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  1. #1
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    Feb. 14, 2012
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    Default Dog anxiety?

    Ever since our house got broken into, Dixie's anxiety when it comes to other people has exploded.

    She's okay at the barn, where the BO has two female GSDs. She's okay around people that she's met before. Everywhere else she's a hot mess. Yesterday she exploded at the worker at drive thru window. Was a foaming, growling mess, trying to climb over my lap and get through the window. I had to pull away and go inside. If anybody approaches us on a walk, she growls, barks, and tries to get them. If she's in the truck and somebody walks by, same thing.

    Night time is the worst. She runs laps between our bed and the door, whining and growling. We crated her downstairs (where she stays when nobody is home) at the advice of a behaviorist, and she tried to dig out the side to the point where her gums/paws were bleeding. Thundershirt did nothing. Doggie prozac only took the edge off a little bit and made her itch like crazy.

    This isn't anything that I've ever delt with before. It's like she has PTSD. Is that even possible? At home, during the day, she's her usual happy, snuggly self (unless she sees somebody outside the house). She gets plenty of exercise, and we do lots of obedience work at home. I'm upset, and worried. She's normally the most outgoing, charming, well behaved little thing. She hasn't ever offered to bite us.... just every other stranger she meets.

    She did such a good job when the asshat broke in, it's my job to make sure she gets whatever she needs to get over it.

    Suggestions on a behaviorist in Northern VT? Any other suggestions in the meantime? She's a little over a year old, and a JRTxsomething else stubborn with herding instinct.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  2. #2
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    Jun. 11, 2007
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    This is going to sound a little far fetched, but is the guy who broke into your home still next door? Since he kinda got away with nothing but bites to show for it, he's free to be anywhere he wants, I guess.

    Animals know things we don't and if he's still around, Dixie would know it and respond to the threat, she's not getting a break. Otherwise, it's probably that she's defined herself as the enforcer and she's going to do her job. Would a behavorist help install a "switch," i.e., getting Dixie to know she needs to be "allowed" to go into protect mode?

    What happened affected the dog as much as anyone else and she's going to sense any fears you have. If you don't feel comfortable and secure, she's not going to.


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  3. #3
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    I'd keep her with you and stay calm, give it time. Set up some situations where you can see other people and no matter how she reacts you make a point to be calm and happy. keep everyone safe but you make it a point to be easy minded about the encounter. I think the two of you are feeding off of each other and the more she freaks the more you worry and the anxiety is escalating. I'd probably not take her everywhere for a while, either. Let the dust settle and don't let any new reactions/behaviors toward new people take deep root while you're still in flux.

    She can still hear and smell and see the place next door, where he came from. Until she has a lot of quiet days with no intruder coming in again she's in hyper protect mode. Expect it to go on for a while, the calmer and happier you are the sooner she will start to settle. I don't blame any of you for still being anxious so don't expect to be able to cure her if you aren't able to be calm yet either.

    Local news has an article about a dog that did exactly as Dixie did and was stabbed in the neck. Dog survived and is in critical condition but the intruder is trying to have the dog PTS... the dog is part pit bull. aggrevating.



  4. #4
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    Maybe try Melatonin. Dosage is 1 mg per 20 lbs up to 3 mg. For Giant breeds you can go up to 6 mg. Be aware that it comes in pills from 1 mg -5 mg. Just make sure when you buy it you check the mg. Even if the packaging looks the same. For healthy dogs there are no negative side effects.

    I'd also work on teaching a "Look at me command" You can google it to see how to train it. It might help her refocus on you to calm her.



  5. #5
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    I didn't even think about MY anxiety levels. She goes on the alert and I go on the alert and we snowball. It makes sense when I think about it that way. It was a scary thing.

    Cowboymom- That's AWFUL! Poor dog. Luckily our guy dropped the lawsuit!

    Even though I don't feel threatened by the drive thru folks, I do anticipate her reactions.

    I will do my best to keep my business together, and hopefully that will help. And also the Melatonin. Y'all are genius.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.


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  6. #6
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    I hope your girl settles back to her wonderful self soon! Definitely assess your reactions to her reactions, often when they get anxious if you can keep your cool she will follow suit. If things do not get better, finding a behaviorialist for an outside opinion is not a bad thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post
    ...
    Cowboymom- That's AWFUL! Poor dog. Luckily our guy dropped the lawsuit! ....
    What on earth was he suing you for!?! He broke into your house!



  7. #7
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    have you consulted a veterinary behaviorist? she probably DOES have PTSD- it's been diagnosed in working war dogs. You need an expert. They mention xanax, not prozac, as a good medication, and also a conditioning/ retraining program.


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  8. #8
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    Thank you for all your help. I just wanted to update on the little bugger.

    We still haven't found a behaviorist that we like who will work together with us, instead of just telling me to medicate her and leave her at that. I'm fully on board to medicate to get through the first few stages, but I don't think that it's very good for her to be on medication permanently.

    We've been taking lots of walks and focusing on heeling, sitting, down, and trying to engage her brain so she's got something to think about other than protecting Mommy. It seems to be working a bit.

    An interesting thing happened a few days ago. We crossed paths with a strange woman walking a lab looking dog. I gave the heel command and crossed to the other side of the road. She didn't even offer a bark, snarl, or raised hair to the pair. Just trotted along her merry way. Later we passed a couple (the husband works with my husband) jogging and she went ballistic. Drooling, growling, raised hackles. I did the same thing. Asked her to heel and crossed to the opposite side of the road.

    She is still the same when people pass by the truck, but has settled down at night. We bought curtains for the door, and when they are closed at night, she sleeps fine. No pacing, growling, or whining.

    I'm wondering if the presence of the other dog had an effect on her? She's perfectly normal at the barn with the BO's 2 GSDs.

    I took a hard look at myself, and I don't feel anxious when she gets worked up. I had DH run towards us on the road. I knew it was him, nothing to worry about, didn't anticipate Dixie freaking because I figured she would recognize him. She went ballistic until he was 5-6 feet in front of us. If DH walks her by himself, she is fine. Wary, but not dramatic. If he has the baby, she's back on guard.

    She has a vet appointment tomorrow, so we can get her onto some different meds and I can get a few more names of people who might help.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    well, first of all, rescue remedy (bach's flowers, from the healthfood store) it does take the edge off, and you can virtually not overdose.

    I think you made one big discovery though:
    The Baby!

    My Dalmatian was always a pill about people getting near 'her stuff', truck, house, you name it (yes, bad socializing).
    She was about 3 when my son was born.
    But good Lord, did she turn it up a couple of knotches!
    You could tell the difference in her growl and bark! It became way more menacing!

    maybe you don't need a behaviorist as much as a dog trainer who can help you with protection work, especially as somebody mentioned the on/off switch!

    Also, you might be more anxious than you think. Dixie (btw, the name of my super ober momma Dal as well) seems to pick up on this, not to mention that somebody might want to hurt 'her' baby!
    I am thinking you were maybe a little tense, trying to see if she reacted to DH? Not so that it showed to you, I mean.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  10. #10
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    Could it be men that she's reacting to? In the examples where you've noted gender, she seems to be going off when there are men nearby. (she was okay with the strange woman with the lab, goes off with the couple; goes off when your husband approaches until she identifies him)

    Either way, can you set up scenarios where you're likely to meet strangers in a controlled environment, then work on diverting, then rewarding with high-value treats. Hopefully then she'll associate new people/correct behavior with good things and over time will look forward to meeting new people. I'd see if you can get some people to help you, directing them first to just walk on by while you deal with the dog, then if she's improving, stopping to chat with you, then finally interacting with the dog.

    StG



  11. #11
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post
    We still haven't found a behaviorist that we like who will work together with us, instead of just telling me to medicate her and leave her at that. I'm fully on board to medicate to get through the first few stages, but I don't think that it's very good for her to be on medication permanently.
    can you explain why you feel this way? You would probably never think twice about a human who has an anxiety disorder getting and staying on meds for as long as it takes for them to work through it. Brain chemistry is brain chemistry, no matter if it's a dog or a human. PTSD is PTSD....and animals get it too.

    We've been taking lots of walks and focusing on heeling, sitting, down, and trying to engage her brain so she's got something to think about other than protecting Mommy. It seems to be working a bit.
    remember that when you go out, you have less control over the environment and the triggers it holds. Be careful that she doesn't begin to back chain her anxiety, to just leaving the house.


    An interesting thing happened a few days ago. We crossed paths with a strange woman walking a lab looking dog. I gave the heel command and crossed to the other side of the road. She didn't even offer a bark, snarl, or raised hair to the pair. Just trotted along her merry way. Later we passed a couple (the husband works with my husband) jogging and she went ballistic. Drooling, growling, raised hackles. I did the same thing. Asked her to heel and crossed to the opposite side of the road.
    it was probably the difference between the man and the woman. It happens even without the trauma of what happened in her home, so I'm not surprised it happens now outside as well.

    She is still the same when people pass by the truck,
    I wouldn't take this dog out. What happens when you do that is called flooding and it's not the method most good trainers or behaviorists use.
    edit to add: I wouldn't take her through the drive through again.

    but has settled down at night. We bought curtains for the door, and when they are closed at night, she sleeps fine. No pacing, growling, or whining.
    good.


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  12. #12
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    This may sound a little odd, but can you ask a friend to walk your dog? Sounds like you need to decide whether or not the dog is protecting you, or using your anxiety as a scapegoat to go bananas.

    Can you then walk with a male friend (that she doesnt know), walk briskly and focused on getting from point A to point B. This can help you (and your dog) focus on the task, and not whats happening at point C, D,E, F, G.... sometimes sitting, stopping etc. can give them an excuse to look around and let something catch their eye. Forward, forward...like a green horse. The idea is to not give them enough time at any point to get distracted. Create focus. Its not easy, but I have found this works well with fearful and anxious dogs. At least for the first step I had a fearful pound pup, she was not a fan of men and would bark at them, and run away. I maintained a good clip, and insisted she walked right at my heel, never pass me. I was exhauseted, but she VERY much improved and could pass by men without any hint of anxiety within a few days.

    Dogs with jobs have less anxiety, maybe agility or running with her would slowly help decrease her anxiety. Give her a job in the home as well.


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  13. #13
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    Nov. 15, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post
    An interesting thing happened a few days ago. We crossed paths with a strange woman walking a lab looking dog. I gave the heel command and crossed to the other side of the road. She didn't even offer a bark, snarl, or raised hair to the pair. Just trotted along her merry way. Later we passed a couple (the husband works with my husband) jogging and she went ballistic. Drooling, growling, raised hackles. I did the same thing. Asked her to heel and crossed to the opposite side of the road.
    There are a BUNCH of differences between these two interactions, as I see it -
    First one has one woman, walking a dog, second is two people (one male), no dog, and they're running.

    She could be triggering off of the man, the running, the lack of a dog - any or all of those differences could be what sets her (and you) into protection mode. Factor in her understanding that she needs to protect you and the baby, and there's a ton going on for her.

    Have you ever worked on the relaxation/deference training with her?
    http://championofmyheart.com/relaxat...col-mp3-files/
    It can be really helpful in teaching a dog to wait for a cue from you, rather than just reacting. It takes time, but she's definitely worth it!


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  14. #14
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    Thank you everybody! I have a lot to work on.

    Threedog- I've met with 2 different behaviorists, and both made an assessment of her, then told me that she needed medication. I agreed, and asked what more we should do. "Nothing, she'll get over it eventually with some chemical help." It just didn't sit right with me. I feel like we should be doing more than that? Maybe I just misunderstood? They didn't seem to want to take the time to listen to me when I was trying to explain our problems.

    You all have a lot of great suggestions! I'll try applying them over the week, as I continue to look for some help. I think that y'all have a point about men. It was a man that broke in. She is fine with my husband, but she knows him.

    She is VERY protective of the baby, sleeps in front of her door during nap time, is usually fairly close by during the day, etc.

    It seems like so many things factor in, maybe it would be worth the money to invest in a good trainer who can work with us both multiple times a week. I've been looking into just behaviorists, because it's obviously a behavioral problem, but I know of a few good trainers around here who I can call.

    I feel bad for the poor little dog. She's such a lovely creature!

    I've never heard of the relaxation/deference training. I'll have to research it a little bit more, it's intriguing to me!
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post

    Threedog- I've met with 2 different behaviorists, and both made an assessment of her, then told me that she needed medication. I agreed, and asked what more we should do. "Nothing, she'll get over it eventually with some chemical help." It just didn't sit right with me. I feel like we should be doing more than that? Maybe I just misunderstood? They didn't seem to want to take the time to listen to me when I was trying to explain our problems.
    that absolutely does not sound right to me. Medication + a behavioral plan is what I was thinking. Wow. I'm really disappointed in the people you talked to. I can't imagine a VB who would prescribed meds w/o a plan in place as well. Were they Veterinary Behaviorists?

    The relaxation protocol may help, at least in the house, but you said she was better there. So I'm going to suggest listening to Suzanne Clothier.....this may help.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLriCeTYxLM


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    that absolutely does not sound right to me. Medication + a behavioral plan is what I was thinking. Wow. I'm really disappointed in the people you talked to. I can't imagine a VB who would prescribed meds w/o a plan in place as well. Were they Veterinary Behaviorists?

    The relaxation protocol may help, at least in the house, but you said she was better there. So I'm going to suggest listening to Suzanne Clothier.....this may help.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLriCeTYxLM
    That's what I was hoping for as well. Like I said, I'm okay with medicating, but without any other work I think it's seems a bit like a temporary solution. I want to fix her, not just put a bandaid on her issues. One was a VB and the other was not.

    Now that we have the curtains for the doors that the asshat came in through, she's 80% better in the house. Still a little anxious when people drive past (which isn't often) or the UPS man comes to the door. Luckily DD is crawling now, so we have baby gates everywhere. I can close her into the living room so she can see, but can't get to the door.

    Thanks for the link! I have so much research to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    The relaxation protocol may help, at least in the house, but you said she was better there.
    The thing I like so much about the relaxation protocol is that once you've gone through it in the house, it gives you a good foundation/toolbox of skills that you can use (and practice) away from home as well.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdj View Post
    The thing I like so much about the relaxation protocol is that once you've gone through it in the house, it gives you a good foundation/toolbox of skills that you can use (and practice) away from home as well.
    sometimes. It really depends on how well the dog learned it in the house and how well the handler acclimates the dog to the protocol outside. Outside has so much more stim, sometimes it is simply overwhelming for the dog and they can't do it outside without starting again, from the very beginning. Certainly I would not expect it to work on a walk without a great deal of practice.



  19. #19
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    Just wanted to update.

    We left the baby at my Mom's last night, and DH got home before dark for once, so we went for a walk. DH took the leash and walked on the outside (closest to the road so he could cross easily if need be) and I walked on the inside near the shoulder. He put her in heel position and we walked briskly forward. No stopping just forward at his heel. We crossed paths with one man walking, one kid on a bike and a couple walking their dog. Her hair stood on end, her tail came up, and she growled, but no barking, drooling, lunging. We ignored the behavior and just kept with the 'forward' mentality. She relaxed when we were 10-15 steps away from the person.

    We walk her in an easy-walk harness, FWIW.

    I took the leash on the way back, and we, unfortunately, didn't encounter anybody, but we stayed walking at the same clip, heeling. She was pretty relaxed.

    We are working on the relaxation techniques, but I'm admitting to not being as good as it as I think I need to be. We have an appointment with a reputable trainer in the area next week, and I'm excited to see what he has to say. I'm also interested to see how he reacts to her as I'm almost sure that there will be some reaction. I'm going by myself with her, so DH can watch the mini.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  20. #20
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    Sounds like you're moving in the right direction, Superminion!

    Glad to hear that you've found a trainer to work with, and the walk was a great experience - she got worried, and you and DH told her (by your actions), "Dixie, if we're not worried about it, you don't need to be either" - and she listened.

    Don't worry about not getting the relaxation protocol "right" - there's a little bit of a learning curve, and you aren't starting with a super laid back dog - just keep working on it (remember, if you have to, you can always break the exercises down and do the parts that you CAN do that day, and save the ones that are more challenging for another training session, when the two of you are more ready for it) and y'all will get there!

    (And February - that's when you move, right? - gets closer every single day!)


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