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Betta Bomb
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coco seen a vet and results came back that there's nothing wrong with him internally. He is like a little miracle. 13 years old. Pure healthy. . . . Except his anxiety.
The vet noted his weight loss and shaking legs and panting, pacing, wild eyes etc. . Are symptoms of anxiety. (duh, I knew that) but she suggested the weight loss too and as for his legs she thinks the shaking is neurotic. The back right leg is stiff and she thinks (especially since he fancies it going down stairs he goes 3 legged) that might be arthritis and prescribed him Metacam.
As for the anxiety, she thinks because he is so old he is just too used to the awful mind frame and as a result is losing weight etc. . . She recommended a trainer but this guy is just too expensive so I contacted another guy who rescues and rehabilitates dogs and does a lot of charity work. After dropping all that money on the vet, lest I AM grateful he's is healthy, I hate the informal and stupid charges at the vet -_- jeez. Training is key. So, we have been trying to be patient and teaching him his bed is where he goes if we tell him. I was shown by the vet how to correct the whining and pacing but it seems like he merely afraid of me! :confused: She noted his confusion and uncertainty and also that he sat next to me for comfort and showed me how to push him away and tell him to lie down. The harness I bought for him which he cannot wear due to its large size I tethered to my desk where his bed is and we attached his collar to it. Let me tell you how frustrating it was trying to correct him and make him sleep under the desk!! I almost had a nervous break down I cried with the stress. I don't wanna hurt his feelings and make him depressed and I'm afraid he's too far gone into his scary other-world that we can never break him out of it, you know? Part of the problem, though, is that I sympathize with him. So Matt corrects him and I see fear in Coco's eyes. Matt needs to learn equal praise with the correction I think. Oh, we did not keep Coco tethered while we slept. It's just a method we are trying bc EVERYTIME someone gets on the bed Coco immediately jumps up and without fail. He needs to learn his place, however emotionally painful it is :( I hate to see him cowering and lookig sad and I sure as heck don't want him getting depressed!
What do you guys think?
 

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How are you "correcting" him? Positive reinforcement works wonders for anxious dogs and I don't think I'd use any "corrections". But I might be interpreting the word differently than you, maybe you just mean saying "no" or something!
 

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Betta Bomb
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For 'corrections' the vet showed me to "shoosh!" him like cesar when he whines. The whining makes the anxiety worse we just cannot stop the panting. Snapping our fingers and "shhh"'ing him and we're training him to go to his bed when we tell him to. If he comes too close to me I have to push him away bc he's looking for comfort from me. I agree 100% about positive reenforcement but up until now it wasn't helping his anxiety it was temporarily soothing him but he would still shake and pant in my laps. I was told he needs to learn to handle the stress on his own and not to rely on me for a fix.
 

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Metacam is serious stuff. Sam was on that stuff the last couple weeks of his life and it made him act like young dog free of pain.

Behaviors your reinforce are the one that get repeated. Which for an senior dog can try your patience when asking them for something different.

Teaching a dog to "park it" can be difficult when they want to be at your side. The tether works well when you want to restrict them to a certain space but I worry that doesn't teach him to be there by his choice. Use his bed and ask for a sit/stay and then eventually a down/stay on the bed. Walk away from the bed and walk back and rinse repeat the process a few times. Perhaps not many since he is an old dude. But do it often every hour or so. Then you can just go to the bed and wait for him to offer the behavior to you. At night, if he gets on your bed simply ignore and ask for a "park it" in his bed and give the praise and attn he is wanting while on his bed.

I also think you mentioned he knows some tricks? While he is being a worry wart ask for some behaviors that he is confident about to break him out of the mindset of being afraid. I say that but then think about my 14yr old and her lack of being able to due much of what she once knew.

What about using calming signals with him? Like yawning, blinking slowly, lip licking. I've been trying that with my dogs and it does work to some degree. When they are barking I go look out the window with them, let out a yawn and sigh a bit to let them know I'm not worried nor should you be. I sometimes get the yawn and lip licking back. ;)
 

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Do you clicker train? I think this would be a great opportunity to use one. When he's being anxious, try directing him over to a bed or pillow on the floor (or some other specific spot). I think you've mentioned him knowing some commands so you can use "Down, Stay" or whatever he knows to get him there. When he's on the bed, click and treat. Keep doing this to the point where you can walk away and he'll sit/lie down calmly on the bed. Eventually you can assign a command like "Bed" to the action, just make sure to keep reinforcing it. Even if he just goes to the bed and lies down on his own, sometimes click and treat. You should be able to phase out the treats after a while but I'd still toss him one occasionally.

What about using calming signals with him? Like yawning, blinking slowly, lip licking. I've been trying that with my dogs and it does work to some degree. When they are barking I go look out the window with them, let out a yawn and sigh a bit to let them know I'm not worried nor should you be. I sometimes get the yawn and lip licking back. ;)
This is a great idea. I use techniques like that with anxious fosters and it can really help. Dogs are great at reading body language so using calming signals can make them feel calmer.
 

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Betta Bomb
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great idea! Thanks! As for the Metacam, I gave him his first dose today in a scrambled egg (which he loved!) But I will have to find another food to put it in bc he's too smart to be tricked and will not eat his reg food or peanut butter or cheese slices anymore. -_- I noticed that in the few hours he's had it the shaking has been reduced like 50-60 % which is astounding!
I like the idea about making him stay in bed without a tether but I'm serious when I say his brain breaks and he ignores anything we say. We have it so he will lie in his bed but the minute we turn around he bolts. His mind is too warped in the worst moments and I guess we should do training more frequently throughout the day. So far we've only did it twice, I was thinking its something to bring on slowly. :/ The trick thing is definitely a good suggestion, I will try it today. Downstairs in the kitchen he can not focus on his tricks and often works himself into a frenzy if we ask him to sit or lie down before running upstairs to the room. So I will try that and let you know :) I heard dogs yawn because they feel empathy but I could never make Coco yawn!! Rude man! He couldn't see the Street Cat in the house when I held him a foot apart from her because he was freaking out in his head, but I will try to sit with him and rub his ears (or behind them, which is supposed to calm them) and yawn and lip lick. That sounds fun and I hope to see some response.

Sasami, I cannot use a clicker because it scares him. Sounds which affect him now are pens falling, snapping fingers too sharply, coughing, sneezing, hand clapping, random sudden sounds like dishes and sliding keypad cell phones even. Lightswitches sometimes and if you hit the wall or doors accidentally with a zipper etc. . . A clicker might keep his brain broke!
Trying to make him associate his bed with that word because I used to just tell him to "go lie down" and point to his bed.
Thanks for the suggestions guys! I'm getting ready to go to the grocery store now and pick up rescue remedy which will hopefully help keep him calm during the training :/
Bless :)
 

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Dogs actually see yawning as a signal that you're calm and everything is OK. It's more to do with that than empathy IMO. So even if he doesn't yawn back, it could still help.

You don't need a clicker, the treats plus a praise word would work too :). Clickers are just convenient.

Good luck :).
 

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Hrm.. Some clickers are way too sharp. I always go through the box at the store looking for the quiet ones.

It may be too far to reintroduce the clicker or calm him with random sounds you mentioned that are keeping him frazzled. But if you did... find a softer one and be sure to use it in your pocket or behind your back. Load it up - click treat, click treat click treat for several short sessions. I once scared a dog with it and had to learn it's not a remote control. :( It took about 4 hours to repair the two minutes of damage I did with it. The idea with a clicker is to mark the behavior. It's faster and consistent that's why it's so popular and successful. But you can always just mark behavior with a quick word like "YES!!"

As for the shaking - Jellybeans looked horrible when she had it and so did Sam. The metacam was awesome for Sam and previcox has completely stopped the shaking with Jbeans. When it's warm out I make sure to take her swimming. She is adorable in her lifejacket. It's low impact and has helped rebuild the muscles in her legs.
 

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Betta Bomb
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
:) Thanks guys!
So far, tonight while cleaning and vaccuming etc. . . Coco freaked out and left the room for a while when he came back I told him to go to his bed and even gave him a new fuzzy mat and he's content there now. No leash :)
It is hard to snap them from their anxiety, I snap my fingers to shoosh him but it does not seem to work really. When he whines, the second I hear it I snap my fingers and say no or shoosh then if he stops I praise him.
 
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