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#1 KylieY

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

We have a 4.5 year old female German Shepherd Dog. She suffers from anxiety and since January last year, she's been pretty difficult to live with. Up until that point, she was a normal, happy dog.

I do not know for sure what has caused her anxiety, though I have my suspicions. Sometimes the neighbours on the street set off fireworks and when this happens she loses the plot. Fast forward to now and she freaks out at the slightest noise.

Last year she was in a tizz she knocked over all the dining chairs and when my DH went to move her she bit him. He was in hospital for 3 days with 22 stiches in the back of his leg. Needless to say, since then DH wants her gone. She has not attempted biting since this incident.

If I take a garbage bag out or even the wrapping of the dish washing tablet she loses her sh*t completely. She frets, she barks she runs around in a tight vicious circle trying to bite herself.

When the house is dead silent, say in the middle of the night, all of a sudden she'll leap up and jump on our bed shaking uncontrollably. The only way she'll get off is if whatever has freaked her out stops, or if I get her lead, she'll get off with no problems. If she persists in getting agitated, I take her out of my room and she's free to roam the rest of the house. But when it happens again she rams at the bedroom doors and  scratches to get in. Now she's a 40kg German Shepherd, you can imagine what my doors look like right now.

If we are in the backyard, or even sitting out under the pergola she will run in a circle around the perimeter of the pergola and she will not stop. This is not an exaggeration. She foams at the mouth she is so exhausted but still she does not stop. If we have friends come over, we have to put her away in my room otherwise I fear she'll give herself a heart attack. Also because it is highly unpleasant. For her and us. She goes to my room happily but it can't be good "locking" her away all the time. My kids are out in the backyard now and I've had to put her away because she was just going crazy running around in circles.

This week she has been particularly bad. All of the above is happening ten fold, she hasn't eaten since Tuesday and she's started digging. I came home from work early on Thursday and she was so panicked about something, just was jumping up on my desk and "standing" up on me, meaning she was up on her hind legs and trying to put her paws on my shoulders. There was no sounds that I could here that could set her off. She was petrified. All my comforts to her did nothing.

Over the past 21 months we have been to training, we have seen 2 behaviorists and the vet. All to no avail. We are at ours wits end. She is just about impossible to live with. I refuse to giver her away, it would break my heart but i just don't know what to do anymore.  

I have made an appointment to see a new vet on Thursday, hopefully she can help because right now I am about to lose it. This poor poor dog is so lovely when she's calm, unfortunately this is only about 20% of the time.

I've been told to put her down, medicate her, give her away. I suppose I am just after some advise. WWYD in this situation?

Thanks for reading.

Edited by KylieY, 10 November 2012 - 02:24 PM.


#2 tenar

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:40 PM


If you give her away you will be passing her problems on to someone else.  That's not fair on them, or on her.  

Have you tried medication?  I don't know anything much about it, but if a vet has suggested it why not try it?  

What have the trainers suggested and have you tried it?  Did it make any difference?

If you have tried medication and tried training and nothing you have found works, to be honest I would suggest that the kindest thing you could do for her would be to cuddle her as the vet puts her to sleep.  She's surely not living a happy health life as it is.  

My old schnauzer was a very bold, outgoing dog until about age two when she suddenly became quite shy.  Not to the point of real problems, but the change was clear.  I always wondered if someone had "gotten to her" some time when I wasn't there.  I'll never know.  But I guess these things can and do happen.  It's rotten luck for your dog and you, OP.

Good luck.

#3 RealityBites

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:44 PM

Why haven't you medicated yet?

#4 raven74

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:52 PM

What would I do?
I would have her at the vet sooner than next Thursday given she hasn't eaten since Tuesday and she is clearly distressed.
I'd be asking for a referral to see a neurologist and medicating her in the meantime.
If there was nothing neurologically wrong and medication had no effect after the recommended time I would be euthanasing.  
If you cannot afford the specialists costs and ongoing meds I would pts now.
Your dog has what seems like very severe issues and no-one over the net can tell if they are neurological or environmental.  
If this is no fun for you, imagine what this is like for your dog - having had a neuro dog it was hell for her.

Oh, not a vet but 12 years nursing experience and have had a neuro dog before.

#5 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:57 PM

I don't think this is a dog that you could give away - she's bitten a human, with serious consequences and that usually means a fail on any temperament test. She'd be a PTS candidate unless she was able to be rehabilitated out of her fear/anxiety responses, in which case you wouldn't need to rehome her.

Have you tried crating her when indoors, and covering the crate so that it feels more secure?

I also strongly recommend you get your dog to the vet. That level of anxiety can't be fixed by training alone. You will need medication to artificially reduce her anxiety, until you can retrain her not to react to her triggers.

A final point, did any of your behaviouralists point out that 'soothing' (as in how you would soothe a frightened child) a dog that is anxious or frightened has the opposite of the intended effect? When you 'soothe' a dog, you provide positive signals to the behaviour they are displaying. That means you are telling your dog that its correct to be frightened and spooked by whatever it was. You are, effectively, reinforcing the behaviour, not extinguishing it. As hard as it is going to be, you need to be far firmer with your dog when she exibits these behaviours, and first distract her by asking her to do something that she can easily manage - sit, down, stay, hi-5, etc. When she does these, and ONLY when she does these, can you use soothing or positive tones.

If she jumps up on you, you need to correct her - firmly. No ifs, no buts, and you need to do so in a way that says YOU are in charge. Once she is 4 on the floor, then you shift into praise and positive or soothing tones. When she's with you in the yard, have her in the heel position, and keep her there. The only way to extinguish some of these behaviours is by replacing them or diverting her to something else. Obviously, sitting or lying at your feet is the safest, and calmest place for her to be. Put her on a lead if you have to at first.

Above all, don't give up on her until you've given rehabilitating her a red hot go. You are right, something will have happened to cause her behaviour, but that's almost irrelevant, now that you're trying to replace it with a confident and happy doggy.

#6 blackbird

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:58 PM

As above, take. her. to. the. vet. its what $60 or so for a consult? they will tell you all you need to know probably

#7 bakesgirls

Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:59 PM

I'm not a vet.

I have to say though, your dog put your husband in hospital for 3 days and he required 22 stitches. He wants her gone, which is more than fair enough, but you are holding off/ refusing because it would break your heart?! Be thankful it wasn't one of your kids, the damage could have been a lot worse. I personally wouldn't give it a chance to happen again. The dog mauling someone once is one time too many.

If nothing is working including medication, then it may be time to PTS. You can't give her away as that would just be palming the problem off to someone else. At the end of the day it's a dog, it may be part of your family but your human family and their safety needs to come first.

Edited by bakesgirls, 10 November 2012 - 03:23 PM.


#8 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:00 PM

I would not give her away, that will not end well sad.gif  
I am surprised trainers  have not been more help.  What were their recommendations?
I would have her to the vet straight away if she hasn't eaten since Tues, she needs to be examined for medical issues, if she gets the all clear then I would try another trainer  and if that didn't help then medication.  I imagine the training would need to be quite a lengthy, possibly ongoing thing, imagine if it were a human with an anxiety disorder they would need ongoing therapy, sometimes combined with medication.
It' going to require a lot of patience and money, sadly the alternative is to put her down.
If she bit your dh so badly, I would be pretty worried to leave her around kids.
4.5 yrs is still fairly young in a GS, they have very long puppy stages most of ours have not "calmed down" til around 6yrs  + but still clearly your girl has something else going on.
Poor thing, must be horrible for her.
Goodluck

eta - I am no dog trainer but we've owned a number of GS and a few skitty ones and I'm not sure that locking her away when you have visitors is the best thing?  Again surprised the trainers weren't more helpful, they generally have good methods of "training' the owners what to do in these situations.

Edited by Mummyone1, 10 November 2012 - 03:04 PM.


#9 Oriental lily

Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:13 PM

Sounds like a friends staffy. Which also started with anxiety over fire works.

She medicated. And medicated and medicated until the dose was at it highest limit. My friend ended up not being able to leave the house to socialize or anything. She would need to drop the dog of at her mums during the day so she could work. The dog was pretty much constantly on a lead so they could maintain control over it. Because the damage to itself and property would be immense when it ad a freak out.

Sadly her mum could no longer babysit it during the day and after him jumping through a window severly cutting himself (after chewing through a laundry door) she decided to pts.

Now she adored this dog. It was a dog her and her partner 'raised together' and after her parter died in job accident was a last link to the life they shared together.

Heartbreaking for her.

So op your not alone.

To be frank a dog owned by me  would have been euthanised after the biting incident. I would not have a fear biter around my children.

So unless medication turned him in to a different cool headed dog then he would no longer be with us.

I am with your DH in that for sure.

I would never rehome either. Passing a potentially very dangerous fog on to another is negligent.

Edited by Oriental lily, 10 November 2012 - 03:15 PM.


#10 Unatheowl

Posted 10 November 2012 - 05:38 PM

Hi, I'm a vet.  What I would do is take her to a good vet, ask for a behavior consult (long one).  If I was seeing your dog I would make very sure there was nothing medically wrong with your dog.  If we couldnt find anything I would medicate.  If this fails I would PTS.  This is not nice for your dog either.  She is also suffering.

#11 runnybabbit

Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:10 PM

I'm also a vet and I agree with Una.

Rehoming this dog is not an option.

Your dog sounds like she needs a referral to a specialist veterinary behaviourist. This would be a veterinarian who has undertaken further studies (encompassing years) in animal behaviour and holds a FANZCVSc, DACVB or equivalent. Not just someone who has a passing interest in animal behaviour.

Ruling out that she is medically sound is the right thing to do, but this might include advanced brain imaging (CT/MRI) at a referral facility, and this might be cost prohibitive for you.

Generally dogs don't have "heart attacks" the way humans do. But what she does outside could well cause heat exhaustion, which can quite easily be fatal, too.

She sounds like an unhappy dog. Euthanasia might well be the best thing for everyone. I'm also very, very concerned that she is in a household with children.

Sorry OP, there is little silver lining in this situation.

#12 shelly1

Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:04 AM

I have no practical advice to offer but just wanted to commend you for not giving up on the dog BUT it may be time to think about PTS.

Do what the Vet's in here suggested but you may have to face that fact that this dog cant be fixed.

The biting is a huge concern. To me this dog needs to be physically separated from the kids permanently

#13 KylieY

Posted 11 November 2012 - 12:18 PM

Thanks for all your replies. I appreciate it.

Even though it has been suggested to me, I wouldn't re-home her. I couldn't do that to another person, or to myself. I love her and this whole situation is very very difficult.

She has started eating again and we are booked in for the new vet on Tuesday. The reason she hasn't been medicated yet, as someone asked, is that no vet has suggested to do so. They wanted me to concentrate on training and behavior, all of which have pretty much failed.

I have a feeling deep deep down that she can't be fixed and that breaks my heart. I am asking this time round that she be medicated and we'll go from there.

Thank-you all again.




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