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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My dog is about to be 2 years old next month, neutered male pomeranian. I've always thought he was a generally anxious dog. Inside an air-conditioned house, he would pant and pace around, lay down for a few seconds, get up, pace some more, play with a toy, lay down, rinse and repeat.

Basically, he never sits still. My family is super quiet, we're on our laptops/gaming consoles and don't generally move a lot or make lots of noise. Yesterday I was asking him to go through a door to the garage because my fiance was waiting for him in there and he didn't want to go through the door to the garage. He sat down and didn't move, so I went to pick him up and he growled and lunged at me.

I didn't think anything of it, while he has never bitten me or even growled at me, I must have misunderstood his not wanting to go to the garage. But then this morning he lunged at my fiance while he was closing the kennel door. He walks into the kennel on his own, no need to touch him, so my fiance was closing the kennel behind him, didn't make any contact, and he still lunged at him.

I took him to the vet today and ruled out any medical reasons. He has never, eeeever, tried anything like that before. I'm at a loss as to why it could be, he's on trazodone for the first time today in anticipation of tomorrow (4th of july), I'm debating if its an anxiety issue and if he should be on something for that, but my vet disregarded that. I don't know if its training but nothing in our routine has changed. I wouldn't know where to begin with training. He hasn't done it since this morning, but now my fiance is afraid of him.
 

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I may not be a vet, but I do think that if a dog can't even relax at home, long-term anxiety medication really should be on the table. Dogs take a long while to flush stress hormones from their body, and if they're constantly stressed... well, that's hard on a dog physically and mentally, and often means that the dog can't take training on-board.

Assuming he's been cleared for pain, thyroid issues, tick-bourne illnesses, etc. you really need a vet that will take this seriously and work with you. Get a referral to a veterinary behaviorist if you have to. I think you mentioned you work for this vet? So I understand that it may be a big benefit to go there if you get any kind of employee discount, but if they're not helping your dog...

As far as training goes, the only major advice I have at this point is to avoid picking him up as much as possible. Many small dogs actually find this uncomfortable and scary, and of course it removes all control he has of the situation. Try to find other solutions to move him when you have to - nose targeting, stairs/ramps/steps of some kind for getting up places he needs to go, wearing a short house line in case you need to physically encourage him to move, etc.

In the meantime you can work on counterconditioning being handled and picked up and try to make it a happy experience by working him up slowly - and again, only actually lifting him when it's absolutely unavoidable. He may benefit from some cooperative care training, which gives a dog more control over being handled by teaching them (and the handler!) how they can consent to various physical manipulations - lots of great YouTube videos on this! But again, depending on his stress level he may struggle to take this kind of training on board without medical assistance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I may not be a vet, but I do think that if a dog can't even relax at home, long-term anxiety medication really should be on the table. Dogs take a long while to flush stress hormones from their body, and if they're constantly stressed... well, that's hard on a dog physically and mentally, and often means that the dog can't take training on-board.

Assuming he's been cleared for pain, thyroid issues, tick-bourne illnesses, etc. you really need a vet that will take this seriously and work with you. Get a referral to a veterinary behaviorist if you have to. I think you mentioned you work for this vet? So I understand that it may be a big benefit to go there if you get any kind of employee discount, but if they're not helping your dog...

As far as training goes, the only major advice I have at this point is to avoid picking him up as much as possible. Many small dogs actually find this uncomfortable and scary, and of course it removes all control he has of the situation. Try to find other solutions to move him when you have to - nose targeting, stairs/ramps/steps of some kind for getting up places he needs to go, wearing a short house line in case you need to physically encourage him to move, etc.

In the meantime you can work on counterconditioning being handled and picked up and try to make it a happy experience by working him up slowly - and again, only actually lifting him when it's absolutely unavoidable. He may benefit from some cooperative care training, which gives a dog more control over being handled by teaching them (and the handler!) how they can consent to various physical manipulations - lots of great YouTube videos on this! But again, depending on his stress level he may struggle to take this kind of training on board without medical assistance.
Xrays and bloodwork ruled out medical issues yeah, I got worried because he vomited in the morning after the incident but the vet said it might be due to the stress of the incident.

It might be a placebo effect on my part but after just one dose of trazodone, I've seen a huge difference. He is still his hyper self but when it's time to stop playing he's actually laying down and relaxing/sleeping. I have never seen my dog sleep! Any movement anyone makes? He moves, so seeing him sleep made me happy. Despite the doctors not taking me very seriously as a client at work, if I ask for a medicine they give me a prescription, so I think I'm going to ask for a month's worth of trazodone and see how he does. I am definitely going to go to a behaviorist, but the doctor told me to do so after a few other incidents because the behaviorist will need a pattern?

In regards to picking him up, he actually jumps on me to pick him up, when he knows I'm about to pick him up he walks to my left side (he has had some puppy PetSmart training and is conditioned to do everything on my left side) and I lower my hands and he jumps on them, but on other occasions I am completely ignoring him and he actually runs and jumps to my arms (in another note, I should be doing agility with this dog, he can jump straight to my thighs and push his way to my arms!!!). Before and after the incident picking him up hasn't been an issue. I think it was the not wanting to go to the garage that made him stressed and me picking him up would force him to go to the garage and, because he can't relax, the morning after he was still wound up and got spooked by being in the kennel. He even vomited twice. He's been completely back to normal since the incident and I haven't had any issues picking him or him jumping to me.

He's had super basic training in the classes, but as you mentioned, he's impossible to train he can't relax so he can't keep attention on us. I think the only reason he could grasp the basics is because of how smart he is. But staying for more than a second? He can't.
 

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I don't think it sounds like a placebo at all! Definitely give the trazodone a try, and I know people also have success with fluoxetine if you find it's not as effective as you'd like or has side effects. These drugs do often have an adjustment period, so you'll likely not even see the full effectiveness for several weeks or even months - an immediate change is a good sign imo though!

Thanks for the clarification on jumping up. It does sound like the poor guy was freaked out and panicked or redirected onto you more than handling issues. Makes sense the vomiting could be related too - though of course keep an eye on him in case it's not!

I would think there's enough for a behaviorist to work with simply given the one incident and his general high anxiety, personally. Heck, the high anxiety alone could warrant some behavioral therapy. I'm not a big fan of waiting for more things to happen instead of getting a handle on things right away, for several reasons. One is that the more a dog practices these behaviors, the more ingrained they become. Another is that if he panics enough to actually bite someone, you could end up with a dog with a bite record, which helps nobody.

If you've got anyone locally certified by the APDT or CCPDT (these guys specifically certify behavior consultants) that would be a good place to start, as would a veterinary behaviorist.

Keeping my fingers crossed for his improvement!
 

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I guess working on picking him up when he doesn't want to would be a good idea then. Bucky doesn't mind getting picked up so long as cheese gets shoved in his mouth at the same time. Next time he has to be moved use a bribe.

Always busy? Never relaxes? Sounds like my Bucky. Try doing Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol with him. It is a down or sit stay mat training program all set out for you. You go at your own rate, start with a 5 second stay with you right there moving to out of sight going through doors at the end of the 16 sessions. Bucky ate this right up and we only had a couple days where he couldn't get through the day's session. Whether it helps him settle or not it is fun to get a good stay on a dog and he'll adore the attention.
 

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If he's not in physical pain, more exercise (both mental and physical) can't hurt. Dogs that are understimulated can be restless and wound up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't think it sounds like a placebo at all! Definitely give the trazodone a try, and I know people also have success with fluoxetine if you find it's not as effective as you'd like or has side effects. These drugs do often have an adjustment period, so you'll likely not even see the full effectiveness for several weeks or even months - an immediate change is a good sign imo though!

Thanks for the clarification on jumping up. It does sound like the poor guy was freaked out and panicked or redirected onto you more than handling issues. Makes sense the vomiting could be related too - though of course keep an eye on him in case it's not!

I would think there's enough for a behaviorist to work with simply given the one incident and his general high anxiety, personally. Heck, the high anxiety alone could warrant some behavioral therapy. I'm not a big fan of waiting for more things to happen instead of getting a handle on things right away, for several reasons. One is that the more a dog practices these behaviors, the more ingrained they become. Another is that if he panics enough to actually bite someone, you could end up with a dog with a bite record, which helps nobody.

If you've got anyone locally certified by the APDT or CCPDT (these guys specifically certify behavior consultants) that would be a good place to start, as would a veterinary behaviorist.

Keeping my fingers crossed for his improvement!
I'll do some research and give them a call, we have a specialist hospital near by. I definitely rather get him seen sooner rather than later, it can't be fun being anxious all day every day. If I was anxious I wouldn't "wait to see", I have the same mindset with my pets. I just also don't want to waste their time, but at least I'll give them a call and see what they think.

I continued the trazodone and going outside is also amazing, he generally seems more relaxed.

I guess working on picking him up when he doesn't want to would be a good idea then. Bucky doesn't mind getting picked up so long as cheese gets shoved in his mouth at the same time. Next time he has to be moved use a bribe.

Always busy? Never relaxes? Sounds like my Bucky. Try doing Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol with him. It is a down or sit stay mat training program all set out for you. You go at your own rate, start with a 5 second stay with you right there moving to out of sight going through doors at the end of the 16 sessions. Bucky ate this right up and we only had a couple days where he couldn't get through the day's session. Whether it helps him settle or not it is fun to get a good stay on a dog and he'll adore the attention.
I'll look into this for sure! Thank you!

If he's not in physical pain, more exercise (both mental and physical) can't hurt. Dogs that are understimulated can be restless and wound up.
Yeah I try to take him to the park, he loves to run, and when we can't walk. walk. walk. He is a high energy baby for sure.
 

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I love nose games, too. Sniffing is naturally stress-reducing for dogs, and works out their brains and helps them become more mentally satisfied! Even just hiding treats around a room or playing "which cup is the goody under" helps Sam chill if he's being restless. We use them a lot when we get bouts of weather that make outdoor activity stressful or unsafe.

Totally agree with you on not waiting with anxiety. I do have it, actually, and waited far too long to get something done about it. It's still a daily struggle, but I know first hand how much of a difference the right pharmaceuticals can make to an anxious brain - so nice to actually be able to redirect myself and think rationally again! So many people see medication as a "last resort" and there's a lot of cultural stigma around it (in dogs and humans alike), along with a lot of feelings of "if I need meds to help my dog it means I'm a terrible owner/trainer", but I'm so happy to see more people treating it like they would medicine for a physical issue. Rock on, seems like Leo is in great hands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I love nose games, too. Sniffing is naturally stress-reducing for dogs, and works out their brains and helps them become more mentally satisfied! Even just hiding treats around a room or playing "which cup is the goody under" helps Sam chill if he's being restless. We use them a lot when we get bouts of weather that make outdoor activity stressful or unsafe.

Totally agree with you on not waiting with anxiety. I do have it, actually, and waited far too long to get something done about it. It's still a daily struggle, but I know first hand how much of a difference the right pharmaceuticals can make to an anxious brain - so nice to actually be able to redirect myself and think rationally again! So many people see medication as a "last resort" and there's a lot of cultural stigma around it (in dogs and humans alike), along with a lot of feelings of "if I need meds to help my dog it means I'm a terrible owner/trainer", but I'm so happy to see more people treating it like they would medicine for a physical issue. Rock on, seems like Leo is in great hands.
I can't even begin to imagine, but I am definitely pro-treatment. The only time you'll hear me worry about medicine is about the long term side effects to the body. Leo is a dog who can't tell me what hurts and how he feels so I feel proactivity is the definition of good ownership. My daughter gets a cough? She can tell me what she's feeling and if the over the counter meds aren't working. I feel bad? I can decide to go to the hospital, he doesn't have that say, so for sure if I notice anything I rather find out it's nothing than have him suffer. In fact 2 years of life with anxiety has probably been too much, I just never noticed it to be problematic until very recently. At first I thought, he's hyper! He's a puppy, etc. But now he's about to be 2 years old and still behaving the same so for sure he needs help.

Thanks for the nose game idea too! He's very into sniffing EVERYTHING! And he's suuuuuuper food motivated, so having a scavenger hunt for treats around the room will probably be awesome for him. He's mad intelligent too, so I'll probably have to make some hard to get.
 
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