I need your help. Sofie’s anxiety is off the charts. I have had her to several Veterinarians, a Behaviorist, and now they are recommending a Neurologist and MRI. I am at my wits-end trying to figure out how to help her and I don’t get much sleep anymore (that video above is at 2:06 AM). She appears to be in an ongoing state of anxiety or pain.
Months ago, with help from a holistic Vet, we tried lots of different Chinese herbs to calm her separation and thunder anxieties, Back in June, Sofie ate through a door. We tried Xanax which actually made her hyperactive, None of the herbal remedies seemed to touched the surface for more than a few days. You may notice in the door vs thunder storm picture, she was wearing her Thunder Shirt while she ate the door. Yes, I have had her in one for years.
Around October, Sofie started waking me multiple times during the night with whining and barking. I likened the event to ‘night terrors’ (like when kids have nightmares). When this first happened, I started taking her from the bedroom into the den where she and I would go to sleep on the couch. No amount of Shen Calmer, Composure Pro, or Pheromone spray was helping to stop these events. I needed to do something different.
In December, I decided to go back to the Vet that handled 2 of my previous dogs (Nikki with a brain tumor and dementia and Squash with insulin diabetes). I always felt he was a good diagnostician and the only reason I changed Vets originally was because I had moved about 30 minutes away and wanted someone closer to home. After taking a bunch of tests, he put Sofie on Prozac for a few weeks (which did nothing) and then we moved to Phenobarbital. He was thinking that maybe the night awakening was some kind of seizure. She did sleep for a few nights when we first started but then her night problems broke through. I adjusted the meds as directed, but still she had night terrors. We keep doing blood work and tests and meds changes, but still she has this problem at night and during the day sometimes.
Last week I decided to try an Animal Behaviorist. Sofie and I traveled 2 hours to consult with this person.
The Behaviorist felt that Sofie was very stressed out and that it must be caused by the years of wrong training I have given her, both regular basic obedience and especially the e-collar training. She told me to stop talking to Sofie in any way (no commands, no reprimands, don’t look at her). She asked me to remove Louise and the cats from the house to see if they were the problem. She recommended a bunch of changes: stop socializing with other dogs, don’t let her around children (which she never was anyway), stop letting her go to daycare, ignore her when coming and going, if I am not home have whomever is home leash her and give her treats when she is screaming for me, toss food at her to stop whining, stop all obedience commands, stop verbal or physical punishment (I assume she meant the ecollar since Sofie was never physically punished), interrupt all barking by using the head collar and pulling her toward me and feeding her, stop all cat chasing by blocking with a board, block all windows so she can’t look out, stop feeding her in a bowl and reward her 30 to 40 times a day for coming when called, stop talking to her, stop letting her go to the fence in the yard and bark, pen her at night and if she barks in pen throw treats, when watching TV pen her and give her a feeding toy to stop her from barking at me. And begin a noise desensitization program with thunder sounds and barking,
All this made me feel like I am a terrible pet owner (I am publicly sorry to the 29 other pets I have had in my life) but I accepted that every dog is different and since I was paying her to help me find a way that worked for Sofie, I was going to listen to her advice. Immediately last week we started implementing her suggestions.
To rule out medical issues, the Behaviorist suggested I have Sofie’s Thyroid checked. She feels that Sofie is obese. (Which has me concerned because all her recommendations are food based.) I went and had blood taken the next day (T-4 test), which came back low. Today, I went and had more blood work done so we can see how low it really is. Sofie was so anxious when we got to the Vet that she tried to eat the window blinds and jump out the office window. I have never seen her do this stuff before. It just keeps getting worse.
Since I went to the Behaviorist last week, Sofie’s behavior (especially the whining and night waking) has escalated to a new level of crazy that I have never seen before. Is this a reaction formation to trying to change her behavior or progression of a fast moving disease?
Did I tell you that Sofie won’t go with the Dog Walker anymore if I am home. That started about a month ago. She hides in my office and refuses to go. (Lucky Louise gets a walk all by herself). I was able to trick Sofie at first, I would make like I was going to walk with them, but now she knows that I am not really going and won’t budge. She gladly goes if I am not home. Separation anxiety? Maybe Rachel walks too fast for Sofie and she doesn’t want to go because it hurts her joints?
A few nights ago I changed the room I sleep in to see if the night problem was environmental (and because she was disturbing everyone that was sleeping). The first night she slept, then she didn’t, then she did. Clearly this is not separation anxiety, as she is lying right next to me on the couch and still waking multiple times with cries, whines, and ultimately barks. She is not allowed on my bed in the bedroom, but I do allow her with me on my den couch, so I was thinking the closeness would help her. But NO!!
By the way, Sofie hates this nose collar the Behaviorist recommended we use. It is suppose to give me more control of her in the house (so I can turn her head gently when she is barking and give her treats). I get the concept but at this point, I don’t think it is making a lick of difference. On a positive note, she is sucking on fabric things a little less; at least that is a step in the right direction. You might remember that she always has to have a lovey or something to suck on.
After I reported that things are getting worse to the Behaviorist, she said maybe the problem isn’t behavior after all but medical. She wants me to stop everything she told me to do (except for the cat chasing). I am losing my mind with all of this (and going broke)!!
Just in case it is joint pain, I added Dasuquin to her meds. A few times last week I noticed her limping when she would get up from the dog bed in my office. Is this a response to all the meds, the weather, something else?
Today the Vet discussed having an MRI to see if she has a brain tumor, but if she does, there would be little that could be done to help her. He changed her from the Phenobarbital to Clomicalm. Hopefully, if I give it to her shortly before bed, we might get through the night.
Does anyone have any thoughts? Medical or behavior? This is starting to become a quality of life question, hers and mine. – Lorian, desperate DogDaz Zookeeper.
NOT Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤