Old age dog. When is it time to let go?

    • Gold Top Dog

    the peeing all over sounds unpleasant, but I'm mystified as to what dangers are posed to the baby by the old dog. I'd suggest taking the dog to the vet again. If the severe clinginess is a new behavior he may be feeling really sick and is begging for comfort.

    • Gold Top Dog

     The more he is pushed away, the more stressed and clingy he will become.

    How much exercise does this old boy have every day?  My guess is he needs some/some more mental and physical stimulation.  Admittedly dogs need this less as they age, but they still need it.  I am shocked no one else has mentioned this so far. 

    I think he also needs QUALITY time with you.  Set aside, say, half an hour to JUST cuddle him and talk to him, every evening.  (I should use some of that time to brush him as well, and this will help with the shedding problem.)  Meet his needs and much of his confusion and anxiety will dissipate, allowing him to lay quietly by himself on his bed and rest.

    You could also use 5 or 10 minutes of this time to go over the commands he knows.  Keep this veeeerry gentle and positive - do not scold him for his mistakes.  Remember he is getting on a bit, he KNOWS he is disliked (not by you, but your husband) he is feeling anxious, stressed and confused.  Give him lots of encouragement if he moves in the right direction.  I would advise looking at clicker training - even if you choose not to get a clicker, the underpinning principals will help you ENORMOUSLY.  PROVIDED there is no medical condition (eg senility) causing him to not listen or understand you, learning about the basic concepts of how they learn and what is effective will really help you two to communicate and will help alleviate YOUR frustration and helplessness.

    At the same time, the old boy DOES have to learn to be apaty from you at times without getting stressed out, because when teh baby arrives you won't be able to lavish as much attention on him and will want him to go to an assigned spot at certain times - like when you are carrying the baby about for example, or changing him.  Baby gates are your friend. 

    First, reassure him taht he is loved, using the above routine or something similar, for at least a week.  THEN start introducing a small amount of time where he must stay in his crate, or gated to another room for SHORT periods only.  Start with meal times.  Gradually extend the time he will happily stay by himself.  His having the ability to have a bit of "downtime" is really the cornerstone of coping with dogs and a new baby.

    Go to another vet for a second opinion.  If there are ANY meds that could help with the senility and/or incontinence, that will HUGELY improve EVERYBODY'S quality of life.

    Remember to treat both dogs the same where possible, so that the old boy does not feel so excluded.

    If it comes down to it and you as a family cannot cope, don't give him away or put him up for adoption.  Have him euthanased.  If possible, have a vet come to your home to do it and give your dog the kindest, most loving ending you possibly can.  Only YOU can know when it's the right time for that last step... but my recommendation is after you have tried all the sugestions you've been offered here and nothing has worked to make life any better for either of you.

    • Gold Top Dog

    That is a great post Chuffy.  I totally agree with you. 

    I have two older dogs right now; Buster is 14 and Lady will be 15 in January.  They both have their problems, but in their old age they still need and crave the same things they always had.  He still loves to go for walks, loves to eat, loves to be brushed, loves to be with me all the time, loves to play with his toys, etc.

    They both have lost their hearing which makes giving commands difficult because they were never taught with hand signals.  However, Buster has picked up on many hand signals and we have found those very helpful in communicating with him.  He knows sit, come (as long as he is looking at me), wait, and down.  These have helped tremendously in helping him feel more comfortable with his hearing loss.  I believe that he learned them through repetition and also when I use them I say the words and the other dogs do them so he can follow them as well so he eventually picked up the hand signals.

    I think the baby gate for the kitchen is a wonderful idea since it is very possible your dog cannot hear and doesn't understand what you want from him.  Buster and Lady are often underfoot because they don't understand so barriers help us control that.

    Buster has also become very clingy and often steps on my feet and always needs to be near me.  I am fine with it as long as he knows he can't be in my face.  He is happy just to lay next to me while I eat (yes, he lays on the couch with me when I eat dinner).  The being close to me, I believe, has to do with is loss of hearing and his eye sight problem.  Our vet says that both he and Lady have a condition where their pupils don't dilate so they have no perception of distance so they don't know how close they are to me, thus the stepping on my feet and Lady's problems on the stairs.

    I wish you the best of luck with your dog.  I have never had to put a dog down before and I know it will be so difficult when the time comes for either Buster or Lady, but I think I will know when they are no longer happy and comfortable.  Just try to do what is best for him.  Is he still happy?  Is he comfortable?  Does he still want to go for walks?  Get excited for dinner?  Play with his toys? 

    • Gold Top Dog

    I will repeat what others have said..look into some of the drugs for cognitive dysfunction sydrome. I have a 12 year old dog on meds for this.  Since being on the meds, it's helped greatly with some behaviors (accidents in the house, sleeping in the tub, getting into the shower with me) and others remain that we're still working on (can't be confined, issues with other pets) He's always liked to be near me, but not excessively, so that's not an issue for me. I'm used to tripping over my pets at times. After all, I spent 11 of his years carefully stepping over him when I got out of the shower.

    The meds are not expensive, especially for a 35 lb dog. (my dog is 55 lbs and it's still not horribly expensive)

    Could you gate him away from the room you watch tv in if his standing in front of you is an issue? Or get an ex pen? We have a very small home and we found room for those things (although for the pup, not my elderly dog) They're not set up at all times, but are on hand.

    As others have said, if you cannot do these things, please put have him humanely put down, and be there to comfort him.

    You're braver than I.  I couldn't stay with, much less have a child with, someone who 'hates' one of my pets.  

    • Gold Top Dog

    Thanks for those who really understand my problems and didn't make me feel more worse than I already do.

    I did a lot of serious thinking and I can't lie to myself that I'm brave enough to put him down right now. Although he has lots of problems, I will look into treatments for him. I also notice that his back legs are really weak now. He can't walk straight and if he falls (which he does often nowaday) he can't get him by himself. I've been giving him joint supplements but that didnt' help much. But doesn't matter how stressed out I feel, I can't seem to stand the thought of letting him go. I guess when he's ready to go, he'll let me know.

    Thanks all for your support.

    • Gold Top Dog

      He can't let you know when it is time.  He is counting on you to make that decision.  I know how hard it is.  We put our 13 year old Lab to sleep in May and it was so hard.  Our dogs really do need for us to make these decisions.  We all hope that they will peacefully die in their sleep and sometimes that happens.  Mostly though the quality of their lives gets worse and worse and life is not bringing them any joy and in fact is often painful.  I read something the other day that really said it well as for when it is time to put your pet to sleep. " Better a day too soon than a minute too late."



    • Gold Top Dog

    I also notice that his back legs are really weak now. He can't walk straight and if he falls (which he does often nowaday) he can't get him by himself.

    he's probably in severe pain from arthritis. Go bug your vet for some pain-killers. Or you can give buffered aspirin and see if that helps. Give with food, around 160 mg for a 35 pound dog.

    does he get any exercise? old dogs generally do best with multiple short walks per day which admittedly can be hard for most people to make time for. But periods of time spent not-moving makes the joints stiffen up, and long walks can be too much for an old dog. They need regular exercise even more than young dogs though cause they get into a cycle of muscle loss/ joints weaker/ weak joints hurt more/ don't want to move/ muscle loss...