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Our very scared puppy


raineth
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TLDR: 

Our pedigree puppy has major fears and is struggling to adapt to our home. 

 

Six weeks ago we bought a 5 month old puppy from a registered breeder. We had been in correspondence with the breeder explaining about our situation and lifestyle and talking about the pup we would be getting and what she is like. She was described to us as playful and outgoing. Due to her location and COVID restrictions it was not possible for us to visit beforehand. The breeder sent us photos and videos and she seemed to be playful and affectionate. I thought that due to her breed and being an older puppy there would be a period of adjustment for her. I wasn’t expecting her to instantly adore us. I was expecting we would have to build a relationship with her. I told the breeder our plans to settle her in over the first week and the breeder sort of indicated I was overthinking it and that she’d be fine. 
When we brought her home she was completely shut down. It was like she was frozen in place. She would not move. She was clearly terrified. It was a Friday and over the next two days we could not get her eat and drink as she was so stressed. On Sunday we had to syringe her water as she became dehydrated. 

I updated the breeder and let her know that puppy was having a hard time. She told me that we need to give her three months to properly settle in. She stated she would begin to relax after three weeks. I was a bit shocked as this time frame had not been mentioned to us before and this was not what we had been told to expect. 

Over the next five weeks there continued to be little improvement in her anxiety levels. She was scared of us, scared to be anywhere other than her little safe place on the lounge. She would run out of the room if we came in.

We tried to give her as much space as she needed, tried to help her feel safe. Many times throughout the day we would throw treats in her direction from a distance although most of the time she didn’t eat them. 

She has gradually become more comfortable with me. She is still unsure of my hubby and she is still scared of our 19year old children who have been very calm and non-intrusive with her. She still runs away from them and does not want them to be close to her. 

Last week I noticed she had urinary urgency and we took her to the vet who diagnosed stress induced cystitis. Vet was very concerned about her anxiety and stress levels and asked me a lot of questions about how she’s been coping. She advised us to start an antidepressant (fluoxetine) and commence using an adaptil collar. The collar has helped and time will tell if the fluoxetine helps.

We have made some very small progress with her this week. She is not running away from situations as much. She loves our other dog and she lights up when she sees him. She is still very scared in the house. She will run if she hears a car door close on the street. She still does not like to be in any proximity to the children. She will seem to be ok with hubby unless he is moving or making any noise.

I am worried for her that she will have a life filled with stress and anxiety and I sometimes feel overwhelmed about the prospect of the extensive rehabilitation that she seems to need for her to cope with changes to her environment and with people in general. 

I have done behavioural rehab with previous rescue dogs and I got those dogs with full disclosure. I know that it can be a long difficult road and it wasn’t something we were expecting to face with this puppy. I am really hoping that the medication allows her mind to calm enough that we can begin to make some grounds with counter conditioning and help her to feel safe. I feel for her and I also feel for our family as all our joy about welcoming a new puppy into our family has been replaced with concern for her and her ability to adapt. 

It’s just a really sad situation and I don’t know what to do.

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Gosh that is very sad for the pup and your family.  I think at this stage you have to give the fluoxetine time to work.  Is this breed normally outgoing?  Have you tried to do any basic training?  What happens if everyone is out of the house except for the pup's primary care giver?

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22 minutes ago, raineth said:

I got those dogs with full disclosure.

..and I fear this pup was sent to you without full disclosure :(
What a shame - for everyone . 
You are doing things well, I think. Just hope the drug works ..and I would also be contacting this breeder and asking some hard questions as to the conditions in which this pup was kept . It almost sounds as if it was either kept in a kennel situtaion with no socialisation - or is a puppy born with severe fear/anxiety . Can you tell us the type of dog if you don't want to be too specific ? Sighthound/retriever/toy/hound ..etc ? 

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So sorry this has happened to you. I've had a pup like this, I got her at 8 weeks. Saw her several times at the breeders first. This was many years ago. I knew she was on the timid side. She was a very unhappy dog and I relieved her pain when she was 21 months old. No drugs to help, that I knew of, all those years ago.

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2 hours ago, jemappelle said:

Gosh that is very sad for the pup and your family.  I think at this stage you have to give the fluoxetine time to work.  Is this breed normally outgoing?  Have you tried to do any basic training?  What happens if everyone is out of the house except for the pup's primary care giver?

 The breed is normally reserved with strangers which is why I was expecting some settling in time. But I have had a reserved dog before and this is quite different. 
I have tried with some training but she usually won’t take treats. She normally won’t eat unless we place her food next to her on the lounge because she doesn’t feel comfortable anywhere else. I have done a lot of hand feeding with her but she has to be on the lounge or she won’t accept it. The vet said the Fluoxetine is to help her enough so we can start behavioural rehab. If it is just me in the house she will have the confidence to run from the lounge room to the door to the backyard if she needs to go to the toilet. Otherwise she is just curled up on the lounge or if people are in the lounge she hides in a nearby bedroom.

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Send her back .

Whilst settling in absolutely can be 3 months this dog is not normal .

You need to make some serious decisions and have serious discussions with the breeder .

( and I’m a breeder who has rehomed older dogs )

Edited by Dogsfevr
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Oh dear. :( 


I'm no help, you've done rescue behavioural before. So in this case I totally understand you were expecting an easier adjustment and a bit of puppy fun.

 

The '3 month' rule is actually taken from the 3 day, 3 week, 3 month advice of settling in a stressed dog you rescued . Usually adults.

Available at 5 months of age and with her issues, I'm honestly wondering if she's been returned to the breeder before. :( 

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19 hours ago, persephone said:

..and I fear this pup was sent to you without full disclosure :(
What a shame - for everyone . 
You are doing things well, I think. Just hope the drug works ..and I would also be contacting this breeder and asking some hard questions as to the conditions in which this pup was kept . It almost sounds as if it was either kept in a kennel situtaion with no socialisation - or is a puppy born with severe fear/anxiety . Can you tell us the type of dog if you don't want to be too specific ? Sighthound/retriever/toy/hound ..etc ? 


She was raised indoors. The videos show her inside and in the backyard. They appear to be more rural than we are though. We live quite close to the centre of a regional city with the busyness that comes with that and this seems to be challenging for her. She is a hound but different breed to our other hound. 

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19 hours ago, Rebanne said:

So sorry this has happened to you. I've had a pup like this, I got her at 8 weeks. Saw her several times at the breeders first. This was many years ago. I knew she was on the timid side. She was a very unhappy dog and I relieved her pain when she was 21 months old. No drugs to help, that I knew of, all those years ago.

Oh that’s so sad what a tough decision you had to make :(

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She is a hound but different breed to our other hound. 
 

Some hounds may be aloof but that doesn’t equal scared .

 

Correct aloof hounds should still be confident,happy .

 

I would also test for thyroid issues 

 

 

Edited by Dogsfevr
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I'm so sorry;the poor Pup.

Did the Vet consider Epilepsy or other neurological disorder.

Some symptoms of early stages of epilepsy.

Between periods where the dog may show calmer behavior and appear to improve

then symptoms occur.

 

Very reactive to noise or can seem as if they are deaf and not responding to being spoken to.

episodes of the body stiffening.

looking scared .Glassy eyed confused like they don't recognize you or their surroundings.

 

Seeking shelter in a safe or dark space'.

Not wanting to be touched.Can growl or bite when moved.

Running away, sometimes running in circles.

Later symptoms can include ;body twitching tremor often when asleep and can be quite violent.

 

Take her back to the Vet and ask him to test her for neurological disorders.

 

Forgot to say poor appetite not eating drinking is also a symptom during episodes.

The dog does not need to be unconscious for an episode to occur .

 

Edited by Purdie
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Sadly I'm finding so many breeders are using the phrase "Covid Puppy" far too often to describe/explain the poor temperaments of their puppies.  If this particular pup was raised inside, it sounds like there has been severely limited expose to the "big scary world" outside.

 

There's a huge difference between being aloof and absolutely petrified of the universe and sadly it sounds like this pup is the latter of the two.  IME, puppies that are this terrified rarely become happy, confident and well-adjusted dogs -- sure, they can learn to cope, but it's not the same.

 

I'd personally be returning this pup to the breeder.  Puppies should be confident enough to have a far better startle response than what you've explained e.g. clap of thunder unnerves/startles them for a few seconds but then they resume bouncing around as though nothing is wrong.  I also question if the pup has been mollycoddled for most of its life.

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Sad story.

 

:(

 

It would be interesting to know if the rest of the litter was similarly affected.

 

Overemphasis on the visual aspect of conformation at the cost of temperament is a widespread malady in the pedigree dog world.  It sickens me when someone is shamed (instead of encouraged to do health testing) as a back yard breeder because they want to have a pup from their boy because he is a fantastic dog and they love him so much.  Most of our pups end out as family pets.  Temperament should be far more important than conformation to a somewhat arbitrary breed standard set down more than a century ago.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey everyone. Just wanted to say that I do appreciate everyone’s input and wanted to give you all an update.

Things turned very sour between us and the breeder. She has refused to send us vaccination papers and transfer of ownership papers.  She states:

a) puppy has no issues and is normal.

b) we have caused puppy’s issues

c) she insinuates we are making it all up.

 

She has also insinuated that puppy would be better off in a different home with people who know what they are doing.

Because of these things I have lost all trust that the breeder has Penny’s best interests in mind and that she would do right by her.

I also think the transport alone would be very traumatic for her. We went on a car trip with her a few weeks ago and vet prescribed alprazolam for her and she was still a wreck the entire time. 
we have a really good relationship with our vet, she has cared for all our dogs. So when she told us that it would be kinder to euthanise Penny than send her back we took that advice seriously. As such we have decided to keep her. Making this decision has been a relief in itself as it’s allowed our family to gain acceptance for the situation. 

The fluoxetine is helping and does allow her quality of life. It has also got her to the point where she can take some treats and therefore engage a bit better with behaviour mod. 
I don’t know how things will go but we’ll just do our best for her. Her Fluoxetine dose has been increased to 30mg and our vet is organising for a behaviourist review which will most likely happen in the new year.

Edited by raineth
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I really hope she settles for you, I have no knowledge of hounds, years ago I found a dumped german shephard hiding in the scub in the park across from my home, it took me 4 months of putting feed out for her before she would come to me for her food and eureka day she followed me home.  she took months to be confidant in our yard and home let alone trust my family, she wasn't a pup was at least 12 months old.

 

in those circumstances you find yourself so wishing you could talk to them

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On 29/11/2021 at 3:13 PM, Princess Fru Fru said:

Sadly I'm finding so many breeders are using the phrase "Covid Puppy" far too often to describe/explain the poor temperaments of their puppies.  If this particular pup was raised inside, it sounds like there has been severely limited expose to the "big scary world" outside.

 

There's a huge difference between being aloof and absolutely petrified of the universe and sadly it sounds like this pup is the latter of the two.  IME, puppies that are this terrified rarely become happy, confident and well-adjusted dogs -- sure, they can learn to cope, but it's not the same.

 

I'd personally be returning this pup to the breeder.  Puppies should be confident enough to have a far better startle response than what you've explained e.g. clap of thunder unnerves/startles them for a few seconds but then they resume bouncing around as though nothing is wrong.  I also question if the pup has been mollycoddled for most of its life.

 

 

really? what rubbish, play with puppies , make heaps of noise, play the radio and even though they have never been out in the big wide world they think they have if you make that effort

 

was told radios are a great way to accustom your puppies to the weird and wonderful so they take their first show and all its noise and bustle in their stride and yep it works, not only for them but your horse too

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