Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Archive for February, 2013

How To Treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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I just adopted a golden who was the “mother” of a backyard breeder.?

She is scared to death and hiding out in my bedroom in the corner. She is attached to this other dog, who was the “father”. This other dog “Toni” is just fine, happy, eats well, takes walks well, etc. She is a nervous wreck.
Apart from being patient and feeding her well, what can I do?
She acts like she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, poor thing.
Anybody have any ideas?

I posted this in response to another question earlier. The same techniques could work for you. (Please for give the fact that I used “he” instead of she…I didn’t feel like going back and changing it.)

You might do well to call your vet and ask for a referral to a trainer or behaviourist. An adult dog with these issues will probably need more help that you can give on your own. They may even suggest medications, like paxil or acepromazine, to help calm her down. (I’m not a huge fan of drugs, but sometimes a little SSRI intervention is necessary.)

Kudos for rescuing these dogs.
___________________________________

Here’s what I’ve done with two rescue dogs who were like this:

1. Let the dog have his space. If you can, provide him with a quiet, safe place like a crate or a bathroom, where he can have his water, safe toys, some kind of bed, and maybe a pee pad if you can’t pick him up to take him outside.

2. Get a clicker (like, 99 cents at the pet supply store) or a clicking pen if you think a quiet sound would be better and some really yummy treats (little hot dog pieces, tiny cheese bits, garlic chicken).

3. Sit down in an area close to the pup, but not in a position that would make him feel trapped or cornered. (i.e: make sure he has an escape route if he thinks he needs it.)

4. Click the clicker or pen, and immediately slowly/gently toss a treat toward him. Let him eat it, and do it again. Repeat this10-25 times, and then give him a break. Wait a few hours and do it again. He is ready to go to the next step when he looks alert for a treat whenever you click.

5. Quietly sit down and watch the pup sometime when he is awake and a little active. When he makes *any* movement toward you, or even looks at you, click and treat. Do this in short sessions several times a day. He should soon start to approach you.

6. Once the pup will come close to you, hold a pile of treats in your hand and place the back of your hand on the floor so your palm is flat. Be very still and let him come up and take the treats. Once he will eat from your hand, start placing the treats there whenever you click, instead of tossing them to him (if it is for a behaviour that occurs close to you).

7. Progress to some light handling. Usually, dogs are less threatened if you move slowly and try to pet their chin/chest rather than the top of the head. Click and treat for any brief moment when the pup lets you touch him, or even lets you put your hands close to him.

8. Once he will let you pet him a little, try to engage him in some play or to at least explore the house, possibly wearing a collar and leash so you can take him outside or lead him around the house.

Tips:

-If he’s frightened by the noise, put the clicker in your pocket to muffle it.

-You can use dry dogfood as treats, but if he isn’t eating it now, don’t expect him to get excited about it for training. Real food and stinky stuff (like hot dogs) will work much better.

-Try to keep sessions short and positive. 1 minute or less if he’s really scared, 5 minutes if he’s starting to warm up. If things aren’t going well, just walk away and try again later. If you’ve had some success, end the session–you want to end on a high note.

-Try to keep things quiet at first. Slow movements and a calm environment are less intimidating. You can add distractions and noise as he learns to trust you.

-Put on some soft music. Classical is good (but avoid squaky violins!) or try some soothing “elevator” music, with or without vocals.

-Call your vet and ask for a recommendation to a reputable trainer or behaviourist. When you pup starts to trust you, he will need to start working on socialization with new people, sights, sounds and animals. A good, positive-methods trainer will help tremendously.

TEDxUSC- Marilyn Flynn & Skip Rizzo – Treating Post Traumatic Stress with Virtual Reality

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