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Canine Behavior/Weird question


My dog is a neutered male, about 14-15 months old. He's a pit bull/retriever type mix and about 65 lbs or so. he's quite active and fit. He's gone on runs with me before. Worms were his only physical problem. He's a healthy boy.

He jumped off the sofa and I heard him yelp. He was acting like his right rear foot or leg was hurt and could not get comfortable. He wasn't eating and was moving very slowly.

This was a couple days ago. He acts like he doesn't hurt anymore as he's his active, spunky self. I didn't see him jump off the sofa because I was another room.

I have laminate flooring in most of my home. My theory is that he slipped a little as he got off the sofa. But now he's acting like he's scared of the wood floor. It's almost as if he's walking on his tip toes. His footing seems rather unsure and it seems like he's hesitant or scared of my floor. Get him out on the grass or on the tile in my bathroom or the concrete in my garage and he's happy as a clam. The word I can come up with the most is tentative. He seems quite tentative.

He hasn't acted like this except for the last few days.

What do you think is happening here? Is this just a weird quirk that he associates the wood floor with his hurt foot? And with what I told you, do you think I should have him checked out by a vet to rule out any serious injury (which I don't think it going on.)

I hope I'm overreacting here. Thanks for your time.

No, you are not over reacting.  At 15 months, if you have jogged this dog for a while, he may very well have developed or is experiencing what WOULD have developed orthopedic-ally.  He's scared of the floor because it is possible his footing is not solid, that he is still in pain, and he fears any surface that challenges this situation.  First stop:  veterinarian, if you can afford it, a veterinary orthopedist.  He needs to be examined, probably even x-rayed.  This might be a case of tendonitis (jumping off the couch at a wrong angle, many humans develop tendonitis for reasons they don't even recall!) in which case he will need an anti-inflammatory and some rest from vigorous exercise.  That's the best case scenario.  Worst case, he has hip dysplasure or another congenital condition (even multiple generational mixes of certain breed/types can have this).  Better to have a close examination and real scrutiny of his physical condition (orthopedic, etc.) than to embark upon a behavior modification program that won't work or will coerce him into doing what "hurts" him.  Dogs don't show us their injuries easily.  That is the nature of their species.  For instance, my present (and only dog, for the first time in 20 years) had a loose and painful tooth which was discovered during a "well check"!  This tooth HURT her, yet she demonstrated NO pain, ate her food, chewed her toys, etc.

Ask your generalist veterinarian about this and see if s/he considers it appropriate to refer you to a veterinary orthopedist.  Report back following visit.  If the dog is found free of physical injury (which I doubt), we will embark upon a program of counter conditioning for his generalized fear.  Until then, WALK, DON'T RUN.

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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

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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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