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Discussion Starter #1
I need some advice from you all about Molly. as you know, we adopted Molly over 4th of July weekend. She is a big sweet goofball with lots of puppy energy and just a happy, happy dobergirl. She is very smart, and doing well with her basic training. She gets along well with Apollo our older rescue, and they love to play together.

When Molly was surrendered, her owners said they didn't have enough time for her. She also has a deformed ear, which was explained as a problem during birth. when we took her to the vet right after we got her, Scott checked her out and told us that her ear was the result of significant blunt force trauma (like a wrestler's cauliflower ear) and that her skull had also been fractured at some point. Despite this, she is not hand shy or shows any behaviors of being abused. - when she is awake.

the problem we have is when she is sleeping, she has pretty regular nightmares - snarling, teeth bared, body jerking, the whole bit. Molly sleeps either in our bed or with my 15 year old daughter. But in the past couple of months, while sleeping soundly, she will suddenly, without provocation, spring up growling and teeth bared and lunge usually at Pollo or at one of us. Most times if we just yell at her she snaps out it, but on occasion she will attack Pollo and we have to separate them. once we separate them, she is back to her happy little self, she doesn't go after anyone else. the behavior stops, and she just looks kind of perplexed.

Tho Pollo is the one she usually goes after, she has put her teeth on each of us, tho no blood has been drawn, till last night. Saturday night it happened again and she want after Pollo, hard. I got in between them first and Jason tackled Molly and they rolled off the bed. she immediately stopped when he grabbed her and snapped out of it. She got my hand pretty good, broke a couple of bones in my hand/finger.

About 6 weeks ago, she was diagnosed as hypothyroid and put on meds for that. she also had skin problems got a shot of depo medrol and was put on ceflex as well as some anti histamines. after she put her teeth on my youngest in the same kind of sleep situation(I am not saying bite, because if Molly really meant to hurt my daughter she could have but didn't) we took Molly back to the vet and backed her down on her thyroid meds.

does any one have any suggestions other than keeping them separated at night? we are wondering if it is a combination of her past life haunting her in her sleep, and Molly really bonding with us and trying to be protective. As far as we know it has not happened during the day, Jason works at home about half the time and we have never seen signs of fighting when we come home. I would love to know if anyone else has dealt with them kind if thing, because it is something that happens while she is asleep, I am really at a loss as to what to do. I have the name of a local behaviorist that I will b calling.

sorry for the long post, but I wanted you all to get the full picture. thanks in advance for any advice or insight.



Carrie
 

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Hi Codysmom,

I don't like hearing that Molly comes up out of sleep with teeth bared snarling--no matter who it is at--dog or person although I'd be much more concerned about the fact that Molly has "put her teeth on" the people in her home.

Since I have fallen over, stepped on and sat on sleeping Dobermans and never had one do anything except moan about it I would be very reluctant to allow any sort of privileges to Molly. I would not allow her on my bed or the beds of my kids--it seems to me that the history is significant and it is taking undue chances.

It also sounds as if you are seeing more episodes of this behavior at night. If the behavior pattern is only occuring at night I would probably do the same thing that I do with puppies. I would use a crate and Molly would be sleeping alone in that crate.

Even though my dogs all generally get along well I don't leave them together during the day when I'm at work. One is young so he is crated anyway but the other two are seperated by baby gates in seperate areas of the house. Even if they get along I've still found that two dogs left to their own devices can find things to do together that neither would do alone so I just hedge my bets there.

The low thyroid and the thyroid meds may well have something to do with it but until the medication level has been properly determined and set I would not take chances. Clearly you intend to keep this girl so I think proactive prevention of opportunities to exhibit unacceptable behavior (from sleep or any other time) would be wise.

Good luck and hopefully the behaviorist will also be able to shed some light on the cause of the behavior. But regardless of cause--it is not safe to allow her the sort of privileges that have resulted in you now getting hurt.

Again I'll say that in close to 50 years with dogs, most of them Dobermans I have accidently done practically everything imaginable to sleeping dogs--waking them out of sound sleeps by walking on them, tripping over them, falling on them and sitting on them without reactions like those you describe.
 

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So sorry to hear of your troubles. Poor Molly. I'm not an expert, but perhaps Molly should be crated at night? Maybe after a while the nightmares will work themselves out? She may even still be in a half-dream state when she bares her teeth, like people are when they sleep-walk.

Java was growling and barking in her sleep one night when I let her onto our bed, legs jerking as though she was in pursuit of something. I gently shook her awake, said her name and when she lifted her head she looked at me as though she wasn't quite sure where she was at first, she was in that deep a sleep.

At least if she is crated at night, Molly can't accidently harm herself, Pollo, or anyone in your family if she acts out in her sleep. I don't think that crating Molly at night will have a negative effect on her loyalty to her humans.

Hope your hand heals quickly!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
she has been in the crate at night since then. With all my dogs over more than 30 years I have never seen this before either. we discussed it with our vet and he thought it had to do with her past.

The only time we have seen this is at night. and it is completely out of charachtwer with her 'awake' personality. we too have tripped over her etc when sleeping and nothing happens. That's why this seems so weird to us and I am looking for insight. One of thw folks in our rescue group had the same thing happen with one of her rescues and after couple months he outgrew it. But at this point I would rather be proactive than just crate her at night and hope it goes away. obviously, it is not a situation that we can just live with.

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well a crate isnt a bad thing...and I personally dont think that crating her at night means that your not doing anything about the problem...its better than sleeping with a basket muzzle on...
who knows she may even feel safe in the crate...Coco had a bad home...and at first he was just shy...but now that I think he has a family he wants to protect it...so he is hand shy and fearful of strangers. although we don't crate coco...he usually lays in a secluded spot next to my bed...or he goes in the crate we provide him especially during thunderstorms. Coco doesnt necessarily like sleeping with my mom and my dad and with duchess as well...kinda crowded...
therefore, a crate is like his own personal space.

Does she ever do this while just taking a nap...in the daylight?
 

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Codysmom said:
she has been in the crate at night since then. With all my dogs over more than 30 years I have never seen this before either. we discussed it with our vet and he thought it had to do with her past.

The only time we have seen this is at night. and it is completely out of charachtwer with her 'awake' personality. we too have tripped over her etc when sleeping and nothing happens. That's why this seems so weird to us and I am looking for insight. One of thw folks in our rescue group had the same thing happen with one of her rescues and after couple months he outgrew it. But at this point I would rather be proactive than just crate her at night and hope it goes away. obviously, it is not a situation that we can just live with.

cc
I think you are being proactive in crating her at night. If you think about it she is a young dog (I've had some that at 18 month were still sleeping in crates in the name of everyone including me getting a good nights sleep) and really you have only had her a bit over four months.

If she was badly mistreated and the reason she's exhibiting behavior like this has to do with the mistreatment then you are doing her a favor in crating her--you may find in time that she too will outgrow it and/or find that she doesn't need to wake up like that because she fears abuse.

Because you don't know for sure and even with the help of a good behaviorist you are not likely to ever know for sure what, in her past history, has caused her to wake up fighting it just seems to me that crating her at night even if it turns out to be the only permanent solution is the smart thing to do.

Do keep us posted on what the behaviorist has to say about it though.
 

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Codysmom, I'm unclear as to whether this behavior started when she was put on the thyroid meds...it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't related somehow. While I'm generally not a fan of giving meds to dogs, sometimes it's just absolutely necessary. In Molly's case, it almost sounds like she has the human equivalent of "night terrors"...often seen in veterans with severe combat-related PTSD. If she was abused in her former "home" as severely as it appears, then the nighttime behavior sounds like she is startled awake "reliving" the nightmare. So sad. Also dangerous for all your family members right now. (You need your fingers!) Anyway, I was thinking in her case, if it is deemed to be just that (nightmares from horrible abuse), if she were my dog I would serious consider giving her a sleeping pill (sedative) at night for awhile, then weaning her off slowly in time. Does that sound like a reasonable option to you? It does to me.
 

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Even in people sedation can have mixed effects. In dogs and cats it is not uncommon for various types of sedation to have unfortunate reactions. Often sedatives will cause agitation in both dogs and cats as well as aggressive behavior. I'm not against medication for cause but sedation for behavior like Molly is presently exhibiting wouldn't be my first choice. I don't think she's been in the new home (4 months is a relatively short period of time for a dog, even a young dog to make necessary adjustments) long enough to try what I think are extreme measures.

Also even though dogs clearly dream I don't think I've ever seen anything in any sleep studies on dogs (and there are several around) to indicate that they have the sort of "night terrors" that are fairly common in young children.

It often takes awhile to determine the theraputic dosage of thyroid medication and it means that while the meds and thyroid levels are being established the dog should probably be checked at least once a month.

Also, I was going to ask about that. Molly is about a year and a half? Is that correct? That is pretty young for low thyroid to turn up--although heavens knows it's not unheard of. Which is another very good reason for fairly frequent testing for thyroid levels--thyroid is often affected by other things going on with a dog and it is also not unheard of for a dog to show such low thyroid values that it would be appropriate to medicate and have subsequent tests indicate that the thyroid is normal and suppliments are not needed.

Overdosing thyroid has a number of of unfortunate side effects--one is the possibility of irritability (temperament problems that didn't exist before) and the other has to do with cardiac arythmias--very bad for Dobermans who have a greater than average possibility for cardiac problems anyway.
 

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I would crate. Its not a bad thing. Dogs love their own space. (and its only at night) She can still sleep in your bedroom.(only in the crate)
Not sure about the thyroid condition. Are you confident with your vet, if not perhaps another opinion.

AHP
 

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Hi, our Abbie used to be exactly the same and she too had a horrible past. If there was another dog in the room she would fly at it as she woke up. She wasn't as bad with people but we have been growled at and she had the odd snap which is totally out of character for Abbie she is an absolute sweety when awake. She used to constantly be having big growly nightmares and would take a while to come round. It seems like she has outgrown it. she hasn't gone for Diesel in that way in the 11 months that we've had him, but they are separate at night and we make sure they get plenty of time out from each other when Abbie is likely to have a real deep sleep, like straight after walkies! She doesn't have as many nightmares, when she does dream she wakes quite happily. I did read up on it at the time when it was bad, I'm sure I heard it described as sleep aggression and I read a few similar stories of dogs behaving in the same way, all of which were rescue dogs.
Crating is definately a good idea. We also use a plug in pheromone diffuser which has helped Abbie loads.
Good luck with the behaviorist, hope everything works out for you :)
 

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Stanford University Sleep Research Center (among others) has studied canine sleep disorders for years because of their similarity to human sleep disorders in all forms. Specifically they've studied a form of narcolepsy in canines which causes strong visual and auditory hallucinations during sleep, disturbing REM sleep. In fact, as I recall the studies were conducted mainly on dobermans. Bottom line, the study concluded that doberman narcolepsy was due to a recessive gene which they isolated at Stanford. Not sure what they concluded caused it in other breeds.

OK, here is the link to the short version: http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/ngene.html

And here is the actual medical study (lengthy): http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/articles/cell98.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Sooz (and pardon the typing eveyone,!) it's funny that you mentioned PTSD, Jason spent a lot of time searching on it as he felt she was exhibiting alot of the same symptoms as vets with PTSD. which would make sense, given her past.

Obviously the first order of business is to keep everyone safe (tho I don't mind not having to do the dishes lol) and that includes Molly and Pollo.

I have no problem with the crating and she has actually taken to it ok. no whining at night - some knocking around, but no vocal complaints. What I meant by wanting to be more proactive is that I don't want to just crate her and call it good since we are out of harms way. I want to do what I can to get her thru and past this so it is no longer an issue.

I think that this also has to do with her adjusting to living here. it takes a long time for any dog to get used to a whole new life. if she got kicked around for a year and a half, we can't expect it to all magically go away in a couple of months.

I would prefer not to medicate until necessary. As for my vet, I have total trust in him. he was absolutely heroic in saving Cody for as long as he did and he has taken great care and caring with both Pollo and Molly. He has a soft spot for rescues (he's got 5). I had him check Molly for thyroid as her hair didn't grow back after her spay and she had some other skin problems. that's when we found out she was hypothyroid. She will be getting more bloodwork in about two weeks

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Discussion Starter #13
Well guys, Friday at 6:30 we have an appointment with the puppy shrink. Actually she is a highly recommended animal behaviourist, so keep your fingers crossed. I'll tell you all about it when we get back. any one used a behaviourist before?

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Good luck Carrie. I think you are doing the best thing by crating her for now, and working to correct the issue. I commend you for working to help the poor girl, and not giving up on her :) That is just sick about her head injury... now that you know it wasn't a birth defect. That just turns my stomach.

Keep us updated on her progress okay, we'll be sending good thoughts your way.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks, jessie. it still makes my blood boil when i think about anyone doing that to anything. Makes me want to take the boots to the bastard myself. But what kills me most about these rescues is that ecven after all the abuse, they are still SOOOOO sweet. Molly is such a little seetheart (when she is not channelling Satan) there is no way I would or could give up on her

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Gracie does this too. Not to this degree but close. She will start kicking and crying then growling showing teeth. She will some times sit up and growl with teeth showing. I know to wake her up and the crying stage. She has never done anything besides growling though. She hasn't nipped us or anything. I just calmly wake her up slowly. I start talking to her very softly then I start petting her head and ears. Then once she wakes up I tell her that she is a good girl. I know what look you are talking about too. It is hard to describe. Gracie gets the same look. I just feel so bad for her when she gets those dreams.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I am really curious to hear what the behaviourist says about it all. she is supposedly experienced with rescues, so I am hoping for some enlightenment. I'll let you know.

There have been many times that Molly will start getting the bad dreams and we can soothe them out. these are happening with no warning, no twitching, growing etc. from dead asleep to altered state
weird

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They were doing a study about Thyroid aggression with Bouvier's so it may apply to all dogs??? The aroma therapy is not considered a drug you plug it in an electrical outlet. Also the Telligton Touch massage for dogs is a great way of calming dogs a good massage before bed might help. Tellington Touch shows different ares and how to do different techniques for different problems in dogs. It is also a great way to bond with the dog has some massages that help with aggression too & the Dogs really like it. Telligton touch comes with VHS tape may come with a CD now days,booklets showing the steps of the massage.The thing I like about it no drugs also you may want to look into some flower Essenes to relax her its herbal made from flower oils???
Hope you find out what the problem is do you think it may have anything to do with the head injury it takes allot for a dog to get a concussion the way the head is made. I did hear some rescues are great for about 4-6 months and then their true personality surfaces but not sure about that.
Patches Mom
 

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I don't think this has anything to do with the skull fracture - as in brain damage - I think it has to do with all the acts she may have endured before and after.

Yes it does take a while for resuces to really come into their own in a forever home. some are quicker than others, it all depends.

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Speaking of flower power, Bach Remedies has a good one called Rescue Remedy. It can be used by animals. I suggested to a friend of mine to use it on her Jack Russell who is terrified of thunder. Everytime she would go out, even if it was just raining the dog would go nuts!! So she gives him a few drops and wow it really does work. Calmed him right down!! It does say on the bottle not to be given on a ongoing basis. People take it to, before speeches, exams..etc. Just google Dr. Bach remedies if your interested.
 
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