Here's an example of why it's so important to rule out physical problems before attempting to deal with behavior problems, especially sudden onset aggression.
A friend of mine has a six year old GSD that started to show "aggressive tendencies" (per my friend) this spring. He called me and asked for my advice. Of course, I asked him to tell me as much as he could remember about the various aggressive episodes. One involved his groomer (the dog snarled, but didn't bite, when the groomer attempted to groom him). One involved his vet, when he went to get his shots several months ago (the vet had to give the dog his shots by keeping a wooden door between the dog's teeth and his syringe, etc.). And then one involved my friend himself, who was bitten when trying to help the dog into the back of his truck. The dog had stumbled upon trying to leap up onto the tailgate, etc.
That's when he called me. Now, I know this dog very well, I've been around him since he was a puppy, and I just couldn't believe what he was telling me. He is one of the most non-aggressive GSDs I've ever encountered(and I've encountered many), with almost a friendly Lab-like temperament. We were good buddies, and I enjoyed giving him tummy rubs. I can remember it like it was just yesterday, getting smooched up real good by this very same dog back in March (the last time I saw him), while he was standing on that very same tailgate. He had just a wonderful temperament.
I told my friend that six year old dogs just don't change their temperaments that quickly, and that there must be something causing it, perhaps pain. For example, did he injure his leg while attempting to jump in the truck? Could this possibly be a reaction to the vaccinations? Did the groomer clip him too close? Could he have CHD? Etc. Thus far, each "aggressive episode" had occurred during a situation where pain (or a fear of previously inflicted pain) might have triggered this kind of aggressive reaction.
So I aimed my friend back to his vet for a complete work-up, and asked him to also call the dog's breeder and explain the situation to him (The breeder said that the dog's brother had to be destroyed because of CHD, and aggression. Yes, at about the same age six.).

Unfortunately, the dog actually bit the vet this time (he was supposedly behaving like Rin Tin Tin one minute, and like Cujo the next), so a full examination couldn't be done. My friend had already reminded me that he had had an examination when he got his last vaccinations, and I reminded him that maybe they hadn't done a complete exam because of his aggressiveness at the time, and also that "***" can happen pretty quickly.
This time it took 24 stitches to put the vet back together again, and the bite was reported to the authorities. At the same time, and unbeknownst to me, he immediately took the dog to a nearby veterinary college (one of the best in the country) for more tests.

My friend called me while he was driving back from the university, and told me that there were now several vets (all specialists) involved and that they would examine and test him from head to tail.

Unfortunately, my friend called me again, just a few hours ago, and gave me the bad news. The dog has several large inoperable tumors on his brain (one is "larger than a golf ball"), several additional tumors on his liver and bone cancer. They suspect that the dog is suffering "immeasurable pain."
He is scheduled to be put to sleep sometime this week.

Handsome Jack Morrison
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Unfortunately, my friend called me again, just a few hours ago, and gave me the bad news. The dog has ... They suspect that the dog is suffering "immeasurable pain." He is scheduled to be put to sleep sometime this week.

I'm very sorry for your friend, and my condolences to you as well. It sounds like he was a great dog. Six is just way, way too young...
Unfortunately, my friend called me again, just a few hours ... is scheduled to be put to sleep sometime this week.

I'm very sorry for your friend, and my condolences to you as well. It sounds like he was a great dog. Six is just way, way too young...

Thanks, Robin, I'll pass them along to my friend, who's really taking this pretty hard.
Yep, he's a damn fine dog, and he'll be greatly missed by his entire family.

Handsome Jack Morrison
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I have also heard of a couple of instances where dogs who had previously been very friendly whacked out and they had high levels of Lyme disease when tested.
Please pass my sympathies along to your friend. You are right, six is way to young to lose a beloved friend.
Yours in GSDs and rescue,
Lea
www.shepherdrescue.org
I have also heard of a couple of instances where dogs who had previously been very friendly whacked out and they had high levels of Lyme disease when tested.

Yep, it's just too damn bad that they can't tell us when they're in pain.
All the more reason to always suspect it, I suppose.
Please pass my sympathies along to your friend.

Thanks, Lea, I will.
You are right, six is way to young to lose a beloved friend.

Just about any age is way too young.

Handsome Jack Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply by e-mail
Here's an example of why it's so important to rule out physical problems before attempting to deal with behavior problems, especially sudden onset aggression.

I'm very sorry. I remember when good ol' Murphy started reacting to her pain.
Please pass my condolences on.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
I'm very sorry. Both he and the dog are lucky though in that they have each other and you. Some people would've done much less (but potentially more harmful) when faced with aggression. Your friend chose to seek tests and answers. I know the news is devastating but maybe your friend can find some solace in having an explanation for the behavior change. I know its not much but at least he will have the opportunity to say goodbye.

Tara
Here's an example of why it's so important to rule out physical problems before attempting to deal with behavior problems, especially sudden onset aggression.

That is very sad. Although it must be some small relief that this turn of behavior was not the result of a bad dog or bad training.

Having given that advice umpteetn times I will never forget how surprised my vet was when I brought my dog in because he had dug a hole in the bed. The blood tests showed his blood calcium levels were significanlty off (which causes nervousness and irritability and tingling sensations).

Hopefully your friend isn't into the guilt thing and will simply be able to remember his friend in his better times, and learn from the experience without beating himself up over it.

Diane Blackman
http://dog-play.com /
http://dogplay.com/Shop/dogplayshop.htm
Unfortunately, my friend called me again, just a few hours ago, and gave me the bad news. The dog has ... They suspect that the dog is suffering "immeasurable pain." He is scheduled to be put to sleep sometime this week.

Condolences to your friend and his family - and to you, HJM.

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