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Canine Behavior/Canine Bruxism

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Question
I have noticed in the last several weeks, my Lovey, (rescue mix with border collie and terrier) has been grinding her teeth 3-4 times when she is circling to lay down at night. We have a fairly consistent schedule for meals, potty and sleep.  She is well- adjusted and very loving.  There have been no new onset behavioral issues, appetite good, outdoor playtime is active with running and wrestling together. Just curious if this is just her "quirkiness" or if the beginning of a larger issue.  I have not noticed this except for going to bed at night.

Answer
Thank you for your question.

The first order of business whenever we see a new and unexplainable behavior (can't see an obvious reason for the behavior) is to get a vet check. In this case, your vet should be doing a proper oral exam to see if there is any tooth issue (cavity, crack, chip, gum disease, etc). Along with that, the vet should probably also look for other sources of pain (joints, muscles, even headache, etc) as teeth gritting/grinding can be in response to pain. It's important that we rule out any potential health issues that can be treated.

If the vet gives Lovey a clean bill of health all around, then we can start to ponder the potential behavioral causes for the grinding. When you say she grinds her teeth 3-4 times as she's circling to lie down, does this mean that you can see her mouth working or hear the sound in a pattern of 3 or 4 motions/sounds of grinding and then she stops? Does she stop before or after she has settled into her down position? Does she grind her teeth while asleep at all? Ever? Does she do this behavior every single night at bed time over the last several weeks, or you've just noticed it a few times? Does she does this at other times as she begins to lie down or only at bedtime?

Where does she sleep - in your room, in another room? Does she sleep on her own bed, in a crate, on your bed, the floor with no bed? Have you noticed any other changes in her behavior at all - she turns more or fewer times before lying down? She starts to lie down, but then changes her mind and switches direction or moves to a new location before settling?

How old is she? How long has she been part of your family? Does she get up with ease in the morning or at other times of day after having been lying down for a period of time?

Please have your vet examine her to ensure there are no health issues at play (or to treat any that you find). Then reply to this email with the vet report and, if she has a clean bill of health, answers to the above questions and we will go from there to try to determine if this is behavior you need to be concerned about or if it's just a quirk that we need not worry over.

Thank you for your participation in this effort to get to the bottom of Lovey's teeth grinding. I look forward to your followup.

Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Worcester, MA behavior specialist (formerly L.A.)
http://NutzAboutMutz.com

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

Expertise

IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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