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What Do You Do When They "put The Brakes On"?


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Gila's very timid, we've had her about 6 months now. I'm not sure what to do when she "puts the brakes on" and refuses to move one more step. I work out of a guest house at the back of our property, she and our other grey spend the day there with me. All of a sudden a few weeks ago she decided there was no way she was going in. It's too hot to leave her outside (southern FL), and I ended up bringing her back to the house where she spent the better part of the day alone (I wasn't thrilled, she occasionally has an accident, so I like to keep my eye on her). I had a phone consultation with a behaviorist, and asked how to handle this. He said as soon as she stops, just turn around and pick her up and carry her in, without making a big deal of it. I did that the next day, she settled down quickly, and I thought that would be the end of it. Well, the next day, same thing, stops about 10 ft. from my office, so I go to pick her up, but she runs from me and wouldn't let me near her. For about a week, she wouldn't let me near her. I think the act of picking her up and bringing her into someplace she was afraid of showed her she can't trust me. She spends most her days now in the corner of the bedroom, or in the yard. It's the same thing with the car, although she seems to enjoy the ride and the resulting walk. I get a lot of good advice here, and thought someone may have some tried something that helped a dog get past it's fears. She's actually more fearful of things now than when we got her. She was on Soloxine for low thyroid when we got her, but have weaned her off that in case that was making her nervous. She's been off about 3 weeks and has showed no change. The vet gave me Clomacalm to see if that would relax her, but after a month, there was no difference, so we weaned her off that too.

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Calmly leash her up and march over to work every day. :) Around here Sunshine is not allowed to avoid or run from scary things. She is allowed to be scared and allowed to hide behind me. Every time she successfully runs away or avoids something she re enforces that fear a little more. If you take that flight option away they start to cope with things

 

Also possibly try another med. Clomicalm was $$ and did nothing for Sunshine. It could be making her worse... Ask the vet for some Xanax for short term and after you've been on a long term med for about a month slowly wean the Xanax down to see if the long term med is doing anything helpful. Rinse and repeat until you find something that works. Meanwhile the Xanax doesn't let her little brain suffer while your waiting for the long term med to kick in. If your interested in going the med route (which I 100% recommend, I wish I committed to it earlier with Sunshine) finding a very greyhound savvy vet who is very comfortable with anxiety meds is invaluable. Don't waste your time with a vet that you have to ask for medicine or that will not take her mental health seriously. Our current vet has the ability to rattle off anxiety meds and how they all work in different ways, etc. When the prozac wasn't working for Sunshine she immediately said let's try the amatripalyn, etc Very comforting to have a vet that is comfortable with switching until you find something that works. Very comforting being told that there is help and we WILL find the right meds for her. and now I'm rambling... LOL

 

Good luck!

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Jessica

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It might be worth keeping a leash on her and when she stops, reverse your direction and go in a circle and then continue on in the previous direction (hopefully) without stopping. You may have to do the reverse trick a few times - do it as many times as you need.

 

You can also just stand there for awhile and then after a few minutes, try taking a few more steps and see if she moves. Sometimes we just have to adjust and go at their speed.

 

As someone suggested, get some yummy treats and see if you can get her closer.

 

Good luck

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Thanks for the help! I've tried treats, all kinds, she won't even sniff them. Occasionally, doing the circling the leash trick will get her a couple feet closer, but that's about it.

@JAJ2010- I've begged the vet for xanax. He absolutely refuses. The problem is, this part of Florida is ground zero for prescription drug abuse. He knows if he starts handing out xanax, he'll have tons of people in his office claiming their dog is anxious. I'm a strong believer in chemical assistance when necessary, and am considering switching vets, but I have a feeling none in this area will prescribe it. I am concerned I'm re-enforcing her fears, and for a while decided to do what is necessary to get her in the car or office, so she would realize there wasn't an out, and make sure she had a good time once doing it. Backfired big time, like I said, she started avoiding me like the plague. Right now I think letting her come around on her own may be best. She has so many fears, don't get me started on ceiling fans and shadows, or pictures on the wall. One thing I've learned, (Gila is our fifth greyt), is that what works for one dog doesn't mean it will work for another. That said, keep making suggestions! One is bound to help!

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This is sounding familiar... I think I told last time that I would vet hop if I were you. I regret not finding this vet sooner.... Sunshine had to live with her anxiety for a couple years while I tried the anti drug route. This vet had her stable on xanax within 48 hours and on a working long term Med in 3 months.

 

Is there anywhere to go to find a real greyhound vet. Like someone who has seen hundreds of different hounds? All the other vets I've seen have all called themselves greyhound savvy, but in comparison they were like preschoolers.

 

Medicine won't cure it all. It will just help her get out of that anxious state of mind so you can begin socializing her in the real world. It's still an everyday training adventure with Sunshine. I hope your girl can be sorted out soon. I wonder if acupuncture or a homeopathic vet could help her out with some more natural things?

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Jessica

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@JAJ2010- The vet I go to now was recommended by the greyhound rescue group when we moved here 3 years ago. I'm happy with him up to a point. The group we got Gila from uses a different vet, but that vet put her on Soloxine, when the T4 numbers didn't really warrant it. We live in a very rural area and I don't have a lot of confidence in finding a grey savvy vet, outside of the ones the local group uses, that will actually prescribe xanax. I'm going to try, though.

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Good luck! Right now I drive almost an hour away to our vet. Passing dozens of other vets along the way. :hehe Hopefully you can find someone within an hour or so... Keep me updated! I'm thinking good vet thoughts for you

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Jessica

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Guest Snazzy_Chloe

I guess I would concentrate on finding out what she doesn't like or is afraid of in your guest house. Stange noises or noisy? Small area or feels trapped in there? Uncomfortable-needs dog pillow? Maybe she saw or heard something in there that scared her? Needs food or water when there? They have long memories. Maybe she needs to have her time in there broken up a little with some play times with you - is she bored?

Like the other poster, I try to have the dog slowly confront their fears-usually they see something completely harmless with a strange shape or movement that makes an inanimate object appear alive and it spooks them-we try to sneak up on it usually circling around the back of it so that can get a sniff then they say--Oh - hmm I thought there was something to fear here but it was nothing and trot away. Good Luck

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Guest patterpaws

Hmmm. I had one idea based on my experience with my greyhound Tristan, who was also extremeley fearful when I first got him. With him I found that very very gradual progress was best. If I forced anything, I found it backfired just as you describe. Greys are so sensitive as a breed, it seems like they can be easily traumatized.

 

One idea would be to get her as close to the guesthouse as you can without her having a high level of anxiety. Give her treats, praise her, make it a really happy experience. Then take her back home and let her rest or do other non-anxiety things. Over a period of time, keep going out there with her, and as it becomes associated with "happy" instead of "anxiety," you will slowly be able to inch closer and closer. It might take a really long time to do this (a period of months), especially since she already feels overwhelmed, or you may be surprised at how fast she progresses. This technique is kind of like "clicker" training where you shape a behavior. I think the key is to not go so close that she feels too scared. Keep it far enough away that the house doesn't feel like a threat, and then very slowly inch closer without forcing her too much.

 

Good luck, I hope you find a solution that works for you and Gila. :)

Edited by patterpaws
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Guest patterpaws

oh also my previous suggestion would go concurrently with making sure you are being a very strong alpha for her, so she feels very sure that you are the boss and you're taking care of her, so she trusts you. Have you tried NILIF? Obedience training or teaching her tricks?

 

Here are some articles, tho you may have already read them.

http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/363-nothing-in-life-is-free/

 

http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/375-the-importance-of-being-alpha/

 

http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm

 

 

I had my adoption agency train me in how to give off very clear "dominant" body language. It really helps! One of the articles descriptions:

 

"Alpha" is an attitude. It involves quiet confidence, dignity, intelligence, an air of authority. A dog can sense this attitude almost immediately - it's how his mother acted towards him. Watch a professional trainer or a good obedience instructor. They stand tall and use their voices and eyes to project the idea that they're capable of getting what they want. They're gentle but firm, loving but tough, all at the same time. Most dogs are immediately submissive towards this type of personality because they recognize and respect alpha when they see it.

Practice being alpha. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Walk tall. Practice using a new tone of voice, one that's deep and firm. Don't ask your dog to do something - tell him. There's a difference. He knows the difference, too! Remember that, as alpha, you're entitled to make the rules and give the orders. Your dog understands that instinctively.

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I wonder how she would react if you only fed her her meals in the guest house? :dunno

She might have needed to be on the Clomicalm for longer than a month at full strength.

If she is your only greyhound are there any other greyhound owners near by? Perhaps a visiting greyhound could show her that the guest house isn't a scary place.

 

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