Looking for advise - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Looking for advise

I adopted an 8 year old GSD. We are having just a few problems. He was a breeder so he has lived in kennels his entire life. We are having trouble with potty training. This is the #1 problem. Also he steels food from the counter. He only does this when I am not home. Seems like he thinks I wont notice.

He has some bad hips and I would like some advise on what food would be best for him. Hopefully less than 60.00 a bag. But if that is what it takes I will do it.

And he hates getting his tail brushed. He is 8 years old. Can these things be made better at this age?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 12:10 PM
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I would treat him just like a puppy as far as the house breaking. Take him outside every hour, praise, and confine if you can't watch him.

Counter surfing is a management issue. As long as he finds food on the counter he will continue to reward himself by steeling the food. You can leave NOTHING on the counters at all. Don't think the problem is solved even if he stops because dogs are great at playing the lottery and it only takes your forgetting one time, the dog getting his "pay off", for the dog to continue to play (counter surf).
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 12:12 PM
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As far as food. I would keep him lean and feed him as high a quality food as you can afford to feed. I don't feed kibble so can't recommend any brands. I would also look into joint supplements (hopefully someone else can recommend a brand) to help.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for adopting a senior dog!

All new dogs that come in my home are leashed to me or DH for several weeks before being allowed more freedom. We never have accidents because we have them next to us and can notice if they start sniffing to pee or poop. They also ALWAYS go outside after meals and waking up (even from a nap). If they're not leashed to us, they're crated. This system has potty trained more foster dogs than I can remember -- including many seniors -- in just a few days.

As for the hips, the first step is an x-ray. Make sure that they include the spine in the images too. The reason why I want you to look at the spine as well as the hips is that the tail is part of the spine, so when there's tail pain, it can be a signal of a spinal problem (stenosis, arthritis, etc.). The tail thing could just be a fussy old dude who thinks that's a private spot, but it's very important to rule out spinal problems as they are rampant in this breed (and underdiagnosed by many vets, IMHO).

If you confirm hip HD, please talk with the vet about starting Adequan injections ASAP. The vet can teach you do do them. It's expensive to start (2 x week x 4 weeks), but then it's very reasonable to maintain it monthly or bi-weekly (depending on need). It's a gamechanger for arthritic hips -- it doesn't hide pain but actually HEALS inside the joint by lubricating it and sometimes simulating cartilage regeneration. The earlier they get on it the better, as it will delay further joint degeneration. It has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in about half of dogs, with pain relief equal to RX meds, without the side effects of those meds. I have had multiple oldsters with crappy hips who were able to stay active and comfortable, without needing pain meds, on Adequan (and we can often tell when it's time for a dose, as they start to slow down). I have had some fosters with spinal problems on it too, even though it's not labeled for that, and it really helped them.

Acupuncture can help HD too. One of my oldsters was having some trouble going up and down stairs, and after several acupuncture sessions, he was much stronger on them.

As for food, the lowest cost decent food I know of is Costco's Kirkland Chicken and Rice ($30 per 40 lb), which is made by, and nearly identical to Diamond Naturals and TSC's 4Health. Victor is a step up for about $10-20 more per bag, depending on the forumula. Fromm Gold or 4Star is another great option at $10 more than Victor. You can keep playing this game of step-up...

I would also put the dog on Collegen Type II and Natural Eggshell Membrane supplements (give one in the AM, other in the PM), plus a big dose of fish oil and maybe Ester C. All of those have been very helpful for my arthritic seniors.

You also need to be sure to get the dog moving every day. Swimming and walking (esp. with some hills) as much as the dog wants to do will help minimize muscle wasting and keep the joints (or spine) loose. Let the dog set the pace, and pay close attention to when it's getting tired out (if you regularly walk with headphones or your phone, leave that stuff at home so you can be in tune with how the dog is doing -- I think it's really important to get to know the signs of weariness on individual dogs when walking seniors, as they can be very individual to the dog).

A really excellent vet told me years ago that he sees FAR better quality of life in very lean dogs with HD whose owners are doing all of these things (Adequan, supplements, excercise...and pain meds when needed) vs. just one of them. They seem to have a synergistic effect.
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Last edited by Magwart; 06-15-2019 at 03:59 PM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 09:45 AM
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I agree about Adequan. I've used it on several dogs and my arthritic horses and there can be an amazing improvement.

I also like to use an oral joint supplement. A good brand w/ mild pain relief herbals and glucosamine. I've used several over the years. And when one stops being effective, I change to another one.

Re: Tail Brushing sensitivity. Go slowly, maybe just touching the tail with the brush several times a day for several days.

If you go slow and gently enough, eventually you'll be able to brush it normally. Probably no one ever brushed or even touched his tail, so your dog doesn't understand, why now.

Whenever you show affection to your dog, rub it all over, underneath, tail, head. It gets them used to being handled
and when you need to check them or doctor an injury, it makes them much more accepting.

Good Luck and thanks for adopting an older guy.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 10:55 AM
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Nice to see an older one get adopted.
I have rescued several dogs who were crated and kenneled excessively. They develop an odd way of moving due to loss of muscle in their hind ends. Gentle exercise may correct some of it. Swimming is amazing for older dogs.
Potty training generally goes fairly easy if you start them as you would a pup and yes counter surfing is opportunistic behavior. Dogs either do it or they don't, like garbage raiding, and the only sure way to stop it is to remove the opportunity and reward.
An awful lot of dogs don't like their tails touched but it's pretty easy to get around with gentle conditioning. It's also possible that his tail was pulled on or shut in something which has created a sensitive area. Dogs get over a lot of stuff but they recall pain. I would forgo the brush and just work on petting and stroking for now. Try not to make a thing out of it, just gentle touches while he is laying near you.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 11:44 AM
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Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving a senior a chance. They need and deserve love as much, if not more than, a pup. I have a senior that I got when she was 4, and she’s starting to decline at 8. She was also used for breeding, but was chained to a chain link fence, and bred every heat cycle. There is something immensely rewarding about giving a dog that has been used a completely different life of relaxation and love. They reward you so much with the look of love and relief in their eyes, it’s enough to make me cry, and I’m not a crier by nature.

My girl HATES her tail being brushes too, which is unfortunate because a lot of fur builds up on the under side of her tail. The only method I’ve found that lets me brush her tail is to give her a 12 inch bully stick, groom her hackles and butt fluffies, and then sneak in some tail swipes while she’s really into the bully stick and not paying attention. Luckily she has sound teeth, and the vet said she’s fine with the bully sticks. I would check with your vet first before offering them. You can always start with something softer, like soft treats thrown randomly during a grooming session, while working some tail swipes in while he is gobbling the treats.

My girl does have HD, and I’ve been using pain meds. It helps a lot, but after reading the advice on Adequan, i will be calling the vet as soon as they open today! Lol

My vet recommended water “aka - pool” exercise to strengthen her rear. The only problem with that is she is absolutely terrified of water, so as yet, we haven’t been able to successfully get her into the pool. But if your guy doesn’t have water issues, a pool is the best way to exercise! Not only does it help strengthen him, but it also removes any weight on his joints while he is in the pool, so he will have immediate relief while in the pool!

Like Mags said, I’ve always leashed my dogs to me when they first come into my home, and crated when they can’t be leashed. It made it very easy to potty train my girl at 4, who has never been inside a house in her entire 4yrs. A doggie door helped immensely too, after she got the hang of outside is good, inside is bad.

Again, you’re an amazing special person for taking in a senior. Good luck, and I hope we get updates, and we all love some pics too!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:31 PM
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I agree with all the good advice you've already been given. I just wanted to thank you for adopting an older GSD and giving him a good life. I've adopted older ones and they enriched my life so much. I hope he will enrich yours too.
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