Dylan's trip to the RVC today

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ladybug1802
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Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri May 27, 2011 12:55 pm

We went to see Jon Bowen the veterinary behaviourist today at the Queen Mothers Hospital for Animals in London...and although I was very nervous, it was brilliant. He is such a nice guy, really relaxed, puts you and the animals at ease, and explains things really well. Mum and Dad came with me, and he expained things and why dogs behave the way they do etc in such a way that Dad said he totally understood and could see it straight away.

So the long shot is Dylan's fears are definitely more phobic, and he said I have done some great work and have been going in the right direction (thanks go to you guys for that!!) but for him, the usual ways of counter conditioning with 'normal' fearful dogs wont work with him because his anxiety levels are constantly too high etc.

He said the way he often reacts shows the big problem is his impulsivity....he doesnt show the usual growling, hackles up, tensing etc, but goes straight from eyes wide and occasionally a brief 'freeze' to lunge in a bid to pre-empt that someone may be a threat and shoo them away. But the way he does it shos he is more of a coward (!) because he tends to lunge, snap then move/run away. And it is that impulsivity (think that is the right word) that is the problem.....because he doesnt go through the usual chain of growling etc, it is harder to see when he is going to react, and harder to train because you cant gradually say, for example, "he is growling at people more instead of snapping" or something.

He also said impulsivity and anxiety is often related to lack of seratonin in the brain....studies have been done on it etc. So my boy is going to be on medication - Prozac initially!! He said for the first week or so he may be a little flatter than usual, and he wants me to keep in touch and we will speek after he has been on the drugs a few days, and then after a week or so, as if he stays flat or subdued after that period we will change drugs. He stressed we dont want him to be sedated and dont want him to be 'drugged up' at all, so if thats what they do to him we will switch. Hopefully they wont!

The success rate of the drugs is maybe 70% or so, but then we can change to another drug...and its hard to have a fixed scale of how to judge if it is helping....but he said hopefully it will make him less anxious in general, and in time it may make him feel more confident, so that instead of lunging and going a bit loopy when he feels like that, he will growl or bark. So he said I may find he barks at people more, but if so that is good...and I would LOVE if he barked instead of lunging and snapping at the moment!

For behjaviour training at the moment it is simple for now.....I am going back to see him 6 weeks after he starts the medication, and in that time I have to do 2 things. Firstly, if we see people I am to call him to me, and shovel yummy treats down his throat! This is to start to get him to eventually look at me when he sees a stranger and look for treats instead of staring at the person....this is what he tends to do...he doesnt like people staring at him yet he will stare them down!! As time goes on I give him a tiny bit extra time before calling him to me, so he has a bit more of a choice, and he would like to eventually see that when Dylan sees a person, he looks to me!

I also have to work on a new command when nobody is about. I currently do 'watch me' when we walk past people and click and treat etc, but he made a good point....when I say 'watch me', he looks at me, gets a treat, looks back at the person, I say it again, the whole process starts again. He would like me to find a new command (as obviously Watch Me is learned now), which i will probably use 'Look', and initall get him to look at me and then click and treat at a really fast rate, so he is focusing on me and not looking away. Then gradually slow the rate of clicking and treating....but keeping him looking at me and focusing.

Then when we go back he will give us some more things to work on. But in the meantime I have his mobile number and email and he said he wants me to call with ANY queries or problems.....he would rather I called than didnt to make sure we do the best for Dylan. He is a really good guy.

Dylan was very good bless him....very anxious when we got in there - panting and pacing and looking a bit stressed. But Jon obviously didnt stare at him and Dylan was muzzled, but just sniffed round a bit then eventually sat next to me, then ended up laying down. Aftwr a while he went and lay by the door as if to say "come on now, enough is enough!" and whined, but there was no eyeballing, lungeing etc...which was good. I am glad that in a strange place and with a strange person, if they ignore him for a bit, he seems OK.

So a very good, interesting day, and am so glad we went! But we are all pretty exhausted...Dylan due to the stress for him, me because I didnt sleep well through worrying, and my dad through driving all the way there in traffic, and all the way back in appalling traffic on the M25!

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Nettle
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by Nettle » Fri May 27, 2011 1:23 pm

Thank you very much for sharing :D and what a super Dad you have!
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri May 27, 2011 2:16 pm

Yes indeed....my Dad is a star!!

I ordinarily wouldnt be happy putting Dylan on drugs at all, but think we have gone as far as we can without them.....hoping they will help so we can gradually change his association with people, and start to change things!

ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri May 27, 2011 3:21 pm

But whats with all these spam messages in General Chat!

jacksdad
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by jacksdad » Fri May 27, 2011 4:52 pm

Glad to hear it your visit to the vet went well.

I hear what you are are saying about the meds, but you didn't rush into this. you put in the effort first to try and resolve Dylan's fear without it.

That was very cool of your dad to drive you there.

as for the spam...apparently there is a bug or weakness in PHPBB (the forum software) that spammers are exploiting. there is only so much a sys admin can do, ultimately the phpbb developers have to come up with a fix. it's a constant battle between sys admins/developers and spammers and the sad truth is no matter how good the admin, the spammers will always have a slight advantage.

Fundog
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by Fundog » Fri May 27, 2011 7:11 pm

I too am happy to hear your vet/behaviorist visit sounds so optimistic and promising! :D Like Jacksdad said, you did NOT rush into meds first thing, you've given it your best shot without drugs first, so now it is definitely worth experimenting with. SOME dogs and people do need medications, and do well on them, so it's not always a bad thing. 8)

Bumping all these relevant messages up to bury the very busy spammer at the bottom. :evil:
If an opportunity comes to you in life, say yes first, even if you don't know how to do it.

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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by emmabeth » Fri May 27, 2011 7:44 pm

Oooh I am pleased it was good :) (sorry about all the spam today, gone now!, it is actually faster to remove spam like that , single posts all in the same forum, than it is to remove just 5 or 10 posts done as replies scattered around the board!).
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Sat May 28, 2011 3:02 am

Thanks guys.....yes I do think meds are worth a try now to try and help him. Obviously the meds alone wont suddenly make him non reactive to people, but may chill him out and make him less anxious, and encourage him to display another method of communicating his anxiety at people...fingers crossed! Then we can begin more training.

I also mentioned to him about the fact I was thinking of getting one of those vests for him, with the slogan on, and he said actually the best way of ensuring people stay away is to put a muzzle on him.....and ironically the dogs with the muzzle on are the dogs that WONT bite because they cant! So that may be better than a vest.....I dont like seeing him in a muzzle but it does make people stay away!

He also suggested getting 2 muzzles.....and on one cut a couple of the basket bits out at the front so its easier to feed treats to him, and that can be his training muzzle. Then the other one for non training muzzle requirements.

Am keeping everything crossed the meds help him so we can progress with our behaviour training!! The only thing that worries me is if meds dont help enough, then it is more a case of managing it, I suppose like I have been doing. Which is OK, but I hate seeing him so anxious and would love to be able to help him!

Just shame this guy is so far away......all the way up the M25 with the traffic that goes with it!! :evil:

MPbandmom
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by MPbandmom » Sat May 28, 2011 9:12 am

I have done the removing sections of a muzzle in front to allow for treating with Sirius. I have a wire basket muzzle that I did it with, because I was having a very hard time finding the plastic racing muzzles and when I did find them, I couldn't find any sizing information other than they don't fit like other muzzles. :?

I may not have had the best tools, but removing the pieces seemed to leave some rough edges, so I wrapped the top and bottom of the section where I removed the pieces in strips of fleece fabric that I had lying around. I haven't used it much, because while the hole in the muzzle does allow for treats to be fed, hitting the hole is quite a challenge. :lol: It would probably go better if the dog weren't trying to chase down the treat while I was trying to hit the hole. :lol: :lol: :lol: I would usually end up holding the muzzle, and thus her head still, just to be able to get a treat into her mouth. With her, being able to deliver treats quickly as a distraction seemed like the better option to the muzzling.

There are some situations where I may still utilize it, but I usually just try to avoid potential problems as much as possible. Muzzles (and often halti type head collars) do seem to be an automatic dog avoidance signal for people though. (People who aren't familier with the head collar think it is a muzzle.) My dogs are light color so the black halti's really stood out against their fur. Now that I know more about the potential problems with the halti's, I wouldn't attach a leash to it, but just having one on might give enough muzzle type deterrent to keep people at a distance without interfering with treat dispensing.

Just my experience
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Sat May 28, 2011 1:07 pm

Hi MpbandMom! Wow that must have been quite a task removing bits from a metal muzzle!!

I do have a halti, and if I walk somewhere with a lot of people I have the halti on with a lead, plus a collar and lead...he is pretty good with it on though. But I think the muzzle would give me more peace of mind....plus if he were to lunge I wouldnt have to worry about him hurting his neck!

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Mattie
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by Mattie » Tue May 31, 2011 9:05 am

Thanks for sharing this Ladybug. :D
ladybug1802 wrote:
He said the way he often reacts shows the big problem is his impulsivity....he doesnt show the usual growling, hackles up, tensing etc, but goes straight from eyes wide and occasionally a brief 'freeze' to lunge in a bid to pre-empt that someone may be a threat and shoo them away. But the way he does it shos he is more of a coward (!) because he tends to lunge, snap then move/run away. And it is that impulsivity (think that is the right word) that is the problem.....because he doesnt go through the usual chain of growling etc, it is harder to see when he is going to react, and harder to train because you cant gradually say, for example, "he is growling at people more instead of snapping" or something.
This is what Gracie used to do and I found it so hard to understand and work through it at first, in all the 5.5 years I had he I never heard her growl. It is thanks to Gracie that I learnt how to deal with fear aggressive dogs even though it took me over 3 months to realise this was fear based.

I also have to work on a new command when nobody is about. I currently do 'watch me' when we walk past people and click and treat etc, but he made a good point....when I say 'watch me', he looks at me, gets a treat, looks back at the person, I say it again, the whole process starts again. He would like me to find a new command (as obviously Watch Me is learned now), which i will probably use 'Look', and initall get him to look at me and then click and treat at a really fast rate, so he is focusing on me and not looking away. Then gradually slow the rate of clicking and treating....but keeping him looking at me and focusing.[/quote]

Ah!!! you didn't extend the "Watch me", you are normal, most people don't including me but I did extend it to 1 full minutes. It was this extending the "Look" that gave me so much success with Gracie, when I asked her to "Watch me", I used the word "Look", I gradually extended the length of time she had to look at me before getting the treat. When I was out and another dog was coming I was able to hold the Look for about 10 to 15 seconds before treating her. As soon as she looked away I gave the command immediately again and expected her to hold it again.

I am pleased you went, you now know you are on the right lines and have more information to help Dylan, well done your dad as well :D
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ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue May 31, 2011 11:08 am

Ah interesting Mattie! Thats exactly what I have been doing now! Its funny but it hadnt even crossed my mind to extend that command, but now it seems totally common sense!!

So what did Gracie do? Was it towards people or dogs?

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Mattie
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by Mattie » Tue May 31, 2011 11:38 am

Gracie was fine with people, it was dogs she wanted to kill including my little Joe when she arrived, he had a terrible scar on his leg thanks to her. They became the best of friends but it took a lot of hard work.

She was the same with horses, we used to rally close to John Whittaker's stables, we often saw the horses being hacked out, every time Gracie saw them she wanted to kill them, as she was about 10ins high it looked quite funny. :lol:

I think it is Horus who can hold the "Watch me" for 2 minutes. I never took it to that extent because I didn't have a use for that length of time, I could have continued to extend it if I needed to later. When in the situation were Gracie would have reacted to another dog I never asked her to hold it for more than 10 to 15 seconds as she was stressed.
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ladybug1802
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue May 31, 2011 11:42 am

2 minutes? Wow! But 10-15 seconds seems very impressive to me too. At the moment we can hold it for a good few seconds as long as there is nothing at all else going on that is more exciting to look at! Today we tried it out on a walk, and he was pretty good, but he found it really hard to look at me instead of looking to see what that squirrel sounding rustle was, or checking he wasnt missing anything elsewhere! But its very early days and he is a fast learner so its going to be a case of repetition, and practicing it a LOT in the house/garden where there are no other distractions!

runlip
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Re: Dylan's trip to the RVC today

Post by runlip » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:24 pm

Ladybug,
I am very curious how Dylan will do on the prozac. Could you please keep us posted?

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