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If it were my dog, I would prefer to start with the behaviorist. 1) I would want the behaviorist to see how the pup behaves under normal conditions 2) a vet behaviorist can write scripts if medication is needed.

However, I also would not want the puppy to suffer with unmedicated anxiety for weeks or months while waiting for an appointment with the behaviorist. If it seems like you will indeed need to wait a while to get an appointment, I would go with the advice of your regular vet and trainer. Medicate if they think it will help keep your puppy stable while you wait. I'm glad your trainer is admitting this problem needs to be handled by someone with a deeper toolbox and is also suggesting early intervention.
 

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I agree with @cowpony. If this is an experienced, certified trainer, whom you trust, I see no reason to second guess them. I don’t think they’d sound the alarm for normal social deficits. They’d make sure you were enrolled in a good puppy class, working through a socialization checklist, etc.
 

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Tuck the Miniature Poodle, May 2021
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Is he afraid of them all? He's only 18 weeks. Sounds like time for more doggie/people socializing.
Yes, all of them. He actually does well with people once he gets a chance to know them (for instance he now runs happily into our local pet store to greet his favorite employees), and we know that given time with another puppy he did ok off leash based on a few weeks where his puppy class only had one other pup and consistently it was just us two and he got comfortable. We don’t have friends or family with dogs we could trust to socialise with him before he was fully vaccinated though. Our only family member with a dog has a very dog aggressive dog, which obviously wasn’t the way to go. Now that he’s fully vaccinated we’re trying to work on more time with other dogs, but it’s being hindered by a combination of his anxiety and us just not having a lot of dog friends. Our trainer actually helps with this too, they have a group where we can seek out other appropriate dogs to socialise with once we have the back to school chaos over with (which the first day of school was just thjs

If it were my dog, I would prefer to start with the behaviorist. 1) I would want the behaviorist to see how the pup behaves under normal conditions 2) a vet behaviorist can write scripts if medication is needed.

However, I also would not want the puppy to suffer with unmedicated anxiety for weeks or months while waiting for an appointment with the behaviorist. If it seems like you will indeed need to wait a while to get an appointment, I would go with the advice of your regular vet and trainer. Medicate if they think it will help keep your puppy stable while you wait. I'm glad your trainer is admitting this problem needs to be handled by someone with a deeper toolbox and is also suggesting early intervention.
This is where my thoughts are right now. It sounds like there’s a very high chance it will at least be a few weeks and I don’t want him to be miserable.

Part of what I love about our trainers (there are four who all do puppy classes and other group classes together, and then we’ve had the one who came to work with us one to one who was from the puppy classes) is that they understand the importance of the early experiences a dog has and how they contribute to their personality long term.

I agree with @cowpony. If this is an experienced, certified trainer, whom you trust, I see no reason to second guess them. I don’t think they’d sound the alarm for normal social deficits. They’d make sure you were enrolled in a good puppy class, working through a socialization checklist, etc.
All four trainers in the group we use are certified and often work with the behaviourist here. They’ve also watched his anxiety increase week to week at puppy classes, to the point where the last few lessons he needed a barrier to not see the other puppies and even then was still crying and anxious. They’re really familiar with him and know him well enough to know that while he’s making improvements in some areas they’re still being outweighed by increased issues in other areas.
 

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You asked if anyone’s had experience medicating their dog; I medicated my previous dog.
I got him at 3 years and he suffered from separation anxiety from day 1. After a year of struggle, training, and working with a behaviorist, I added a small daily dose of Prozac. We continued with our training and he ultimately overcame his SA. I strongly believe that the medication was essential to stop his anxiety cycle. It was not expensive and I saw no negative side effects. After several years, I discontinued the meds, his SA didn’t come back, and he had a wonderful life. I would make the same choice over & over again. If you start medicating your puppy and don’t like the results, you can always discontinue.
 

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I have no opinions on meds - if the experts say use them then I'd likely try them. I sometimes think Trixie, our highly anxious Yorkie would do well to have them.

Have you tried working on relax on a mat? Annie wasn't anxious, per ce, - well, except seperation anxiety- but very very alert. All the time. Relax on a mat was really really helpful in teaching her how to calm, and recover from excitement and go back to calm. I am definitely not suggesting this as an alternative to a behaviourist, (except, didn't Karen Overall literally create the Relaxation protocol???) but as an idea to try while you wait. I know how challenging getting into trainers can be, I can't imagine a behaviourist!

Here's the link I followed:

 

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That is one cute puppy! 18 weeks old, Here is what I have done with pups that were 12 to whatever age. While you are waiting I will suggest you contact the training facility and ask if they offer free time in the arena. If they do set up a mini agility course yes agility not full jumps just very very low jumps and weave poles and cat walk etc and train/PLAY with your pup to build confidence. Do this without any dogs with you. When he is enjoying himself at a fast pace [you must have fun and use Good treats] add one more dog that is not interested in the puppy and very stable. Do not add extra dog for at least a week or two!!. This will not cure the separation anxiety but confidence building does amazing things for anxiety reduction.
Anyway that is what I have done in the past and it has always worked. You said your pup enjoys the dog store and the employees so this is a great sign that confidence building is the way to go.
You also mentioned that you suffer with anxiety as well so if you can bring a friend or trainer with you to also work the dog that would be great as when you introduce the other dog into the mix he must be handled by someone that does not carry that energy for the fist time..
Agility cannot be done on a puppy this young so be sure to make it clear you are doing confidence building and not "jumping" the dog,
Also cat tunnels can be bought for in house fun training

Good luck to you and I hope things get better, I am sure they will from what you have said about the little guy.
 

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I'd definitely contact the breeder to ask if any other siblings from that litter are having similar issues.

I can't disagree with getting an early handle on this, but to jump to medication at only 18weeks has a not-right feel to me. This is not advice to you, only my personal feelings.

I like the idea of training to build confidence. Success begets success. To Tuck, it's just fun, not work, and getting praise and other rewards just for doing something he enjoys, icing on his cake.

Since he came home we’ve been dealing with anxiety about going outside, other dogs, random objects outside, strange people, and much more,
How much sleep would you say he gets a day? Could you describe what his anxious responses look like?

In all the pictures you've posted of Tuck, and granted, you're not choosing those photos to display his anxiety, I haven't seen an anxious posture or look in his eyes. What I hear you describe sounds like sensitive puppy, not full on anxious and not something so far out of puppy ordinary that it can't be helped. I'm in no position to second guess your trainer so please read my post as only a different voice.
 

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I've dealt with noise-induced anxiety in my non-poodle dog. The advice you've been given is the same as what I learned at the time. The purpose of the meds is for dogs who can't relax enough to respond to training. I didn't notice when my dog's phobias began, and concur with addressing this issue as quickly as you can. I wonder if my dog would have improved if I had noticed the fears sooner and addressed them through a behaviorist.

My dog is on Alprazolam (Xanax), which hasn't affected her personality. It's allowed her to relax enough to improve her appetite. She sleeps well, but she's 12.5 years old, which may be a factor. It's not a perfect solution, the month or so of fireworks this year were still challenging, but I also am better at managing her fear. This includes not freaking out when a "situation" develops, as she can respond to my anxiety about her reaction to noise.

When I brought my poodle home, I was told that he could be influenced by my other dog's fears. That's another reason for addressing this problem soon, in case another dog is brought into the home at some point and could learn how to be afraid. Good luck with your treatment.
 

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Tuck the Miniature Poodle, May 2021
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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I have no opinions on meds - if the experts say use them then I'd likely try them. I sometimes think Trixie, our highly anxious Yorkie would do well to have them.

Have you tried working on relax on a mat? Annie wasn't anxious, per ce, - well, except seperation anxiety- but very very alert. All the time. Relax on a mat was really really helpful in teaching her how to calm, and recover from excitement and go back to calm. I am definitely not suggesting this as an alternative to a behaviourist, (except, didn't Karen Overall literally create the Relaxation protocol???) but as an idea to try while you wait. I know how challenging getting into trainers can be, I can't imagine a behaviourist!

Here's the link I followed:

Yes, we’ve been following the same link for the relaxation protocol, and indeed that is the same Dr. Overall who works at the college here! She runs the behavioural program here :)

That is one cute puppy! 18 weeks old, Here is what I have done with pups that were 12 to whatever age. While you are waiting I will suggest you contact the training facility and ask if they offer free time in the arena. If they do set up a mini agility course yes agility not full jumps just very very low jumps and weave poles and cat walk etc and train/PLAY with your pup to build confidence. Do this without any dogs with you. When he is enjoying himself at a fast pace [you must have fun and use Good treats] add one more dog that is not interested in the puppy and very stable. Do not add extra dog for at least a week or two!!. This will not cure the separation anxiety but confidence building does amazing things for anxiety reduction.
Anyway that is what I have done in the past and it has always worked. You said your pup enjoys the dog store and the employees so this is a great sign that confidence building is the way to go.
You also mentioned that you suffer with anxiety as well so if you can bring a friend or trainer with you to also work the dog that would be great as when you introduce the other dog into the mix he must be handled by someone that does not carry that energy for the fist time..
Agility cannot be done on a puppy this young so be sure to make it clear you are doing confidence building and not "jumping" the dog,
Also cat tunnels can be bought for in house fun training

Good luck to you and I hope things get better, I am sure they will from what you have said about the little guy.
I’ll definitely talk to them about getting some time to for something like you described. We’ve already planned for them to be there for his first few meetings with other dogs to help because I’m not the greatest at reading body language in real time so having an unbiased and experienced eye is key. They also have connections to dogs (some they own, some they know from training them) who they can match well with Tuck to help us make sure his interactions are with them are positive. Funny enough he already has cat tunnels from out cat at home!

Also yes, I agree if we can get the confidence built up while he’s still young he’ll do great. In the areas he’s made progress in it’s been fantastic! We just need to get him settled enough to work in other areas too instead of just adding new anxieties on a regular basis.

I'd definitely contact the breeder to ask if any other siblings from that litter are having similar issues.

I can't disagree with getting an early handle on this, but to jump to medication at only 18weeks has a not-right feel to me. This is not advice to you, only my personal feelings.

I like the idea of training to build confidence. Success begets success. To Tuck, it's just fun, not work, and getting praise and other rewards just for doing something he enjoys, icing on his cake.


How much sleep would you say he gets a day? Could you describe what his anxious responses look like?

In all the pictures you've posted of Tuck, and granted, you're not choosing those photos to display his anxiety, I haven't seen an anxious posture or look in his eyes. What I hear you describe sounds like sensitive puppy, not full on anxious and not something so far out of puppy ordinary that it can't be helped. I'm in no position to second guess your trainer so please read my post as only a different voice.
I’ll reach out to the breeder to see what she thinks too.

You’re right that photos I post he’s in a good mood for. In his bad episodes I couldn’t pull a camera out to capture them if I tried. I’m too busy managing the situation to 1) make sure we all stay safe and 2) make sure we keep the negative experience as short as possible.

Examples of his anxiety signs depend on the scenario. His first puppy class he spent entirely hiding under my chair, tail tucked with anxiety whale eyes and high pitched “get me out of here” whines. As he got used to the room over the next few weeks he escalated to barking the whole sessions except for the one session where had the off leash time with the one puppy he got enough time with to feel more comfortable (which I’m confident he could do again given the right circumstances and dog).

At home the barking is non stop when he’s awake. If he’s awake and not barking it’s usually because he’s eating, or biting. He’s not biting aggressively, it’s play biting for the most part, but it’s getting so hard that he’s drawing blood. He can’t be redirected to a toy or chew anymore so we end up having to put him in his pen to try to settle, except he doesn’t. His separation anxiety gets so bad he just jumps and cries at the gate, that scared cry that puppies and dogs do when they think they’re in danger. We end up in a cycle of him either being in the pen getting more and more worked up, or out biting me and the kids (mostly me).

Outside when he’s anxious he jumps at me biting, or climbs my shoulders and won’t get down. If we’re out for a walk and something spooks him he tries to bolt back home, and nothing will stop him pulling on the leash trying to get home as soon as possible. He just runs at the very end of the leash the whole way home, even though half the time he’s running in place because I’m slower than him.

Wednesday when the trainer was here, she never even made it past the entry way. He spent the whole hour she was here barking at her to leave basically. If she stepped back from the gate to the living room he’d step back too and bark a little quieter, but she couldn’t get anywhere close to the gate to try to come in without him escalating. She’s not a new person to him at all, but he 100% did not want her in the house.

Last but not least, sleep. He sleeps well at night in his crate in our bedroom with no wake ups. During the day his naps are sporadic. He’s definitely tired sometimes but can’t calm down enough to sleep. If I try to take him up to his bedroom crate where he sleeps well at night he absolutely panics because he doesn’t want me to leave, but I still have the kids to take care of so I can’t stay there for a whole nap time. He does eventually fall asleep in his pen downstairs with us. He has a crate with no door in the pen and often sleeps in there. He sleeps really lightly during the day though, when we move he snaps awake to make sure we aren’t leaving. He could definitely use more sleep in if I could get him calmer.

I've dealt with noise-induced anxiety in my non-poodle dog. The advice you've been given is the same as what I learned at the time. The purpose of the meds is for dogs who can't relax enough to respond to training. I didn't notice when my dog's phobias began, and concur with addressing this issue as quickly as you can. I wonder if my dog would have improved if I had noticed the fears sooner and addressed them through a behaviorist.

My dog is on Alprazolam (Xanax), which hasn't affected her personality. It's allowed her to relax enough to improve her appetite. She sleeps well, but she's 12.5 years old, which may be a factor. It's not a perfect solution, the month or so of fireworks this year were still challenging, but I also am better at managing her fear. This includes not freaking out when a "situation" develops, as she can respond to my anxiety about her reaction to noise.

When I brought my poodle home, I was told that he could be influenced by my other dog's fears. That's another reason for addressing this problem soon, in case another dog is brought into the home at some point and could learn how to be afraid. Good luck with your treatment.
That’s funny you say that, our trainer wonders if the anti barking collars our breeder used on her adults caused anxiety and rubbed off on Tuck.
 

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Merlin has been evaluated by a behaviorist and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. He was on clomicalm (clomipramine) for a few years. It helped me get him used to many life situations and accept them more. He does get calmer with medication, but he also gets less playful. I chose to wean him off because of that, but I believe having him on those meds for a while was beneficial.
 

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Yeah, what you are describing sounds beyond a typical puppy "stranger danger" fear stage.

Do you know if either of his parents are anxious or fearful? If so, then he could be genetically more prone to fearfulness and anxiety, and a major traumatic incident at a young age can make a huge impression.
 
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What do you mean by anti barking collars? Shock collars? If your breeder uses those methods on her adults, it’s very likely there is instability in the home. I would also be concerned about the methods she uses on her puppies. :(

One of the worst cases of anxiety I’ve heard about was triggered by an invisible fence.
 

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I hope the breeder can shed some light on this for you and I know you'll help Tuck thru this.
 

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Tuck the Miniature Poodle, May 2021
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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Merlin has been evaluated by a behaviorist and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. He was on clomicalm (clomipramine) for a few years. It helped me get him used to many life situations and accept them more. He does get calmer with medication, but he also gets less playful. I chose to wean him off because of that, but I believe having him on those meds for a while was beneficial.
This is my hope. If we could use them temporarily to help him be able to settle enough to work through desensitising and building confidence we could wean him and he would have a better foundation to work with day to day.

Yeah, what you are describing sounds beyond a typical puppy "stranger danger" fear stage.

Do you know if either of his parents are anxious or fearful? If so, then he could be genetically more prone to fearfulness and anxiety, and a major traumatic incident at a young age can make a huge impression.
No issues with fear or anxiety from the parents from what I’m told. His mother is a champion show dog and has no issues being at shows surrounded by lots of people and dogs. His father I’m told is confident and playful.


What do you mean by anti barking collars? Shock collars? If your breeder uses those methods on her adults, it’s very likely there is instability in the home. I would also be concerned about the methods she uses on her puppies. :(

One of the worst cases of anxiety I’ve heard about was triggered by an invisible fence.
I believe they were shock collars. When I picked him up that was when I found out. Her males were barking from their kennels (when I arrived she was putting them away) and she picked up a remote and pressed a button and then called into the kennel “don’t make me use it” or something like that and told me she “usually only has to just the warning beep”.

I do know she doesn’t use punitive methods with her puppies, because we discussed that beforehand. The mothers and pups sleep in a room with her and she carefully socialises them. Our trainer thinks the adult males dealing with the collars may have made an impression on him though.

P.S. I hope you’ll share your experience with us, with Dr. Overall. What an incredible resource! Tuck really is in the very best hands with his loving family and such top notch animal professionals.
I definitely will!

I saw this today and it made me think of Tuck:

View attachment 481341

It’s hard to give a puppy a vacation from stimuli when you’re trying hard to socialize him. Definitely a tricky balance.
This is the exact issue, balancing his needs is a lot.
 

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Tuck the Miniature Poodle, May 2021
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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
In super frustrating news, Tuck often doesn’t want to go very far for walks. He’d rather walk back and forth the same stretch in front of our house about 5 houses either way. We’ve been gently working on that.
Then today when we were in our driveway after a walk trying to calm Tuck down (a dog up the road was barking, unrelated to our walk), a person walking a golden retriever was approaching and the retriever suddenly bolted toward our driveway and started chasing Tuck while I tried to get him out of there. The dog was on a leash but the person walking it obviously didn’t have control because she was just being drug behind. It wasn’t an aggressive chase, just a way too excited typical golden retriever super hyper “let’s go PLAY” approach, but to Tuck it doesn’t matter. It’s a dog more than twice his size jumping and pulling toward him. Poor guy is only barely comfortable going out into our yard after a ton of desensitising to the dog in the other side of the duplex, and now this. It’s like he can’t catch a break, even in our own yard he apparently can’t avoid strange dogs scaring him.
 

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I think an 18 week old pup is very young. I have seen many shy puppies grow up to be social adults. Fear periods hit some dogs very very hard. I am not sure I would jump to meds at that age. It is so young and the brain is just developing.

It sounds like the breeder was not using a bark collar but instead an e collar. Bark collars are not operated with remotes. It is impossible to say if the e collar was used effectively or not. The mere use of one does not really indicate anything. Bark collars and e collars can be used effectively and humanely so I would not jump to conclusions from a hypothetical. I would judge a breeder on other things besides what training tools they use. There may be other things to suggest poor temperament of breeding dogs. I know when I got my dog I didn't hear barking from any of my breeder's 10 poodles. So I probably would have interpreted the situation negatively for separate reasons.
 
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