How to help my reactive, anxious dog when I have a broken leg

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Caseycat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:14 am

How to help my reactive, anxious dog when I have a broken leg

Post by Caseycat » Mon Apr 18, 2016 3:29 pm

Hi there, I just joined after finding one of this forums post on a google search for reactive dogs. I've been reading through a ton of old posts, but it seems like the consensus is to make a new post specific to my dog.

Overall situation: I'm a grad student in animal nutrition, living in Minnesota. I adopted a dog, Casey, last July. The intake records at the shelter put him at 2 years, they said 1-2 years, and I thought he was on the younger side. He's a 40 pound hound mix. I recently had him at the vets, and without me giving my thoughts, they put him at 18 months (which is where I think he is). He was a stray from Kentucky with no other records on him. Based on how easy house training was, and based on some other reactions (negative [fear] reactions to high pitched noises), I think that he was someone's dog at some point and escaped/ran away/they didn't try to find him. I got him July 1st, and he immediately got on fine with my roommate's dog (Lefse). Lefse is an incredibly submissive dog towards humans and very mellow overall, but when Casey is getting too rowdy, she will put him in his place with a sharp bark and a snap at him, which he respects. July 4th during the fireworks, he was scared (understandable) and took refuge inside Lefse's little dog house (it was inside the house in the living room, but an actual enclosed house). After that, he became very territorial over it, and would show signs of fear aggression if I needed him to get out of it when he was hiding there for numerous reasons. One day over the summer he stole a packet of hot dog buns off the counter, ran in the house, and was very aggressive with me when I tried to correct him and take them away. Looking back, I did not react correctly at all and should have just let the situation cool off even if it meant he "won". Since then, we've taken the little doggy house out of our actual house, and overall he adjusted great. He's very high energy but seems relaxed with one good walk a day and romps in the fenced in backyard. He and Lefse get on fine and although he barks at the doorbell or at people walking by (side note- I saw a suggestion on another post to use film on windows to make them more opaque, I may try that) on the side walk, he's overall settled in great.

Over the summer and fall we were going to the dog park at least a few times a week. At first he was great- definitely very high energy and was humping a lot of dogs, but for the most part, people didn't mind and it wasn't an issue. I got busy late fall and didn't take him as much. After the break from going all the time, Casey stopped humping everything that had four legs and started to play too rough. He wasn't ever appearing to be aggressive per say, but he was not picking up on social cues that the other dog was over it. He tends to just bark at them to engage them and chew on their necks. He's definitely better when it's less crowded, so I tried to go in the mornings early before the morning crew got there. Still, I was getting embarrassed/worried about it, and in combination with him not listening well at home, got him a shock collar. I took him to the dog park once with it, early in the morning and with 1-2 other dogs there, and we had such a successful visit. Part of it I'm sure was that my stress level was lower given that he was responding well to the collar and that the other dog's owner was sympathetic to me telling her about the human reactions I've gotten towards Casey playing rough. The main thing I like about the shock collar is that even without using the vibrate or the shock modes, he is just listening better to me.

We have/had a pretty consistent routine of:

Wake up around 6/7- I let him out in the back yard, and then we go for a walk. Minimum five days a week (usually 6-7) we go for a 3 mile loop that takes us about 45 minutes. Some days if I'm running late, he'll get a quick 20-30 minute walk at the same pace.

breakfast- Kirkland lamb and rice. I was following the bag directions per his weight, but have upped it about 1/4 cup per meal (1/2 cup day total increase). He was a really picky eater until I started mixing in something tasty, I was doing eggs or yogurt but once I realized he would need something extra yummy every day, I switched to mixing in a large spoonful of the kirkland wet food (turkey). Now that he's been consistently eating, his weight looks great as opposed to being on the thin side of healthy. He's never been food aggressive with his own kibble, sometimes I have to hand feed him if he's distracted or stressed during meal time. Before I added in wet food, I needed to stay next to him and encourage him to eat the whole time. Now, I only need to stand/sit by him if there is distracting stuff happening in the background.

My day to day schedule varies, I usually am gone for most of the day, but occasionally I work from home and my roommate and I's schedules tend to work out so that the dogs are never alone for more than 6-7 hours max. He and Lefse just hang out and nap (or at least that's what they do when I'm home studying).

Dinner is the same as breakfast- I get a little frustrated because my roommate will feed the dogs whenever he gets home, even if it's at four. I've asked him to feed them later but he'll just feed his dog and not Casey. I'd rather have them eat together at four than have one get fed and the other not. For the most part, they eat dinner between 5:30-7.

Evenings are generally spent lounging on the couch. He's allowed on the couch but not on my bed. Occasionally he's gotten fussy about being kicked off, but I can see why he reacts (super comfy, being kicked off for no reason in his eyes) how he does. Over the fall and winter, I was working Saturday mornings and needed to be up early so I would let him out but wouldn't walk him until I got home mid afternoon. He seemed to accept this just fine. Sometimes if he is really energetic when I get home from work/school, or if it's a nice day, I'll take him for a second walk in the afternoon. This leads me to my current situation….

Two months ago, I was taking Casey and Lefse out for a walk after I got home, and I slipped on ice (luckily in front of our house) and managed to break my leg in three places. The dogs were great, they had nothing to do with me falling, and were reasonably well behaved while I was laying there trying to contact anybody who would answer their phone. I was in the hospital for a few days, and then because my house is not handicap friendly and because Casey is so high energy, he and I went home to my parent's house in Massachusetts until I was weight bearing again. My parents have been taking him out for two great off-leash walks a day where he gets to run and get his juice out. He learned quickly that a whistle (plastic lifeguard type one) meant he got a cookie, and responds great to it. He is still hyper sensitive to a dog whistle however.

My parents have an 11 year old intact male newfoundland, mellow as can be, and a 7 year old female golden retriever. Casey immediately got on fine with the golden, and although he tends to play rough with her (chewing on ears/scruff) she seems okay with it. Casey does not react well to the newfie at all. I don't 100% blame him, as our golden is about the only dog who likes our newfie (sad for him, he loves other dogs). The problem is that on more than one occasion in the past 8 weeks, Casey will go after the newfie, completely unprovoked. Example; Casey was sitting on the couch and the newfie walked by with at least 5 feet of space between them, and Casey jumped off the couch after him. Last night there was a particularly bad incident and our newfie has a cut above his eye. To make matters more stressful, my parents just got a 7 week old golden retriever puppy 3 days ago. (They didn't anticipate Casey and I being home, nor for the newfie to make it past Christmas [although we are so grateful he has]). Casey tolerates the puppy outside just fine, but inside between the newfie and the puppy, I think he's on the brink of a mental breakdown. I know I am, which I'm sure is contributing to his stress levels.

Summary / TL,DR:

My reactive, anxious dog Casey and I are flying back to our home in Minnesota on Thursday after staying in my parent's high stress house with a broken leg (my leg). I think that leaving this extremely stressful/over stimulating house will relieve much of his stress, but I would like help in how to help him with his reactivity. I am now weight bearing on my leg, but no where near walking 3-4 miles a day at a 4 mph clip. I was planning on taking him to the dog park most days to get his energy out, but after reading some posts on here, I'm wondering if that's a good idea considering how reactive he is. Does anybody have advice for me on how to help him cope with life's stressors (lord knows I could use the advice too) and also suggestions on how to exercise him effectively without taking him to the dog park? Most of my friends don't live close enough to come over to walk him.

Sorry for the novel, and thank you in advance

Fundog
Posts: 3874
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:31 am
Location: A little gambling town in the high desert

Re: How to help my reactive, anxious dog when I have a broken leg

Post by Fundog » Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:05 pm

Go have a look at the EXERCISE THE MIND thread in the health, diet, exercise section. There are a lot of great ideas for indoor activities, stuff you can do in the backyard, stuff people who aren't feeling 100 percent can do and still satisfy the dog.

One idea, for example, is setting up a makeshift agility course indoors or outside. And homemade puzzles are good, as well as other games you can play.
If an opportunity comes to you in life, say yes first, even if you don't know how to do it.

Caseycat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:14 am

Re: How to help my reactive, anxious dog when I have a broken leg

Post by Caseycat » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:31 pm

Thank you! I will try some of those

Wendy2shoes
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:48 pm

Re: How to help my reactive, anxious dog when I have a broken leg

Post by Wendy2shoes » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:55 pm

Depending on where your break is, please consider a "knee roller" or "knee walker". I fractured my heel bone, and I can excersize both myself, and the dog, (on leash). She runs, I go along for the ride.

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