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Dog with an old Brain Injury

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Shonnie Shonnie NSW Posts: 237
1 7 Aug 2011
My whippet X has an acquired brain injury from when he was 8 weeks old from being abused he is now 3 years old but throughout his life I have had many issues with his behaviour. He is aggressive toward livestock and, in the heat of the moment, people but more concerning is his apparent OCD and separation anxiety like symptoms (if dogs can get OCD!). He is always running or walking in a circle, this includes going for walks or in his dog pen. Even when I am standing still with his lead he will walk in circles around my ankles. But it has now gotten to the stage because he is always on the move he is in an emaciated condition. He is getting triple the amount of dog food recommended and is wearing a dog rug but I just can't get the weight on him! I have tried Clomicalm prescribed by the vet but had no results and also the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to no avail. Any ideas? He is going back to the vet on Tuesday and I am hoping that maybe there is some sort of sedative out there that could settle him down just long enough for him to get some rest a few hours a day. He has always been like this since I got him but the weight has never dropped so far down, he's never been a fat dog, more so on the lean side but never this thin sad I'm so worried about him sad
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KittyLover KittyLover VIC Posts: 281
2 7 Aug 2011
That is so sad, Poor dog sad

There is a Pheromone called DAP, While I've never used it for my dogs, I have used the cat equivilent, Feliway. It worked well for the cats.

http://www.bowhouse.com.au/p/591819/dap---dog-appeasing-pheromone-.html
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Pinkhotstar Pinkhotstar QLD Posts: 163
3 8 Aug 2011
I'm sorry to hear about your little baby. Yeah I have never found Clomicalm or DAP to be of much use. You could try an animal behaviourist, although I don't know how successful behaviour modification would work with an animal that has a brain injury. You could try, and it would be oh so tedious, but basically trying to focus his attention away from what he is doing. Like for example, if you're there with him, have a handful of treats, and each time he starts circling or whatever, get his attention with those. Like if you see he is about to start make a noise or call him- just focus his attention away from what he is going to do, when he responds to you, give him a treat. If this was to work at all, which seeing how this behaviour is a result of his brain injury, it may not. But, if it was going to work, it would have to be something that you are around with him, practically 24/7 to start with, just to get him out of the habit. You could also try distracting his attention with other things, like changing where you both are- walking to another room, calling him up for hugs. Another thing is, if there are things that set him off, try and avoid doing them, and if there are things or times that he doesn't do this, try and steer towards those activities, basically reinforce good behaviour and don't set him up to fail by letting him get into a situation where you know he will respond with the wrong behaviour. But those are just the basics of it, if you have a good vet, ask them to recommend a good animal behaviourist. But be warned last time I checked, a session with an animal behaviourist will be $200 upwards, but then that cost usually includes some sort of follow up, free or at reduced prices. Anyway if your vet doesn't have the name of a good one, give me a yell and I'll see if I can hook you up with someone if you want to go down this path. Oh and I would probably stay away from "animal behaviourists" such as bark busters. You want a proper, dedicated,expert in the field, someone who has done their PhD in animal behaviour. Fingers crossed something helps you guys.
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Pinkhotstar Pinkhotstar QLD Posts: 163
4 8 Aug 2011
Oh and another thing, when you are walking him and he tries to circle, have him at your side, and as soon as he goes to circle, change direction, and just keep doing that as you walk, for example, you're walking down one side of the road field whatever, as soon as you think he is going to circle, turn and walk towards your right, then as he goes again, zigzag back to the other side, you will end up walking 20k's in the real length of a k, but that's another trick to avoid pulling and undesirable behaviour. I would probably walk the opposite direction to what he was going to go, so if he was going to circle to his right, go left. And I noticed when I reread your thing, you said dog pen. What does that mean and why is he in a dog pen? And the thing about his aggression, for the moment, I would be avoiding putting him near livestock, your just setting him up to fail, and the same goes for humans. If there is something that a person does that will agitate him, DO NOT DO IT. For example, if you know asking him to get off the couch or take a toy off him will cause a confrontation, do not directly ask him to do that. Try to focus his attention away from couch, toy whatever, by getting a bit excited and going 'oohh lets go outside' or for a walk, or do you want a treat, basically give him a reason to stop doing what it is that is going to cause the confrontation and replace his attention with a positive. And if you do "push his buttons" and a confrontation ensues, just walk away. Don't run away scared, that sends the wrong message and will heighten the dogs fear, just calmly busy yourself with something else till he calms down. And do not stare at him, trying to dominate by glaring at them only makes them worse. I know in the past they have always said we have to dominate the animal, but animal behaviour is moving away from that theory, now it is all about knowing your pet, knowing what sets them off and not putting them into a position to fail.
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Shonnie Shonnie NSW Posts: 237
5 8 Aug 2011
I shouldn't say pen it's a yard but we live on a farm with stock and unless he is on the lead he can't be out of the yard. I have a policy that if a dog is a stock killer it has to go and unfortunately Laz has attacked stock and roos and he has one last chance. I'm sorry but on a farm with children that's how it has to be.

I'm working on relocating him (and myself) down to my grandmothers where I can spend more time with him and do some of the training you have suggested. But unfortunately I work part time and am at uni part time and therefore have very little time at home but I am determined to give it one last chance.

But I am at the stage where for three years Laz has lived in a world of hurt (not physical but mental) caused by this brain injury that maybe its come to the time where for him it's just not humane for him to keep going on like he is. He needs someone who will be with him 24hrs a day 7 days a week, but how can I put such a responsibility onto someone else like that? And who would there be that has that sort of time, patience and experience to deal with a mentally disabled and aggressive dog? Please don't read this the wrong way I am in tears and have been all night about it and I will give it one more go but I am at the end of the road...
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Pinkhotstar Pinkhotstar QLD Posts: 163
6 8 Aug 2011
I have no problem taking an animal with issues, be it mental or medical. If you do want to go down the path of finding him a new home let me know, and I'll talk to the family, can't promise a straight away yes there, but I thought that about the last dog I rescued from work, and a yes was said straight away. So you never know if you never ask. There is always someone home here, and I've had experience in dealing with aggression, so I am not phased by that aspect, only aggression towards other animals as I have to consider the welfare of my four legged kids that I already have. I would want to know in more detail the problems you are having, before I said yes. But let me know if you are trying to rehome him. Otherwise, good luck with everything, I hope you find a solution.
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Shonnie Shonnie NSW Posts: 237
7 8 Aug 2011
Thankyou, Pinkhotstar. He's all booked in for the vet tomorrow and I'll see what he says. If there is a medical solution be it sedatives or other treatments I could keep him but if it's going to be 24hr round the clock training I'll have to move him on, because there is just no way that it is fair on him with the hours I work and study.

Please bear in mind if you are interested in maybe re-homing him that he is a lot of work. He can not be toilet trained (I have tried for years), has little obedience training (he sits and that's about it), he will chase stock, which includes roos, sheep and horses and he has been aggressive to the Golden Retriever that he lives with but that was over food. He has also snapped at people in the heat of the moment if he has been chasing stock. And besides that he does not keep weight very well and is covered in sores from rubbing up against the fence when he spins.

It is a huge responsibility and one that can not be taken on lightly sad I did not know his problems were so deeply ingrained when I bought him at 10 weeks and over the years they have grown steadily worse.

I was given this link to read of another forum, it's something you should consider also: http://www.btneuro.org/?page_id=39

Thankyou everyone for your help.
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Pinkhotstar Pinkhotstar QLD Posts: 163
8 8 Aug 2011
Thanks for that link, I'll have a read of shortly. Good luck at the vet, and I am too aware of how much work would be involved. I used to be a vet nurse in ICU/emergency. My trolls have their own issues and nothing that you've said so far phases me. One of my dogs never got the memo about toilet training either, so I am used to cleaning up accidents if I have got distracted and not taken them outside when I know she is due to pee. If the aggression to the other dog was over food and that was the only time, then that's not a problem, my kids get fed while I watch them and then bowls removed, because we have issues with sharing our foods with each other as well, hehe. Our backyard is completely secure, the dogs cannot get to horses or chickens, unless the chickens decide its time to play chicken with the dogs and hop over the fence. Thank god that only happens once in a blue moon. Basically our dogs and cats live inside with us, if I am on the couch, they are on me and couch, if I go outside they go outside. When I am not at home there is always someone else around. But as I said I will need to talk to the fam about this, so if you decide you need to rehome, let me know. And if you don't, let me know what the vet has to say tomorrow. Good luck.
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Shonnie Shonnie NSW Posts: 237
9 9 Aug 2011
Not good news vet doesn't think the weight loss is related to his brain injury he is looking at renal or kidney failure best possible scenario we're hoping for diabetes
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