Setback with timid dog after neutering

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Setback with timid dog after neutering

This is a discussion on Setback with timid dog after neutering within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I'm just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. I'm not new to having dogs, just new to having a timid dog. He's ...

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Old 05-12-2012, 05:52 PM
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Setback with timid dog after neutering

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. I'm not new to having dogs, just new to having a timid dog. He's been through a lot in his first year. He came to live with my husband and I in December. He has always been shy and timid, but had really started to come out of his shell.

He's always been cuddly and enjoyed being petted. We had him neutered April 9th. After the 4th or 5th day home, it still was very swollen, so I took him to the vet's office. They sent us home with a lampshade collar and antibiotics, because his incision was infected.

I'm home a lot during the day, I'm a full time student, but only have classes twice a week. He wasn't alone more than a couple of hours in the week following his surgery and while I was home, I never saw him licking his incision. After finding out it was infected though, I really wanted to take whatever precautions were necessary, so he wore the lampshade. It freaked him out, but honestly, not as badly as I had anticipated.

The main issue was giving him his pills. I've never had a dog resist a pill this wildly. Instead of clamping his mouth down, he gapes it open and flails wildly. He's little, only 8lbs, so you wouldn't think it would be that hard, but he goes absolutely wild. We took him to the EV at midnight the second night just to have someone help us give him his pill. They suggested we wrap him in a towel to help hold him still. So, the next day, we did just that. It worked, but he struggled and made his incision start bleeding. Back to the EV we went, where, thank goodness, they gave us liquid antibiotics.

After all the drama and by the time he finished up the antibiotics and the lampshade collar was no longer needed, for about a week, he was back to his normal self. So, just the last week or so, 3 weeks after his surgery, he has gone back to his old behavior, actually worse than when we first got him. He hides from us, doesn't want to be touched AT ALL. Even if we move slightly, he runs and hides.

Sometimes it is taking me 10 trips to let him out in the backyard before he actually goes all the way out. Nothing is new back there, he acts scared of the sunlight, the birds, car noises, me, the wind and the list goes on and on and changes daily.

He has been back to the vet after all of this and aside from him acting like he doesn't trust us at all, he is acting like he feels good. He wants to play with his toys and us, just not where he's close enough to be touched by us. He stares at our feet constantly, like if we talk to him, he acts like the feet are talking. He also rubs his toys on our feet, but he absolutely doesn't want to look at our faces.

He's always been a little strange, but I'm worried now that maybe the lack of testosterone is going to make him even more scared and timid than before. I am just wondering if anyone with a timid male dog had a problem like this after he was neutered? And it turned into a really long complicated post, sorry!
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:22 PM
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This is a very interesting story. I"m sorry I cannot offer direct experience with the exact same sequence, that is involving neutering, but I can say that I've been through a couple of rounds of "rehab" with my shy/timid male dog.

All I can say is to encourage you to give him time. Start from the beginning again with loads of counter conditioning. I'd suggest you give him all his kibble directly from your hand, or if he won't take it from your hand, then dole it out a few pieces at a time as you walk by him.

Do all the stuff you've learned to do to be non threatening. Don't make eye contact, give him plenty of space, don't pet him or pick him up for now, walk gently near him, keep your voice calm, etc. As he gains his comfort level back again, you can do things like lie on the floor and put kibbles on your body for him to come eat.

I think after all the wrestling with the pill thing, you are going to need to "reprogram" him to trust handling again. There are some good videos around on how to handle shy dogs. I wish I remember which threads they are on. Hopefully someone stops by to post them. I think Kmes and Seebrown have the links.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:34 PM
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Hi Tess,
Thanks for the response! We've been doing the things you suggested. He is doing much better. I think he was completely overloaded from all the medical stuff.

After I wrote this post, he had to go to the vet for an ear infection. We had to put the ear medicine in his ears twice a day. Obviously, his hiding went from bad to much, much worse. Since that last visit to the vet, on the 16th, we couldn't even move a finger without him ducking under the bed, coffee table or the couch.

We just backed off, spoke more softly (not like we ever yelled at him, but now almost whisper) we are very conscious of taking a different path to avoid walking toward him. We circle around and walk slowly to avoid the appearance that we are chasing him, or going to "get him."

Now that the ear medicine has been over for about a week and a half, he is back to getting on the couch instead of under it most of the time. He still isn't back 100%, I would say he's 50% back to his original self, but at least he is improving slowly! He actually got on my lap last night and pretty much wouldn't get down. He wanted petted, that has only happened probably 4 times since the first part of May.

I am careful to only pet him a little, then tuck my hands up away so he knows he can leave if he wants. Last night, he would burrow his little nose under my hands for more. He is such a sweet dog, I miss snuggling with him so much that it is really hard to just wait it out, but I feel like that is what he needs right now.

I'm also getting him a thundershirt. From what I've read, I think it may help him! Again, thank you for the kind post and I'm sorry I didn't respond right away.
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captainsmom View Post
Hi Tess,
Thanks for the response! We've been doing the things you suggested. He is doing much better. I think he was completely overloaded from all the medical stuff.

After I wrote this post, he had to go to the vet for an ear infection. We had to put the ear medicine in his ears twice a day. Obviously, his hiding went from bad to much, much worse. Since that last visit to the vet, on the 16th, we couldn't even move a finger without him ducking under the bed, coffee table or the couch.

We just backed off, spoke more softly (not like we ever yelled at him, but now almost whisper) we are very conscious of taking a different path to avoid walking toward him. We circle around and walk slowly to avoid the appearance that we are chasing him, or going to "get him."

Now that the ear medicine has been over for about a week and a half, he is back to getting on the couch instead of under it most of the time. He still isn't back 100%, I would say he's 50% back to his original self, but at least he is improving slowly! He actually got on my lap last night and pretty much wouldn't get down. He wanted petted, that has only happened probably 4 times since the first part of May.

I am careful to only pet him a little, then tuck my hands up away so he knows he can leave if he wants. Last night, he would burrow his little nose under my hands for more. He is such a sweet dog, I miss snuggling with him so much that it is really hard to just wait it out, but I feel like that is what he needs right now.

I'm also getting him a thundershirt. From what I've read, I think it may help him! Again, thank you for the kind post and I'm sorry I didn't respond right away.
Oh my gosh! He is so lucky to have you guys! Your sensitivity to his signals and body language is wonderful, and he is responding in such a precious way! Its like he is so torn. On the one hand he is still a terrified pup, and on the other hand he NEEDS the love and body contact! It sounds to me like you are doing things just right in balancing all this, and helping him to feel safe and welcome, without coming on too strong. This dog is going to teach you so much about dogs, living things, and about being human too. My guess is you'll find yourself understanding other people better as you work with this dog...

Once upon a time, I thought having a dog was a simple matter, and that it was just an easy exercise in which I did not have to do much more than feed and love him and take him him to the vet. I thought it was about satisfying my desire for a loving pet. Then I got my boy Josey, and found out that's not what its about at all. Turns out its about learning to understand another living creature, one who cannot talk in words and yet has many of the same powerful emotions as we humans have. And then I found out that having a dog is not about teaching a dog to obey my commands either. Its first about managing his world so he has the opportunity to feel happy and safe... its about meeting his needs first, not mine. Once I finally figured all that out, then the "training" part was more about learning mutual cues from each other... more like teamwork. So I wonder what's next to discover on this journey?

As I said, my dogs are my best teachers.
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:49 PM
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BTW, I don't know why I forgot to give you my fool proof pill recipe last time, although maybe it was because you were done with the prescription. But just in case he needs medication again, here is a way I do it with my "houdini-girl" who can separate out a pill from anything.
- Hide the pill in a small ball of cream cheese. Roll the ball in finely chopped cooked chicken liver bits. The cream cheese is sticky enough a dog has trouble "sorting" the pill out. In addition, the cream cheese and liver have enough yummy taste and smell to mask even the bitterest antibiotic pills.

Well, hope you don't need that idea again any time soon, but there it is and it may make future pill giving actually an opportunity for a positive interaction rather than a scary wrestling match for you and pup!
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:27 PM
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Tess,

Thank you for all the encouragement! I really appreciate it! I know I've made plenty of mistakes and will make many more, but I am really trying hard to make his life better. So, like I said, thank you for all the positive feedback! You give me way too much credit, but it's appreciated greatly and helping me focus on the positives!

I have only ever had one other dog that was "mine." He was a Saint Bernard named Otis. I had him his entire life, he passed away 12 years ago. He taught me what it felt like to be loved unconditionally. We understood each other so easily, it never occurred to me that the understanding was more on his part!

Having little Captain has made me appreciate the love Otis gave me even more. Captain also makes me realize I've come a long way in my life, I have people around who love me and support me now and I am capable of taking on a challenge. If not for that, I wouldn't be able to work so hard to help Captain feel safe and loved. I seriously can't even begin to imagine life without either of these sweet, wonderful animals! (My two grouchy kitty cats included!)

Captain has been wearing his thundershirt since last night. I didn't intend to leave it on for longer than a few minutes, but he seems to really like it. I'm going to take it off of him this evening when he's usually more relaxed about being touched. He reminds me of "The Princess and the Pea" fairy tale. He loves to snuggle down in pillows and blankets, anything plush and cushy! I think the thundershirt must feel like that for him because he seems to be sleeping deeper. Little noises aren't waking him up as much.

I hope I don't need a pill recipe any time soon either! The other main challenge we've always had with him is that he won't eat anything other than his dry dog food. He acts afraid of different tastes. I can feed him his dog food piece by piece, then try to sneak in a similar size piece of treat and he will spit it out. I gave him bits of turkey burger last night and he ran from it. Then the cat ate it.

I know all dogs are supposed to love food instinctively, but he really only likes his plain dry food. I'm still going to try to use his food for training, who knows, maybe he'll get over the aversion to different tastes after a while. That's been the hardest thing to overcome, if I could just offer him something really yummy when we have to do anything unpleasant, it would be so much easier! I will keep the cream cheese in mind though, he would have a hard time spitting that out. Thanks again! I can tell your dogs are lucky to have you too!!
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:13 PM
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That's really interesting about your boy not liking anything but kibble. I wonder if he was punished for taking "people food"?

Maybe you could help him get over it by mixing small bits of things like cooked chicken with his kibbles in his bowl. Perhaps if at first he was allowed to eat these tasty bits without the presence of people, he might find out that he likes it, and that nothing bad happens when he eats it. It is very handy to have a dog like treats... helps immensely with training and trust building.

Well, its going to be a long journey for this pup, but so long as things keep going generally in the right direction, it will be a very satisfying and exhilarating trip!

Thanks again for getting back to us for updates. We love updates!
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