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Canine Behavior/my dog is scared

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QUESTION: i have a boxer who was always playful and nice. one fine dday he started nodding his head (like a slight shaking of his floppy ears) he kept doing this for 3-4 days and all my family members thought it might be some infection within. we took him to the doctor (hes anyways scared to go there as his was once neutered there) we however dragged him inside and has a tough time removing his ear wax.
after that incident he was fine but suddenly he developed a fear of going out of our house. he looks from one window and goes to the other running later just sits and does nothing atall. he didnt go to poop since past 3 days. i dont know what is wrong with him. we called out family ,vet he said he has himself didnt understand why was this happening. what do i do?? please help me solve the issue ! granny says its the plane sound which he finds terrifying dad says its because of the doctor and soo many people say so many different things please help me

ANSWER: Hi Niki -

I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your dog.  Not pooping for three days is very serious.  Talk to your veterinarian to rule out medical issues.  It sounds like your dog was traumatized by something so try to work with him slowly to help rebuild his confidence.  Do not soothe him when he is scared because you will reinforce the fear and anxiety he is experiencing.  Try to coax him outside with treats and use lots of praise for each step he takes forward on his own (do not drag him outside) once he gets outside just stay with him and praise and treat him if he is confident and not showing fear.  You want to make going outside very happy for him so he is more likely to want to do it again.  Dogs are much more sensitive than humans.  They can hear and smell things we can't.  There nay be something "new" in the neighborhood that is scary to him that you are not aware of.  Try opening the windows that he sits near so he can hear and sniff without going outside.  Hopefully he will become unafraid by getting used to whatever may be frightening him from his safe area inside the house.  Keep praising, giving treats and affection for moments he is unafraid and ventures outside.  This could be a very slow process because it is important to work at the dog's pace and not to overwhelm him.  Please have patience and do not force him into fearful situations or the behavior could get worse.  Not only will he become more fearful, he could become fear-aggressive and you could get bit.  Contact a local dog trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques and can help you to work through this challenging situation.  Best of luck with your pup.  Keep me posted.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: hello, thankyou so much for your advise. I am doing everything you asked me to.My dog (dexter) is getting better day by day.It gave me extreme happiness when he came out on his own when i asked him to.He is much better when the neighbor dogs come and play with him. The only time now he is scared is in the morning. He had the habit of walking every morning with dad but now that is stopped. But im sure if i follow your advise this problem wont last for long.
I would also like to ask you about his constant head shaking, making a weird cry when he itches his ears. I keep cleaning his ears with tissue paper using my fingers as he doesn't let me with anything else. But i dont know how deep his ears are. It might be some infection which troubles him a lil too much.

Answer
Hi Niki -

I am glad to see that Dexter is progressing.  May I ask why he no longer walks with dad?  It is important that dogs get plenty of exercise or they can start behaving badly.  Walks are important not only for physical exercise, but for mental stimulation.  If dogs are not physically and mentally stimulated that can develop unwanted and occasionally destructive behaviors.

I am not a veterinarian so I am sorry that I cannot really answer your question about the ears.  I would be careful when cleaning them because if you go too deep you could injure his eardrum.  He could have an ear infection or other medical problem so he should see the veterinarian to diagnose this as soon as possible.  I know he was traumatized at the vet's office so try to follow the above exercises and make the visit a positive experience for him.  If at all possible (with your office's permission) try to make some visits to the office just for socialization with the staff.  Have the doctors, vet techs, front desk pet him and give him treats and then leave.  These exercises will teach Dexter that not every visit to the animal hospital means pain, surgery, or vaccines.  Please have his ears looked at soon so he can start feeling better.  Good-luck!

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT

Expertise

For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.

Experience

I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Organizations
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

Education/Credentials
2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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