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> This Has Me Completely Flumoxed, Would be grateful for any help
mokee
post 30th Jan 2017, 8:20 pm
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I don't think this is really a training issue, but we are experiencing a new problem and I don't have the faintest idea what to do about it - I'd be grateful for any advice, if anybody has ever experienced anything similar.

A bit of background - we found out that Sprocket is losing his sight a few months ago, but since then his condition has deteriorated very quickly and he is now very obviously struggling to see and is developing that slightly odd, glassy-eyed, unfocused stare that blind dogs tend to have. And that, unfortunately, appears to be the crux of the problem. The other two dogs have taken to growling defensively at Sprocket and at first I thought that he must have been threatening them in some way that I hadn't noticed. Today, I was watching Sjindi intently when he started growling defensively at Sprocket, and it was then that I realised that he really wasn't doing anything threatening at all apart from, from Sjindi's perspective, staring right at him without looking away or blinking.

I'm at a loss - from the other dogs point of view Sprocket must seem to be constantly staring them down when in reality he probably can't even see them clearly, if at all. What on earth can I do about this (and why do I seem to have the most complicated dogs in the country?)
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doggroomer
post 30th Jan 2017, 9:00 pm
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Has Sprocket had blood tests recently, as there may be more going on than just his eyesight? One of my bridge boys started having fits around the same time as losing his eyesight, and was very insecure, so your other dogs may be picking up on other problems he may have.

Chris
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nikirushka
post 30th Jan 2017, 9:35 pm
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Is he just staring, or is he kind of zoning out? Might be worth a check-up. When Remy started staring into space (and then other symptoms reminiscent of dementia, but that was the first) it turned out to be very low B12, which would have started years before when he had gut problems.

Otherwise, if it is just his blindness, you could try getting his attention to break the "stare" and make sure they aren't left unsupervised together. And calling the other two away, making sure they know that's a good thing to do (as opposed to becoming defensive).

And also - you, like me, are a sucker for complicated dogs even when you don't mean to be lol.gif
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Fever
post 30th Jan 2017, 10:12 pm
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Sorry to hear about Sprokett, that's so sad. My sister's dog who comes here quite a lot is almost totally blind now, so we've spent a lot of time working on that. My three are incredibly tolerant of Rags, even when he barges into them -they just seem to know he can't help it.

Vet check for other issues would be my first step too.

I think your question might be too big for a forum reply, but my starting point would be to think really deeply about what the relationship between each of the dogs was before Sprockett became ill.

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traceymcl
post 31st Jan 2017, 7:11 am
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I had a bit of this. The fence between my house and my neighbour's house is chain link so our dogs can see each other clearly. Years ago, they had a shar pei. He loved other dogs but usually they didn't love him. Apart from looking strange, he was also an entire male and his social skills weren't good. He would greet dogs in an upright position with a growl.

Anyway - my bullmastiffs both loved him. Especially Katie who would sometimes play through the fence with him. My neighbours reported him being much happier once we uncovered the fence and the dogs could see each other. When Katie died, he took to standing by the fence a lot. Calgacus would go and stand beside him for ages. As time went on, he went completely blind so then he was growly, entire, standing right by the fence and staring fixedly into our garden. Calgacus seemed to understand and continued to stand next to his friend for long periods of time.

Cuillin was an adolescent at the time and it completely freaked him out. He'd tried as a puppy to get the shar pei to play with him and when that had been met with upright postures and growls, he'd given up and just tolerated our neighbour but the blindness and staring was a step too far. He took to barking and charging at the fence to try and drive the other dog away - which didn't work.

I didn't really see that there was much I could do other than encourage Cuillin to concentrate on searching for food in the garden rather than paying attention to the fence and encourage him to come inside rather than trying to drive the other dog away. So that was all I did. Food searches and getting Cuillin to come in if he really couldn't handle it. Plus - it left Calgacus free to hang out with his old friend whenever he wanted to - something that I think the shar pei found comforting. It was easier because it wasn't a dog we were living with.
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Fever
post 31st Jan 2017, 8:32 am
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That is such a lovely description of Calgagus and the Sharpei. How comforting that must have been for the blind dog too.

As well as knowing Rags, Keeper's best friend happens to be totally blind, and he is so understanding with her, sometimes just brushing her gently on walks to let her know he's there.

There was one memorable occasion where my friend and I were walking them together, and the blind dog, Nutmeg, was charged by a pug and a shi tzu, and was terrible frightened. Our dogs were on lines but we were able to manage the situation and the attackers retreated. We finished our walk, but when we got back to the car, Keeper was deliberately moving back towards to the park. I always trust him, so we all followed and realised he was taking us back to where it happened. He then touched Nutmeg with his flank, dropped his head, and sniffed and sniffed and sniffed, until she did the same, and they spent some minutes just sniffing the area.

I don't like to interpret really, but I think he might have been saying 'It's okay, this is where it happened, they have gone and I am here.' wub.gif
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mokee
post 31st Jan 2017, 12:08 pm
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I think maybe I haven't described it very well - I'm fairly sure that as far as Sprocket is concerned he is totally unaware of any staring. Now that he can barely see his eyes aren't focusing at all, or at least not like they used to, and although it must look very much to the other dogs like he's staring at them, I don't think he's aware of it at all. He's definitely not zoning out that I can tell, he's very much still alert and behaving normally in every way other than the glassy-eyed stare, it's just the other dogs who are behaving as if they feel threatened by him and this is the only change that I can see. If I ask him to watch me when he's staring blankly at one of the dogs he immediately turns his head towards where my voice came from, then goes back to staring at the other dog a few seconds later - so part of me wonders if he is aware that there is another dog there and is 'keeping an eye' on it, but is unaware that by doing so he's actually giving them the stare of death.

They are definitely only growling at him when he fixes the 'stare of death' on them, if it were some physiological change, wouldn't they be growling at him at times when he wasn't staring too? He did have a thorough going over from the vet when he was diagnosed three or four months ago, and other than the fact that he'd just blown his whole coat in one go and was losing his eyesight he was in good health.

Fever, I'm a bit confused, why would focusing on their relationship before he started to lose his sight be helpful and what is the outcome that I should be aiming to achieve from that?

This post has been edited by mokee: 31st Jan 2017, 12:10 pm
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Fever
post 31st Jan 2017, 12:29 pm
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It is amazing how well they adapt, as in Sprocket's case. I agree that if there were some physiological change, they'd be uneasy the rest of the time too. I think it needs really close scrutiny to see when the discomfort happens, and in what circumstances.

Based on my (very limited) experience of the two blind dogs I know quite well, I was suggesting thinking about relationships because the change in Sprocket's behaviour will be different for each of your dogs, depending on their existing relationship with him. If they were mine, I'd be thinking about which of the two dogs he is closest to, and also whether there were already any tensions between them - I don't mean serious ones, as that clearly isn't the case here, but any little niggles or particular requirements.

The reason it's hard to go on from there is that it very much depends on what you find, and I really don't like recommending things in a case like this when I haven't seen the dogs. But maybe (just maybe) the dog with the better relationship with him might be a way in to support Sprocket (for example, you could walk them together, if you don't already do so) and build a more supportive and relaxed relationship between them, which will help the dog who is less secure about the situation (I'm guessing Sjindi). On the other hand, the dog with the better relationship might find what Sprocket's doing harder to deal with. That's why I'm struggling to say what you might do and am not being very helpful I know!

I think what I'm really saying is find out what's going on, for each dog in the trio. I'd be recording when it happens, and where it happens, for example particular times of day or particular areas of the house. Then you can start putting in some management that is tailored to each dog. I think if my experience is anything to go by, it isn't just the staring (though that's difficult), it's the general air of confusion and lack of proprioception in the blind dog that the other dogs notice. As I say, they can learn to be very forgiving smile.gif

There's also lots of things you can do to support Sprocket in the house, like using scent cloths and different textures to mean certain things like 'door way here' or 'watch out, washing machine door is open!'. We do this with Rags very successfully, as well as never ever moving furniture (!) and always telling him what we are doing out loud. I found that really hard, because I communicate with my dogs using my body a lot, and I always forget that Rags can't see me.

I'm sure there's loads of help out there for you, and I'm sorry my advice is a bit vague. I'll be really interested to hear other suggestions.

This post has been edited by Fever: 31st Jan 2017, 12:31 pm
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lolbeck
post 31st Jan 2017, 8:18 pm
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QUOTE(traceymcl @ 31st Jan 2017, 7:11 am) *

........The fence between my house and my neighbour's house is chain link so our dogs can see each other clearly. Years ago, they had a shar pei. He loved other dogs but usually they didn't love him. Apart from looking strange, he was also an entire male and his social skills weren't good. He would greet dogs in an upright position with a growl.

Anyway - my bullmastiffs both loved him. Especially Katie who would sometimes play through the fence with him. My neighbours reported him being much happier once we uncovered the fence and the dogs could see each other. When Katie died, he took to standing by the fence a lot. Calgacus would go and stand beside him for ages. As time went on, he went completely blind so then he was growly, entire, standing right by the fence and staring fixedly into our garden. Calgacus seemed to understand and continued to stand next to his friend for long periods of time.....free to hang out with his old friend whenever he wanted to - something that I think the shar pei found comforting..........


wub.gif
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Annieskel
post 1st Feb 2017, 8:45 am
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QUOTE(mokee @ 30th Jan 2017, 8:20 pm) *


A bit of background - we found out that Sprocket is losing his sight a few months ago, but since then his condition has deteriorated very quickly and he is now very obviously struggling to see and is developing that slightly odd, glassy-eyed, unfocused stare that blind dogs tend to have. And that, unfortunately, appears to be the crux of the problem. The other two dogs have taken to growling defensively at Sprocket and at first I thought that he must have been threatening them in some way that I hadn't noticed. Today, I was watching Sjindi intently when he started growling defensively at Sprocket, and it was then that I realised that he really wasn't doing anything threatening at all apart from, from Sjindi's perspective, staring right at him without looking away or blinking.

I'm at a loss - from the other dogs point of view Sprocket must seem to be constantly staring them down when in reality he probably can't even see them clearly, if at all. What on earth can I do about this (and why do I seem to have the most complicated dogs in the country?)



What is their body language like? Dogs are very good at understanding when a dog has a problem like going blind or deaf.


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mokee
post 1st Feb 2017, 1:16 pm
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QUOTE(Annieskel @ 1st Feb 2017, 8:45 am) *

What is their body language like? Dogs are very good at understanding when a dog has a problem like going blind or deaf.


That's the thing - Sprocket has always been a terrible bully given the chance, but actually when the two of them have been growling at him his body language has normally been relaxed to very relaxed, the other night he was even reclining against a cushion on the sofa with his willy on show, so couldn't have been in a much more submissive position if he'd tried, but Sjindi still started growling at him and the only thing I could see that could have made Sjindi defensive was the staring.

Sprocket doesn't like Sjindi and Bali, he's made that very clear. It isn't that he doesn't like other dogs in general, because he had a serious Bromance going with Mr Lincoln and has liked every other dog he's met, including several others he's lived with, since he's been with us. In fact, I've never known him to dislike any dog apart from Sjindi and Bali. He also liked Sjindi for the first two weeks that he lived with us until one morning he decided he didn't like him any more. Sjindi and Bali don't like Sprocket much either, and certainly don't trust him, but that's hardly surprising since he's been mean to them whenever he got the chance for years.

Sjindi is the main growler, and I think this probably isn't helped by the fact that Sjindi is four now and intact, whereas Sprocket was castrated when he was about two - could he be seeing Sprockets encroaching blindness as a chance to let Sprocket know once and for all that he will no longer put up with the bullying?

Sjindi can also be a little bit guardy around me and Bali can be guardy around food - nothing serious, just a bit of a grumble, but only directed towards Sprocket, not each other, and it has definitely stepped up a gear since his eyesight started to go.

And that's why I like this forum so much - because I hadn't taken any of that into consideration until you lot started to help and had just thought it was his eyesight and the staring causing the problems and nothing else. Thanks so much for the input, it's very much appreciated.
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Annieskel
post 2nd Feb 2017, 8:19 am
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Thanks Mokee, I do get grumbles with my gang, they are not aggressive just talking to each other, usually saying 'get lost, I am here' lol.gif Could Sjindi and Bali be talking to Sprocket? I still watch my dogs all the time especially if one is grumbling and check it is grumbling and not something more. They are usually grumbling at Cyril as he teases them. lol.gif


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nikirushka
post 2nd Feb 2017, 8:55 am
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I suspect he's probably more unnerved by the change in Sprocket's behaviour than any chance to tell him off properly. Could you get it on video?
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Boysie
post 2nd Feb 2017, 9:05 am
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Not sure if this is helpful, but Boysie wub.gif didn't like being stared at by anyone. He would start with a very quiet growl, rising in volume until either being removed from the situation or the 'offender' turned their head away. He only ever met a few blind dogs but he would growl at them because of their (inadvertent) staring .
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mokee
post 7th Mar 2017, 3:58 pm
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QUOTE(nikirushka @ 2nd Feb 2017, 8:55 am) *

I suspect he's probably more unnerved by the change in Sprocket's behaviour than any chance to tell him off properly. Could you get it on video?


Image

I've tried and tried but still haven't managed to get anything on video - they're all camera shy. I did, however, find this photo from last summer that I think illustrates what Sprocket is doing quite nicely. Sjindi is nearest the camera and has a pigs ear in his gob - Sprocket (who had more sight back then than he does now) has already eaten his own pigs ear, and now would rather like Sjindi's too. Whereas previously he would have been sat a respectful distance away keeping an eye on the treat - he's now probably about a foot away, staring directly at him because he can no longer even see Sjindi from a respectful distance, never mind the pigs ear. I think you can see from Sjindi's expression that he's not comfortable with Sprocket staring at him like this from this distance and I remember moving Sprocket away immediately after taking this photo to prevent any escalation.

This definitely isn't some kind of dominance or intimidation issue, in my opinion. I don't think it is strictly a training issue either, although I do realise it looks just like Sprocket is trying to intimidate Sjindi into dropping the treat. The thing is that Sprocket has always had beautiful manners around food and I genuinely believe that he is completely unaware of how rude this behaviour must be to Sjindi, I think he's only got that close to him because he wants to keep an eye on the treat 'just in case' and he literally can't see it from any further away.

As always, more than happy for any input, especially if you're seeing something that I'm not.

The good news is that things have calmed down again since I first posted this thread and they're getting along a lot better in general at the moment, which is always nice lol.gif

eta They only have pigs ears once in a blue moon and all love them - so they're a very high value treat, hence Sprocket wanting to keep an eye on this one so that if Sjindi does drop it and walk away (fat chance) he can nab it before Bali gets it. We have a rule in our house that you don't bully each other for food or toys, but if somebody walks away and leaves it behind then it is fair game for whoever gets to it first, and that actually seems to work surprisingly well

This post has been edited by mokee: 7th Mar 2017, 4:05 pm
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