Helping dogs to be brave, Another vet visit.

August 4, 2012 at 1:31 am 18 comments

I am subscribed to the posts on the Functional Rewards (BAT) Yahoo group and I really love some of the wisdom I find on here.

This question recently came up in the group:

if the dog shows a calming signal and you move the dog away, doesn’t that mean that you are afraid of the situation too cause you are moving away? a trainer told me to just go pass the person or dog to show that it does not bother you so the dog will think no big deal either.

Two responses below. First by Jude:

Moving away from a scary thing is a perfectly normal thing to do.  If the dog knows that s/he can always retreat, the scary thing becomes no big deal and eventually loses its charge – exactly your goal!

However, if the dog knows s/he must go near it, then it remains a source of concern.  Imagine being afraid of a poisonous snake hanging from a tree branch outside your front door and knowing that you can easily avoid it by using the side door vs. knowing that you must pass close to it each time you leave home just because your partner isn’t afraid of it and expects you to be unafraid, too.

Trying to calm an aroused animal by showing that you are not afraid does not work as a general rule and can increase an animal’s fear and/or shut down the animal. We have seen this on TV!

And by Susan Mitchell of C.A.R.E. for Animals :

I can understand what the trainer you spoke with is saying.  I agree that dogs take their cues from us and that they often interpret something based on our responses (verbal and behavioral).  (Sort of like kids do!)  But if BAT is done correctly, it is done with the handler demonstrating calm, and even confident/happy behavior…. and in response to the DOG’S behavior.  This conveys to the dog that 1- we can handle this, no need to freak out, and 2- I’m not going to be forced to ‘suck up’ my fear and face that thing over there.  It really becomes a “game” or sorts for the dog that they come to understand and maybe even enjoy.

Furthermore, I love what Susan has written below in response to another group post:

I really do believe in my heart of hearts that our dogs do their absolute BEST to do what we ask of them.  Sometimes it is just REALLY hard for them and they just can’t always do it.  It is our job to understand what they are communicating to us and help them out.  Just like they let us know when they need help…. they will also let us know when they don’t need it.  And while I know others don’t agree, I personally believe that the more we offer help, the more the dogs learn to trust us, the braver they become, and the less they actually need the help. 

I think this is really wonderful and inspiring, in that our ultimate goal is to help our dogs  feel brave, independent, make good choices (vs. simply doing as they are told or behaving on cue). Susan adds that in teaching self-control and relaxation to our dogs,  it is OK to go slow, be methodical, ask for advice along the way.

On the right is a photo taken today at the vet. This may not seem like a big deal to anybody with a normal dog, but I want to point out something quite amazing. Boogie is LYING DOWN in a room where there are dogs that he doesn’t know. There are three dogs and two cats in the room at the time this photo was taken (Later there were 6 dogs). The pup at the back is off-leash and very well-behaved. When Boogie is in a room with other dogs that he doesn’t know, he is never THIS relaxed. He will sit but never lie down like this.

This week, on two previous occasions I took Boogie out to busy public places and rewarded him with treats for lying down calmly by my side.  I have also moved Boogie’s bed closer to my desk so I can reinforce calmness and quiet while he is lying down. Before, the bed was too close to the window and he got distracted very easily… couldn’t relax for long.

“Please, can we go home now?”

In other news, Boogie is suffering again from skin issues. Dr. R said that there is no staph infection this time. The allergic reactions have not (yet) progressed to a staph infection even though Boogie’s itchy skin,  hot spots, hair loss, ear infection and goopy eyes don’t look so good. I told Dr. R that Boogie has also been acting sluggish and slower than normal.

Dr R: “Allergies are exhausting.”

And so I am applying Traimcinolone Cream to Boogie’s raw itchy (sometimes bloody) skin, and giving him Temaril-P – which is a steroid med – for 10 days. I really hate the side effects of steroid medications and I’m not happy about this.

I am currently researching supplements to help boost Boogie’s immune system. I am very interested in Canine Immune System Support & Doggy GOO. Any doggies out there familiar with these supplements? I’d love to get your thoughts.

When I was in the vet waiting room, a Yorkie owner advised me to give Boogie Cold-pressed Coconut Oil orally & topically – this will take care of hot spots and infections because coconut oil is anti-bacterial. Elsewhere I have read that Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water can be used as a flea-repellent spray because of the acidity.  Can anyone confirm this info? Anyone tried these natural remedies with success?

Entry filed under: Articles, links, BAT sessions, Reads, Training, Vet visit.

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18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ace's Mama  |  August 4, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Hi Lili, Thanks for yet another interesting post. I really look forward to your blog updates.

    I’m sorry to hear about Boogie’s recurrent skin issues. My BT has had some difficulty with recurrent parasite infections and also ongoing loose stools, and has some food allergies (wheat for certain), and I’ve been using probiotics. I understand they strengthen a pup’s immune system as well as help keep everything running smoothly in the GI tract. I’m curious to see if your other readers have experience with the other remedies you mention. Hang in there.

    • 2. lili  |  August 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Ace’s Mama, I need to get probiotics for Boogie too. Could I ask which ones you give your BT? I noticed there are probiotics in the Doggy GOO. Will keep you posted!

      • 3. Ace's Mama  |  August 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        I use Probiotic Miracle Dog Probiotics for Dogs (via Amazon). My vet recommends FortiFlora by Purina, which is more expensive but also worked well when we used it (can also get via Amazon). I’m curious about Doggy Goo and might give it a try to see if I notice any additional benefits.

  • 4. Todd  |  August 4, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Hi Lili,
    Our BT Akota seems to have the same allergy problems and they get worse during the summer season. Usually antibiotics are given and our vet prescribed Atopica and it worked wonderfully. She takes Atopica 1 pill per day for 30 days and then you can back off to about 3 times per week and it worked awesome…… the drawback is that we now have Cowboy a male Boston with the same problems, the Atopica is approx. $45 per 15 ct box and for both dogs to get 2 boxes each for the first month is $180 and we cannot afford it……. is there any topical treatment that you or someone else has used to relieve the itching?

    • 5. lili  |  August 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Todd, I asked my vet about Atopica for Boogie last year… I don’t remember his exact response (I blogged about this at the time) but I remember that he didn’t think this was a good idea because Boogie’s skin problem was clearly a staph infection. He prescribed antibiotics for Staph instead and it cleared up. But we seem to go through this routine EVERY SUMMER so it’s disheartening. Someone recommended Pramoxine Anti-Itch spray… I haven’t tried this yet.

  • 6. Elisabeth Weiss  |  August 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Yes I can confirm that apple cider vinegar is an excellent flea repellent and that coconut oil is highly beneficial. I found an excellent post that a friend of mine wrote. She is incredibly knowledgeable about natural healing.

    • 7. lili  |  August 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you, Elisabeth! I wish I had seen this post on natural remedies earlier in the year 😦 He is now on steroids/antihistamines already… Damn. I will, however, continue with the ACV spray.

  • 8. Cyber Dog Online  |  August 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Lili,
    Check with Sarah about Coconut oil as she had a problem with Zoey while using it.
    Allergies are certainly a problem.
    Lynn Martin

    • 9. lili  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

      Thanks, Lynn. I spoke with Sarah… the combo of prednisone & coconut oil gave Maya pancreatitis.

  • 10. HElloyou  |  August 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Hmmm cold pressed coconut oil huh… 🙂 Luckily i live in Sri Lanka so all the food is made with a little bit of coconut oil 🙂 🙂

  • 11. Pamela Webster (@S_Wagging)  |  August 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Looks like the BAT group has some really smart conversations. And glad to see how far Boogie has come at the vet. It’s too bad he’s having to put his relaxation skills to the test because he’s not feeling well.

    I had an interesting experience with an immune system supplement. My dog Christie developed Cushing’s disease which we treated conventionally, including some steroids. She never thrived under the treatment regimen.

    After she passed, my dog Agatha was also diagnosed with Cushing’s and I took her to a naturopathic vet. We did no conventional treatment but did a lot with nutrition. One of the supplements our vet suggested was Missing Link:

    Agatha did thrive and did very well until she passed at 16 years old. I don’t know how much was the diet and how much the supplement, but we had very good results. I’ve known other people who also found Missing Link helped.

    Good luck finding the right solution for Boogie. I’m sorry he’s feeling poorly and that you’re worried about him.

    • 12. lili  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:11 am

      Thanks for reminding me about Missing Link! I used to give this to my foster dogs years ago. I am now trying out the Canine Immune Support System supplement… it’s hard to tell yet if it will make a difference. We’re off to the vet again this week…

  • 13. oreoowner  |  August 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    As a doggie mom with an allergy dog, I have used some. I tried the apple cider vinegar, but she wasn’t having it. I did try and continue to use organic extra virgin coconut oil-I add it to her food and it helps with her itching. I went traveled all the way to upstate new york to go to a “famous” vet who also uses herbs/supplements for dog allergies. She gave me quercenol which has worked great with my dog. She is still itchy sometimes, but it has reduced greatly! It is a chinese herb that helps build up the immune system and beat allergies! I’m attaching a link so you can see what I’m talking about. I know how hard it is to have a dog that is constantly suffering from allergies.

    I also clean her ears with witch hazel (no alcohol) with a cotton ball and she has also been awesome with that versus using regular ear wash she would get ear infections all the time. I also got her tested for food allergies which helped. I’m not sure if Boogie gets the red bumps which cause bacterial infections, but I found Douxo Chlorhexidine 3% PS Pads and when I see rashes or bumps show up I use that a few times and the next day or in a few days it’s already gone and we don’t even have to go to the vet. Good luck and I hope Boogie feels better!

    • 14. lili  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

      Thanks for the witchhazel tip. I have heard that apple cider vinegar + water is also good for cleaning ears, but I have been using a Chlorhexidine formula for his ears, and now trying this out on his skin, too. Fingers crossed.

  • 15. oreoowner  |  August 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Also we have her on Hydrocortisone Natural which is naturally derived so it’s much better than regular steroids. Also she gets a prescribed probiotics (vitamins) which has all helped her greatly.

  • 16. Tabitha Fletcher Talbert  |  August 13, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Found you when I googled Boston Terrier skin problems. :/ Ours seem to be mostly stress induced, but I think we still have allergies.

  • 17. thegraceofdog  |  August 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Oh, shoot–I wish I could remember where I read something very recently about the vinegar idea. BUT–I remember reading that it doesn’t work, and might in fact make matters worse and/or be painful to the dog. I guess it’s worth asking your vet before trying anything. Good luck. And yes, allergies ARE exhausting.

    One thing our vet said about allergies is that they can be like the straws on the proverbial camel’s back: Think of everything your dog comes into contact with (internally through food or externally through environment) as adding to an “allergen load.” It may be that a dog’s system can deal with an allergen load of a certain size, but then something else will get piled on (that “last straw”) and the system can’t deal with it–so you end up with a rash, or GI upset, or whatever.

    We’ve been through this with our dog, and it’s one reason we keep her on a VERY limited diet (two ingredients make up at least 95% of what she consumes). At least we know we are limiting the potential ingested allergens, thereby reducing her allergen load.

    Again–good luck to you and Boogie!

    • 18. lili  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:15 am

      This explanation of “allergen overload” makes sense. Sigh. I still think we are dealing with seasonal &/or environmental allergens because the symptoms all disappear in winter. His diet has been very consistent… I only feed dehydrated/freeze dried raw, grain-free but I have no idea what crap he picks up off the street.


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