Autism in dogs?

Discussion in 'Dog Health Care' started by Laurelin, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Can this happen? Someone posted a question about it and the weird behavior they described was exactly like Trey's. I've always wondered if he had a problem like that but I didn't know if there's been research on it or not.

    So does anyone know about that?
     
  2. Kayota

    Kayota New Member

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    I don't, but having Asperger's syndrome, I'd say it's definitely possible.
     
  3. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    Hard to tell, honestly. So much of autism is defined by things such as verbal capacity which is sort of irrelevant . . .and human social skills. I suspect whatever goes wrong in autistics can also goi wrong in dogs . . .I'm just not sure how you'd be able to tell that was what it was, rather than a rather obcessive, shy, and not very social dog.
     
  4. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Trey's main problem, I've mentioned before is he has a complete inability to understand dog communication and body language. He's interesting to say the least. One good way to describe him is robotic. He's super good at commands, though. I don't think most people could deal with most the issues he has. (We're his third home) Everyone I've talked to- trainers and vets, etc all acknowledge there's something off about him but no one knows what.

    When you meet him at first he comes across as very shy.
     
  5. Boemy

    Boemy New Member

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    Wow, interesting question! I never thought about it before . . .
     
  6. GlassOnion

    GlassOnion Thanks, and Gig 'em.

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    I know cats can, I would assume dogs could as well. Never seen it but they're a lot like humans in genetic make up, to my knowledge, so I'd say it's a plausible.
     
  7. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Here's something I wrote up once on him.

    "Trey is a strange guy and he confuses me a lot. I’ve mentioned the fact that he’s strange before but I’ve never explained. I don’t know what causes his behavior or what. Let me explain… Let me preface this by saying I adore this dog and we’ve come a very long ways, but he still confuses me and is unlike any dog I’ve ever known.

    We got Trey at near a year old from a breeder who decided he was not the trialing/show/agility prospect she’d hoped for. He fit in pretty easily, I suppose. He had been extensively socialized, just reserved towards strangers. We were his third rehome…

    He is a really hard dog to get close to, I guess that would be the way to describe him. He is very stiff… he doesn’t express himself the way any other dogs seem to. He has little facial expression and is almost… robotic? He’s always been this way, just very distant. If he needs something he simply stares. When you call him, no matter what, he walks up to you, sits down, scoots forward, then extends his paw. He’ll never come straight up to you. He won’t eat until after all the other dogs eat. He also has no idea how to play. Not just with toys, but in general. If the paps are playing, he follows them around honking and wagging his tail, but if they try to get him to play, he freezes up and looks down. He also will never lick your hand. The weird thing is whenever you let him outside in the yard, he runs around barking and acting very dominant, with his tail up and fur raised. He’s never shown any kind of aggression towards other dogs or people though. He barks some, but he honks and grunts more often.

    He used to not let you pick him up either. If you picked him up, he’d stiffen out with his legs straight out. He’s gotten much better now and lets me hold him all the time.

    He hates strangers and hides when they come around. Except recently, he fell asleep with his head in my friend’s lap. I was shocked. He is also absolutely TERRIFIED of cars. He hides behind me and if we’re on a walk, he sits down and refuses to go any further. There is also a certain distance away from the house that he refuses to go past. He sits in the road on his lead and you simply can’t get him to move. If you go towards the house, he’s fine. Try to go away, and he sits down. I’ve tried to trick him by staying within this distance, but you can’t pass our driveway without him sitting again. It doesn’t matter if Nik or the paps are there, he still does it. Also, if you leave the gate open, he will not leave the house. (Not that this is a bad thing) Inside he is the best and most reliable dog with commands. If you have him in the yard, he heels like no other. He’s been through obedience, albeit about 10 years ago.

    I’m his favorite person though technically my sister owns him. He stays with me 24/7 when I’m home. It’s taken a lot of tedious work to get him to be okay with snuggling up next to me.

    I’d like to be able to walk him more, but I can’t seem to get over the thing with cars and the distance away from home.

    I am used to his strangeness, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but does anyone have any ideas about him? Everyone who meets him comments on how different he is- even the vets and vet techs. Any thoughts would be wonderful."
     
  8. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Here's another thing I wrote on him, but I never got any replies. :( (on another forum)

    "Okay, I've always wondered a bit about one of my dogs and was wondering if anyone had any experience with these types of behaviors. This is going to be long, and I'm sorry in advance. xD

    The dog in question is named Trey and is an 10 1/2 year old neutered male Shetland sheepdog. He spent his first year of life with his breeder who at the time had 11 shelties (including him) and a cat. All the other shelties were female. She was contemplating keeping him for herding and agility as he was small enough to be in the smaller agility class and he had a lot of talent. She was also waiting to see if he'd indeed be show quality. However, he matured and stayed smaller than she expected along with some other faults, so she decided he would be better off as a pet. A family she knew was interested in adopting him, so they began babysitting him for some time on the weekends when she was gone to show. They wouldn't decide if they truly wanted a dog, so when she found out my father was looking to get another sheltie she explained to him she had a near one year old male that she thought would be wonderful with us. So we babysat him two days to see how well he got on with Nikki and they immediately hit it off. So we ended up with him. He was neutered a bit after his first birthday. That should be a bit of background…

    Now, he's the sweetest dog, it's just… he's very strange. It sounds bad, but he is. He is very submissive, first of all. He hates strangers- which is a trait of shelties to begin with. He hides if a new person comes in our house and won't come to see them for quite some time. This has been getting better in the past few years. I've had two friends come in and to my astonishment he took right to them and within 20 minutes was asleep with his head in their lap. He also hates strange dogs. He loves attention, however if you call him, he runs up to you with his tail wagging, but as soon as he gets within a foot of you, he sits, looks straight down at the ground and holds out his paw for you to shake it. I don't know if he thinks that if you shake, it's a sign of friendship? If you are petting another dog, however, he will come right up to you and demand attention also. (Typical sibling rivalry) He is also very dominant when you let him outside. He runs out the door, usually first, though sometimes I will make him sit and stay before he can go, then he runs around the yard barking with his tail in the air and his fur bristled. He is brilliant with commands, and picks up on them very fast. He also has a habit of running into doors, and missing any treats that you toss to him. At first I thought his eyesight was going, but both vets say it's fine… Another oddity is it took forever for him to show affection. He also used to not tolerate being held. He'd freeze up and lock his legs and squirm- you could not hold him. Now he's better and really quite a lap dog. It's taken ages, though, and it's only been in the past 4 years or so. He used to never lick anyone, but he will sometimes, and he will only lick my hand, no one else's. He also does not understand the concept of playing. As a one year old, he did not pay any attention to toys at the same age when Nikki was very playful. If you throw a toy for him to catch or fetch he just looks at it. Also, if the other dogs are playing, he follows them around wagging his tail and growling. He never joins in and freezes up if they try to play with him. He is by far a follower and waits until Nikki eats before he eats, even though they have their own bowls. We've tried splitting them up to eat, but he still won't eat unless she's in the room. He won't do anything without her there, they're really close, and she's basically a bully. J If you crate him and feed him, which we do at the relative's to keep the kids from bugging them, he will step on his food dish and spill the food all over, then use his muzzle to push it into a pile with the dish on top. Is he trying to hide his food? If Beau is doing something, trey is copying it. He's picked up a lot of Beau's mannerisms, including lying on the back of the couch since we got him. Overall, he's very devoid of any kind of expression...

    The most important thing, though, is that he is terrified of cars and the vets. Ever since he got neutered, he went way downhill with this. A few months later, we were taking him to the vet's. He was on a leash with one of the techs and he pulled out of his leash and ran down a 4 lane highways right in the middle of the lane. Luckily, with the entire vet staff and my family chasing him and a nice woman following him in a car slowly to make sure he didn't get hit, he was rescued without incident. Ever since then, he's hated the vet's. He shakes terribly there and frequently has accidents. He also puts up a huge fight if you are trying to get him into the car. This has gotten much worse with age. As far as cars, if he sees one while we're walking, he stops and sits and won't move. He also will not walk past a certain spot in our neighborhood. We thought he was missing Nikki for a while, so we tried walking him with her, and it makes no difference. He stops and sits and will not move if he gets too far from the house. You can get him to go a ways by coaxing him and petting and comforting him, but he stops after a few feet again. He's fine, though, if you turn around and go towards the house.

    So my questions are: Why is he like this? Does it have anything to do with him being through three homes? Or is he just a very submissive dog? How would you work on the car/leash issues? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Like I said, I love this dog so much and have developed a really close bond with him. It's been hard, but well worth it. We've made a lot of great improvements, but it's been slow. I've just never been around a dog like him and have had no problems training the others and dealing with their issues. Healthwise, he's been great other than a couple of small benign tumors on his behind... The vets both don't think anything medically is wrong, but they both agree he's not your average dog.

    And if you've read all that, you deserve a cookie! "
     
  9. noludoru

    noludoru Bored Now.

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    I've read it all and have absolutely no suggestions. But I'd really like that cookie.

    As weird as Trey sounds.. he really does sound sweet. :) He's lucky he found someone who loves him for who he is.

    You could also ask his breeder about his puppyhood.. surely she knew something was up?
     
  10. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    *hands over cookie*

    Unfortunately we lost contact. :( She's a good breeder it's just it's been eleven years. She worked for my father and there were a bunch of layoffs, etc. Plus she got a divorce and moved up north. So I haven't been able to talk to her in years. It'd be interesting, he's a strange guy.
     
  11. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    That it interesting...I'd be really interested in finding out if dogs can have autism as well...

    On a sort of related topic, we have a rescued Dane that comes in for boarding that also has no concept of how to read dog body language. The boy simply cannot tell, even with in your face barks and growls, when another dog wants to be left alone.
     
  12. Ratboy

    Ratboy New Member

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    A friend of mine had a Sheltie, Max, that had some serious issues, he would sit, at home or away, in the darkest spot he could find, and would only come out if forced to. He would stay there until he peed, if he was allowed to. He would not make eye contact with people at all. When he was away from home, he would not eat, period, and would only drink water if he was ouside on a walk. The only time he "came to life" in the slightest was if another dog was around. He would somewhat come out of his zombielike mode, and actually seem to enjoy life a little bit. Even his owners couldn't touch him without him going into almost a catatonic state. He was like this from the day they got him (he was an expensive dog from a good breeder, and my friend and her hubby were told he was just a little "shy") until he died at 13. The new pup they got from the same breeder is exactly the opposite, and kind of a shock to them, as he wants to be with them 24/7, and does something Max never did, he wants to PLAY!

    I've seen some odd behavior in dogs over the years, but Max holds the title as most bizarre.
     

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