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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Marley is sweet as can be during the day. We've had him a little over a year, he is 9 and was adopted from a family who felt they couldn't give him enough time. They'd raised him since puppyhood, but had kids after that and they felt he spent too much time in the yard.

I know goldens pretty well. I had another adopted golden with a few behavior issues. My ex is a veterinarian, and I've had goldens with him. I have taken Marley to several levels of training classes and he responds well. He'll sit, down, stay, leave it even with a treat an inch from his nose. He's good with everybody.

The problem is that he PACES. It starts when the sun goes down. He walks counter-clockwise in a circle in the living room, and he looks miserable. His head is down and when I say his name or try to distract him he doesn't raise his head, just looks at me out the corner of his eyes, and keeps pacing. This continues until about 10:00 at night.

Exercise doesn't make a difference. I've hired a neighbor to walk him for either a half hour or an hour every evening. He has some arthritis, and it's adequately treated so I don't think this is a pain issue. Sometimes, in fact, if he's seen a few other dogs on the walk (even across the street), he's much worse AFTER walking.

When he first came home with us, he was also very hyper for a senior, only in the evenings. He'd jump, paw my face, pant like crazy...really hard to watch, and really hard to live with. At his worst, I could hold a meaty bone under his nose, he'd sniff it, and keep pacing, just a bit faster.

We have tried many alternative treatments. Started with putting him in downstays and rewarding relaxed behavior. Made a "spot" for him to go to. Large doses of tryptophan sedate him for an hour or so. Eventually we put him on clomipramine, which brought him down a notch. He could be distracted with games or something to chew, but still essentially paced for 5 hours every evening.

After a trial of clomipramine, we switched to fluoxetine, and that helps a bit more. We have a routine: walk just as it gets dark. Feed (via a toy that keeps him busy for a half hour) after that. Later, a rawhide or peanut butter bone. That might take us to 7:30. I often leash him and put him in a downstay, give him lots of positive reinforcement, and he'll lie there and pant.

This is controlling my life. HELP. Any ideas? Has anyone had experience with this level of OCD in a golden?

Sorry so long and thanks in advance,
Sher
 

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I wish I had some advice for you! Maybe try a private session with a behavior expert? I'll be curious to see if anyone with more knowledge can chip in.
 

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I wonder if it could be more of a health issue than OCD. My golden Beau (since passed away) would always pace for hours after a seizure. Before Marley does his pacing does he do any laying and staring off in space not paying attention to anyone? I think I would have a vet do a full senior workup on him if you havent already. The pacing may also be a neurological issue.
 

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My older boy has a bunch of behavior (and likely compulsive, but not specifically diagnosed as such) issues and I really feel for you. It can be really overwhelming at times. We're okay for a while and thne for whatever reason it just gets rough...the last two weeks here have been driving me crazy.

it sounds like you've been working with a vet who has some experience with drugs for behavioral issues. Have you been given any specific behavior modification plans to be working with while he's on the drugs? Have drug dose changes/combinations been considered? It may be worth it to get your vet to consult with a vet behaviorist if you cannot visit with one.

Like suggested...it might be good to find the nearest vet neurologist..... ours ultimately had the bad news for our 7 years of problems... my boy's (very mild, very infrequent) seizures are most likely due to a small damage to the brain...and that's likely what is impacting his behavior.

On the positive side...at least it's just that period in the evening... I had a lot of that all day, every day, until we got a drug combination that sort of worked. It was really rough to get told "train him more! Get harsher with him! You're doing it wrong!" We would do the tons of training and tons of exercise without change....and I'm sure you're familiar wtih some of that!

My boy does some pacing, is distressed about being left alone, sometimes really can't let go of objects, works super hard to escape from any enclosure/room of the house, chews items until he's in a pile of slobber and nothing is left, plucks/licks hair off his legs... and my least favorite... barking. The other annoying one is stealing my food right out of my hands.... I've had people apologize for letting him do that, and it's usually followed by "I couldn't even get mad at him, it was so impressive!" I've bit down on air more than once as he's snatched food so fast. Of course there's been times where he missed the food and got my hand. Needless to say, I don't eat with him around... So...I can feel for you... the constant motion does drive me crazy! And esp. knowing he really can't help it and it's all the incorrect neurotransmitter amounts... makes it sad and I try to be empathetic. But It's really hard at times!

Have you tried crating him at these times? When my boy is really not doing well, he is better off crated in the car. I keep peeking on him, but being in a varikennel (semi solid plastic) crate in the car allows him to have more of a sound buffer, and not be able to see anything...so a lot less stimulation. But of course, that's a seasonal option and may not work well for your boy.

I find it interesting that the extended stays have worked for you... we never were able to get much duration until my dog's meds worked...and then he could/would stay no matter what. It was weird. If I would try to "Make" him stay at times when meds aren't going well...he gets incredibly frustrated and can be reactive.

I'm really interested in hearing about what you do and how it goes, please do keep us posted. Has his behavior changed since you've had him? did his previous owners keep him outside? Has he always done this? Can you list your state...it's super unlikely, but my boy is the same age...

Best of luck,
 

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I'm guessing there's no way to know what his 'routine' was with his old home? I'm sure you've considered if there's some sort of event that happened every evening with his old family that may be related?? If it's not medically related, it does sound like he's stress-fully expecting something to happen at that time every day, which may be hard to change if it's something that's happened for 9 years or so. It doesn't necessarily mean something bad happened, maybe something as simple as the neighbors let their dog outside and they visited through the fence every evening during those times, etc...if it's a case related to something like that, it sounds like you're doing the right thing by taking his mind off the routine he's expecting every night with the down stays, etc.
 

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I'm wondering if maybe he got put outside when it got dark and he's stressing over that. His former owner mentioned "Too much time in the yard". Also wondering if putting a leash on him and keeping him close to you or on the couch next to you might calm him.

I agree that a thorough check up is in order.

Sending hugs and prayers to you.
 

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Is there any opportunity to "casually" find out what his former owners did for him at around that time? Like maybe that was when they took him from the yard and crated him in a garage or ?. I think the idea of leashing him and keeping him near you might be helpful. I wonder if this was the time of night in his old family where the young kids had bedtime temper tantrums...and they stressed him out.

Maybe it's just a readjustment to a new home and he will ease out of some of this anxiety. I sure hope so- it's wonderful that you are being so patient with him!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your thoughtful replies. My understanding is that Marley was outside ALL the time, and the family was out with him to visit. I think he went into the garage at night. Now that I think about it, he doesn't pace if I leave him outside, but I'd never see him if he was outside all evening. I doubt his pacing is preceeded by anything like seizures, because they occur every day when it begins to get dark. We have had several things suggested by our trainer, and those work for as long as they last -- for example, his treat-dispensing toy works for about 30 minutes. I do sometimes leash him and keep him with me -- and that helps (before the meds, when I did that, he'd tie the leash in knots, trying to pace while by my side, poor guy!). He has had a typical medical workup, blood work, etc. We did scans on his lower back and hips to determine if a previous accident might be causing excessive pain (and he does take Rimadyl). My vet is researching possible drug changes. I can't believe I haven't tried crating him yet, that may be a simple next thing. As I said, though, I cannot spend more on this sweet dog's health and training than a family in the third world spends on a year of food. Hope that doesn't offend anyone, but I'm a single mom, a teacher, and I can't go way into debt for this guy. Please keep ideas coming. And thanks especially to RedDogs for understanding!
 

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Don't know if this would be helpful or not, but my angel Cody was getting canine cognitive dysfunction and would periodically have panic attacks, pace and dig at the floor. On the advice of an alternative medicine vet, I started giving him Cholodin. It's not billed as a cure, but it was for Cody. I got it at entirelypets.com, and it didn't break the bank because I bought in large quantities. I gave it to him twice a day. Fingers crossed that you find something that works for the poor guy...,,.
 

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Hi Sher,

As I was skimming the message, I instantly thought, "Hey, that sounds like the bob-tailed Golden," only to find out, it IS! Welcome to GRF! :)

Have you tried Dr. Sueda? She's the certified veterinary behaviorist in the So. Cal. area:


Name: Karen Sueda
Company VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital
Address c/o Animal Imaging; 1827 Pontius Avenue
City Los Angeles
State/Prov: CA
Zipcode 90025
Country: USA

Office Phone (310) 478-5035
Business E-mail: vcabehavior(at)gmail.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As I was skimming the message, I instantly thought, "Hey, that sounds like the bob-tailed Golden," only to find out, it IS! Welcome to GRF! :) >>

Hey Stephanie, I didn't realize that was YOU!

I tried to reach Dr. Sueda twice and never got a call returned. I need to call her again, I think she might be our next big hope. It's only money, right? Sigh.
 

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Glad you have a (semi-?) local vet behaviorist! Do you need a referral from your regular vet to get an appointment?

My only other immediate though would be about the food toys... have you tried rotating the type of food toy and/or modifying them to make it harder (...if the reason he leaves the toys after a period of time is because he's finished with it). We put other balls/toys in the food toys to make them more difficult.

Please do post updates,
 

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It sounds like you are doing excellent work with this dog already, and that he is very lucky to be with you. How about teaching him the command "Settle" on a mat, towel, or dog bed all his own You could use a tether/ leash at first, and just start with ten minutes, and increase the time slowly. I like that he gets exersise right before dark, and maybe he could have some basic obedience time too with some sits/ down/ stand/ stay. heel to focus his brain? Then, the Settle command could be the end to each night's training session- lots of treats and praise. . .
 

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Have you tried taking him for a walk when he starts. I'm just thinking that you need to really break the routine. When it starts, get him out of the house and do something that is totally different. Instead of exercising him before the sun sets, take a twilight walk or depending on whats available, a swim, class go to PetsMart or someplace social. Anything totally new and different to snap him out of the routine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Small Victory?

Have you tried taking him for a walk when he starts. I'm just thinking that you need to really break the routine. When it starts, get him out of the house and do something that is totally different. Instead of exercising him before the sun sets, take a twilight walk or depending on whats available, a swim, class go to PetsMart or someplace social. Anything totally new and different to snap him out of the routine.
I think those are effective ideas. For quite a while I did that -- went to Starbucks at pacing time, went to the pet store, went to the local sporting goods store -- eventually, though, I got tired of going places just because my dog was driving me crazy. I feel like a bad mom for saying that -- well, I take it back, I don't REALLY feel bad. :) I mean, I wouldn't do that for a two year old child, yk?

I've been using tryptophan and I think it may be the first thing that shows real promise. We got home from a walk about a half hour ago, he stayed in the front yard with our visiting golden, and now they're both inside lying down.....truly the VERY first time I can remember him lying calmly at this hour.....fingers crossed....even if it's a one-time fluke, I'll take it!

Also left a message for Dr Sueda today.
 

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I'd keept he visiting golden around for awhile, sounds like he is a good influence. Hope the tryptophan works for him. Good-luck let us know how he's doing.

What we won't do for our dogs. :)
 
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