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Everything posted by Merlin_le_chien

  1. Hello, I'm feeling discouraged and need to hear your encouraging stories about difficult reactive OCD dogs. :-( We adopted Merlin a year ago. He was 3 years old and had been given to a shelter by his previous owner. We know very little about his life before: he was with the same owner for 3 years until he moved in with his girlfriend, who had "a little dog", the two of them didn't get along well and they decided to give Merlin. He was with 2 different foster families for 2 months until we adopted him. Since the beginning, we noticed Merlin was very anxious and fearful. He had this spinning behavior and obsession with the neighbor's cat that worried us and he was not interested in toys or in playing games. We did a 2-week test before officially adopting Merlin and I remember sitting on the floor and crying one day because I already loved him, but I wondered whether we should return him and try to find a "normal" dog. Of course, we ended up keeping him. Time passed and nothing changed much. Merlin was an anxious, fearful dog who had very little interest in us. I assume he was raised as an "object" and had very little attention from his former owner, never learned how to play with humans, never learned to have fun with toys or games or tricks. We first tried going to a group obedience class, thinking it would help him learn new things and bond with us, but it was a disaster. We knew very little about the different training techniques and the "no violence" method this trainer offered turned out to be pretty violent, with choking collars and scaring the dog to respect you. It didn't help Merlin at all. We finally found a positive reinforcement professional and we tried a few training techniques. But Merlin is not very crazy about food and treats, so we have a hard time making progress. We tried several natural aids to help him calm down, with no or very little success. We ended up asking a veterinarian to give us something to help him. He made a lot of progress with fluoxetine (calmer, fewer spins, no more shut downs, more interest in us) but with time he started developing a reactivity with other dogs on the street (barking and snapping). We finally had an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist, that diagnosed Merlin with OCD and did not discard neurological problems (due to his pretty intense shut downs). She changed the drug from fluoxetine to fluvoxamine to see if it could help with the reactivity. She said he could have adverse reactions during 5 days or so (like more anxiety). Since day 2 he was at already 10x more anxious, restarted old behaviors like the spinning and shut downs (which had been gone for a couple months with the fluoxetine) and started having terrible panic attacks whenever we went for a walk. By panic attack I mean barking non-stop and spinning and pulling on the leash for no obvious reason (no dog, no cat, no person, no car: nothing). The vet told us to try for a few more days, so he was on fluvoxamine for 10 days. The next step would be to wait 1 week and then try another drug (Clomicalm). And this is where we are now. It's been 5 days we stopped the fluvoxamine and no sign of Merlin getting back to normal. I'm starting to lose hope he will ever stop those panic attacks on the street. We need to go for walks for his pee/poo needs, so we have to live with that for the moment. Sorry for the long text, but I needed to get it off my chest. :-( I would love to hear your stories of difficult dogs that eventually got better with the help of drugs and/or time, patience and love. Thanks!
  2. Hello again! Thanks a lot for the nice messages! It's *very* reassuring to read that it can take him longer to get used to us and to show his real character. And it's also a relief to read that I can (and should) relax for now. I've been torn between wanting to relax and just letting Merlin be, and on the other hand feeling a pressure for doing something and not letting him get used to the behaviors we want (and need) to correct so badly. It's been pretty overwhelming for me, and I guess for him too. He is my first BC and I did some research before deciding to adopt him. I was ready for so many "problems" you read about having a BC, but I wasn't ready for this constant obsession and a dog that has no interest in us. I had this image of a dog that would be constantly asking for action, play and attention. But I get the opposite: a dog that is very little interested in what we can offer him. This is quite frustrating... Last weekend, because Merlin had been showing less signs of obsession, we relaxed and let him stay in the balcony for hours, most of it on its own. Big mistake, I can see it now. :-( He became more hyper than ever... We've been keeping the balcony door shut most of the time since yesterday, except for a few times when we let him go out as a treat for doing something good, and he stays outside just for a few seconds and then we call him back in and shut the door again. He looks at us as if he despises us, but he will get used to it. Autumn is starting to show its colors and we live in Montreal, Canada, so soon it will be too cold to spend time outside anyway. We wonder whether the long months of winter when he will not be allowed to go outside will do him good or not... The hard thing about relaxing and letting be, is that he keeps going back to that balcony door, even when it's closed, to take a look outside. It's hard to get him focused on us. When we praise him, he instantly thinks that means we're going to open the door as a reward. We'll try to spend more quality time with him (curtains closed) and try more silly tricks, so there will be way less pressure on him (and on us!). Hopefully he will get over that door and understand that that are other interesting things inside. I'll keep reading the forum for more experiences. Thanks again SO MUCH for all the comments. I hope to be able to pay back one day when I have enough BC experience... :-)
  3. Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for the nice words and advice. This is really a great forum! :-) We do hope the fact that he's not yet crazy about us will change with time. We see some improvement and we want to give him time to get used to us. Any ideas on how long it can take a dog to get used to new owners? Tough question, I guess it depends on too many things... And the fact that we don't know much about the first 3 years of his life doesn't help much. :-/ We have enrolled Merlin in an obedience class, we've been to 3 out of 4 classes now. It has helped us to understand more about the best way to train him, but he was already able to do sit, down and stay. We are still struggling with "heel" when outside. The "come" works when we're home, but not at all when we're out for a walk. I like the idea of agility classes to create a bond, but haven't found any close to where we live. We'll have to look for it again. As for the balcony obsession, I did some research on OCD, but it's hard to tell whether he has it. I see it as a kind of addiction, and that's why I want so hard to find something else - anything else - that he can take as a job. The worst thing is, I don't even think he's happy when he's outside. He often has his tail between the legs, even when nothing is going on and he just keeps staring... :-( I have to admit I often use the balcony as a treat to teach him some good behaviors (sit and wait, walk slowly beside me, etc) and it works like a charm. He now patiently walks very slowly across the living room and patiently waits while we open the door until we tell him it's ok to go outside. This is tremendous progress for him! We've had some improvement with calling back in when I started to offer cheese and turkey breast. He now comes back in 75% of times when called, but is desperate to go back outside again. He comes in, sits or shakes as commanded very quickly, swallow the treat and run back outside. As Blackdawgs said, this is a process, so I guess we have to be patient. Just the fact that he comes back in and has some interest in us is also tremendous progress. :-) Thanks again for the messages! We'll stay positive and we'll keep working with him... Julia PS - Here's a pic of Merlin staring at a cat. Yes, he even forgets to keep his tongue in his mouth... ;-)
  4. This is my first post in the forum and I need some advice. We adopted a 3-year old blue merle border collie about 6 weeks ago. He's a great dog, but is overly obsessed with going outside - we have a big balcony in the back from where he can see our backyard and the neighbors' cats that come and go, and we also hear/see the neighbors enjoying their own backyards. He has elected this as his job: to observe any movement coming from the backyard. He doesn't bark or anything, he just stares obsessively, doesn't move, listen or react to anything we do (calling, whistling, loud sounds... nothing!). He's basically just a statue when he's out there. :-( If we don't let him go outside, he hides under a desk and just looks miserable and depressive. It feels like he's upset and doesn't like us anymore. He can do basic commands like sit and down, and we have recently taught him to shake. But he needs real interesting food as motivation or needs to think we're going to open the balcony door to obey. He doesn't care for balls or toys, he eventually gets them, but only for a few seconds and then ignores them. We go for 2 or 3 long walks every day, but he's not interested in other activities like chasing us or playing outside. He is not very interested in us either, which we think will come with time, when he learns to trust and love us after being abandoned by his former owner. We understand he's still adapting to us and his new life. We also understand the breed-specific interest about cats and herding. But we want to get him interested in other things and make him discover a new job and new interests. Does anyone have any tips? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks! PS - Here's our Merlin! :-)
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