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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Someone e-mailed me with a problem they're having with their dog, and I thought I'd post it here and see what you all could offer. I told the person I would be doing this and they are okay with it. The dog is strictly a pet.

I have a 6 year old Dobe with hypothyroidism. he is on tablets and his levels are stable. He is on a dry mix diet(autaki summer years) he eats the mix with water measured to the right amount split between x3 a day. He is never on his own during the day as goes to work with my boyfriend. My boyfriend has had him from 7weeks old i think but i met him at 6months old. He has regular walks but we cannot let him off the lead due to his increasing fears and anxiety (he bolts when scared). He walks on an extender lead of 5 meters due to bolting when he saw a windsurfer on the beach and nearly got run over. Recently he has been pulling when I cough! Unusual, I know. He is a loving dog with lovely manner but he is also scared of every thing from buses,the sea, boats, windsurfers,mini trains (just the noise sets him off), thunder, fireworks, flags etc. He is great with other dogs and children but some other dogs don't like him. We have tried many ways to calm him but he is fighting them and finds something else to be scared of. Can you help? He is so calm at home. He is neutered. He has been socialised to all the things that he is now, I think, frightened of. He never used to have a problem! It has been more apparent in the last year. He is obedient in the house and we did have a behaviourist in to see him at 1 year old as he was nipping ankles but that has since stopped. He is a very loyal dog, just with a few issues. My partner says he took him to obedience classes as a pup but he was too interested in everything else around him and it wasn't very successful. We have done our own training from home and continuously try on the lead but when he is frightened or spooked he will not even take his favourite treats or toys to distract him he spits them out which is very unusual cause he is usually a gannet and eats anything and everything. I have tried taking him away from the thing that frightens him but he still continues to pull hard slightly crouched until we get down the road from the house. I am really unsure where to go next. Today he walked well on short lead until I coughed and then he pulled again. We are ignoring him so he has nothing to react against but that doesnt seem to make a difference. He did settle down again quickely though (until another cough anyway). I do praise him when he is walking well and silent when he is not. I am not sure this is right. I hope you can shed some light on the subject, it would be so nice for all of us to enjoy our long walks again. Thankyou
 

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1) get the dog in obedience classes
2) NO MORE DAMN RETRACTABLE LEASHES!
3) if the dog begins to act fearfully of things, ignore it. act as if nothing is wrong and keep the dog in line using obedience.
4) with the coughing thing, maybe make it a game? give the dog a cookie for sitting or doing something else silly when you cough. since it's just a pet, I don't see this causing problems, more it'll give the owners a laugh if they're feeling ill.

Of course, without me being able to see the dog myself, I can't make an assessment of behavior.
 

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I'd get this DVD and start motivational Basic Obedience at once. This will build confidence and give something to focus on instead of fearful behavior:
http://www.leerburg.com/302.htm

Even though you (and he) didn't do well in obedience classes, training will absolutely help him. If you do it yourself, with motivational upbeat training (which the video is all about), I believe he'll gain confidence.

I'm working with a borderline-phobic dog at the moment who gets a little better -- more confident -- with every short Ob session, which we start and end on high notes (always), by doing something he knows how to do and will be praised and rewarded for.

I too would toss the retracto-lead and get a flat 6' lead; for one thing, this guy needs to spend some time walking in a pretty good heel position and NOT going ahead of the pack leader. Giving him that kind of freedom probably just increases his anxiety; he needs the security of pack structure.

When you say "tried many ways to calm him," I suspect that maybe he gets coddled or petted when he shows fear. This reinforces the fearful behavior. What I'd do is to move him calmly and with no soothing noises or caresses through (or past) everything that scares him. I'd pay little attention to him, assuming that he will follow me, and I would be certain that my own attitude was very calm, casual, and unworried. Knowing that his pack leader is unafraid and in charge is number one.

When you say you try to distract him from something scary with treats and toys -- I think it might be too much attention paid to the whole scary thing. I'd rather he move past it rather than stop and be unsuccessfully diverted. Just keep talking to each other and walk normally.

These all sound like generalized anxiety rather than big phobias, so there is probably no big desensitizing to deal with -- more like basic confidence and trust in his pack leaders.

I think this can be fixed. :wink:

Post back!
 

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Personally, I think this problem needs to be addressed by a professional trainer.

Its not so much what you do as it is HOW you do it!

If the dog is going into serious flight then those toys and treats wont mean @#$% to the dog.So the distracting thing isnt going to work.

I really dont think second hand info over the net is going to help this particular problem but hey..I was wrong once before. :D
 

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Absolutely agree with Greg, advice followed incorrectly is worse than leaving the situation alone, proper handling skills and timing are important, most pet folks who don't know how to handle a leash properly (retractable leash, case in point) seem to have trouble as it is following a one-on-one demonstration, let alone advice administered over the internet with nobody to watch and critique. All I would say is that my choice for a fearful dog would be a nylon choker, like a "dominant dog collar" and a 5 or 6ft leather leash.
 

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Yeah, the distracting thing was vetoed by everyone so far.

You are probably right that badly-followed advice is worse than none. Not to mention badly-followed second-hand advice based on a description of the dog's behavior. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well everyone pretty much said what I was thinking, but I've never had to deal with a fearful dog before, so I didn't want to tell her something and it be totally wrong.
 

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With Kristen here! Never have, and have no desire to work with a fearful dog so I wont give advice on this.
 
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This may not have anything to do with it, but if it's a recent problem, the first thing I'd do is take that dog back to the vet. Hypothyroidism can cause anxiety in PEOPLE, and aggression in animals, and a whole slew of seemingly unrelated problems. I've read that it's possible that what may appear in bloodwork to be "stable" levels are not acceptable levels for THAT particular individual.

Recently, I've done a fair amount of research on hypothyroidism, and it seems that the importance of the thyroid gland is a hugely overlooked. There is a virtual laundry list of symptoms caused by hypothyroidism that are perfectly capable of causing an otherwise normal dog to act odd. If it were my dog, I'd definitely follow up on the health aspect and not just assume he's fine b/c the levels appear stable. There are many natural ways to balance hormone levels, including thyroid, so I'd at least look into it. Have the owner google hypothyroidism; I think she'll be quite surprised how serious it can be.

It's easy to miss health issues in dogs b/c they don't complain and can't tell you where it hurts. A person KNOWS something is wrong and wants it fixed; a dog just has to live with it unless its owners are very proactive. Another possibility worth looking into is an adrenal gland problem (which we're seeing more and more of b/c of commercial foods); adrenal gland failure/malfunction is a major cause of hypothyroidism, so just getting the thyroid levels up again would not fix the problem. A holistic vet may be more intuned to these issues and possibilities, or perhaps one with extensive hormone knowledge.

Just a hunch, but I'd bet this is not just a behavior issue.
 

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Jenni Williams wrote:
.....Hypothyroidism can cause anxiety in PEOPLE, and aggression in animals, and a whole slew of seemingly unrelated problems. ...... END


Certainly possible.

I think it's hypERthyroidism that is more likely to cause anxiety and/or aggression, and hypOthyroidism to trigger depression or lethargy.

Still, as you say, individuals are just that: individual. Can't hurt to check on that, since maybe meds to correct hypo may cause a swing to hyper. Good catch
 
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You'd think it was hyPER, but it's not. (Well, that might cause it too, but the fearfulness/anxiety are definitely associated w/hyPO in both humans and canines). Haven't checked into it as much as hyPO, but I'm trying to find a good site to link to. I just read again "...unprovoked aggression and ANXIETY." Gotta go find the link now... :?

EDIT: What the h???? I just edited this and submitted, and it's not here, but my more recent post is. :?:

Anyway, check out http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/dog-hypo.htm

And also "Hypothyroidism can cause behavioral changes such as aggression, passivity, phobias, anxiety, or neuromuscular events such as seizures." Dr. Jean Dodds "The Low Thyroid/Seizure Connection" (Yes, I know we're not talking about seizures, but it cites general symptoms of hypothyroidism.)

EDIT POST, TAKE 3.
 

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Jenni Williams said:
You'd think it was hyPER, but it's not. (Well, that might cause it too, but the fearfulness/anxiety are definitely associated w/hyPO in both humans and canines). Haven't checked into it as much as hyPO, but I'm trying to find a good site to link to. I just read again "...unprovoked aggression and ANXIETY." Gotta go find the link now... :?
Well, then, more reason to check it, as you say. I hope Kristen will pass this along. 8)
 
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Connie, we were simultaneously typing. I just edited my post and added the link. I hope she passes it on too, b/c it sounds like these people care enough about this guy to check out all the possibilities.
 

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Jenni Williams said:
Connie, we were simultaneously typing. I just edited my post and added the link. I hope she passes it on too, b/c it sounds like these people care enough about this guy to check out all the possibilities.
Yes, I had a dog on Synthroid (for life, once she was diagnosed with hypothryoidism at age 6).

Without it, she was overweight and draggy, and if the dose was too high she was agitated and nervous.

But I understood from the vet at the time that although these were classic hypo and hyper symptoms, the thyroid has a huge range of weirdness, whether it's under- or over-producing.

A whole field of research, in fact.........
 

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A proper diet can fix many problems in dogs..even behavioral ones.It cant do anything but help thats for sure and by proper I mean raw with enzymes.
 
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