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Omnimaqq

Advice needed: rehome or treatment options

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Omnimaqq   

Hi everyone, 

My partner and I are emotionally exhausted and need some advice from people who may have gone through a similar situation to share their wisdom / insight so that we can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Two months ago in October we adopted a sweet shelter dog, a staffy x of 8 months, from SCDH. My partner had owned a small yorkie before as her family pet and I have never had a dog before. So overall, I would say we were completely inexperienced and naive about what was to come. 

 

Shenzi is a really sweet girl with a whole lot of positives and equally a whole lot of negatives that came with this ball of fluff. We booked a behaviourist the second day we got her because she got triggered on a walk by skateboards / shopping cart and she ran (with me on the other end of the leash) all the way home. This is when we first noticed that Shenzi is actually a really fearful dog. We didn't even know that was a thing before we started to research vigorously about it. She would startle at the sound of sudden noises (esp. Skateboards) and would either freeze (and she recently learnt how to try and back out of her collar as well). This was manageable as we have been training her for obedience, and desensitising her to these noises. She's also scared of strangers (esp tall big men maybe with a beard maybe without) and it takes her a long time to warm up to them. At first she would just try and escape or go around them (for people on the street). However, recently she has developed a tendency to bark at these strangers/colleagues when my partner brings her to work (dog friendly office). 

 

She's perfectly fine with dogs and would get super excited to see them to sniff them and if possible play with them. She's gentle with smaller dogs (as we had a sitter with a toy chihuahua who become her best friend). She also loves children (but I'd be scared to let her play with them). We also discovered that she likes to nibble on people and she has poor bite inhibition (maybe to do with her age and that she may not have had the chance to learn when she was younger with other puppies). For example, she sometimes gets crazy at home (we think because she needs to poo? Or otherwise somehow gets overly excited and wants to play) and she started to bite me pretty hard on the arms, on my pants, my legs and plays tug with my clothes. I've been locking myself away when that happens as she is just too strong and fast (standing still in a corner does NOT work as she would just bite me where she can). 

 

Our last straw came about yesterday with her severe separation anxiety kicking in (she managed to tear up half the carpet found the wood with nails on them and hurt herself trying to dig her way out). For the last 3 months we've had her, we've been rearranging our entire work schedules to ensure she is never alone (so either we'd work from home, bring her to work, or she's at the sitters). She even cries if I'm in another room and she can't see me. 

 

We don't know what to do. We love her but we're both mentally exhausted from the time and resources we've spent so far on all her issues. She's way better now since we first got her but it hasn't been an easy journey. In the end we just feel like we've done everything we could have (besides shelling out for a more expensive behaviourist and daycare until we desensitise her to us leaving, but we both work and me especially long hours which places an unfair strain on my partner to look after her when I work late), and that potentially she is just not a good fit for us. 

 

With all the bad, she is still a really really lovely dog, loves other dogs, loves children, women, the vet, loves to cuddle us in bed at night, and we've taught her obedience like sit, stay, down, leave it, touch, she even knows weave. She has an adorable face and smile and so goofy at times and yet we just feel like we have no life outside the dog given the mirade of issues we've had to deal with. 

 

We're tossing up options to continue training her or to rehome her to a multi dog household (she seemed to do well when she was at the sitters and the sitter would leave Shenzi and her dog alone to do groceries at times) to lessen her anxiety. We are leaning towards the latter because we just have no more energy to give and think that perhaps this will be the best and happier option for her (and us) in the long term. 

 

Sorry for the long post but we just really need advice and help. Thanks in advance. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Omnimaqq

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Diva   

If you do rehome her please do so with full disclosure of her behavioural issues, otherwise she risks  a very uncertain future.

Otherwise, I’d suggest you see a behavioural vet and consider medication while you work on remediation- she can’t really learn while she is highly anxious or panicked. Medication might give you that window for learning. 

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Omnimaqq   
26 minutes ago, Diva said:

If you do rehome her please do so with full disclosure of her behavioural issues, otherwise she risks  a very uncertain future.

Otherwise, I’d suggest you see a behavioural vet and consider medication while you work on remediation- she can’t really learn while she is highly anxious or panicked. Medication might give you that window for learning. 

Thank you Diva. We will definitely disclose her behavioural issues if we do end up rehoming her. Hopefully finding a good match for her needs. We can get a behavioural vet to try and resolve her issues but with a no end date in sight (and most literature suggest to not leave them alone whilst the treatment / remidation is occurring), this thought / path is placing a great strain on us financially and emotionally. But maybe her SA issues can be resolved in time and since we've come so far it is premature to just give up now and give her up? 

 

Photo of destruction attached. 

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Diva   

I have never dealt with behavioural issues on that scale. Anything I have worked through has been pretty minor by comparison and the result of a specific event - the effects of an attack by loose dogs was the worst and very understandable to me. 

 

So I can hardly tell you that you need to turn your life upside down and exhaust yourselves further for this dog, that you have only known for two months, and who has issues that appear severe.  That would not be fair of me.

 

I know Christmas is a hard time for anxious dogs and so are the first months in a new home, but I can’t tell how solvable this is. 

 

There is a fb group called something like anxious dogs Australia that might give guidance based on direct experience. And if you have to rehome try to get her directly to a new home or rescue organisation that fosters in home. I doubt a return to a shelter env will help her any.

 

Edited by Diva
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Wow. 
 

let me think about this one. 

All I can say is this poor pup probably should not have been rehomed. if her anxiety is this bad she WOULD have been showing signs before she came to you . Was she in a foster home, or did she come from a large facility/kennel? Poor little mite. Some dogs are born this way .... .
 

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Omnimaqq   
25 minutes ago, persephone said:

Wow. 
 

let me think about this one. 

All I can say is this poor pup probably should not have been rehomed. if her anxiety is this bad she WOULD have been showing signs before she came to you . Was she in a foster home, or did she come from a large facility/kennel? Poor little mite. Some dogs are born this way .... .
 

This little pup was in the shelter for a week and they found her in the street. We are not sure about her history but she may or may not be a stray. Perhaps it was naive of us that we didn't fully understand behavioural issues before we started. She was very whingy and excited in the shelter when she saw us. But now we understand this may be a sign of panic for human attention. We had nothing else from the shelter in terms of their diagnosis of her behavioural conditions given she was not in the shelter for a long time. Perhaps we should have gotten a behaviourist to check on the dogs before we took one home. We don't blame the shelter but we really wished we knew all of this before we started but I guess it's always a gamble if you adopt. 

 

We kept thinking that things would get better and if we keep going at it that she will get better. When we got her she was no desexed given the age and timing in the shelter. She was also on heat so we had to wait a month before we could get her desexed. We thought that after desexing she'd be better and less fearful which has been the case. She's gaining more confidence everyday. We really thought that if we get over one hurdle after the next eventually she will be ok. 

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JRG   

There is no doubt that a Veterinary Behavourist would be able to give your dog drugs etc and advise you on care matters,  but armed with that advice, you will still have to Iive with her for forever long it takes and only you can answer this.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that my Vet Behavourist is a great source of help and support.

Edited by JRG
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Omnimaqq   
39 minutes ago, Diva said:

I have never dealt with behavioural issues on that scale. Anything I have worked through has been pretty minor by comparison and the result of a specific event - the effects of an attack by loose dogs was the worst and very understandable to me. 

 

So I can hardly tell you that you need to turn your life upside down and exhaust yourselves further for this dog, that you have only known for two months, and who has issues that appear severe.  That would not be fair of me.

 

I know Christmas is a hard time for anxious dogs and so are the first months in a new home, but I can’t tell how solvable this is. 

 

There is a fb group called something like anxious dogs Australia that might give guidance based on direct experience. And if you have to rehome try to get her directly to a new home or rescue organisation that fosters in home. I doubt a return to a shelter env will help her any.

 

Strangely I just joined that group today before your post. We definitely don't want her to go back to the shelter because we know her and that will just make her worse. 

 

If we go with the rehome option, are there any paths to get her directly rehome to a new home or rescue organisation that fosters? How do we go about this process? received_2205863189720768.thumb.jpeg.c7e9b5dd2f9f3c94e933895e4e48135a.jpeg

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Omnimaqq   
11 minutes ago, JRG said:

There is no doubt that a Veterinary Behavourist would be able to give your dog drugs etc and advise you on care matters,  but armed with that advice, you will still have to Iive with her for forever long it takes and only you can answer this.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that my Vet Behavourist is a great source of help and support.

Thanks for your comment. Are you able to link my Vet behaviourist as I am unable to find it online. 

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JRG   

I am in Victoria so no use to you.  Try to find one reasonably close to home as he/she will need to see your dog to be able to prescribe a treatment regime and help you with her specific problems

1 hour ago, Omnimaqq said:

Thanks for your comment. Are you able to link my Vet behaviourist as I am unable to find it online. 

 

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See a veterinary behaviourist. Anxiety is a treatable medical condition. There might be a neighbour (rent a granny?!) who would love to sit in during the training phase, but even if that’s not possible there are medications that can give quick relief while longer acting ones build up.


I assume you’re in Sydney, so I would look at Pet Behaviour Vet or Vet Behaviour Team depending on your location. Here’s a list: https://www.anzcvs.org.au/chapters/veterinary+behaviour+chapter


PBV looks after my little one with generalised anxiety disorder and OCD. I highly recommend them. I know it’s a considerable investment, but when you take into account the hours, knowledge, continued support via email/phone – it’s worth it. And results will be faster than with a general practitioner vet.

 

In the meantime keep her away from triggers and increase at-home enrichment. And if you’re on Facebook, look up the Anxious Dogs of Australia Support Group.

Edited by Papillon Kisses

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Omnimaqq   
1 hour ago, Her Majesty Dogmad said:

Is she OK if she has another animal with her?  I rescue a breed that often cannot cope at all when left alone but if they have a companion they are fine.

 

 

She seems to be ok if she has another dog with her, she's also good with cats (but cats don't like her as much being an over excited teenager). Our sitter had a dog and would leave them at times to go groceries and that was fine. We live further from the sitter now so we'll need to find someone else but daycare everyday is too expensive for us right now. 

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Omnimaqq   
1 hour ago, Papillon Kisses said:

See a veterinary behaviourist. Anxiety is a treatable medical condition. There might be a neighbour (rent a granny?!) who would love to sit in during the training phase, but even if that’s not possible there are medications that can give quick relief while longer acting ones build up.


I assume you’re in Sydney, so I would look at Pet Behaviour Vet or Vet Behaviour Team depending on your location. Here’s a list: https://www.anzcvs.org.au/chapters/veterinary+behaviour+chapter


PBV looks after my little one with generalised anxiety disorder and OCD. I highly recommend them. I know it’s a considerable investment, but when you take into account the hours, knowledge, continued support via email/phone – it’s worth it. And results will be faster than with a general practitioner vet.

 

In the meantime keep her away from triggers and increase at-home enrichment. And if you’re on Facebook, look up the Anxious Dogs of Australia Support Group.

Thank you, I've contacted the vet at PBV and will have a call with her tomorrow or Tuesday. 

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9 hours ago, Omnimaqq said:

She seems to be ok if she has another dog with her, she's also good with cats (but cats don't like her as much being an over excited teenager). Our sitter had a dog and would leave them at times to go groceries and that was fine. We live further from the sitter now so we'll need to find someone else but daycare everyday is too expensive for us right now. 

OK so a second dog is perhaps the answer?  She needs company.

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It’s great you have invested so much time and resources into a dog you have only just acquired most people wouldn’t do that.

 

Vet behaviourist and medication would be a great start however if you’ve already noticed she’s a lot better in an environment with another dog I would either consider a  getting her a mature companion or rehome as suggested to someone with a suitable playmate.

Staffy’s are well known to have separation anxiety and as a breed often don’t do well on their own, if you decide to keep her and not get another dog you could be faced with years of management (I have seen this too often).

 

I have been through this with my oldest dog (silky x Lhasa apso fosters failure), we had always had a multi dog home and we ended up getting down to just him (he’s 10) we thought he would love being an only dog, coming everywhere and having no competition, I am a stay at home Mum so he was rarely left alone, but it completely backfired, he hated it, the anxiety he already had became out of control, he refused to go for walks, would shake and cower at the slightest sound, often refused to eat, even a small amount of rain would set him off.

We did end up medicating him but that had its drawbacks, in the end we decided to get a puppy (actually we’ve now got another as well) and within a week he was off his medication and back to his old self, it’s been 8 months and it is obvious he is a much happier less stressed boy in a multi dog home.

 

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Omnimaqq   
On 30/12/2019 at 11:36 AM, Rascalmyshadow said:

It’s great you have invested so much time and resources into a dog you have only just acquired most people wouldn’t do that.

 

Vet behaviourist and medication would be a great start however if you’ve already noticed she’s a lot better in an environment with another dog I would either consider a  getting her a mature companion or rehome as suggested to someone with a suitable playmate.

Staffy’s are well known to have separation anxiety and as a breed often don’t do well on their own, if you decide to keep her and not get another dog you could be faced with years of management (I have seen this too often).

 

I have been through this with my oldest dog (silky x Lhasa apso fosters failure), we had always had a multi dog home and we ended up getting down to just him (he’s 10) we thought he would love being an only dog, coming everywhere and having no competition, I am a stay at home Mum so he was rarely left alone, but it completely backfired, he hated it, the anxiety he already had became out of control, he refused to go for walks, would shake and cower at the slightest sound, often refused to eat, even a small amount of rain would set him off.

We did end up medicating him but that had its drawbacks, in the end we decided to get a puppy (actually we’ve now got another as well) and within a week he was off his medication and back to his old self, it’s been 8 months and it is obvious he is a much happier less stressed boy in a multi dog home.

 

Thanks for sharing your story. That's what we suspect as well when we observe her when there are other dogs, she is so so so excited (at the park, at the vet, on walks etc) and a multi dog family would be perfect for her. We also noticed that she has a particular separation anxiety towards me leaving as well but not my partner (as much) and perhaps it's because I feed her food most of the time (and she's scared I won't be there to feed her?). 

 

Unfortunately for us, we won't be able to get a second dog (financially and just emotionally won't have the capacity to), esp we don't know how that second dog is going to be like making it a bit of a gamble. 

 

We're still tossing up options but for now, we're taking her to daycare which we found as an option at the local vet (not cheap... But no other options), we've called the shelter we took her from and they prescribed some trazodone for her so we'll see how she goes from there. 

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22 minutes ago, Omnimaqq said:

perhaps it's because I feed her food most of the time (and she's scared I won't be there to feed her?). 

No .It is definitely NOT that . 

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Dogsfevr   

Reading your replies its sounds like you have made your decision & for the dogs sake the right one .
If this dog is better suited to having dog company & that will make this dogs life happier then the dogs need comes first .

There are times when a dog simply isn't the right fit ,sadly even from our boarding kennels we see dogs rehomed so quickly without an honest assessment & new owners burdened with a life issue & no support except it was fine here .
Most of the dogs arent taken out to see how they react in real life so its impossible .
I have a behaviorist friend who refuses to deal with shelters & rescues due to not wanting to listen & hear the truth or be honest on rehome .
This certainly doesn't apply to all places but so many are popping up & with no accountability its sad to see both dog & new owners mismatched .

Having said the above reading what the dog was exposed too in such a short time frame without having any trust or knowing you may have also added to the bad coping skills of this dog  & the fact you most likely expected an instant pet has made it all stressful for both sides .
This dog may well have spent its short life with another dog & very little within human company or even inside a home .

At the end of the day though you need to make a decision sooner than later ,you need to allow this dog to either move on asap to a potentially better fit home & maybe look at a more right fit dog for what you really want

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Omnimaqq   
21 hours ago, Dogsfevr said:

Reading your replies its sounds like you have made your decision & for the dogs sake the right one .
If this dog is better suited to having dog company & that will make this dogs life happier then the dogs need comes first .

There are times when a dog simply isn't the right fit ,sadly even from our boarding kennels we see dogs rehomed so quickly without an honest assessment & new owners burdened with a life issue & no support except it was fine here .
Most of the dogs arent taken out to see how they react in real life so its impossible .
I have a behaviorist friend who refuses to deal with shelters & rescues due to not wanting to listen & hear the truth or be honest on rehome .
This certainly doesn't apply to all places but so many are popping up & with no accountability its sad to see both dog & new owners mismatched .

Having said the above reading what the dog was exposed too in such a short time frame without having any trust or knowing you may have also added to the bad coping skills of this dog  & the fact you most likely expected an instant pet has made it all stressful for both sides .
This dog may well have spent its short life with another dog & very little within human company or even inside a home .

At the end of the day though you need to make a decision sooner than later ,you need to allow this dog to either move on asap to a potentially better fit home & maybe look at a more right fit dog for what you really want

Thank you for your honest feedback. It's good to see both sides of the coin so to speak. 

 

It's true that it's only been a short 3 months she's been with us and perhaps only now just settled (and we moved recently too). We have spoken to a vet from the shelter who has prescribed her some anxiety meds for the short - medium term, she's in day care for the whole day until they start working and for us, my partner is looking to speak to her therapist first before we make the final call. 

 

This unfortunately is a combination of the unfortunate timing and circumstances we have at the moment. I guess also having the wrong expectations from the beginning what it was going to be like. But at the same time we learnt a lot about her and hope that this learning will allow us to rehome her if it comes to that. 

 

I definitely feel we were too spontaneous, and next time would require the shelter or bring an experienced professional to obverse and assess a dog's behaviour before we ever adopt again (if ever). 

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