Anxiety - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Hi! I’m new here. My name is Amy and we have a 10 month old golden. We got him from a breeder in Florida and found out FAR too late that she is not reputable. I am ashamed of myself for not doing more research. Anyway, pretty much from day one he’s had anxiety. It manifested originally as throwing up on car trips. He can not tolerate taking walks. He’s simply terrified. We can’t have people over to the house because he’s so nervous that this has started to display as growling and inappropriate behavior toward guests. My kids can’t have friends over. I am trying to work on conditioning him to getting better with walks by taking him out on a walk each day, but not pushing him about it and letting him go back in when he gets to where he is not comfortable. BUT our neighbors have three little children that play in the yard and he is even afraid of them and as soon as I open the door to go out he pulls the leash really hard to bark and posture at them. They are terrified and run inside the moment they see us. I am MORTIFIED that children are terrified of my dog. We’ve had a trainer coming regularly to the house to help with some obedience issues. He started Prozac two weeks ago. So that isn’t in full effect yet. He takes composure every day. We also have adaptil. I just want to cry all the time. They even had to muzzle him at the vet to examine him. Maybe this was mainly a venting post, but just wondering if anyone has any thoughts or others ideas. I’m really lost here. I really can’t consider giving him up but on the other hand I do not want a nervous aggressive unpredictable dog. I am so upset. I’m just looking for any thoughts from people who may have experienced dog anxiety
P.s. we did try to socialize him as best we could when he was a puppy. My kids had friends over many times, he went to the pet smart puppy class, we went to the dog park, tried repeatedly to walk him...
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 06:58 PM
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See if you can find a good obedience training group, petsmart/petco classes aren't worth the time or cost. You need someone with experience to help work with you on real training. I'm so sorry for all of you, it's heartbreaking but there are no easy answers.
#1 stay out of the dog park!!!
#2 take a group class / do your homework
#3 get a crate and set a schedule, consistent schedule helps
#4 train daily - have your pup work for his meals.
#5 I would not try and take on walks right now, it's too overwhelming for an unstable pup.
Build confidence and give this pup a safe place to be... his own yard / crate.
#6 Put this pup up when kids or visitors are around (crate in a quiet place).
Best way to avoid stress on this pup is to remove from the situation until it can handle it. This is going to take a while but at this age it may be possible to manage and work past it but start taking classes so they can help you learn how to react / respond and teach a dog like this. This isn't going to happen overnight and going to take a great deal of patience.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 07:01 PM
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I used this book with my reactive bridge boy. It helped alot but you gotta work the program.

Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®, The Book

Hecate's Hellhound, Gypsy Magic - "Gypsy"
2/15 - Present
Hi-Tide's Danger Scone, CGC - "Lana"
6/18 - Present
Waiting at the bridge:
Hecate's Hellhound, Bearer of Mischief, CGC - "Bear"
8/12 - 7/17
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 08:06 PM
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Do you have any force free or positive training facilities or private trainers specializing? Ask your local golden retriever club. I think taking a few steps back to fundamentals and building trust with positive training might be what he needs.
Good luck with your boy.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. We did take him to the pet smart thing when he was young really only for the socializing knowing that the training wasn’t anything to be excited about. Since then we have had a private trainer coming to the house every other week. She only works with positive reinforcement and I follow her guidance. Obedience wise he’s doing a lot better but his anxiety part seems to be growing unfortunately.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 10:08 PM
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Sounds like an issue that is beyond your average obedience trainer. I would look into a behavior consultant/behaviorist through and see if there is someone near you. Worst case you could find someone who does online consults. The book mentioned above is also great but like was said above it will take a lot of consistent work to be effective. If you can’t find someone near you send me a PM and I’ll reach out to some contacts I have in the dog training/behavioral consultant world.

It does not sound like an obedience issue but an anxiety and confidence issue which will lead to various manifestations that may be seen as nuisance and/or aggressive behaviors. Most trainers are not versed in those types of issues.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 11:01 PM
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In some cases crating dogs which have phobias is a very bad idea and can make the problem worse . There are dogs with phobias who even injure themselves in the crate because they feel more confined.
Have you had any bloodwork done on him ? adrenal glands,thyroid?
Please note that high protein diets also have been associated to to behavioral problems .

Above all, you are MORTIFIED when he is fearful. I know what you mean and go through most of the time with some rescue dogs. However, you shall be very very calm.Maybe those little kids annoy you also suddenly screaming and your dog feels it to. My dogs they mimic me. They even get anxious before I get mad at some weird sounds around the home. Most probably, my body language gives a clue. Even the way I breath.

However, let's have a blood test on him. YOu do not have to give him up.
Also, arrange in such a way that FIRST you two go out to the garden with your dog and then tell the children to come one by one in a very calm way. They shall come one by one being silent , walking & sitting around not bothering about your dog ( each for 15 min). Than the second one and so on. The children shall perceive it as a game as well. Ignoring the dog. Also tell them to leave a couple of treats around . Your dog shall see that they leave the treat for him. Even from far. Here you need to use your imagination and create a both relaxing &fun environment for the dog.
All will go well as long as you all have fun.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all! I really do appreciate the responses. I’m going to reach out to a behaviorist. I believe we have one in our area. I will keep you updated on how it goes. I do app the pointers.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 01:58 PM
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Our 9 month old Zeke is in the same boat with inherited anxiety and fear issues... He would be fine one minute and completely jumping and mouthy the next. We've had goldens for almost 40 years and it was still horrible trying to figure out what was going on even with him responding with fear to random things. When he started licking, chewing, and pulling his hair out we thought he may have allergies like Ike did but he passed his exams with flying colors and is completely healthy. After two obedience classes (positive reinforcement ONLY), speaking with our trainers (two of the three are also Vet Techs) and our Vet who is also a golden owner, lover, and fanatic they all told us that training and meds have to be used in combination because one or the other won't work alone.

I've done a ton of research and with our Vet's recommendation we're giving him Clomipramine as he wants to keep from giving Prozac or Xanax unless we absolutely have to and then only for events that we know are going to trigger him. We've been on the clomipramine for about two weeks and can see that he's much happier and settling in to be the normal bright, golden puppy that can be energetic one moment and settled and all snuggles the next. Before the meds we found fairly good results with an Adaptil plugin and soothing music for in the house but only to a point. We got fairly good results for a while with a combination of natural supplements but they only helped so much and it became clear that meds were the only option to combine with his training and our easing him into situations.

The hope is that once he neuters Zeke that we'll be able to ease the dosage down some and then hopefully again as he settles into adulthood like they tend to do around 2yrs old. I fully trust our Vet who not only being a golden person himself but also believes in using as little medication as possible...

Whichever meds you use for your case do some research to make sure that you're not going to have interactions with any others. The clomipramine for example has known interactions with some topical flea and tick meds but Zeke is on Sentinel and Bravecto which aren't a problem.

The biggest thing that I can say is just to be patient and persistent... Things will get better... After only a week and a half on the meds we took Zeke on a three day road trip last week and stayed in two hotels and he did wonderfully... A week and a half before that without meds and we were at our wits end and felt hopelessly like he would never get any better. Now we know that it's going to be a process but that things will improve.

Check out americangoldenzeke on Instagram

Ezekiel "Zeke" Jan,2019 - | Isaac "Ike" Nov,2005 - April,2018 | Zacharias "Zach" Mar,1991 - May,2001 | Samuel "Sam" Jan,1979 - Sept,1990
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your advice. We did start Prozac and have definitely seen some improvement with him. He definitely has a way to go, but at least we had some positive steps forward. We took him to the vet for a checkup and he actually walked up to her and wagged his tail.
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