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From: Callie (
Subject:         Questions and thots
Date: July 10, 2009 at 9:40 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: I agree posted by Natalie on July 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm:

Since your Mom is also home, I'd have to wonder if *she* has inadvertently reinforced this -- "oh come on Baby ... don't be scared ...." -- it's difficult for such behavior not to tug on your heart strings.

Often the best solution for such a thing is keeping the dog more "busy" -- not just the exercise of walks -- but even simply taking a portion of her breakfast or dinner kibble and one at a time tossing them down a hallway or across a room for her to 'chase' (particularly that is good for someone who can't get out and run after the dog).

Will she chase a ball or other object? Often simply having two toys -- one to toss and one to 'hold' until she brings the other back. Or even some really elementary "scent" training (hide her toy under a blanket and have her "find" it ... and then hide it elsewhere (a bit further away every time).

If you can get her to 'disconnect' from the anxiety when she begins to SHOW anxiety you will go a long way towards defusing it. It simply becomes a habit -- and if she has begun the anxious habit -- and all your Mom has to do is croon "awwwww baby, what's wrong???" -- she gets attention, your Mom attempts to soothe her (which to most anxious dogs only tells them "YES THERE ***IS*** SOMETHING TO BE UPSET ABOUT!!!")

Then once you get home, if you then proceed to "do work" she equates that with something negative somehow - and often it can be a one time 'negative' thing that no one else even saw.

What you're saying reminds me a lot of a dog in one of Dr. Nick Dodman's books "The Dog Who Loved Too Much". In it a dog developed this SEVERE anxiety every time someone attempted to open or close a set of blinds (like window treatments??)

The dog would simply go freaking NUTS every time someone did something to a window. No one could open a window to get a breath of air -- had to be blinds closed ALL the time.

What they discovered later on was that a neighbor grump decided he hated the dog and the neighbor watched the window until the dog came into the room alone and the neighbor shot the dog **with an air rifle**. It didn't kill the dog but caused intense pain ... but the dog heard the neighbor PULL **HIS** BLINDS just prior to the shot.

That instantly generalized to THEIR own home. Just the sound of ANY blind being raised/lowered sent the dog into a complete panic.

They did ultimately desensitize the dog to the blinds and they DID deal with the neighbor, but the dog was simply living in terror of being hurt again.

The point is -- sometimes it is next to impossible to determine what actually caused the fear ... and just normal "Aww the poor thing!!" conversation can escalate the whole thing astronomically.

Ok -- back to the bloodwork -- given that the dog is losing coat THIS severely this is some super heavy trauma -- so one of the points of bloodwork is to make sure that something 'else' -- like thyroid problems, liver problems, etc. isn't on the perimeter making what would normally simply be an "anxiety" problem into a huge health issue just waiting to explode.

You could go the route of doggie sertonin drugs like Chlomicalm -- but honestly I'd rather see you do it without. There are HERBS you can use that have far less potential to damage the body and far less potential to be habit-forming.

There is a class of herbs called "nervine herbs" -- the biggies that leap to MY mind are valerian root, passion flower and St. John's Wort.

St. John's Wort has a potential to be more habit-forming (it really does mimic a sertonin drug) *and* it is also a really handy herb to use as an anti-viral so I don't like to use it in anxiety situations because it's too useful for other things to risk having to use it when you don't need it.

Valerian works incredibly well on dogs -- but it can be secondarily digested by the liver, so given the fact that you may use it regularly for a few months, I'd probably tell you to use the passionflower first.

One other possible is milky Oat Seed (HerbPharm makes a really good tincture of that one). But Oat Seed -- at least in MY experience -- tends to be more of a "ohhhhh wow -- Mellow me out" thing than a relaxant. It tends to fog the brain a bit (not severely but it's really sort of a major "oh wow this feels niczzzzzzzzzzzzz" thing rather than JUST relaxing the body.

The point of the herb is simply to **relax** the stress but leave the brain intact so you **can** re-train the dog. You want to take the edge off the stress NOT make the dog loopy and sleepy.

Try them on the dog at a NORMAL, not stress time. *Just* to see how it reacts -- it also serves to allow the animal to react to it normally rather than "fighting" the relaxation when you NEED it.

You can, if you feel like this just isn't "strong" enough, us something additonally like Hylands Calms Forte. That's a homeopathic -- it won't "clash" with either passionflower or valerian. You *can* give them together.

Calms is intended as a sleep inducer. But they also use it on colic-y babies to get them to calm/settle down.

Another one similar to Calms, but not as easy to find is -Heel/BHI's "Calming" formula. That one absolutely rocks - it does the same thing as Calms Forte but works faster.

Both Calms Forte and Calming are "homeopathics". these are not herbs. Homeopathics is a whole separate holistic "modality" -- a separate branch of holistic science if you will.

A homeopathic is very very mild -- it literally 'prods' the body to do a thing, rather than forcing an effect on the body.

You don't give homeopathics in food. NOT AT ALL. You want the dog to chew it up if possible. Most homeopathics are very pleasant -- little sweet tablets. Crushing them and then just dumping them in the mouth is very effective. My dogs think they are treats and will just chew them up eagerly.

The point of giving a relaxant like this is simply so you can get to the dog's brain TO re-train the dog.

You'll have to do this very slowly. The first thing I'd tell you to do is turn your schedule completely inside out. Walk at NIGHT, not the morning. Just take the dog out long enough to do it's business if you must, but save the walk for later so it can be a reward.

time your trips in the car at odd hours -- either earlier than normal or "different". But at the times when the dog begins to show anxiety, GET THE DOG BUSY.

Play, even basic obedience training -- ANYTHING to busy the mind.

I mentioned in the other post using something like a Kong filled with the dog's breakfast or some interactive "toy" dispenser. A big long marrow bone can be run the the dishwasher after it's first used (don't cook it -- give the marrow bone RAW -- just freeze it first to kill any bacteria). and then successive times you can stuff it either with kibble or with pureed meat & veg and then freeze. Meat baby food mixed with baby food veg and then frozen also works well.

Put this in the dog's crate just to give the dog something attractive to do -- the dog doesn't have to "play" with it -- just licking out the food will keep the dog quite busy once it gets the hang of it.

Once the dog gets the hang of how to "do" this you can then pop the dog in the crate with the bone/Kong and have a few minutes then to "do" something.

But sneak up on it -- FIRST you give the kong/bone while you are there - and then go in and out of the room. Then next time briefly go out the door and then back in. Then go out the door, start the car and back in. Out and in, gradually (oh so VERY gradually) lengthen the time you're gone and how 'far away' you go.

Using music, and even put the crate in an area where you can stand a piece of carpet remnant around the crate to block out noise -- this may help.

Sorry this is a lot but mostly you just have to do this all very gradually. Desensitization has to happen SOOOOOO SLOWLY. Keep the sessions very short -- and TINY TINY steps. It's far better to take the same one wee tiny 'step' FOUR TIMES and succeed each time, than do ONE step too "big" and allow the anxiety to creep in.

Please be open to crating -- dogs are den animals -- and a crate SHOULD mean "safety" to the dog. If the dog has had a bad experience in a crate, get a different *kind* of crate -- a wire one rather than a varikennel or vice versa. Even a fabric crate. But tiny shot amounts of time.

Feed the dog in the crate, give goodies in there (treats, meals) and sometimes just you chilling out with a book or watching TV while you sit next to the dog IN the crate -- no big deal. Don't let every time the dog goes into the crate "signal" "MOM IS LEAVING". Sneak up on it.

It's better to break this all down into 10,000,000 steps and succeed every inch of the way, than to take 10 BIG steps and fail at even one of them. Patience is a huge thing here.

I hope I've explained this -- and honestly you may want to get a copy of Dodman's book -- it may help you.

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