I think someone else is in my dogs body

dme

New member
No, but seriously. She turned 3 and it's like I have a totally different dog. For some background, I got Hellena in 2019. When I first got her is when I noticed something wasn't right. She shivered and melted into the ground. Terrified. Of everything. Of course the obvious stuff like a plastic bag in the wind but like wind in general. How the leaves moved. She was so scared that she'd pee on herself and express anal gland secretions. She'd never even acknowledge anyone else. Act like her name wasn't even Hellena. She'd never take a treat from anyone else.

We've worked a lot on confidence building. Also on our relationship. She needed to know I had her back 100%. That when I said "it's okay", she could trust me. We've been working consistently on learning neutrality for the last year. She's been on behavioral medication several days over the past 4 months. On the days I give it to her, we go to several places and make the most of it. She's "sober" 90%+ of days but the confidence she gained on drugged days stays.

Well the past week has been insane. She's been 100% sober and like a totally different dog. Sure she still was uncomfortable when moving guys came and she ran in anxious circles. But she could still play. She could still go by them and sniffed them from a distance of 4-5 feet. She has taken mini pepperonis from 5 people the last 2 days!! 2 4 year old boys, a MAN, and 2 young(10-12) girls. One girl called her name and Hellena actually went to to her in response!! She's even let several people pet her. A man was dragging a large metal weight thing up and down our street. Nothing. The 2 boys were swinging her chuckits like maniacs. And Hellena just continued playing with the boys! My girl. If I didn't know, I'd have seen her and just thought wow what a normal dog. She seemed to be completely comfortable in the chaos. I'm seriously amazed. I know better than to think her issues are in the past. But it feels like all the work is showing. Others have verbally noticed.

I'm just extremely hopeful for her future. Like maybe one day she'll be an easy dog. I want this for everyone who posts or lurks in here. It's a huge commitment having a dog like this. And it's not easy. But I hope you all can value your dog's good times over the struggles.

Picture of Hellena:
 
@dme This made me so happy I almost cried. Your girl sounds exactly like ours! We haven’t started medication yet but this made me feel a lot better about starting it. Congrats to you and Hellena, you’ve had amazing progress!
 
@drbarryrev Just keep trying. We met with several trainers but zero progress. Had success using webinars and training myself first! But the medication was absolutely what she needed. I feel awful about waiting this long. I asked vets before. Vets who couldn't touch her. Vets who saw her terrified. And they just said no and gave us another trainers business card. I told the last trainer about my girl. She called the vet and told him IT'S NECESSARY. He called back and said "okay, we'll try it". I take advocating for my dog extremely seriously. I should have pushed harder sooner.
 
@dme It's crazy to me that your vet saying no! Ours took one look at how anxious our boy was and didn't hesitate to prescribe anxiety meds.

So, so happy for you and your girl. She's beautiful!
 
@mudpuddle There are 2 vets at our practice. 1 owns it. He's one of the most amazing vets I've ever taken my pets to. The new vet is great I'm sure.... But... I gave them plenty heads up about Hellena. She called her aggressive twice, blamed me, tried to baby talk a terrified dog, expected Hellena to do tricks, etc.

When I spoke to the other vet and got the meds, he didn't even see her. He was just hearing how helpless I felt with her and knew it could help. He's seen her since and she even gave him a kiss for cytopoint. The lady has noticed the change and that's enough for me 😁
 
@drbarryrev Prozac changed the game. My guy was so overstimulated and stressed taking him out that no amount of treat would redirect him if a car drove by or heaven forbid a kid on a bike! Now he has new clarity so I can get him to focus on training. We gave our older dog Prozac when we first got her because she was nervous nervous nervous. We were able to take her off of it after about a year.
 
@dme I'm so glad for you!! I'm a lurker here and we have a husky from a rough rehoming situation, and we've been on a similar path. You're right, it's not easy, but it can be so rewarding and it's lovely to hear about your progress! Keep up the good work 😸
 
@matet She needed a major chill pill. She was never just afraid, she was terrified. Couldn't hear me or see me or anything at peak anxiety. Our vet gave us trazadone and gabapentin and it was kinda up to me to find out what worked for her. Too much trazadone and she pees in her sleep. The drugs make it to where she's able to acknowledge my existence and even focus on me during anxious times.
 
@dme This made me happy. Thank you for posting. Jake and I have been on a similar journey. When I first got him when he was 3 everything scared him and he was anxious all the time. A potential family prior to me tried to adopt Jake but after a couple weeks they said he was too much and so I adopted him. I have worked with 5 trainers over a year and a half and put in a lot of time while working full-time as well. At first I was exhausted and stressed and thought about re-homing him because I cried so much about the situation and I was tired. My friends even suggested I re-home him because they could see how tired and stressed I was. At times I avoided even walking him because it was too stressful for us both and I just didn’t want to deal with his reactivity. It took about the first 6 months before Jake and I started to click together and then within the last 6 months, I have really seen a different dog. In the last 6 months, Jake has really started doing much better. Jake is more relaxed, we understand each other, we have our routines and schedules down, and walks are getting easier. He still has dog reactivity and had an outburst today but they are fewer and I’m getting better at helping him. He gets walks everyday now and our walks are much less stressful than a year or so ago.

I saw a golden in the pet store today and I wish how I could take Jake more places like that but I don’t think he will get there but for now I’m glad he has come as far as he has in the time I have had him.
 
@dramatic444 I don't really walk my dogs. Not daily or even weekly. I take mine to certain nature trails. We have a local nature preserve at a park w/ a dog park. The trick is to go on the trail not the dog park. Way less risk. Way less chance of altercations. Likely minimal social interaction. But check your area! Look online at what's close and go explore it alone first. So you know what to expect a little more than when your brain is in management mode w/ a pup.

I think more people should learn about their pets body language. I'm still trying to figure out all of her warning signs. But so far, being able to spot the reaction before it happens has prevented so many.

And I really relate to what you're saying. I cried in my car a lot doubting if I was the right person for her. I knew even the incredible Denise Fenzi would have rehomed her. But I don't give up easy. And she only ever trusted me. Give her to who?? She wouldn't even go near anyone else.
 
@dme The trainer I’m working with currently said he has seen a lot of positive changes in Jake in the last 2 months. Today we went to a large park where Jake could see other dogs being walked from a distance as we walked. Jake looked and was curious but he wanted to sniff more and was better at recall than he has ever been. The trainer said Jake is realizing that I have his back and he doesn’t need to be as worried as he was in the past.
 
@jeffsmith2019 Different things like learning tricks, balancing on a ball, playing ball when there's a football game across the street, find the greenie, feeding with a snuffle mat, lots of positive reinforcement, safe/controlled exposure.

I took the 7 days to a more confident lecture on fenzidogsportsacademy.com it's by Julie Daniels. I highly recommend Denise Fenzi and Dr. Amy Cook. They've made the largest difference in my approach.
 
@dme Ooo so cool!! I’ll take a look at them, we do positive reinforcement training too. And whenever my pup thinks something (usually inanimate object) is sorcerous I let him approach if he wants to and reward him too, he jumped at a balloon the other day and then when he got close he just got playful. We just started a scent detection class too and he’s starting to enjoy it I think! And he’s learning to settle around groups of dogs which is also nice. Usually halfway through the class he focuses on us and gives eye contact so we reward that too. The trick training sounds like a great idea too! I’ll peruse and find a good list to start working on. Thanks for your reply!
 
@dme Since no one seems to have commented this, it's common for dogs to change in quite a drastic way when they reach maturity - which is roughly 3 years, for larger medium sized dogs! Let's keep our fingers crossed this change does stick around. It's so good to hear things like this. For my previous dog, the only massive thing that changed at three was full blown SSA. Whilst she tolerated other girls before, she lost every piece of patience after that. Fml. She was a great dog though, miss her still.
 
@dme that's so great. From the title i thought you were going to say your dog got worse.

My reactive boy took a cookie from the vet last week, when 2 years prior he would hide in the corner and scream if they touched him.
 

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