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Canine Behavior/8yr old Standard Poodle behavior change


QUESTION: Hello! I have an 8 yr old female Standard poodle, and lately shes been acting strange. When I bring her to my house from my parents(about 1 or 2 nights a month) she wont come near me, shakes,only wants to go outside, even after I take her out for a long time and she uses the bathroom. She sits in the other room and stares at me, and when I try to comfort her she shakes and gets stiff. We took her to the vet and she is healthy. She is fine at my parents house. What could it be?

ANSWER: The dog is apparently living with your folks now?  And you bring her to your home 1 or 2 nights a month?  Something is confusing her and causing her great anxiety.  Since this behavior only occurs (IF THIS behavior ONLY OCCURS) under these circumstances, as sad as it is for you, you must leave her with your parents.  As dogs age, their cognition can be affected (as happens in humans).  This cognition loss can result in "strange" fear of things otherwise acceptable, social withdrawal, superstitious behavior and even (occasionally) aggression.  Trying to "comfort" a dog in clear distress is from the human heart, it is an urge to nurture and protect, but the dog misunderstands this as reward ("be afraid, be very afraid").  The dog may have reached an age where she is unable to habituate to new circumstances and requires the security of a routine, day to day life.

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QUESTION: I apologize I should've been more clear: this is a randomly occurring thing with her. She defiantly does it at my house, but she will do it every once in a while at my parents (her permeant home). Sometimes she will ignore everyone at the house and only want to be outside. She acts upset, and bothered, even if no one is near her. She had a seizure about 2 months ago and threw up and urinated on herself. Like I said before, when she was looked at by the vet she is healthy.

"Looked at by the vet"...not good enough.  This dog may be displaying loss of cognition *age related* and/or real behavioral symptoms of physical illness.  Dogs do not display serious pain even with terminal cancer until the very end of their lives, that's their nature.  She needs to be seen by a veterinary behaviorist or a veterinary INTERNIST.  I prefer the behaviorist, obviously.  You can find one by calling the veterinary school in your area or from the following:

I can tell you from recent (last week) personal experience: a close friend's dog (Australian Cattle Dog/ Border Collie mix) has been seen on and off by various veterinarians over the past couple of years because of sudden onset of blindness and overall "odd' behavior.  It was obvious to me the last time I saw him that he was in substantial pain, had become incontinent, and was suffering.  All CBC results came back normal.  I made an appointment with a veterinary internist for the dog.  We were going there last Tuesday.  Monday morning at 3:30 AM the dog died at home.

The change in behavior you describe absolutely requires the most sophisticated medical evaluation before being addressed as strictly behavioral issues.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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