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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So for most that have read my intro, you know about mabels issues, her biggest struggle is in two parts. Liking anyone she doesnt know, and liking my dad.
She was on gabpentin 100mg BID to reduce the reactivity and allow her to think then act instead of vice versa for approx. 3-4 months with great results both on and once taken off. It's been at least 1 maybe 2 or almost 3 months since she last had one. For the longest time she did great, a little more grumbly then on but deff paying attention and listening ten fold than before them.
Here's the problem. The last 3 days or so she has been getting more anxious around my dad. On the meds she would crawl in his lap when sitting and never really had an issue unless he tried to play with hannah to rough or made some move like he was coming at her in a threatening way. Off she returned to being mroe grumbly to him but tolerable, would follow him to keep tabs but turn and walk away if he turned and faced her. She shamelessly begs if he has food, I tell him to share so no surprise. If he says crate or "get up there" pointing at couch she listens, and sit, down, etc.. if he has treats.

The past few days, she's grumbly for no reason AT ALL, 10 min ago, she! started staring at him from the couch
(I told her to stop, she did, then returned and i didnt see because her head is behind the laptop)
he said "what?" loud grumble "knock it off" same thing, i flicked her in the nose to get her attention said No! sternly and she went back to sleep. He started playing with the cat (swinging arm up and down with feather toy at a medium speed) She lost it! Barked 3/4 times, growly, sat up and got stiff. Mind you this was not any sort of movement that usually would do this.
So she was sent to crate. (we have an open door policy, she can go in and right back out, if she has a better attitude, it took three times which isn't unusual at all)

Here's the question to end this long story lol
Do I put her back on the meds for a few days?
Just one at night 2/3 hours before he gets home and twice a day the days he's off and home with her and sometimes me if i'm off work too?
Or just ride it out, with more rigourus than our already above average attention and training to her outbursts?

I dont want to "cop out" or be the one to set us back, but she's only 21 months, and recently we discovered a bit more proof to our theory she was hit by the guy, so I feel like she's still just working things out, and if i dont do the meds then maybe she'll set herself back. :confused::confused::confused: Uhg I just dont know what to do, and I dont much feel like talking to my boss/breeder as she can be very long winded and not always understand what I'm describing....i'm just not in the mood and want some objective views. :thanx:

(I need to learn to write a shorter post! lmao thanks for dealing with my big mouth ;))

**Side note, once she came back out I put her prong collar on, and as usual just having it on brought her presence of mind back, that or the episode was over. Either way she's been wearing it for the last 15 min or so, happily curled up asleep ignoring my dad getting up twice now.
If i didnt know better I'd call her bipolar >p
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Drugs or No drugs???

(Posted in health but wasnt sure if that was right and always get such good responses from this category.)

So for most that have read my intro, you know about mabels issues, her biggest struggle is in two parts. Liking anyone she doesnt know, and liking my dad.
She was on gabpentin 100mg BID to reduce the reactivity and allow her to think then act instead of vice versa for approx. 3-4 months with great results both on and once taken off. It's been at least 1 maybe 2 or almost 3 months since she last had one. For the longest time she did great, a little more grumbly then on but deff paying attention and listening ten fold than before them.
Here's the problem. The last 3 days or so she has been getting more anxious around my dad. On the meds she would crawl in his lap when sitting and even demand to be petted and never really had an issue unless he tried to play with hannah to rough or made some move like he was coming at her in a threatening way. Off she returned to being more grumbly to him but tolerable, would follow him to keep tabs but turn and walk away if he turned and faced her, overall unsure he needs to exist but willing to follow the she's ok with it so i'll tolerate you plan. She shamelessly begs if he has food, I tell him to share so no surprise. If he says crate or "get up there" pointing at couch she listens, and sit/down if he has treats.

The past few days, she's grumbly for no reason AT ALL, 10 min ago, she! started staring at him from the couch
(I told her to stop, she did, then returned and i didnt see because her head is behind the laptop)
he said "what?" loud grumble "knock it off" same thing, i flicked her in the nose to get her attention since "watch" was just not! working, said No! sternly and she went back to sleep, albeit a little resentfully. He started playing with the cat (swinging arm up and down with feather toy at a medium speed) She lost it! Barked 3/4 times, growly, sat up and got stiff. Mind you this was not any sort of movement that usually would do this.
So she was sent to crate. (we have an open door policy, she can go in and right back out, if she has a better attitude, it took three times which isn't unusual at all)

Here's the question to end this long story lol
Do I put her back on the meds for a few days?
Just one at night 2/3 hours before he gets home and twice a day the days he's off and home with her and sometimes me if i'm off work too?
Or just ride it out, with more rigourus than our already above average attention and training to her outbursts?

I dont want to "cop out" or be the one to set us back, but she's only 21 months, and recently we discovered a bit more proof to our theory she was hit by the guy, so I feel like she's still just working things out as far as men not being evil beings, and if i dont do the meds then maybe she'll set herself back.
Uhg I just dont know what to do, and I dont much feel like talking to my boss/breeder as she can be very long winded ,albeit usually helpful, and not always understand the situation I'm describing....i'm just not in the mood and want some objective views.

(I need to learn to write a shorter post! lmao thanks for dealing with my big mouth )

**Side note, once she came back out I put her prong collar on, and as usual just having it on brought her presence of mind back, that or the episode was over. Either way she's been wearing it for the last 15 min or so, happily curled up asleep ignoring my dad getting up twice now.
If i didnt know better I'd call her bipolar >p
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Bump, I slept on it and just feel even more unsure of what to do. I just dont want a set back in any way but im not sure what to do to avoid one at this point. :question:
 

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Well, with reactive dogs, I wouldn't be doing anything to push her over her threshold. This is a situation that should be handled by professionals. I would talk to your vet about her meds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's exactly it, i'm not sure if she is figuring it out and just on the edge or if she did get pushed over the threshold and needs the meds again. I do plan to talk to the vet/breeder, no worries there, but wanted some objective opinions first on whether i'm overreacting to think she needs them, or right on track to keep her away from a set back.

She's on an extremely low dose of the meds and my boss has the confidence in me to let me decide for the most part if it seems like she needs to be on or off them, but she handles dosage, since i'm the one seeing it first hand. I took her off technically on accident, because I forgot a dose and then decided to just not give her any for a weekend, she did great and until now there hasnt been much of a problem.
My biggest dilema in my head is whether its a cop out or not on my part to do them, Especially if it might just be a "phase" for a week or so.
 

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OP, I've merged your threads. The DT etiquette requests that you not make multiple threads on the same topic in different forums.

As far as her issues go, I highly, highly recommend a consult with a certified veterinary behaviorist. Reactivity issues are hard to deal with, and you can make them worse by corrections (i.e. flicking her in the nose). A board certified veterinary behaviorist will work with you and is your best bet to determine which combination (if any) of behavior modification and/or meds will work for your dog. You can find one here: Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist ACVB. Your average vet is just not equipped to deal with these types of issues.

All of that said, I wish I had considered meds earlier for Shanoa. She's been on Prozac now for a little over a year, and it's made such a dramatic difference in her life. I'm happy to chat with you about my experience via PM if you are interested. It's been a long road but we've come really, really far using the Control Unleashed program and adding in Prozac.
 
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I am going to say find a behaviorist as well. I understand being hit can be traumatic for a dog but at the same time there is way to fix this issue without using medication. I don't agree with using a dogs past as a "crutch (if you will)" for why it is behaving the way it is now. If you truly believe that, then you, yourself are in one way or another enabling the problem. I believe anything like this can be solved with training, and an understanding of what actually is going on. I think if you can find the right behaviorist and can work past this you would be better than giving her meds. That being said, some dogs do better on meds. It depends how much you are willing to put into figuring out the root of the issues and a proper way of correcting it, and moving forward. Stress and anxiety are one thing, but there are other behaviors that are completely different ball game.


Whatever you decide, best of luck. I hate seeing good Dober owners in situations like this; I know you are trying to do the right thing. Keep us posted with what you decide and how it plays out!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, a few things

I already have a behaviorist and would never ever put her back on or change dosage without consulting her first. She also happens to be my boss and the dogs breeder. she has trained and been a behavior specialist for years as well as a derm specialist.

I understand that this may not seem like the place to ask, but again I wasnt going to change it just because someone on here said too nor without consulting my boss first no matter what I did or didnt decide to do. It was mearly for some support and opinions on whether I was maybe overreacting or not. It was right after an epsiode she had and i'll be honest I was upset after all her progress and needed reassuring in a sense that I wasnt wrong to be confused about which way to go.

To meadowcat, sorry about the double post, i wasn't sure if health had been the right choice. I'll remember that for next time though. Also I'm so glad the prozac has worked for shanoa, i've read a little bit about her but not much, I loved what the gabapentin did, we just have a long term goal to not need it and perhaps she will be on a rollercoaster for awhile of not needing it, having a phase/set back to work through and need it, and repeat.... at least while she's younger and still so confused. As far as the flicking on the nose, ik how it sounds but it wasnt at all anything painfaul or hard, basically like a light poke, we've found in all our training she needs to be touched to refocus, she just tunes out voices if she's focused on someone/thing.

To akturbo, I'm not using the past as a cruch, it's been slightly over a year that i've had her and until now we had no clue what really happened, confirming saturday that its pretty dang likely she was hit is yes nice to know but in know way is a cruch, she has what issues she has regardless and we'll get through it. Thanks for the support, and i deffinately will, it's an unfortunate life or part of life she shouldnt have been sentenced to even if she gets over it.


All of that being said, I chated with my boss a bit today, but didnt have to much time to fully discuss it, I'm at this moment, now knowing she was anxious and barking for my dad even when home alone with him the past 2 hours till I got home, leaning highly to putting her back on the meds at the same dose for at least 2 weeks, and forcing my dad into a rigourus training plan much to his shagrin. Again I will finish talking with her before I do this, but I don't doubt she'll agree.

On a happier note, while she was at work with me waiting to get adjusted(chiropractic). We had a male client come in, she grumbled 2-3 times but once given one collar pop with a no and put in a down stay just watched him and looked around a bit. I believe it helped that he didnt have a deep voice and had a relaxed happy posture. Everything my larger, deep voiced, bearded, cranky like, dad is not. Such is our life, somedays are good some arent, it's a roller coaster but I love her and we can do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I never said she was board certified I said she is a specialist, my mistake if that was the wrong word choice, i'm honestly terrible at doing things like that, she's been doing it for years and I have seen her fix dogs worse than mabel, and am more than trustworthy and happy with her level of experience(info which is on the website) and the help she has provided me with. She never would have let me foster and keep mabel if she didn't think I could do it.
 

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To meadowcat, sorry about the double post, i wasn't sure if health had been the right choice. I'll remember that for next time though. Also I'm so glad the prozac has worked for shanoa, i've read a little bit about her but not much, I loved what the gabapentin did, we just have a long term goal to not need it and perhaps she will be on a rollercoaster for awhile of not needing it, having a phase/set back to work through and need it, and repeat.... at least while she's younger and still so confused.
For us, the Prozac allowed us to "break through" the wall we'd hit with behavior modification alone. We trained for well over a year, and go to a point where she just could not progress past her fears. Do I hope someday she doesn't need it? Sure. But she's just not a normal dog. Whether from early environment or genetics, she needed the meds. She may always need them. What was best *for her* was to put her on them. And the change is remarkable. She could not function before, and now she can. She can think, and she can learn and improve. So, for us, it worked.

I highly suggest picking up a copy of Leslie McDevitt's book "Control Unleashed." Those methods were a lifesaver for us. Literally. I don't know if Shanoa would be here today if we hadn't found that program.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am going to say find a behaviorist as well. I understand being hit can be traumatic for a dog but at the same time there is way to fix this issue without using medication. I don't agree with using a dogs past as a "crutch (if you will)" for why it is behaving the way it is now. If you truly believe that, then you, yourself are in one way or another enabling the problem. I believe anything like this can be solved with training, and an understanding of what actually is going on. I think if you can find the right behaviorist and can work past this you would be better than giving her meds. That being said, some dogs do better on meds. It depends how much you are willing to put into figuring out the root of the issues and a proper way of correcting it, and moving forward. Stress and anxiety are one thing, but there are other behaviors that are completely different ball game.


Whatever you decide, best of luck. I hate seeing good Dober owners in situations like this; I know you are trying to do the right thing. Keep us posted with what you decide and how it plays out!!
I just wanted to say thank you so much, It was a long stressful day today at work, and this was just the support I had been looking for when I started this thread. I am fully committed to figuring out any issues I havent already and working on the ones she has. The quote on some are some aren't hit home. I realize that I was overreacting to think of her being on drugs as a bad thing despite the meds helpful affects, because I myself dont like having to take 4-5 pills a night for migrains and feeling "medicated" but I take them because I feel ten fold better than without, I neglected to see her being on medication for the rest of her life or shorter as need dictates as the same as me regardless of what the medication is for, i just saw it as medicating my poor dog into a semblence of normality when that is not the case at all, it's assiting her in being able to live a happy life and sort through her misconceptions of what life is like. Again I thank you, whether it was the new day, or the approach you took it gave me my "epiphany"
I'll be talking to my boss tomorrow and getting her ok on the same dose for a few weeks and going from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
For us, the Prozac allowed us to "break through" the wall we'd hit with behavior modification alone. We trained for well over a year, and go to a point where she just could not progress past her fears. Do I hope someday she doesn't need it? Sure. But she's just not a normal dog. Whether from early environment or genetics, she needed the meds. She may always need them. What was best *for her* was to put her on them. And the change is remarkable. She could not function before, and now she can. She can think, and she can learn and improve. So, for us, it worked.

I highly suggest picking up a copy of Leslie McDevitt's book "Control Unleashed." Those methods were a lifesaver for us. Literally. I don't know if Shanoa would be here today if we hadn't found that program.
This is exactly what the gabapentin allows mabel to do, think then act instead of vice versa, as I said above idk if its a new day, a clearer calmer head, or whatever it may be, but if she needs them she needs them and thats what I have to do, I cant think about it as her being medicated or it being a step back, it's allowing her to learn and grow and understand how the world really works not how she thinks it does. Thank you.

By chance could you link me to any thread you have on shanoa and what problems she started out with? I know a little of her but not much, and I feel we may have a lot in common as to what issues they have, or at least having dogs with issues they are overcomeing. Thanks
 
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By chance could you link me to any thread you have on shanoa and what problems she started out with? I know a little of her but not much, and I feel we may have a lot in common as to what issues they have, or at least having dogs with issues they are overcomeing. Thanks
I didn't really post about it much, so I don't think there's any particular thread from early on. We got her at the age of 17 weeks from a backyard breeder. Within a day of getting her home, we had figured out that she was not a normal puppy at all. She was terrified of everything. When we tried to take her on walks, she'd sit and shake she was so afraid. When we eventually got her to walk, she'd have severe diarrhea out of anxiety. Everything was scary. After talking with the "breeder" we discovered that she'd essentially never met anyone or been anywhere in those four months. She hadn't met strangers, never met other dogs (besides her littermates and the other dogs the breeder owned), never left the property. I also suspect she spent some time in a kennel environment.

We did a lot of training. Spent thousands of dollars. Sent her to a "day camp" to help with socialization (they were awesome). For about the first two years of her life, she couldn't ever settle down. She paced constantly. She startled at everything. Shadows on the windows at night would set her off into a frenzy. It didn't matter how much exercise she got, she hardly slept. She was edgy all the time.

She got somewhat better as we trained and were out in the world more, but was still fearful. As she started to mature (around 18 months old), we saw sporadic fear aggression. I hired several different trainers, one of whom used very, very harsh corrections on her (which made it worse). I was lucky enough to have found DT, and some very kind, experienced people here directed me to Leslie McDevitt's book, "Control Unleashed." Thanks to that intervention, I got really, really lucky and came across a local trainer that used CU methods and had a "fearful dog" class. I can honestly say it probably literally saved Shanoa's life.

After almost a year of CU, my trainer encouraged me to think about meds. I was reluctant, because I felt that if I was just a good enough trainer, she wouldn't need them. But we decided to go ahead. My thread on the meds issue is here: http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-health/52116-experiences-anxiety-meds.html

The difference after we got her on a stable dose was dramatic. Training started progressing faster. It wasn't like her personality changed, it was like her true personality started to come out. She really blossomed. It wasn't overnight, but we were making slow, steady progress. Last August, she passed her Delta therapy dog evaluation. I cried. I never thought we could come so far. Again, it wasn't ONLY medication, but the meds have made a tremendous difference in her ability to be herself. She'll never be entirely normal, I don't think. I'm not sure if she'll be on the meds forever or not.

So, that's our story. I don't know how helpful it is for you, but I'm happy to share. If you have questions, feel free to ask!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
It was extremely helpful, while the style of issues is different the outcome we both are trying to and did achieve is the same.

Mabel is fearful of strangers and generaly distrusts everyone after her return, like I said in my op we found out this past weekend while doing some bitework training that she has some serious avoidance issues with any foreign object around her face, I'm talking a lot more than a blink because something swung past!, which leads us to believe that we were right in our assumption she was hit in some way by the guy or his father who we were told would let her out sometimes. She is very suspicious of anything new or different or that she thinks will be used to harm her. (It took 2 months to convince her that a flashlight wasn't a death ray) A large part of her problem is especially is that she gets her courage from me to do her reactivity but is still in process of learning that jsut because I'm here doesnt mean I approve of what you think you need to do! She feels I have her back when it should be that if I didnt say there's a problem then there isnt one and you arent allowed to do anything. She gets it sometimes and sometimes not, but the getting it percentage is growing both on and off meds.

I brought her into our daycare program with dogs impervious to her constant barking and fearful attitude and it made a huge difference with her and other dogs, she had her light buld moment when they all ignored her if she didnt shut up and act like a normal dog. She can still be a little leash reactive, but we are working on it.

Her fear of strangers and men especially until the gabapentin led her to react first and think later leading to her nipping two people(thankfully both knowledgable in dogs and understanding and only bruised no blood drawn) and trying several times besides that despite months of rigourous and continuous training and going out to socialize with people and pets. I was heartbroken and returned her to the breeder for a month in september to be reassesed and let me decide if I could really do this, if I could really risk her hurting more people.

In the meantime I asked and was allowed to take one of her retired dogs to fill my dober hole, she was started on gabapentin and the change was remarkable. She thought first and reacted later, understood corrections, and made huge improvements. I spent three hours with my boss talking about options, training methods, and setting a new game plan for her and then brought her back home. We kept the retired dog around for a month and a half to set an example the same way my last dog did until she was pts, which worked wonderfully!

As I said in the op after a few months we took her off, and this last 2 months was still amazing, but I guess she has relapsed some and is still not commited to believeing my dad wont hurt her. I started her this morning back on the meds, per an ok from my boss based on the situations and my personal opinion that she is reverting to her old self and really needs them, and dont plan to take her off anytime soon.

If she needs them she needs them and hopefully one day it will fully click that the world isn't out to get her and she will be the dog for everyone else that I see at home. I dont ever know that she will nor care if she is normal, I just want her to understand that if I'm ok she is ok and she can trust that she doesnt need to protect herself from everyone and everything especially at home!

Again I thank you for the support, It's especially comforting coming from someone who was and is in a similair boat and I will very likely be talking with you a lot! Thats amazing that she is in delta, I know how very particular they are! I would love to do obedience with mabel and she is amazing at it already except being able to stand or sit for exam. We also plan on agility at least classes for excercise, but I wouldnt bother to trial until after she is two and I check her hips at least, and of course she can handle being around strangers.
 

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I really hope the meds work for Mabel. I always remind myself how awful it would be to live under that level of stress all the time, and that's why I made the choice that I did.

You mentioned using corrections. Just a caution; in my experience (not just with Shanoa, but knowing quite a few reactive/anxious dogs through this whole process), corrections often appear to work, but in the long term actually create more problems. What you may end up teaching the dog is not to give warning signs. If they are corrected for growling, for example, they learn not to growl as a warning, but instead to move straight to a bite. Given that she's actually bit two people already, I would really strongly recommend trying a different training method with her.

I will again recommend the CU program, which uses positive, science-based methods and conditioning. I'd be happy to try and find a CU trainer in your area if you'd like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I'll definately look into it, anything to help her the best way, I do agree to an extent on the corrections part, they aren't all physical, thats in fact my last resort for an extremely inappropriate reaction, I can honestly say I have done it 10 times tops in the past year. Usually it's always verbal and I always reinforce the right warning reaction and then correct the amount necessary. As well as constantly reinforcing her for being confident and "normal" about an object, person, or animal. The clicker is constantly in hand! and my treat pouch has replaced my best friend lol!

For example when my dad comes home or anyone comes over, she is allowed to bark when they come in at first, she gets a good girl, thats enough. Because yes I want her to alert me but it's ok, i've assesed the "threat" and all is good you can relax now.

She has been taught to "watch" or check in with me, because I am in control of the situation and am in charge of what happens, not her, anything she does must be approved by me, hence the corrections sometimes, as it's a situation where I in a sense have to ground her like a child who took the car without asking, I never said you could do that or that it was ok.

I by all means am deffinatly absorbing all the information and help just in case it doesnt seem so, but it is also like we all know hard to know exactly what is happening without having been there or seeing it, and to fully describe how her different issues are handled I feel would take more posts than anyone wants to read lol. Again I am absorbing all the info and will try it all, and stick with what works for her. I hope all of the above makes some sort of sense to part of how I am working with her though, and that everyone understands not everyone trains the same but until this past weekend (only at home oddly) this works for us and that's why I do it. Everyone trains different.
 
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