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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I adopted Maggie from a breeder, who when her breeding females reach 6 yrs, spays them, gets all their shots up to date and sells them to people who don't want puppies. I have had Maggie for almost 6 months. She is a house dog. I am 82 yrs and don't go outside much. I did start to take her out with a harness and leash. She was terrified. We went with a neighbor who has a friendly 10# mix. She has increasingly gotten more and more frightened by things that I don't think that much of. Loud noises, etc. Today she had such a bad 'reaction' to a fly!! I didn't catch on right away, until I heard the buzz. I thought the poor dog was going to have a nervous breakdown. She is OK now, but still on the 'look out' for it. I don't know how to help her. I don't make a big deal of her nervous reactions, but wonder if this poor dog need medications. Any ideas.
 

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Hi Susa,
Probably the poor dog was used for breeding purpose and no as a pet. There is a security jackets that you can buy at any Petco store, that may give her sense of security.
 

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I just reread some of your other posts about her learning to be a housepet. She is so lucky to have landed with you. It really sounds like she missed out on a lot of socialization.

It might be worth discussing medication with a vet, given the separation anxiety issues you mentioned elsewhere. She sounds like she is easily overwrought. Also, hard to believe, but July 4 is only 2 months away. I imagine fireworks will distress her. You'll probably want to figure out her medications before then, if you go that route.

Regarding normal out and about, I wonder if she would feel safer touring the world from a dog stroller. The mesh curtain might make her feel protected and secure. It's an expensive experiment, but it might be worth a try.
 

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The best way to actually improve her is to teach her self confidence, as she has none right now. The best place to start with this is general obedience training - sit, down, stay to start with. Begin with these commands in the house and work your way out into the backyard on a nice quiet day, then eventually in a nerve wracking situation. Work on it only 5 min at a time. This gives her something predictable to fall back on when she is scared. Structure and rules in a dog's life give them comfort - they feel that the world is predictable and they know how to respond. This isn't to say love and cuddles can't still happen when it's time to relax on the couch!

Here's a video talking about the topic:

Also searching on youtube for "dog training confidence exercises" will provide more examples.

And as cowpony said, for the fourth of July it would be kindest to have some medication on hand to help her as it will absolutely be a scary day for her. The medication may also help when you are beginning training so she can focus easier.

Hopefully it helps some. Just my two cents! She is one lucky dog to have been adopted by you!
 

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Patricia McConnell has dealt with fear in dogs. I recommend her books, but she may have online resources as well. I have a noise reactive dog (beagle-rat terrier foster failure). When thunder rolls in the middle of the night, there is no effective remedy. (She is medicated, has a thunder shirt, and I tried many non-prescriptive remedies before going the drug route.) This illustrates the importance of raising puppies that are exposed to noise and other disruptions.

My spoo is rock solid. Early on my vet warned that he could pick up the fears from my older dog. Thankfully, this didn’t happen.

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the posts. Maggie does no longer exhibit separation anxiety, at least to the wetting and bowel problems. What changed? Nothing. I just continued to tell both my dogs that "I'll be back" and left. I have been away for as long as 4 hours and so far she is OK.

This nervous, anxious behavior is something else. I never saw a dog who was so afraid of a fly---lasted about 6-7 hours. She would be almost asleep, and then would jerk awake and look wildly around before semi-relaxing again. In my lap most of the evening. I wonder if I made a mistake by picking her up? She seems to want to be there, as she 'lets' me pick her up without the usual "you can't catch me' game she plays. I do feel so sorry for her; it's no fun being so afraid.

Th funny thing is, she doesn't seem to react to thunder!? We haven't had much, but there have been brief storms. Weird.
 

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I am happy to hear that her separation anxiety has gotten better. Maybe she just needed to adjust to being a new environment.

So, some of the anxiety she is exhibiting could be because of what she has experienced in her background. If it gets smoky in the kitchen when I forget to turn on the vent when cooking, Miracle, my rescue dog, will cower in one of the bedrooms and shake. When she is too far withdrawn, she won't even accept treats. This has to be due to something that has happened in her past. My other dog, Jasper, I have had since he was a puppy (he came from a bad breeder). He has been developing new anxious behaviors, and I believe this is due to him being predisposed to being an anxious dog. For instance, when family members watch sports games or game shows with a lot of noise and clapping, he whines and gets very clingy. This never used to bother him, and I do not know what changed and why this behavior developed. He could care less about fireworks or thunder even when outside.

I would look at the training resources posted above and maybe talk to your vet about medication. Could be medication is needed initially, but not long term. Start working on her behaviors during predictable situations, when you know she might encounter something that frightens her.

She is very lucky to have you!!
 

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I wonder if she had a bad experience with bees and is now scared of anything that flies like a bee. Yellow jackets love to nest in the walls of sheds. They also enjoy moistened dog food. If she was kept in a kennel its quite possible she might have been trapped in a cage with no way to escape an ornery yellow jacket.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Our library is closed, of course, with Covid-19 around. I am aware of her and her books. I think I will try some obedience training. I trained an Irish Setter to a CD title many years ago, so I'm OK with that. Problem is that she is so shut down when on a leash. I have taught her 'lie down" but nothing else. That que was taught through lying down on my lap!
 

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I talked with my vet, and she is ready to prescibe some Zanax, and Prozac. Zanax for time for the Prozac to get to a therapeutic level. I hate to have her "on drugs" but I think it is cruel to let her suffer with this anxiety the rest of her life. Lets hope it doesn't come to that.
 

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Thank you for taking her in. I am sure she will improve over time with you.

On this forum, I have told the story of Merlin, my under socialized toy poodle who has been officially diagnosed with generealized anxiety disorder.

There are many posts about him, starting in july or august 2015, if you care to search for them.
 

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Maybe you could try some more natural remedies beforehand to see if they’ll work. I have friends who’ve had great success with CBD as well as chamomile and Valerian root. These chews were also highly recommended to me.

Another thing to look into is diffusing essential oils like lavender in an open area where she can leave if it’s too much. Here’s a great resource on essential oils for dogs and cats.
 

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Thank you for taking this girl in. It is so rewarding to watch a rescue dog come into their own. It can take time though.

As others have mentioned, it very well may be she was exposed to a trauma that is producing this reaction. As cowpony mentioned, a history of being in a confined area and unable to get away from a bug sounds like a very real possibility.

I wouldn’t hesitate to try drugs to help her with the transition. Natural remedies may work as well, but you may need the bigger guns. She can’t train until her anxiety comes down. Think about situations where you learn well. When people (and dogs) are overly anxious, they’re not in a space to learn. You can do that through meds, a soothing environment, or a combination of the two. Once you get her anxiety to a manageable level, then train and train. That will help her confidence.

There are stories here of folks who have managed anxious dogs, As Dechi said, she has a lot of posts. Time and patience are essential. Here are a couple things I did with one of my rescue dogs, maybe it will help you.

Lily, a stray in a large city, was very fearful of noises, and strange things- like having to walk under a bridge. She was also intermittently terrified on car rides, and it was hard to pinpoint what about the car ride would trigger her panic. After trying many things ( ex: thunder shirt, lavender oils, rescue remedy) I resorted to medicating her with Acepromazine for longer car rides, which is definitely a heavy hitter. I used it about five times, and she was dopey, but we were able to take her with us on vacation, which was nice. I then tried without it, and she was better, and continued to get better. Now she rides in the car without a problem, but it took a couple years. I don’t know if the Acepromazine helped bring her anxiety down enough to for her to realize she probably was going to survive the experience, or it was just a matter of a number of positive experiences layered on top of the bad ones that allowed it to recede.

Lily had a number of fear based behavioral issues we worked on, this was just one example. Time, patience, and creating an environment where they feel safe are the magic bullets. Training is important, but feeling safe and trusting you is the foundation.

Here is Lily at 10 1/2 in her usual place, on my lap. I think she knows I’m writing about her, lol. However, it took her at least a year to decide I was safe enough sprawl out on my lap for any length of time. She started out by sitting for a couple minutes, and it was evident she wanted to trust, but initially, it only lasted a couple minutes, then she would go back behind the couch. Gradually, she spent more time out in the open and now is a permanent fixture on my lap, and just a happy dog overall. She now competes in agility and confidently prances through a large crowded agility event with hundreds of dogs and people. It amazes me that she has come so far.

It’s very rewarding to help a dog get over fears, but it can also be exasperating and try your patience. It helps me to think about where they were a month ago, six months ago, etc. then you see the progress. Good luck with her, keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the post. I have decided to go with a thunder shirt, and in really stressful times (like the fly) I can give Zanax. The vet wanted to add Prozac also, but I don't want to keep her on Prozac. We'll see.
 

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I stopped and read some of the posts about Maggie. I've had her now almost 8 months. She is doing better. Still very anxious, but she loves her thunder shirt. Went right to her bed and fell asleep when I put it on. I'm wondering if I should put it on every day, instead of just when she is acting 'scared'? I have only used the Zanax once.
 

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Happy to hear little Maggie is doing better. Well done, you. :)

I don't have any experience with the thunder shirt, and I'm not sure if it's safe to wear for extended periods. But I do like the thought of preventing her fear from even happening.
 

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Just an update for everyone. We are near (across the street) to Joliet IL. Had a horrid storm on Monday. Trees down, debris all over. Today the landscapers worked all day, all yesterday, and will be back tomorrow.. Maggie and my chihuahua didn't seem fazed at all! In fact, Maggie wanted to play ball!!! I was fairly calm (as much as one could be with hurricane wind) and both dogs seem to watch me. When the power went out for 20 seconds they looked at me, and just didn't seem to react too much! Now this is the same dog that jumps at an unexpected touch from me!??? I didn't even have to put on the thundershirt! Weird!
 

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Just an update for everyone. We are near (across the street) to Joliet IL. Had a horrid storm on Monday. Trees down, debris all over. Today the landscapers worked all day, all yesterday, and will be back tomorrow.. Maggie and my chihuahua didn't seem fazed at all! In fact, Maggie wanted to play ball!!! I was fairly calm (as much as one could be with hurricane wind) and both dogs seem to watch me. When the power went out for 20 seconds they looked at me, and just didn't seem to react too much! Now this is the same dog that jumps at an unexpected touch from me!??? I didn't even have to put on the thundershirt! Weird!
That's amazing. You and she have both come so far.
 
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