Dear Inquisitive Canine,
My dog is is 12 years old and we’ve been best friends since she was a puppy. In the last six months or so, Violet has been acting very strange. She used to love snuggling together while watching a DVD, but now she growls at me if I pet her. We used to love ruff-housing and wrestling. Recently, Violet bit me quite hard and scared me.
Also, it seems she doesn’t listen to me any longer. Doesn’t come when called; won’t follow commands.
It’s not only the bites that have hurt me. My feelings are very hurt. I’m losing my best friend and I don’t know what to do.
-Carole, aka, Violet’s Bestie
Thank you for reaching out and connecting with us. We can only imagine how traumatic this situation is for you and your family — including Violet. We know you are in a lot of pain, and I’m sorry Violet has hurt you.
Our first response is to suggest having Violet evaluated by her veterinarian. Sudden changes in behavior in any animal can be cause for concern. Her age, not wanting to play like she used to, and other indicators may point to a medical condition. If it turns out Violet is in perfect health, then behavioral aspects can be addressed.
Meanwhile, if she is uncomfortable or what she once found motivating has changed, you’ll want to follow her lead and interact on her level. Continue your keen observation skills: watch her body language and how she responds and interacts with her environment. Maybe change playtime to more gentle games. How about teaching her some new tricks? She might enjoy learning to wave (paw raise) or hand-targeting (touch her nose to the palm of your hand). It’s important to keep her engaged in mental and physical activities.
Thanks again for writing. We’ll be thinking about you and Violet. And, please keep us posted. We love updates.
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