Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grumpy Cattle Dog (update)

Well, our grumpy Cattle Dog nipped Gary badly enough that she broke the skin on his forehead. She has been getting worse over the years. When I first noticed she was getting grumpy I did take her to the vet. The vet didn't think there was anything wrong. She is just an 8-10 year old Cattle Dog.

Cattle Dog's are not recommended as family pets. They are serious working dogs. They are smart, trainable, tend to be dog-aggressive and sometimes people-aggressive. They herd cattle by nipping them in the heels, so biting can also be an issue. Our Cattle Dog (CD) did a little heel nipping when she was new. She quickly learned that all playing would stop. She also go a lot of basic status-reduction work. She will sit/stay for anyone in the house.

Over the past few years though she has grown increasingly grumpy. She doesn't like anyone to touch her hind quarters. She snarls sharply at anyone who bumps her. She often then looks apologetic, especially if it was me or Roland, but she does it.

And she has nipped the boys several times. She nipped Brian's hand when he was petting her while doing something else. He didn't pay attention to her changing mood. A few years ago she would have walked away when she got irritated. That time she nipped his hand.

Today Gary was rubbing her tummy and probably wrestling with her. She nipped his face, barely breaking the skin in one spot on his forehead. I'm pretty sure the agency would not be pleased.

The boys are not pleased either. They don't trust her. Roland just took her for a real walk, something he hasn't done for months. He says he will try to give her more exercise and see how she does. The boys don't have much confidence. They are in favor of us finding her a new home.

I have grave doubts about the ability of finding a new home for an older grumpy dog.

I don't like the options. The safety of humans comes first, of course.

We will see if exercising her hard helps.

Or perhaps we will just see if Roland will actually keep up with the exercising. I hope he does. It would be good for him too.

Update(3/24/09): we finally got the dog to the vet. She got a one-month supply of an anti-inflamatory pain killer.


  1. I hope you figure it all out. As a trainer, I have seen my fair share of troubled cattle dogs over the years.

    Has she been xrayed to check her hips?? If she is biting out of pain, more exercise may not be good.

    With working dogs, it is important to keep their mind busy. You can try puzzle toys or other food filled treats. You can also play training games in the house. If you need suggestions, let me know.....

    I have an old Belgian Malinois and she can get very crabby unless we keep her mind busy....

  2. I just wanted to share that my sweet natured yellow lab mix became a biter in his 11th year. We realized later that it was probably due to his arthritis because he wouldn't allow us to touch his touchis, which he'd previously loved to have scratched. We got him some Drs. Foster and Smith joint relief pills and dog aspirin, and it helped quite a bit.

  3. I'll take her to the vet again and see if there is something treatable going on. Hip issues should be investigated. It would be good if it is treatable.

  4. I hope you get it all worked out!

  5. ncsingledad7:49 AM

    x2 on what Stacy said about having her hips x-rayed for possible arthritis. We see lots of dogs at our vet and once started on arthritis medications they're like a much younger dog.

    Also, if that doesn't work, Prozac (generic) is also used in dogs as a treatment for aggression, along with some other medications. You might ask your vet about trying that and see if it makes a difference.

    Good luck!

  6. This is just the trainer in me, but if there is no apparent medical reason for the issue, I would try behavioral modification prior to using "doggie prozac". JMO

  7. My first thought was arthritis, too. The hips thing is kind of telling. My sister's dog has a lot of joint pain, yet the vet can't see any telltale signs of arthritis. They have her dog on arthritis med (despite the lack of x-ray evidence) and now the dog is doing great.

  8. My first thought was pain also. Shoot, I hate these kinds of problems.


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.