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Dog with Generalized Anxiety "Globally Fearful"

1106 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Tater33
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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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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