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12 year old suddenly sleeping alone.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Welshhobo, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Welshhobo

    Welshhobo PetForums Newbie

    Jul 9, 2017
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    My 12 year old Brittany Spaniel Meg suddenly sleeps alone downstairs - she doesn't seem to be in any pain, but she has been acting a bit strangely in the evenings.

    Some Background:
    In Dec 2015 her sister from the same litter suddenly died, leaving her alone. They had only ever been separated for half a day in their lives. We often left the two of them in the house alone while we were out at work and they seemed fine - we have a very large garden with a dog flap to the house, the full run of the house, a television left on, and a paddling pool left out in the shade during the summer. Cleo (the one who died) was the most dominant of the pair, and Meg has always been somewhat insecure, especially with food. Since Cleo died, Meg has been left alone in the house while we were out at work. While she seemed depressed for a few weeks, she started to perk up again over time. My mother was between jobs at the time so was able to give Meg company for a few weeks.

    About 6 months ago, we took on a Jack Russell called Gypsy from someone who couldn't care for him anymore. Gypsy is about 4 years old and very energetic. He loves playing tug-of-war games (especially with me since i very rarely let him win). Meg doesn't like him playing these games and often snaps or whines at him if its close by. I imagine this is because she knows the rules - anything she has that i want, i can take. She knows this and will allow me to take anything off her to the point where she never played tug-of-war games. Gypsy obviously doesn't get this yet, so she snaps at him. I also know how to handle Gypsy and will often pick him up and rub his belly, which he doesn't allow anyone else to do. He does play-bite my hands and i think i'm the only one in the house that doesn't flinch when he does. Meg is like a parent to Gypsy - constantly keeping an eye on him and correcting bad or over-energetic behavior. Gypsy will cower or lower his head if Meg is staring him down.

    Both Meg and Gypsy are left alone in the house while we're out at work, and the two of them seem very happy during the day. Meg has especially perked up, however during the evenings she tends to sleep alone downstairs while everyone else is upstairs which is very odd. Meg always slept on my bed or with my father but since Gypsy moved in, she rarely wants to.

    I don't know if this is just age and unwillingness to climb the stairs, if this is a territorial thing between her and Gypsy, or if she just wants the peace and quiet. As i said, she doesn't seem to be in any pain - she has had problems with her back legs all her life, although since shes been on medication it doesn't seem to be a problem for her. Its only started in the past month or two - it could just that its slightly cooler downstairs in this summer heat.

    Am i just being over-concerned or could there be an underlying problem here?
  2. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

    Jun 24, 2010
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    I can understand you being concerned but if Meg doesn't seem in pain it may be she's decided that it's cooler/more peaceful/etc on her own downstairs. Could be there isn't a need to sleep with you now that Cleo has gone and Gypsy isn't a bossy dog. With regard to the playing, you usually get an older dog that 'monitors' play session either between human/dog or dog/dog. One of my bitches puts a stop on my two youngest when she considers they are getting too rowdy.
  3. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

    Aug 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    From your post it sounds like there could be a few possible things that may be causing it. You mention she has had problems with her back legs all her life, and she is now 12 years old. Dogs do often tend to get arthritic changes and more stiffness and pain in their older years anyway a lot of the time, so if she has always had rear leg issues there may be a possibility that this has gotten worse. The first things that you do often see even before any limping, is slower at raising and lowering themselves when they lay down and get up, they may be more hesitant in jumping up or down from things depending if its a rear leg/lower spine issue or front end issue. stairs is often something they will be more hesitant and don't even perhaps want to attempt, so that may be a possibility she is getting more pain especially if you notice other signs mentioned too. If she hasn't had a vet check in a good while it may be worth having one done including an orthopaedic exam to see if there is any increased pain response or problems in any other areas, just to rule out pain and discomfort.

    If it isn't increased pain or other skeletal problems, then I noticed you also mentioned a few other things too, like Meg has always been the more insecure of the two even when she was with her sister who she had been with all her life. You also said that she is constantly watching the new dog
    and will snap and reprimand him. When a new one comes in depending on the existing dogs temperament and personality they seem to deal with the new one in one of two ways, some will either have nothing to do with the pup or new one at all, even to the point of walking and staying away if they approach, or others will growl, and if that's ignored show teeth, air snap and even lunge and chase them off. Usually after awhile and once they know that the new one will respect their space when they want it, and isn't going to constantly bug them, then things will often settle down and you start to see things like allowing the new one to lay with them when calm, and eventually even interaction and play. If the snapping and watching Gypsy all the time has continued and the not coming upstairs co-incided with his arrival and has continued to do so then I'm wondering if she may be so relaxed around him as much as you may thing she is. It could of course be the hot weather and downstairs is cooler of the two, but its been hot before so question is could it be just that or more.

    Last possibility with her age at 12 in mind could also be that old dogs can start to lose an amount of cognitive function, and like older humans they can start to become confused about things in general and don't particularly like changes as they cant cope with them so well. Often the first things you notice are
    things like sleeping more and sounder in the day, and becoming more agitated or active at night. They may also be less responsive to their owners, names and commands too. You may catch them seemingly staring or barking at nothing, just generally looking confused and a bit lost. They may want to go in the garden but then stand there looking like they don't know how they got there or what they should be doing either. Some tend to become more withdrawn taking themselves off or some tend to become clingy and start to not cope so well when left alone. You can get things to help with loss of cognitive function like aktivait, senilife, and other veterinary only medications.

    Because of her age and the fact there has been a new dog introduced that seems to have co-incided with the behaviour its impossible to say what it is just from a post on a forum, but from what you do say there seems to be a few possibilities as to what might be causing it.
    PixieSpoodle and lullabydream like this.
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