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Responsibility of Adopter
  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    I have a rescue female shiba who is terrified of people. A little background - She came from a reputable kennel/breeder. The owner/breeder was ill and eventually passed. A rescue organization picked up all 15 dogs over a period of time. By the time the dogs were picked up the kennel was in disrepair and the dogs were filthy. They were being feed but very little if any interaction with people. I fostered and adopted a female who my vet estimates is 3 years old. Although I did not realize it at the time she is very fearful. I though it was being in a new place and situation. As time went on, I realized her fears were deeper than just newness of the situation. We have managed to work through a lot of her fears except her fear of people. When we are out walking I cannot even stop and talk to my neighbors because she panics. My question is, what are my responsibilities to this dog. I have taken care of the physical side of things. She has been spayed and had surgery for LP and ACL. I love her very much but do not feel able to continue with her. I do not have the knowledge or ability to desensitize her. I also do not have the financial resources to hire someone to work with her on a one to one basis. I have tried Rescue Remedy which works but only on a temporary basis. I took her beginning class when I first got her and her fear was so great she got physically sick. I have asked the rescue group to rehome her, but I feel guilty. Please all chime in with ideas and suggestions. I feel I am up against a brick wall. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted you to have all the facts.
    I have had her nine months. I also have a 7 year old male from the same kennel who is very well socialized.
    Post edited by Joyce at 2014-05-14 17:43:43
  • jennjenn
    Posts: 856
    Have you talked to your vet specifically about her fear? Have they tried any prescriptions like Xanax, Clonopin, or Trazodone that works for longer periods of time than Rescue Remedy? I imagine its not any fun for her either to be that scared of the world and perhaps an anti-anxiety would help her, and also put her in a state where you can actually desensitize her to the feared things (people).

    I'm sorry to hear that its not working out though. We had Annie (one of the indoor dogs from the second rescue venture) and she was terrified too. She seemed to be coming out of her shell the longer we had her, and I hear she is in her forever home now which is great.
    Jenn, Shiba Slave to Rigby / http://hellorigby.com
  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    When I spoke to my vet she suggested All Creatures Behavioral Clinic in Kirkland. Besides the distance (I am in Olympia) there is the cost. Perhaps I need to look into a new vet.
  • oneluckymugoneluckymug
    Posts: 67
    Great job on the rescue. Don't get discouraged.

    Sometimes we get in a hurry to get things done with pets because we have this idea of what we want them to be and when they aren't that way it becomes frustrating. We then put them on our timetable to be fixed when in reality they will help show you better timetable. I think it's okay to set a goal of what you hope she will be.....but put that waaaaaay down the list. Set tiny tiny goals on your way to getting towards the end goal.

    I don't know your situation at home and all but maybe something similar to this. I would start by asking close friends to help (specifically 1 to 2 friends that can visit often over the period of a month or 2....might be easier if they were dog lovers) . If she has started to feel more comfortable at home invite a friend for the afternoon. Block off an area so the dog can't escape and hide from the friend but make it large enough that the dog has space....so if you guys are going to be in the living room, try and get her to stay in the living room somehow. Once the dog relaxes....whether the 1st visit or the 5th, have the friend offer treats. Once that is a success.....have the friend come over so you can 'accidentally' bump into them on an outside walk...etc etc...

    baby steps. No need to spend a lot of money, just think slow and steady. Don't force the issue, and try not to become frustrated when you have setbacks. The more comfortable and positive you can stay....the better she will be. If your kid was afraid of the pool, you wouldn't toss them in and say good luck....you might try to coax them to put their finger in the water...then a toe, then a leg.....slow and steady. Also, don't be afraid to just take a break....not feeling it, not feeling well, too many recent setbacks....sometimes it's necessary for the both of you to take a break.

    This would involve spending more money for maybe no result....but our mildly skittish but kind of spastic male is much more relaxed walking with a harness instead of a collar. We use a ruff wear harness. When we tried pheromone spray for our aggression problem with our female, it did nothing for her. However unexpectedly our male who is always independent and on alert became more cuddly and relaxed in general....may be worth a look.
    Post edited by oneluckymug at 2014-05-15 00:31:41
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
    @Joyce - All Creatures Behavioral Clinic in Kirkland is awesome. The main vet there actually owns a Shiba herself, so she's quite knowledgeable in that aspect, as far as the breed goes for their quirks and whatnot. I went there when Sagan was having shadow obsession and was able to resolve the problem within weeks, thanks to her.
    image
    Lauren, living with a 4 y/o Shiba named after a scientist. ☆
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
    I lived with an extremely fearful dog for all her life (she was put to sleep last summer at 8 after being bit by rattlesnake). It is very difficult, and while it gets better, it never really gets completely better, and she may never be a "normal" dog.

    I managed through it a variety of things, and while no one thing fixed the problem, the small things helped a bit.

    First, go to a vet who will try out anti-anxiety drugs with you. They are not actually that expensive, especially if you get them filled with generics at somewhere like Walmart. They can really do miracles if you get something that will work for your dogs. We tried prozac, valium and xanax. In our case (unusual), none worked for my dog, and she got very hyper on all of them, and somewhat aggressive too, and since she had serious aggression issues, this was not helpful (her reactions to drugs were very unusual though--even painkillers made her hyper). But it is worth a try as they can work with many dogs.

    If you can't find an anti-anxiety that works, you can try a variety of other things that may help a little, which together may add up to more. So while rescue remedy did little for us, a thunder shirt did more, and the DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) diffuser took a bit of the edge off too. So those three things together helped calm her a little. Melatonin works for some dogs. The behavioralist I saw said you'll either see results with melatonin right away or it won't work at all, so it's not something you have to keep trying and trying if you don't see any progress.

    I do think one of the big things with extremely fearful dogs is adapting your expectations. We could not get Bel calm enough with strangers that she was below threshhold and able to learn, so desensitizing her to strangers didn't really work. Instead, I finally realized I had to live with the dog she was. This meant I did not take her out places where she might encounter people. (Walks were fine, as long as it was not a busy place and we didn't stop to talk to people). She couldn't go to classes or to cafes, and if people visited, I let her hide. While she was somewhat more comfortable with strangers at home, I was not willing to let her be terrified by forcing her to meet people at home. I just let her decide if she wanted to see them or not. Usually, after a few hours, she'd come downstairs to check people out from a distance, and we left it at that. Bel never would take food from strangers, but sometimes, if a person had been over a lot, or if someone (like housesitters) stayed for a week or so, she'd warm up to people enough to be in the room with them anyway, and to allow someone to put a leash on her. But that's it.

    She didn't go many places, but she didn't enjoy going places, so I think she was ok. Maybe lowering your expectations for her will help? Just let her choose what she can do and not do? Don't force her to be in around people if it is too much for her, but let her choose her level of interaction.

    Of course, if you feel you can't live with her level of fearfulness, then you should rehome her, but the rehoming will be very hard on her as well. I guess it might be better to do it sooner, rather than later, though, if you reallly think you can't live with her, so she can start adapting to a new place now. But nine months isn't long in the life of a fearful dog, so I would think that at this stage, I'd talk to a vet about anti-anxiety drugs to see if that helps. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to desensitize her or get her to be social--you just want her to not be fearful in the home, and if that means less walks or at quieter times, that's ok.

  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    Thank you all so much for your input. I have contacted my vet and we will meet next week to discuss medications. And I agree with shibamistress, I need to lower my level of expectations. I think I can live with that and am certainly willing to try. She is a very sweet loving dog, just fearful of a lot of things and people. Maybe with the medication taking the edge off, I will be able to continue working with her and help her be more comfortable. She has really made remarkable progress since I brought her home nine months ago. Lots of little things, but they all add up.
  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    I met with my vet today. We are going to try another natural remedy. I'm hesitant about going to "hard drugs. She recommended Jung Tang Concentrated Shen Calmer. It's one capsule every 12 hours. I'll let you know how it works. I'm excited to try another natural remedy. But if it doesn't work, I'll move on to Prozac or something similar. I'm hoping to be able to socialize her more with the help of drugs. Since this is given on a regular basis I'm hoping it will be more effective than rescue remedy which works but only on a short term basis and usually by the time I realize there is a problem, it is to late for it to be effective. Does anyone one have experience with Shen Calmer?
  • omgtainomgtain
    Posts: 68
    Theres an animal behaviorist in Sumner (a lot closer than kirkland!) called Kathy Sdao, shes at the Sumner Animal Hospital. I've heard lots of good things about her.
    If you want to learn to manage it yourself, http://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/ has a class starting soon for Behavior Adjustment Training.
    image
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1257
    I have got a new trainer to work with Juni's problem of when we have guests, we are moving in a month's time so I figured maybe we can break her bad habits in the new place.
    She suggested the plug in Adaptil and a medicin called Serene UM Calm that raises the seratonine levels. Since Juni doesn't really have any other anxieties it was hard to notice the effect. But then I was asked to film her behaviour and I noticed she wasn't at all as intense as usual ( she chases or almost attacks people's feet) so I think it has been pretty useful. Adaptil I believe you can always use in combination with other drugs if you want to try it.
    Good luck with your girl!
  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    Mieko has been on Shen Calmer for two weeks now and I am noticing a difference. She is calmer, but does not seem to be sleeping more, which was a concern. I don't want to just dope her up. Now the real work begins. This week I am going to start by taking her to my neighbors house. And start exposing her to other people in a controlled setting. She does well with 3 or 4 of my friends, but when she sees anyone new she panics and pulls. It's a work in progress, but I'm excited about her calmer attitude.
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
    That's great news! Keep us posted about her progress! :)
  • JoyceJoyce
    Posts: 28
    Mieko has been on the shen calmer for two months now. She is much calmer and a lot more playful. She has always loved playing with her toys, but she now runs through the house playing with my other shiba. She still has a definite fear of people that she does not know, particularly when we are out on the bike trail or in a public place and I stop to talk to someone. But she is much more comfortable with neighbors. She will even go to them for pets. She does seem more comfortable with women and a little more fearful of men. I'm not sure she will ever get over her distrust and fear of people she does not know, but she is a happier dog. And I'm happy with that. I just have to accept her limitations.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8483
    Glad to hear the good update! :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • jennjenn
    Posts: 856
    Aw, yay, what a great update! Sounds like she's made huge strides in two months.
    Jenn, Shiba Slave to Rigby / http://hellorigby.com
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    That's great news! Never give up on training her to become more social. One of the dogs my family adopted when I was growing up was abused by the mother figure. So when we got this girl at 9 months, she was afraid of my mom and hid under the dresser until my dad came home. This went on for about a year. Little by little she started showing up downstairs, tempted by the sound of rice crackers. It took about three years to get rid of her fears and have her trust my mom completely, but when she started trusting, she became mom's delightful sidekick.

    As dogs become more confident about themselves, they are able to handle stress better. Mom's current dog, Taisho, was attacked by other dogs so he had a big fear of any dog. He would bark like crazy at every passing dog, whether he was in the house, in the yard, or on a walk. Just reassuring him it would be ok and trying to distract him when we saw another dog really helped keep him busy enough to overcome the passing of each dog. There were times, we would pull into someone's driveway and I would hold him to let the other dog pass. Day by day, walk by walk, and encounter by encounter, we work with him. He no longer barks at dogs on walks and chooses to ignore them if they bark at him. He does keep an eye on every single one of them, and I can see his body tense up as well as his breathing get heavier every time we see another dog. After the dog passes, you can see a sign of relief from his chest. The fears these dogs have is real. And it has to be dealt with slowly. No telling how well Taisho will get but he's come miles from when we first got him. His trust in us (that we will protect him) and his confidence are really helping lead the way to a happier dog. I hope you continue to see progress with your little girl.

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