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Help From All The "spook" Experts, Please


Guest greytbuds
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Guest greytbuds

I adopted Kenny eleven months ago. He was very afraid of things outside - especially traffic. We have worked on that and come a long way so that now it is mostly just "large" traffic - garbage truck, UPS man, school bus, etc. Two weeks ago we had a setback that seems to be getting worse. We happend upon the newspaper delivery man throwing papers. Kenny tried to escape his harness and wanted badly to race for home. I did not coddle him, but we took a side street hoping to avoid the newspaper man. Unfortunately he made a circle and came straight for us again. Same behavior from Kenny. I got out of the street, but made him stand while the car passed. Since then he has enjoyed going outside less and less and now turns around or tries to stop for any vehicle approaching us. Sunday night he worked himself up into a panting frenzy on our evening walk that took me about an hour to quiet and caused serious diarrhea. (I am currently treating for hookworms, so extra stress on his insides is not good!) My vet has recommended anti-anxiety meds. I surely hate to think I will need to drug my dog before we can enjoy a walk!!

 

Since this setback has just occurred, I have not tried any of the natural calming remedies yet. I would love to hear from those of you who have successfully worked through this type of situation. Thanks!

 

Greytbuds

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It sounds like your dog has developed a true phobia. Drugs can be a huge help in helping him get past it. Long term drugs like Prozac or Buspar can be very helpful, but take weeks before you even know if it will help. Short-term, Xanax can be an excellent aid in managing fear responses. It varies a lot in how long it takes for it to take effect. It's supposed to be relatively quick-acting. But, with some dogs it seems to take 60-90 minutes.

 

Go to this blog and read about Reagan's problems. There's some really helpful info there.

 

 

Pam

GPA-Tallahassee/Southeastern Greyhound Adoption

"Fate is unalterable only in the sense that given a cause, a certain result must follow, but no cause is inevitable in itself, and man can shape his world if he does not resign himself to ignorance." Pearl S. Buck

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We went through this with Jet a couple of summers ago. His issue was basketballs. I tried just being matter of fact, but hated seeing him so worked up. We gave him melatonin to take the edge off about 45 min before walk time. A few weeks later we were able to go for a walk without the melatonin. Last spring we had to repeat as the kids a few doors down got a net. rolleyes.gifangryfire.gif

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Janet & the hounds Maggie and Allen Missing my baby girl Peanut, old soul Jake, quirky Jet, Mama Grandy and my old Diva Miz Foxy; my angel, my inspiration. You all brought so much into my light, and taught me so much about the power of love, you are with me always.
If you get the chance to sit it out or dance.......... I hope you dance! Missing our littlest girl.

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Short term, you'll probably need some heavy duty desensitization training. Long term, he may need some drug therapy. Not saying he will, but many spooks seem to need it at least for a little while to help them become calm enough to accept training.

 

I wouldn't plan on a long walk any time soon. Take him out and just stand by the street. Treats and rewards and lots of praise for standing calmly and without running away. When he can do that with cars just going by, try walking a short ways, back and forth, with the same treat/praise rewards. Gradually lengthen the walk until he's back to normal. This could take some time so be very patient, especially in the beginning. Don't baby talk if he's scared or coddle or pet him when he's stressed. Decrease the stress to what he can handle and restart from there.

 

If you cannot get to a position where he can be calm and (relatively) unafraid, he may need some support from either a naturopathic or prescription medication. Many people have had success with melatonin, Bach rememdies, even Benadryl. You can discuss with your vet other prescription options. As already mentioned, fast working medications like xanax will be of more use in this situation rather than drugs that take several weeks of dosing to take effect.

 

Good luck!! Keep us updated!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Richy is my spook. I've had the same thing happen with the newspaper delivery here. I've had Richy for 4 years and he is still afraid of any strange noise. When our neighbors had their roof replaced Richy spent the day in the closet. If he is in the backyard and hears a noise he heads right for the door. I only walk Richy on quiet streets with very little traffic. We live 2 blocks from a golf course and often I put Richy in the car and we go to the golf course. If there is noise outside when it's time for his walk, I have to carry him to the car and go to the golf course. Richy is as lovable as can be but he is my most difficult dog. Unfortunately he will always be a spook and I just try to keep him away from any places with too much noise. I dread July 4th. For about 2 weeks after I will have to carry him out to the car and go to the golf course for our evening walk. The mornings he's OK but he remembers the noise of the fireworks after dinner.

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ANGELS: SUSIE (BANDIT SUE) 3/26/1991-5/13/2006, TIPPER (MPS KRISTINA) 7/23/1999-2/4/2008, LADYBUG (BB'S LADYBUG) 5/19/2005-7/9/2008,
HAPPY 12/2000-10/9/2013, RICHY (DON L RICHY RICH) 11/5/2002-5/17/2015, DARREN 9/24/2005-3/2/2017, TUCKER (AWESOME ABILITY) 12/29/2004-12/4/2017,
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Guest greytbuds

Thanks so much for the replies!! I thought about Rescue Remedy, but had not about melatonin. I did read the information on "Reagan's blog" - not sure I've ever read or considered fears vs. phobias so that was interesting. It was also very helpful to know that the Xanax may have side effects opposite of the drowsiness.

 

Currently we are taking very short walks with realtive success. I really want to be sure I have the hookworms under control before startiing on other treatments, but I do have some Xanax and the name of a good dog trainor/behavior specialist from my vet.

 

Oh and yes, Kenny is an only dog. He is usually much more confident when around other greys. We've actually done a few pet therapy visits with other greyhounds with way more success than I would have imagined.

 

I'll check around the forum for melatonin doses and plan to discuss options with my vet when we go back for the worm check.

 

Thanks again folks!

 

Greytbuds

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Short term, you'll probably need some heavy duty desensitization training. Long term, he may need some drug therapy. Not saying he will, but many spooks seem to need it at least for a little while to help them become calm enough to accept training.

 

I wouldn't plan on a long walk any time soon. Take him out and just stand by the street. Treats and rewards and lots of praise for standing calmly and without running away. When he can do that with cars just going by, try walking a short ways, back and forth, with the same treat/praise rewards. Gradually lengthen the walk until he's back to normal. This could take some time so be very patient, especially in the beginning. Don't baby talk if he's scared or coddle or pet him when he's stressed. Decrease the stress to what he can handle and restart from there.

 

If you cannot get to a position where he can be calm and (relatively) unafraid, he may need some support from either a naturopathic or prescription medication. Many people have had success with melatonin, Bach rememdies, even Benadryl. You can discuss with your vet other prescription options. As already mentioned, fast working medications like xanax will be of more use in this situation rather than drugs that take several weeks of dosing to take effect.

 

Good luck!! Keep us updated!

What she said. :nod

 

Also, can you dog sit or foster? I could not have had my spook as an only dog when I got her. Even a year later, I could only walk her alone outside if it was night-time (dark and quiet). You might at least consider moving your long walks to late at night for that reason, but if there's any way you can have another dog in your home some or all of the time, I would strongly suggest it. Except that I don't strongly suggest adopting a second unless you think you could handle 2 with behavioral issues (on the off chance you're second dog had issues as well).

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

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Guest NeverSayNever

I saw that you have already read about my greyhound, Reagan, and her phobic issues on my blog. Just to let you know where Reagan is now.... BuSpar has been a huge relief. We did the Prozac for 2 months per Tufts University recommendation with no changes. BuSpar was their second choice and I can definitely see a difference. Drugs are definitely not a cure all for behavior and they don't always work, but for Reagan the BuSpar has made a big difference. The nice thing about a drug like Prozac or BuSpar is that you give it twice daily regardless and the drug maintains a constant level in their system.

 

I think one thing that is probably different about Reagan vs. Kenny is that I would not classify Reagan as fearful. She really is very outgoing and bold.... not sure I'd even say she is noise sensitive, but she has these dramatic phobic triggers (motors, engines, etc.). But for the last few weeks we have not had any problems. I even returned to our hike that has the biggest trigger.... a distant train. I am using Xanax when I know we will encounter her worst trigger and so far so good.

 

Xanax is given for a specific event (i.e. storm or in your case a walk). It can help you when you are waiting for one of the other drugs to take effect. And as you saw, Xanax does not cause any drowsiness in Reagan at all. In fact, I would say she has the munchies and is obnoxious. Very energetic.... so its perfectly useful for walks, hikes, biking, etc. I've biked her for an hour on trails on Xanax. I have noticed that I get the best result if I give it 90 minutes prior to event on empty stomach which can be a pain to a schedule. I do know some dogs that have used Xanax on a daily basis their entire lives..... in fact here is a link I found useful when I was researching http://www.dogaware.com/wdjanxiety.html This dog lived to be 17!!! doG help me if Reagan lives that long!

 

All in all, I would not hesitate to try a drug therapy when dealing with a phobia. They just don't get better on their own and they get worse with continued exposure. Drugs can help you with desensitizing and counter conditioning so you can wean off later. I probably won't ever take Reagan off BuSpar as long as it is working, but would like to wean her off having to use Xanax for the hike with a train.

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Guest greytmama2

We have had two spooks of our own, Annie and LadyBug and have fostered many others and are adopting the 21 month old spook named Eve that there have been many posts about. Having been a "spooky girl" myself growing up, extremely shy and painfully fearful due to multiple forms of abuse from multiple sources, it is easy for me to get in the "mindset" of a spook. Most spooks are "watchers and listeners" they watch EVERYTHING and listen to EVERYTHING and take their cues on how to behave or respond once they know your tones and intentions and mannerisms. This is especially true if you have another greyhound, they will watch and listen to EVERY single interaction between you and the other hound, and learn more easily and quickly if they have the security factor of seeing that you are no threat to the other hound and will take their cues from that hound. I agree though about not taking on another one at the same time, unless you already know it's personality such as one that is older,or has been fostered long enough to know all of it's quirks, or one that is a bounceback thru no fault of it's own such as the owner was ill or had unforseen circumstances in which they could no longer keep the hound, or one that has been thru the prison training system. Having said that, and having had anywhere from 1- 4 hounds at a time of our own, plus vacation hounds and fosters staying with us.... I have always found that 2 has been by far the easiest and most fun combo as they balance out each other's personalities and keep each other calm and entertained when their humans aren't home or are busy. They also have a lot more confidence on walks when there are two of them on walks. You can walk with 2 leads or use a coupler to fasten their leads together. It's also easier and safer if you use a harness with spooks on walks so they can't slip their collar, which a spook can do in a heartbeat. They can also even slip a harness if it's not properly adjusted and fitted to them, We love the brand called size right, because you dont have to step into it with their legs and it's not complicated. It has one part that slips over the head and adjusts with a light tug and the rest just snaps under the belly and is easily adjustable in size. They come in a variety of colors and a couple of sizes.

We buy ours usually at Petsmart, also think we've seen them at Super Petz, and I know that they are available on line by just typing in "SIZE RIGHT DOG HARNESSES".

 

I think it is important for you to try the desensitizing that someone else mentioned, but didn't give specifics on. A spook needs to know at all times where "danger" is coming from, where their escape route is, who to trust/not trust, and most of all how to deal with "unexpected scary things" that they have not been able to "prepare" themselves for.

 

What may seem silly and trivial to us, is a VERY REAL FEAR for the spooks. We can't possibly know what incidents, genetics, environments, or abuse or non socializations they have been thru unless we have been with them every instant from birth. The only way to truly deal with this is to use POSITIVE training that will DESENSITIZE them.

 

You might try some things like bringing the same type of newspaper that is delivered, into the house and letting it just sit near the dogs bed for a few days. Then sit on the floor with the rolled up or bagged newspaper whichever way it comes and talk softly to the dog and encourage it to come see what this thing is. Have treats to reward the hound with for approching and checking it out. After a few days of this, when the dog is comfortable and a safe distance away....make an effort to toss the newspaper only a couple of feet from YOU. Pick it up and do it again and make "happy excited sounds" and use the dogs name, as if it is a fun game. Use key words with the hound like...look its just a "NEWSPAPER", in a very calm tone. Also have one specific word that let's the dog know that WHATEVER the fear they are perceiving is, it's really OK. At our house the word is always OK. Examples we use are it's OK, it's just thunder. It's OK, it's just a motorcycle. You're OK,it's just the firetruck and ambulance. It's ok that dog that's barking isn't in your yard. Another pet therapy friend uses a phrase with her dogs, the phrase being:"it's no big deal". We don't do this in an overprotective manner, just very matter of fact and we keep increasing the activity that the dog is fearful of in baby steps, a little at a time. Eventually you'll be able to toss the newspaper closer and closer to the hound a little at a time, till they finally realize that people aren't actually trying to hit them with this rapid moving torpedo. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ALWAYS CALL THE THING THEY FEAR, BY THE SAME NAME SO THEY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE REFERRING TO. So in your case use "newspaper". After you've done this at home a lot with lots of positive reinforcement and treats for rewards,when you do the next walk, keep it shorter if the newspaper guy is around, but give the hound a heads-up by stopping and saying excitedly, again, as if it's a fun game, "Oh look, it's just the newspaper" and then calmly proceed as if nothing scary is happening. Remember they also feel even the most minute bit of tension coming thru the lead if YOU are nervous, you will just feed into their fear. Keep taking slow calm deep breaths and have a light, but firm and steady hand. If you do go on Pet therapy visits, it's also greyt to have another key phrase such as "LEAVE IT" in a very firm and commanding tone, so that if they are doing something that could be harmful to them or the patients or residents, they know that whenever you use that phrase they MUST IMMEDIATELY STOP what it is they are doing. We have two Pet therapy hounds and this has been a lifesaver in such instances as a dog trying to eat medication spilled on the floor, eat barf out of trash cans, being too interested in the patient's or resdident's food or trying to sniff a wound or amputaion or IV, or someone's crotch etc.. If we say "LEAVE IT" they know we mean business and to STOP whatever they are doing immediately!

 

I am not opposed to medications if you feel they are absolutely necessary, especially if it is short term, but I would try the desnsitizing first. Then I would try the holistic things first like the Bach rescue remedy, or melatonin, or DAP. The only thing we EVER used was desenitization and behavioral modification techniques, and occassionally Bach Rescue Remedy. I do know there are also a number of DAP pheromone products on the market, some such as a diffuser to use at home, but I also believe they have spray mists that you can put on neckerchiefs that helps calm spooky ones also, which I may try in the future. One of our spooks, LadyBug, was deemed the "worst spook her adoption kennel had ever had" and they had almost resigned themselves that she might have to live out her life in the kennel, if just the "right adopter" didn't show up for her. After we adopted her, all we ever used was LOTS of PATIENCE, LOTS of LOVE, and "getting into the spooky mindset" so we could anticipate what things would be fearful to her. We tried the Rescue Remedy the first time we took a long car trip to bring her home and also took it for the dog sitters, the first time we ever had to leave her when we went on a cruise. Also, I can't remember how long you've had your spook, but in case no one told you, a true spook will take at least a year until you know their true personality. Some less spooky ones, a little less time, really severe spooks maybe even longer. But about a year from when you adopted and start using desensitization, and behavioral modification techniques, you will see a totally different personlity emerging, that has been coming along in baby steps, a little at a time. When that day comes you will find yourself with one of the happiest, sweetest, silliest and most loving and playful dogs ever! Just don't give up and don't be discouraged, the rewards of watching them blossom far outweigh the time and effort it takes to help them find the life they were always meant to have. Hope this helps some and please keep us posted how your baby is doing. Hoping you have greyt luck with all the solutions and options you've learned about from everyone who has experience with these special babies!

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Some good advice there from Greytmama2.

Also try to get into the habit of automatically sending your dog Calming Signals when something scary is about to happen. When the dog looks at you give a little lick of your toungue towards your nose, or give an exaggerated yawn while looking away. The dog may already be sending that lick signal to you and if you return it you're saying: 'OK, I know, nothing to worry about really'

 

Walk away in a curve from the threat that will bring you back to your intended path. Don't discount the possibility that your dog may be scared because you know he's going to scared and are giving off the vibe that they pick up before you even know about it.

And is your dog a real spook 'spook' or just very timid in challenging situations? Did thyroid tests come back normal?

Edited by JohnF
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