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Canine Behavior/dog fly biting


my 10 year old mixed breed (lahso apso/poodle-ish ?) has been fly biting for a couple of years, but at Christmas time it got so bad he was hiding away and panting all the time. We have seen a veterinarian and received a prescription for Diazepam, which helped significantly with the anxiety and panic, but not the fly biting. My dog is off the diazepam for the most part. He still fly bites, hides  under covers and now is barking at whatever is bothering him. I can interrupt his behaviors and he doesn't do it when he's distracted. What can I do to help him?

This sort of behavior is indicative of possible neurological insult or temporal seizures/tumor.  You need a veterinary neurologist.  This is not behavioral.  The dog may also, at age ten, be suffering from some cognitive dysfunction (not uncommon, happens in people, too).  See this:

A veterinary neurologist is a specialist, obviously, and they aren't exactly around every corner.  Contact the veterinary college in your geographical area.  They will be able to give you referrals.  It's well worth a drive (no matter how long) to have a real diagnosis of cause.  I do not believe that the class of drugs in which Diazepam falls is appropriate for this condition, since this class of drugs inhibits learning.  And it will not control any seizure activity (you would need Phenobarbital for that, at least).

Get all the records of vaccination history and other blood work results, etc., from your vet or ask him/her to fax them to the neurologist prior to your appointment.  There is no insult to a generalist for you to want to see a specialist.  It is your right and responsibility as a caring dog owner (which you are).

Meanwhile: when the dog exhibits this behavior, put him on leash.  Do not use his outdoor leash (as this will cue him that he's going out), purchase a lightweight leash.  Do not comment, do not make eye contact, do nothing to attempt to console him, simply quietly and calmly leash him and then sit down.  Often, leashing a dog in the middle of a seizure such as involves visual disturbance helps to calm him and it should, at least, prevent the development of further avoidance behavior.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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