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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We met with a behaviorist yesterday and boy I'm glad we booked the appointment a month ago. We got our border heeler at 11wks (sign said 8, kinda mad we missed that socialization period) from the 2nd shelter he had been in (not the nicest place either). He was in a shelter since 7wks. He's always been anxious for us. We were never able to crate him, he freaked out and escaped. We have an older dog who is not crated, so I think this only exacerbated the issue. He's fine left out, never been destructive. He's always been afraid of loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks are to ne expected) but also new noises like trucks outside, snapping a paint stick...new stuff. Getting his harness on is a chore. Recently he wont walk or go in the front yard. The behaviorist describes him as globally fearful and having a bubble (honestly, hes the dog version of me). So, alas, she has recommended meds paired with behavior modification. He's never been aggressive or even growled with us or the dog. Until yesterday, the behaviorist knocked on a wall and he ran up to her and growled...going past the threshold quite quick. Today he growled at our other dog over a new food toy. I guess I'm just looking for stories from those who have been there and meds with training have helped. I have a message into the vet to discuss meds. Meeting with her was beneficial in learning his body language and that even taking a treat from us and us petting him there, he was nervous. I feel awful that we haven't done this sooner. Things have really escalted in the last month though. Just looking for some reassurance.
 

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This is a really great article written by a veterinarian who is also a dog trainer: Behavior Medication: First-Line Therapy Or Last Resort?

I have a lot of experience working with anxious dogs and medication can be absolutely essential for them to succeed. Each dog is different, of course. Here are some general things to keep in mind.

-Medication will not suddenly solve your problem. A dog that is fearful or anxious will ALWAYS be that way, to some degree, for the rest of their life. The goals with medication are to improve their quality of life to the greatest potential, and to reduce their anxiety to the point where behavior modification will be most effective.

-Medication is not a one size fits all thing. It is common to have to adjust dosage or even try different medication.

-Medication is safe. Yeah there are a list of potential side effects, as there are for every drug on the planet. But side effects are very rare. I have seen certain meds be ineffective for certain dogs at times (again, doesn't mean 'meds don't work'. That med, on that dose, for that dog, didn't work). But in 5+ years I have never seen a truly negative side effect. This is hundreds of dogs, and seeing multiple dogs (and cats!) daily that are on meds for fear or anxiety.

-Medication should go hand in hand with a behavior modification protocol. Meds alone are rarely ever the solution. However, for extremely anxious dogs it is useful to have some fast acting, short term anti-anxiety meds for situations that might be extra stressful.
 

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Agree with everything Canyx said! You're not failing your dog by medicating them, you're getting them the help they need to learn how to cope with the world and have a higher quality of life. A lot of well-meaning and loving dog owners want to try everything possible before 'resorting' to drugs, which can actually backfire when the dog is overexposed to new things that they now have to un-learn is scary, or because the dog practices anxious behavior and it becomes more ingrained and harder to break out of. Noticing that things were escalating even a month ago and seeking veterinary guidance was a wise move on your part, and medication is absolutely a great tool in your situation!

The one thing I did want to add is that, just like with human anxiety meds, there will be an on-boarding period where it might be a couple weeks or more before you see the behavioral effects of the medication. These kinds of meds have to build up in the system to be effective, so be patient in those early days and stay consistent with your dosing always!
 

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HI...I really feel for you and your dog. I adopted my beagle / shar pei mix from kind of a shady rescue place (did not know it at the time). They told me she was rescued from a hoarding situation in a trailer with 30 other dogs. She was by far the smallest (35 Lbs.). They lied and told me she was potty trained (NOT) and loved to hike (has severe arthritis in her back legs) and loved people. HA. She was one big ball of anxiety. The first time I took her to a park, she would not get out of the car. I talked to a rehab vet who referred me to a Dr. Camille Ward out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She immediately put Molly on prozac. She explained that I needed to work with her on creating nothing but positive experiences in her everyday life. Then we gradually reduced her meds until she was off them. While she is not 100% she is much better.
But, she is who she is. She will be forever wary of strangers, but with us she is a great little dog. I think the biggest take away from learning about her was consistency. She is much better with a consistent routine. She still has some food aggression (I have 3 cats) but if I time her food correctly it seems to help. Don't give up !! I know it can be both heartbreaking and frustrating. Sometimes when we go to the park, we just sit in the back of the car with the hatch up and she people / dog watches. Good luck!!
 

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Also forgot to mention, most people who have started their anxious, fearful, or reactive dogs on meds have uttered the phrase to me "I wish I started them sooner." Heard that very phrase again today, actually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
HI...I really feel for you and your dog. I adopted my beagle / shar pei mix from kind of a shady rescue place (did not know it at the time). They told me she was rescued from a hoarding situation in a trailer with 30 other dogs...
Wow! That's awful! Bless your heart for being so patient. I really hope this helps him. Sometimes I don't even know what he's running away scared from. He's getting labs done on Thursday and then we'll start the meds (if he even lets them do labs). So frustrating that we've done all the right things...its just ingrained in him. We have another dog with IBD/allergies...its like these dogs just pick us 🤦‍♀️
 

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Wow! That's awful! Bless your heart for being so patient. I really hope this helps him. Sometimes I don't even know what he's running away scared from. He's getting labs done on Thursday and then we'll start the meds (if he even lets them do labs). So frustrating that we've done all the right things...its just ingrained in him. We have another dog with IBD/allergies...its like these dogs just pick us 🤦‍♀️
Good on you for taking on the challenge and helping that pup.
 
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