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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

My boy Cooper hasn't been his usual self for the past couple of days. He has been sleeping more and has growled at us a few times when picking him up which he hasn't done before. He also has been refusing to go on walks, no barking or growling involved just sitting or lying down and not showing any interest. Again, he has never done this before. I noticed that his ears were looking a bit inflamed and he growled when I tried to look in them. I have used ear cleanser on his ears with no issues in the past. I also noticed that his bottom left fang is irritating his upper gum and it looks a bit bruised.

I took him to the vet today and he saw the same vet that he saw last week. When he was there last week, she said he was a delight and so well behaved. Fast forward to today and she told me he was being a diva because he growled at her when she tried to look in his ears and suggested that I should be tougher with him at home to prevent future problems. I explained that he hasn't displayed that behaviour at home until the past couple of days. She said he needed drops for his ears and painkillers for his teeth and that he is maybe feeling sorry for himself because of the pain.

I have a strict routine at home for him and if he gets overexcited while playing and pulls on anything except from his toy, he gets a chance to correct his behaviour and if not he is in time out and the game stops. He hasn't had his normal puppy energy for the past 2 days, he is either sleeping or spending a lot of time chewing on his chews. He isn't overly keen on eating his kibble either.

My question is, should I be worried about his growling or is it related to him feeling bad with teething and sore ears? Any advice regarding growling and how to put a stop to it in case it continues? He is 17 weeks old tomorrow and no sign of any loose teeth yet. Sorry for the long post, just a concerned puppy mum who want to do her best by him. Thanks
 

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I would not worry about the growling if he is in pain. I would growl too if somebody tried to mess with me when it was causing pain. There is no way to know how badly he feels as he can't tell you. Just focus on getting him feeling better and then reassess whether he has any issues once you know he's feeling his best.
 

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Poor little guy! I agree that sorting out the pain should be the first thing. It's good that he's giving you a signal that he's not feeling well. The growling when being picked up, if it continues is something to keep an eye on and maybe change how you approach. There was a recent post about that - if I can find it I'll link it.
 

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you have done the things I would recommend if you were taking a class or private training with me. CCPDT guidelines and policies always recommend following a humane hierarchy regarding training issues which starts with investigation of health matters first. When I first meet a new client I ask not just about behavior problems but also health background in the event a new behavior problem might actually be related to a health concern. I think if the vet recommended ear drops your pup may be having some pain and even though you may not notice wiggly deciduous teeth, by age I think you are closing in on that starting. You can give some pain meds for teething and also for growing pains (which we did for our two older dogs when they were pups). Be patient and use this time for reviewing things the baby dog already knows. Watch for changes for the better or worse and work with you vet as needed to get through this period.
 

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you have done the things I would recommend if you were taking a class or private training with me. CCPDT guidelines and policies always recommend following a humane hierarchy regarding training issues which starts with investigation of health matters first. When I first meet a new client I ask not just about behavior problems but also health background in the event a new behavior problem might actually be related to a health concern. I think if the vet recommended ear drops your pup may be having some pain and even though you may not notice wiggly deciduous teeth, by age I think you are closing in on that starting. You can give some pain meds for teething and also for growing pains (which we did for our two older dogs when they were pups). Be patient and use this time for reviewing things the baby dog already knows. Watch for changes for the better or worse and work with you vet as needed to get through this period.
Thank you for your advice. The vet did give him painkillers for his teeth so hopefully that will help. He isn't an angel but his behaviour is out of character for him, especially how much he is sleeping. He could be having a growth spurt too. I have had the normal puppy shark stuff from him and have read a lot of posts on here about how to deal with that. I play with his toys with him and sometimes he will get distracted by my clothes or hands. I redirect him with his toy and if he doesn't stop what he is doing, he goes into his crate for a minute or two then we try playing again and it seems to work. He hasn't chewed any furniture or anything else, usually hands or clothes but not biting, more chewing if that makes sense.
 

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I would not worry about the growling if he is in pain. I would growl too if somebody tried to mess with me when it was causing pain. There is no way to know how badly he feels as he can't tell you. Just focus on getting him feeling better and then reassess whether he has any issues once you know he's feeling his best.
Thanks for your reply. I do think he is just not feeling great. He isn't looking for loads of attention, it's more leave me alone. I suppose it's just the same as us when we feel lousy. Hopefully the meds will help him to feel more like his normal self again and then it will be back to running after a playful puppy lol.
 

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Poor little guy! I agree that sorting out the pain should be the first thing. It's good that he's giving you a signal that he's not feeling well. The growling when being picked up, if it continues is something to keep an eye on and maybe change how you approach. There was a recent post about that - if I can find it I'll link it.
Thank you very much for your advice. I agree that growling isn't something I want long term but would like to be prepared in case it does continue.
 

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Isn't he teething?

Basil's teeth started to fall out around that 16/17/18/19/20 week period. I know everyone's dog is different, but it might make sense to hit pause on any tugging games with a human if your going through that life stage and if it causes him pain.

Let him chew on items you approve, but in a way where he can have the freedom to chew as strong or soft as he needs when he wants to.

I try to empathize like when we get our wisdom teeth taken out or get spacers in-between our teeth before braces. I would be agitated if my teeth were sore and throbbing. It's no bueno.
 

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Isn't he teething?

Basil's teeth started to fall out around that 16/17/18/19/20 week period. I know everyone's dog is different, but it might make sense to hit pause on any tugging games with a human if your going through that life stage and if it causes him pain.

Let him chew on items you approve, but in a way where he can have the freedom to chew as strong or soft as he needs when he wants to.

I try to empathize like when we get our wisdom teeth taken out or get spacers in-between our teeth before braces. I would be agitated if my teeth were sore and throbbing. It's no bueno.
Thanks for your advice. I have just read back my original post and think I may have worded it wrong lol. I don't play tugging games with him but he has rags that he tugs on by himself. He loves to play fetch and sometimes if I am sitting on the floor with him and he brings his toy back to me, he starts trying to play with my hand or sweater/dressing gown etc. I get him to sit and throw his toy for him again and that usually works but if it doesn't, he has time out. He definitely is teething and has been very happily chewing on toys and safe chews that I have for him. He likes carrots too and will chew on one of those. I don't give him rawhide because I have been told it isn't good for him.
I had a wisdom tooth removed not too long ago and remember the pain well lol. If only they could talk to us.
 

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I would worry about the growling if he keeps doing it when he no longer has pain, or if it increases in severity and/or happens more often.

Then it’s a whole different matter but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as he is probably just having a hard time right now and wants to be left alone. Which you should respect as much as possible.
 

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I would worry about the growling if he keeps doing it when he no longer has pain, or if it increases in severity and/or happens more often.

Then it’s a whole different matter but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as he is probably just having a hard time right now and wants to be left alone. Which you should respect as much as possible.
Thanks for your reply. I completely agree with you with regards to not getting ahead of ourselves about his growling. It is a new behaviour. He has been asleep for most of today, it's such a shame because he just looks uninterested in everything. He has been awake for toilet breaks and to have something to eat and drink but that's been pretty much it. He slept when we returned from the vet around 3.30pm and awoke around 5.30pm. He had something to eat and drink and went to the toilet and was sleeping again for 6pm and is still asleep at almost 8pm (we are in Scotland so might be a different time zone lol). I am just leaving him be and hopefully he feels better in a day or 2.
 

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Thank you very much for your advice. I agree that growling isn't something I want long term but would like to be prepared in case it does continue.
It was this thread that started out with a quite different question about getting overexcited and aggressive after playing outside, but then wound up unfolding into a discussion of handling including picking up. Anyway, something to check out in case the behavior continues after you've taken care of the pain.

 

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This:
he is maybe feeling sorry for himself because of the pain.
was such an odd thing for your well-meaning vet to say. Dogs are genetically hardwired to not show any signs of weakness. So when they tell you they are in pain, they are in PAIN.

Most of us adults can’t remember the torture that is an ear infection, as these are so much more common in childhood. But the pain from sore teeth and sore ears has to be some of the worst. When I had an abscessed wisdom tooth in my 20s, I would have done anything to make the pain go away.

Now imagine being a puppy who doesn’t speak human. Every time you try to help him and inadvertently make that pain worse, he doesn’t understand why you are hurting him. It’s really quite heartbreaking. And it’s understandable that he’d try to communicate as clearly as possible: “Please stop that! Ow!’

It was Poodle Forum that got me to reconsider my perception of Peggy’s growls, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m glad you’re getting similar advice here and I hope it eases your worries a little. :)

Hoping Cooper is feeling better and back to his old self soon.
 

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@Liz i thought your post was diplomatic. If I wrote what my gut reaction was, it was much less than diplomatic. I don’t really care to defend the vet, honestly. I was hoping maybe the way the vet put things was nicer than the way described. If they actually used the word “diva” to describe a sick dog that’s just wrong. If it’s a one time thing and the vet really was having a bad day, then they get one free pass before considering kicking them to the curb!
 

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Thank you so much for your replies. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the response from the vet today too. When I got Cooper, he was tiny and very underweight due to being pushed out of the way at the feeding bowl and he also had a tapeworm. This was missed by the vet on his first 2 visits. We saw a male vet on our first visit for Cooper's first injection. He yelped a lot while being injected and the vet was very abrupt about it. I thought this was a little harsh given his age and size at the time but let it go. We saw that vet again and he had the same mannerism. I want Cooper to have a good relationship with his vet so requested a different one. He saw her for his last injections and he only let out one small yelp and that was it. She said that it was probably because he has more meat on his bones now lol. She was really good with him and he liked her, he saw her again last week and she couldn't praise him enough. She said he was so sweet and well behaved, not so keen on the temperature check hahaha but didn't fuss. That's why I'm not sure about her comments today and maybe she was just having an off day. He didn't snap or bite at her, he just growled when she touched his ears. I touch them all the time, when he is getting brushed, getting cleanser in them or when his ears flip over lol and he has never bothered with me doing any of those things.

I don't fuss over him or baby him at all and the biggest thing for me is that he hasn't been looking for attention the past couple of days, it has been the opposite. He has been taking himself off to his crate and going to sleep.
 

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Trust your instincts. Let's hope the vet was just having an off day.

Cooper's a happy, loving boy who just doesn't feel well at the moment. It sounds like he's had a tough go of it right from the start, but you're getting him sorted now. He's lucky to have you.
 
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