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PetPlace.com Blogs: Dream Dog

By: Jen J.

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Finn Returns Home

Finn spent his first two days back home sleeping. He'd wake up just long enough to eat and then fall right back to sleep. He was one tired boy! He didn't even have enough energy to do his normal avoidance tactics when people came around. After his two day rest period he was showing improvement. We got him a gentle leader collar and he was doing well on his walks. He didn't pull nearly as much and was showing some signs of confidence. Unfortunately that all ended when we encountered a wood chipper while on a walk one day. We were just one house away from our home when the man operating the machine turned it on. It was very loud and Finnegan freaked out. He had to be carried back home and hasn't been the same since. It is a battle to get him out of the house to go to the bathroom. He constantly pulls on his lead and tries to get back to the house. I have started to just walk him around the backyard instead of out in the neighborhood. He does better there but it's still tough to even get him outside. Most dogs that I've known get so excited to go on a walk that you can't even say the word "walk" without them going crazy. I'm in over my head with this guy so I will be taking him to the behaviorist this week for some help.

A Visit to the Behaviorist

We met with the behaviorist for about an hour. She labeled Finn "globally fearful" with the possibility of also having Separation Anxiety. She is suspecting Separation Anxiety because when left home alone in his crate he barks and has also pooped in it. He doesn't do either of these when I'm home with him. It's funny that a dog that seems so afraid of people could also have Separation Anxiety. He's "globally" fearful because he's afraid of noises and people as well as crossing thresholds, going outside, etc....

Because he is too fearful to take treats when around other people he has been very hard to train. She thinks that Prozac will help reduce his anxiety so that I can begin working on training and behavior modification with him. Hopefully he will respond well to the medication and won't need to be on it for long. I took Finnegan to the vet yesterday to have bloodwork done. They needed to check his kidneys and liver before they could prescribe the medication. The vet said that his organs were functioning well and she wrote the prescription for me. He was such a good boy while having his blood drawn. He hated the waiting room, though. He just cowered and panted the whole time.

I'm worried that putting him on medication might not be the best thing for him so I'm going to do a little more research before I fill the prescription. I just want him to be happy. Right now he doesn't even seem to be comfortable in his own skin. I have one month before school starts and I have to go back to work. I think that I'm going to have my work cut out for me!

To Medicate or Not to Medicate

I just wasn't feeling right about putting Finnegan on the Prozac so I spoke with another behaviorist and she didn't think that I should put Finn on the medication. Her recommendation was to have him stay with her for 10 days. He would be living in her house with her husband, kids and dogs. Her feeling is that she can break him out of his shell in this environment. I initially decided to do go with her plan because this behaviorist came highly recommended. A friend of mine said that she has seen her change a dog that cowers form fear in the back of a crate into a dog that will greet visitors at the front door. That's exactly what I'd like to see happen with Finnegan.

As hard as it was going to be to hand him over to someone else for ten days, I was ready to try it. But, then he started to show small improvements. I used to have to drag him outside to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden he started to stand by the backdoor when he has to go to the bathroom. That's huge progress for him! He's also starting to sniff around the house and play with his toys so that is good to see.

I called the behaviorist today and she was thrilled to hear Finnegan's progress. We both agree to give him some more time at home with me and see if he still shows progress. Hey, at this rate we might actually be able to go out on a walk in the neighborhood soon!

No Prozac for the Puppy

I have not put Finn on the Prozac because he has been showing signs of progress. However, he did start an annoying little habit of staying up all night long and pacing around the room. I don't crate him anymore for three reasons: he's a restless sleeper and was so noisy banging around in the crate every time he shifted, he had some issues of pooping in his crate, and he tended to want to hide in his crate all day long. So, at night he has access to my bedroom and the hallway only.

Last week he started waking up around 2 a.m. and pacing back and forth. The first night I thought he had to go to the bathroom so at 2 a.m. I took him out...he didn't go. Again at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. I took him out...still nothing. I didn't know what to do! The next few nights I tried to just ignore him but got no sleep because his nails made such a loud clicking noise as he paced back and forth on the hardwood floors. Plus, he would put his two front paws up on my bed to try to get my attention. Finally, after five straight nights of no sleep it dawned on me that he was probably up all night because he's not getting enough exercise. He hasn't been on a walk in about two weeks because I decided they were too traumatic for him right now. When we go out in the yard he does his business and usually wants to come in right away. All day long he would find a remote corner of the house and sleep. The guy was getting zero exercise.

O.K. so now I figured out the cause but didn't know how to solve it since dragging him around the neighborhood by the throat was out of the question and would have given me more exercise than him!!! Doing an online search I found a really good support group of Wheaten Terrier owners. A few of them even have Wheatens that were rescued from puppy mills and were very fearful when they got them. The advice that I've gotten from them has helped tremendously. If I had found them before I went to the behaviorists I would have saved myself a lot of money!

It was so good to talk to people who have Wheatens just like Finnegan. They are the first people that can truly relate to what we are going through. The first thing that was suggested is that I tether him to me when we are home together in the house. After just one day of doing this I began to see a difference. With tethering he is forced to go anywhere I go in the house. He can't hide and sleep away his day and I've been pretty busy so just about the time he'd lay down and get comfortable I'd have him up and moving again. Not only does he sleep through the night now, he is also more responsive to me when he's not tethered to me. When I ask him to "come here" he may not make it all the way to me but he usually gets up and starts to walk toward me. He never did that before. Instead of putting his paws up on my bed in the middle of the night he now waits until morning. The last few days I've heard him starting to make noise around 6 a.m. but he's been good about not coming up to my bed and licking me until I "invite" him with an enthusiastic "good morning". His adorable little face looks so happy when I wake up, he puts his paws on the bed so our faces are on the same level, his tail starts to wag like a helicopter and he licks my arms and hands all over and I love every minute of it. He is such a good boy!

Now, if I could only get him to go on walks!

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