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Assistance required with scared dog

This is a discussion on Assistance required with scared dog within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Thank you for your reply. I can understand why the vet responded as he did because everything seems normal except for the anxiety, that he ...

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Old 11-23-2017, 08:24 AM
  #11
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Thank you for your reply. I can understand why the vet responded as he did because everything seems normal except for the anxiety, that he didn't see, so was just trying to pick up on any clue you gave him. Counter conditioning and desensitization to stimuli would appear to be a good start. As you are aware, that's almost impossible in your situation.

I have Douglas, generally, from Monday to Friday. He is (sort of) lab x bull terrier, but where those feet come from is anyone's guess, they're like snowshoes! We know something of his history and it is seriously unpleasant. He has bouts like this.

I know some of the things that trigger his anxiety, gunshots, noisy motorbikes, fireworks, any sudden loud noises, certain dogs, etc. All these can be triggers on one day, but not the next, so it's often a case of watching for signs that he's uncomfortable.

He becomes anxious, this gets him wound up, his stomach starts to flare up, he gets cramps, he'll frantically try to eat ANYTHING fibrous, carpet, his bed, firewood, etc. Because his stomach's griping, he gets more anxious, which aggravates his stomach so he gets more anxious... Douglas doesn't hide, he gets aggressive.

He'll respond to a lead, to a cuddle, but such things don't last for him at a time like this, neither does trying to work with him in any way. If I keep him with me, he tends to settle, but it takes time. Physical proximity/contact seems to help and if it happens late evening, I take him upstairs and he sleeps in our room.

In general terms, when a dog is stressed, the "fight or flight" response kicks in. This takes up a lot of the brain's resources, so to compensate it slows down parts of the brain that aren't as necessary, such as the muscles involved in digestion. This could mean that the dog would be physically unable to eat in situations of high stress. Dependant on the severity of the episode(s), it can take several days for the cortisol levels to return to normal (point made by @Rain).

To help Douglas through this I have to settle his stomach. He flatly refuses any medication, no matter what it's wrapped up in and the way I now do it (long process of trial and error) is to sit on the floor with him and either cheese or chicken. I eat a bit, I offer him some, I eat a bit... Sometimes, it takes two or three goes to get him to eat anything. When he does, that's a definite step forward BECAUSE his digestive system is starting to work, therefore, his stress level HAS to be starting to reduce.

My other dogs "recognise" when he's winding up. Instead of them being all piled together, they keep themselves separate so Douglas is on a bed on his own, they are on beds (still all piled together), at least four feet away from him. When I see this happening, I have an idea what's likely.

If I have a real problem, with the vet's prior agreement, I can give him Diazepam, but this is useless if he's in the middle of an episode as it seems that the adrenaline from his anxiety counters any sedative effect and you can see that he actively fights against it. He now gets Diazepam AFTER an episode to ensure that he gets a decent night's sleep and, hopefully, emerges the next day in a better frame of mind.

Have you changed his food? What's he on at present?

As @Rain mentions, you may need to experiment with your vet - we've had to.

I'd say lots of observation's needed here and a lot of compassion. Keeping a log will at least give you additional ammunition and maybe information.

By the way, last night we had a thunderstorm, I was out with the dogs. They were startled by a crack of thunder. Douglas raced in the direction of the thunderclap, hackles up, barking. If he could catch it, he was going to teach it a lesson! Afterwards, no episode, no problem. Every dog I've had has made a complete liar out of me at some stage!

As a PS. see if you can beg, borrow, steal a copy of "Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out" by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh, Chapter 1, Help, My Dog Is Crazy and Chapter 4, Reactive and Proactive may give you food for thought.
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:02 AM
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If the leash has such power then why not just start there and begin the process of elimination as everything else is just shooting from the hip and guessing.

Most dogs rather enjoy and find comfort when a properly structured environment is provided for them. It takes a ton of pressure off of many dogs. Dogs try and fill voids even if they aren't cut out for it and problems arise in these situations.

Take a day or three out of your life and attach a leash/tether to your dog and then to yourself ( belt loop or whatever but not in your hand ). Everywhere possible, the dog is attached to you and you just go about your day, you move the dog moves, you sit, the dog stays, you always lead rather than follow but you move as one, no coercion, no force, no emotion.

As you do this, you might find the source of the dog's trepidation and plow right through it with indifference or you might find the dog doesn't have any episodes but you have to start somewhere. Also, park your guilt as your dog's well-being is more important.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:25 PM
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If the leash has such power then why not just start there and begin the process of elimination as everything else is just shooting from the hip and guessing.

Most dogs rather enjoy and find comfort when a properly structured environment is provided for them. It takes a ton of pressure off of many dogs. Dogs try and fill voids even if they aren't cut out for it and problems arise in these situations.

Take a day or three out of your life and attach a leash/tether to your dog and then to yourself ( belt loop or whatever but not in your hand ). Everywhere possible, the dog is attached to you and you just go about your day, you move the dog moves, you sit, the dog stays, you always lead rather than follow but you move as one, no coercion, no force, no emotion.

As you do this, you might find the source of the dog's trepidation and plow right through it with indifference or you might find the dog doesn't have any episodes but you have to start somewhere. Also, park your guilt as your dog's well-being is more important.
I can tell you what's happening with the leash, the dog LOVES going for walks, and the sight of the leash triggers a happy emotions in the dog that's temporarily over riding the fear / anxiety. Same thing happens if I can find a high enough value treat during a mild thunderstorm. My dog will come out of hiding, and will even go through some of his known cues, for the treats, but as soon as the treats end he'll go back into hiding.

Attach the leash to the dog, and leave it on, and he'll very quickly learn to ignore it. It will no longer have any effect. If the OP wishes to use the leash s/he will have to do so at the moment the dog gets upset, and take it for a quick walk or whatever good thing he's associating the leash with. I don't know about the OP's dog but the worst thing I can do with my dog is to confine him, either by holding him or with a leash, when he's frightened, he feels as if he's captured when his goal in life atm is to hide so I make the situation worse. Now my old dog Jersey, she wouldn't have cared about being on a leash when she was freaking out during a thunderstorm since her goal was to stay as close to me as possible (velcro dog). So before trying a leash the OP should carefully evaluate the dog and know what might work best.
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:11 PM
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I can tell you what's happening with the leash, the dog LOVES going for walks, and the sight of the leash triggers a happy emotions in the dog that's temporarily over riding the fear / anxiety. Same thing happens if I can find a high enough value treat during a mild thunderstorm. My dog will come out of hiding, and will even go through some of his known cues, for the treats, but as soon as the treats end he'll go back into hiding.

Attach the leash to the dog, and leave it on, and he'll very quickly learn to ignore it. It will no longer have any effect. If the OP wishes to use the leash s/he will have to do so at the moment the dog gets upset, and take it for a quick walk or whatever good thing he's associating the leash with. I don't know about the OP's dog but the worst thing I can do with my dog is to confine him, either by holding him or with a leash, when he's frightened, he feels as if he's captured when his goal in life atm is to hide so I make the situation worse. Now my old dog Jersey, she wouldn't have cared about being on a leash when she was freaking out during a thunderstorm since her goal was to stay as close to me as possible (velcro dog). So before trying a leash the OP should carefully evaluate the dog and know what might work best.
Or maybe the dog feels "safe" when it is on lead.

The leash is but part of equation I am talking about.

The following and proximity to the handler is the other part of the equation. It's a big part of the dynamic which allows the dog to feel comfortable as a follower, nothing more nothing less, it's basic structure in the dog's life which it can expect and rely on, as in routine.

It sounds like your situation might differ from the OP's as it was mentioned that when the leash comes out, it's as if nothing happened and there is no immediate revisitation of the previous behavior unlike your "as soon as the treats end."

Personally, I would rather have the dog on lead in the OP's situation instead of waiting until the dog starts to exhibit the undesired behavior. The goal is to have the dog find its way through whatever demon is scaring the dog and if the safety and comfort of the leash coupled with the obedience of following its leader has value then it's worth a try. IME, a dog needs be comfortable in its own skin and if that requires the dog trusting and relying on me and my earned leadership as the method then that's what I will pursue. Once this is established there is no piece of food or other reward which will outweigh this type of relationship.


I guess it wouldn't hurt to at least try exploiting the comfort of the leash as it has already been proven to alleviate the situation at hand.

I also appreciate that not all situations are not the same .
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Old 11-23-2017, 06:18 PM
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He flatly refuses any medication, no matter what it's wrapped up in
Why can't you just pill the dog?
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:29 PM
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Or liquid meds that you syringe in. Roast beef or cheese slices sltgered with mayonnaise or peanut butter always worked for me with my last dog who flat out refused lots of meds too. If my current dog won't eat his food with meds, I put the pills in his mouth and hold his mouth closed till he swalliws. Blowing on their nose encourages them to swallow faster.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:47 AM
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Lightbulb seek a compounding-pharmacist out

.

U can also get effective help from a compounding-pharmacist -
give them the Rx med scrip, & have them make it up as a flavored liquid.
Syringe it into the cheek-pouch with the dog's head tilted up slightly, slipping the syringe between teeth & cheek, or add the liquid to a small amount of tasty food, & mix it in.

Cats are notoriously difficult to dose, much-worse than dogs, b/c they both TASTE & CHEW their food! - dogs do neither; if it smells good, they inhale it.
so compounding-pharmacies are a great help in getting an animal to actually TAKE the needed meds.

- terry

.
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:59 AM
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I've always just placed any pills in the dog's mouth on top of the tongue as far back as is comfortable for the dog. The dog swallows it immediately. Dog gets an "atta girl/boy" and a beef chaser.

I've seen some people grind up the pill and mix it with something the dog likes, this has worked as well.
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Old 11-24-2017, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
.



TASTE & CHEW their food! - dogs do neither; if it smells good, they inhale it.

- terry

.
My dog didn't get that bulletin, she's a chewer, probably just a thing with raw fed dogs. But then again, I taught her to chew her Charlee Bear treats which are tiny.
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Old 11-24-2017, 08:11 AM
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@DriveDog posted "Why can't you just pill the dog?"

At this time, with this dog, any form of restraint results in escalation and, I prefer that he chooses. At another time, or with another animal, I may have other options available. My purpose here is to reduce his stress levels, not increase them. I consistently get better results if I don't touch him first. I know that physical proximity/contact can help and I leave it up to him to decide when he is ready to make a move towards me.

My purpose is to point out to the original poster that there are animals that have similar difficulties. How I deal with Douglas works for me and for him. My experience may strike a chord and maybe a variation on what I do with this animal could help.
@Shadowmom, and @leashedForLife, instead of "no matter what it's wrapped up in", I would have been better saying "no matter how it's presented". We've been down the liquid route and whilst these work and work well with other animals, at this time, with this dog, I get more consistent results following the above protocol.

Having said that, whilst I've used the others, I've never looked at mayonnaise - that's another to add to the list! Thank you.
@DriveDog, ...Done both. With other dogs works a treat, but at this time, with this dog...
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