Dog's extreme anxiety has me at my wits end!

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Dog's extreme anxiety has me at my wits end!

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Old 04-30-2018, 06:09 PM
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Dog's extreme anxiety has me at my wits end!

Hi Everyone. This is my first time posting in here. I hope someone can offer some wise words in relation to my problem with my dog.

My husband and I adopted a 2 year old little spaniel mix roughly a year and a half ago. We knew he had some issues being that he had a rough start in his life. We were told he could not be left alone for long, was afraid of children, etc. Okay..since I work from home as a writer and we don't have any children, I thought this wouldn't really be problem.

I quickly learned that not only could the dog not be alone for long, he couldn't be alone AT ALL, not even for an hour, or he would bark, bark, bark. Given that we live in an apt, we can't allow him to bark like that.

Then I realized that if we ever had guests over, the dog would bark aggressively and endlessly at them for the duration to their visits. Needless to say, we don't ever have company anymore. ( by the way, we tried having guests toss treats, ignore him, putting him in his crate that he likes..with treats...etc...NOTHING works. The dog will bark at that person for 2 hours if need be until the guest just can't handle hearing anymore and they leave.

Recently, we moved to a new place with a back yard for the dog. At first he was fine. Now, 2 months after we moved here, he has added "fear of going on walks" to his repertoire of fears. So now, many days, he absolutely will NOT walk and will only stay outside for as long as it take for him to do his business.

So, here's the situation: for a year and a half, I have only been to a family event 1 time (we hired a dog sitter) and every other family function, my husband has gone without me so I could stay with the dog.

My husband and I have pretty much accepted that we don't get to go anywhere together anymore, even to just pop out for a quick trip to the grocery store.

We haven't had friends or family come for dinner, lunch or any visit since we discovered how he acts a year and a half ago.

The only saving grace was "Well, at least I can be sure to get out an exercise everyday because I have to walk the dog." That is gone now.

I love this pup, but I'm admittedly starting to feel resentful. I feel deeply disappointed. I have tried to do everything within our means, (and sometimes really stretching our means) to help him be less fearful. We've tried several natural remedies suggested by our vet.

We've had 3 trainers try to help, to no avail. They said he needs a dog behavior specialist. We simply can't afford that.

We are going to try putting him on Clomicalm. We are so hanging our hopes on this medicine to help. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of treatment and did it help?

Thanks for reading my long post. If nothing else, venting feels like a little weight has lifted off my shoulders.
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Old 04-30-2018, 08:11 PM
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Hi there, I don't know how to help but wanted to caution when I saw the medication you want to try, I've personally taken it and it works great short term, but long term it resulted in worse anxiety exponentially, so I wanted to mention that first and foremost. The last thing you'd want is to make it worse I'm sure.



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Old 05-01-2018, 09:17 AM
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I'm going to tag @PoppyKenna. She has a little guy who has some pretty big phobias about the world, and she's been working hard with him and seeing improvement. She may have some tips for you.
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Old 05-01-2018, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by mdrtoronto View Post
Hi there, I don't know how to help but wanted to caution when I saw the medication you want to try, I've personally taken it and it works great short term, but long term it resulted in worse anxiety exponentially, so I wanted to mention that first and foremost. The last thing you'd want is to make it worse I'm sure.



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Thank you for your response to my post. The medicine I am putting him on is the last resort. We are going to try it short term along with some light training to see if he can function in the world. We simply can't afford to hire a canine behavior specialist, though.

If the medicine doesn't help, sadly, I'm going to have to make some VERY difficult decisions between a couple of very bad options.

Re-homing him is not an option. I don't want to pass him off on some other person. My main goal has been and still is to keep him from suffering any more than is necessary. I don't think he could psychologically take being passed to someone else. And I couldn't take worrying about what someone else would do to him if they lose patience.

Forcing myself to remain in my apartment with him, never going out with my husband or having friends over, or even going on walks with the dog (just so I can stay home and make him less anxious) is absolutely NOT a reasonable expectation.

Forcing the dog to remain alive with a debilitating illness that cannot be treated is cruel. What is a dog's life if all he does is remain indoors, frightened of every noise; never running and playing in the sunshine or in the grass? I'm afraid I'd have to consider it like when one has a pet who is suffering from some other terrible illness.

It's a terrible choice to have to make, but one I will definitely be faced with if the medicine doesn't help. :'(
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Old 05-01-2018, 02:02 PM
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I'm going to tag @PoppyKenna. She has a little guy who has some pretty big phobias about the world, and she's been working hard with him and seeing improvement. She may have some tips for you.
Thanks.
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Old 05-02-2018, 06:57 AM
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A veterinary behaviorist can make a HUGE difference, as it did with my dog who had the "most severe case of separation anxiety he'd ever seen". Yes the consult is a few hundred dollars, but if you tell them you're completely broke and can't afford it, and have the financial records to back that up, they may be able to help reduce the cost.
I got a completely free in home consult from Dr Nicholas Dodman who's well known and famous, because he was writing a book to go along with the movie"the secret life of pets", and needed a handsome lab looking dog with separation anxiety to
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:10 AM
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You might try joining the fearful dogs yahoo group. If you can't find it via yahoo, I believe there may be a link somewhere on Debbie Jacob's website (fearfuldogs.com)...and the website itself is a good resource, of course. From my time on the list, I recall a lot of people with extensive medication experience, and especially, lots of people who can relate to your experiences.
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:18 AM
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I don't know much about different medications (my only experience with my own dog is fluoxetine) but I do know they get a bad rap. Not sure why something that would help a suffering animal or person is considered a last resort. Many dogs can be fearful, anxious, or aggressive due to chemical imbalances in their brains and medications directly address this issue.

Many natural remedies (like calming chews) are kind of scams because I've noticed the dosage of the ingredient intended to help the anxiety is typically very low. My boyfriend works for a CBD company and he's noticed this in their dog treats as well. We just directly use CBD isolate oil instead of buying all these products marketed to desperate owners of fearful dogs. I'm in a local support group for owners of reactive dogs and in general the people who have found CBD to be helpful have had to give more than the "recommended" dose to their dogs to see an effect. CBD helps my dog but we also have to give her more than "recommended" to see a difference.

My dog was also put on fluoxetine after we consulted with a very experienced trainer who recommended a veterinarian who has experience prescribing different behavioral medications and that helped a little as well but it took almost a month for the fluoxetine to really get in her system and start making a difference.

Meds aren't a magical cure and you'll still probably see the behavior, but if you find the right medication it can decrease the intensity of your dog's emotional reaction and make it easier to implement a training plan to modify behavior.

I agree that you should work with a veterinary behaviorist if possible, or if not, find a trainer with a lot of experience with fear and anxiety. It seems like you're dealing with a lot with this dog and someone experienced should be available to help teach you how to work with him. Unfortunately not all trainers are equal and some are not qualified at all to be dealing with these tougher cases.



My dog had the same problem of barking non stop at visitors and it made it very difficult to have people over. We hired a trainer with experience in anxiety and canine compulsive disorder (another one of her problems...) to come over and like your dog, Delilah barked at her almost non stop for the 2 hours she was here. She settled down after a while when we all sat on the couch but if the trainer moved or coughed or spoke too suddenly she would start barking all over again. The trainer said she was the most "persistent" dog she had ever worked with. xD

We did a lot of work with counter conditioning. We took her on walks with the guests *before* they entered the house and played LAT when necessary. Inside the house we all sat calmly on the couch- no walking around, getting up suddenly, speaking or laughing loudly, anything that might startle or set off Delilah. I kept her on a leash to keep her from running over to the guests and I used very high value treats and just tossed treats behind her whenever guests were over. Behind her so that she would have to run after and "search" for them. My goal was for her to associate strangers in the house = hot dog party.

Guests you invite over for this training must understand that they should remain calm, follow your instructions, and completely ignore the dog. As much as we all hate Cesar Millan, he does have a saying I like "No touch, no talk, no eye contact." Great mantra for people who are meeting fearful dogs. Even eye contact can be too intense for these dogs. Even holding out a hand for them to sniff can be scary. Guests need to just ignore him like he doesn't exist.

We did a lot of "mat work"- bought her a comfortable bed and just worked with her with sending her to the bed and staying on the bed. Relaxing on the bed. Really heavily reinforced being on the bed. We did Karen Overall's Protocol for Relaxation (available for free online) on the bed. Than, when guests came over, we'd go outside to "greet" them, have them enter the house first, and then I put the bed in a comfortable area far enough away from the guests for Delilah to feel safe, gave her a peanut butter kong, and just had her stay on the bed. It took A LOT of training to get to that point. A few months at least before I felt comfortable using that, and I always kept her leash on her to physically remove her from the situation if I felt I had to. It took a lot of friends willing to come over and be ignored for the most part while I worked on Delilah's training.

She's still not great with guests and especially men and strangers, but she calms more quickly when I start training, put her on her bed, or give her copious amounts of CBD oil (something else you could try that might help with anxiety).

In addition to that training consult we've also done a variety of obedience, agility, and a reactive dog class so we've worked with a lot of different trainers, learned new things from each trainer, and these classes have also taught Delilah and I to more effectively communicate with each other. If you don't think your dog would be okay in a group class, you could still work on basic obedience and trick training on your own- it won't be a direct solution to your problem but it could help with relationship building, communication, and you might teach your dog some useful things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnackRat View Post
You might try joining the fearful dogs yahoo group. If you can't find it via yahoo, I believe there may be a link somewhere on Debbie Jacob's website (fearfuldogs.com)...and the website itself is a good resource, of course. From my time on the list, I recall a lot of people with extensive medication experience, and especially, lots of people who can relate to your experiences.
Yes, Debbie Jacobs also has a facebook group called "Fearful Dogs." I attended a seminar by her, she's very knowledgeable, and the members in the group have a lot of dog experience as well. Great resource!

https://www.facebook.com/notes/fearf...2974847049561/
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:29 AM
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@revolutionrocknroll has detailed some really awesome suggestions for you.

There's also a reactive dogs subreddit that is awesome. I know a lot of people there have dogs on Clomicalm, so that could be a good resource.

My guy is on paxil and clonidine, switched from prozac and trazodone. The bummer about medications, as well as behavioral interventions, is that there is a LOT of trial and error. It's so, so rewarding when you figure out what works, but it can be a painful process to get there.

Honestly, I'd start with the separation anxiety if you have to pick one problem to tackle. If you are able to get some freedom, the other problems won't seem as difficult to deal with. Medication should help some, and you might have to play around with other methods. Thundershirts, DAP diffusers, essential oils, etc. can all be useful. So can leaving for short times and then coming back, increasing the time you are away slowly. When you leave and return, don't make a fuss - just ignore your pup like it's no big deal.

For the fear of the outdoors, have you tried scattering some treats in the backyard and just letting him wander and find them? That's a pretty low pressure but rewarding way to get him a little more excited about being out there.
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