why she seems scared or why this has suddenly happened?
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Dog
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Answered in 17 minutes by:
5/3/2012
Dog Specialist: Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst replied 6 years ago
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20,406
Experience: Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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Hi Sir or Madam,

My name is ***** ***** I've been a professional answering questions concerning dog health and behavioral issues here since 2006. Over 13,000 of my answers have been accepted by customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you.

How long has your girl friend's dog been acting differently?

Has she had the dog seen by her vet?

Did the dog have a scare or injury right before the change in behavior?

Does the dog scoot often?

How do you pick the dog up?

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Hi Jane,
Thanks for the reply. Quick correction on my earlier message - meant to say 'strangely' not 'strongly'.
To answer your questions:
1) Started to act differently around 4-5 months ago but started every now and again, most of the night fine then when I would be about to leave she looked at me oddly, tail went between her legs and she would cling to my girlfriends side, follow her around and sit behind her legs staring at me. It has since gradually got worse, I've looked after her alone one night, she was excited to see me when I arrived and be really friendly, sit on my leg, fall asleep, happily let me stroke her, tickle her stomach etc then start crying, hide under the table, run upstairs scared, come back into the lounge and get on the sofa with me again, this went on all night. When I got into bed she got in with me and nestled between my legs of her own accord and fell asleep, when my girlfriend got back she didn't even get up to greet her which is really unusual. That night she spent the whole night loudly panting, didn't go outside to wee and had a red mark/bruise on her back leg the next day. It's got to the stage now where most of the time if we're in the same room alone she runs out to find my girlfriend and always hides under the bed to sleep at night. Yet still sits on the sofa and leans into me to be stroked when my girlfriend is on the sofa as well.
2) She's been seen by the vet a to have hysterectomy about 4 months ago and back in August her brother (who she spent the whole time with) was put down. After she recovered from the op she was energetic and more friendly than before.
3) Not that I can think of, her brother was put down and she had the surgery but it certainly wasn't an instant change. I've not hurt her been aggressive or threatening to her. I'm a massive dog fan and have no fear of dogs that she may pick up on.
4) I'm not sure what 'scoot' means? If you mean does she suddenly dash off then no, she sits around and only leaves when my girlfriend heads off, even then she still sometimes stays in the same place.
If you mean does she rub her butt on the floor then this happens every now and again, not to often though. She does scratch the floor fairly regularly with her front paws though.
5) I rarely pick her up, probably about 2-3 times in total. When I do I pick her up in the same way my girlfriend does - one hand behind her back legs and one hand in front of her front legs. Once I was sat down and she climbed up to sniff my face, her paws were on my shoulder and she rested down, I then picked her up in that position and she was more than happy, wagging her tail.
Really confused by the sometimes scared, sometimes friendly nature which doesn't seem to have any explanation!
Thanks,
Paul
Dog Specialist: Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst replied 6 years ago
Paul,

I can think of a couple of possible causes for what you are seeing with your girl friend's dog. It might be that in the beginning of your relationship, the dog saw you as a visitor to the house and treated you as such. Visitors are treated friendly. Once you were around quite a lot and staying overnight frequently, the dog would start seeing you as part of the pack.
.
In a pack there is an alpha member. The alpha member has certain privileges. The alpha member is obeyed. The alpha member allows other members to get close to them and lower ranking members will not just jump on them without permission. Many times a lower ranking member will act subservient around the alpha, lowering the head and not looking at the alpha. Not participating in an activity without being asked. You can read a bit about pack behavior on the following site. Humans become part of a pack but since we are not dogs, it is a little different.
http://www.italian-greyhound.net/packbehave.htm
.
An alpha dog will show displeasure with low tones (growls) and by dominating them frequently showing this domination by placing their head over the other dogs. Men naturally have lower toned voice and because most men are taller, they frequently bend over to pet a dog rather than stoop down. Both of these things can be interpreted by a dog as dominant behavior. So the dog may see you as the alpha member of the pack since you are male. However, the dog might not know what you expect of the dog. It knows what to expect of your girlfriend since she has been with her longer.
.
What might help is doing some obedience training with her. If you worked with her on obedience she would learn exactly what you wanted her to do and would become more confident around you since when you speak to her, she understands what you want. I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.

http://www.sibes.org/sdo/index.asp~m=article&name=sdo.id.A000232

http://www.luckydogs.info/pdf/Teaching-the-basic-commands.pdf

.

The following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the left on obedience. 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 the dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

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

.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well the dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.

.

Another possibility is that the dog is experiencing Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). This can cause erratic behavior. There is a wonderful site that explains it well and also explains how to document a dog's behavior and discuss it with the vet. The good news is that there is a drug called L-Selegeline (Anipryl (R)) which has been recently approved for use in the clinical indication of cognitive dysfunction (CDS) in dogs. Please see this site for more information and other causes that may exhibit the same symptoms.

http://www.swiftwaterfarms.com/swiftwater/p22CanineCognitiveDysfunction.htm

.

I hope this information is helpful to you.
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