Canines are crazy expert at hiding pain. I was thinking about this because I burned myself during our Christmas party this weekend. I was taking an appetizer out of the oven and did not want to throw it across the kitchen when I felt the heat come through the oven mitt so I burned three fingers very badly. It is probably the worst burn I've ever gotten while cooking and I don't know what happened. But I think perhaps my over mitt somehow got wet....................if you've ever grabbed a wet oven mitt and used it, you know what happens. So I burned my fingers and continued on not to cause a stir at the party and suffered in silence until a bit later when I told my kids.
There are two reasons why a dog hides pain. 1. If you show pain to your pack you may risk being ousted due to creating weakness within the pack. 2. Other animals that see pain, see it as a weakness and you may be injured, attacked or killed because of it. So it goes without saying that it can be difficult to know when there is something wrong with your dog. Of course some dogs hide their pain more than others. Tilley never displayed anything for us to see clearly. But because I know my dogs so very well I could tell when something was up. It may have taken longer to notice but it could have been a slight tilt of head, a hesitation or something so small but it was out of the ordinary.
Luke on the other hand is very demonstrative when he is in pain. Perhaps he is so confident that he's not worried about whining in front of others. He lets me know when something is just not right. He is a very easy read and again because I know him so well, it can be a microscopic sign but I see it. When a dog does show pain it usually means that there is in a great deal of it. They can no longer hide it and this is when we get a clear and easy read. The less you know your dog the longer it may take you to see it.
So when you see your dog acting out of the norm, don't ignore it. I remember having Elsa at training class when she was very little, she started acting a bit different. I thought she needed to go out and the teacher said very loudly, no she is just acting out. Well I was right and she took a huge disgustingly gooey crap in the middle of the floor. So there!!!!!