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Canine Behavior/dog anxiety


I have a female German Shorthaired Pointer who will be 4 years old in July.  About 6 months ago, she started showing signs of anxiety during the day inside the house.  The first time we noticed it was a couple of years ago, we narrowed it down to too much protein.  After we changed her food, that behavior stopped.  Then, it began again 6 months ago.  We've tried everything...changes in her food by reducing the protein, eliminating red food dyes, distraction during the sounds (early on, it seemed centered around machine noises from my husband's workshop, or a low battery on a smoke alarm, etc.).  I've also tried a Thundershirt and a calming spray by Bert's Bees.  Nothing seemed to work for any length of time.  It escalated until she would stand still, staring at nothing, trembling until her teeth rattle together, and emitting a screeching whine.  Walks, exercise, etc., seemed to have no effect, except for the time she's on the walk outside, or on the treadmill.  The anxiety resumes when she's back in the house.  
 She is now on a generic Prozac from the vet, and after 5 weeks we are starting to see some improvement, but the trembling is starting earlier in the day and lasting longer into the afternoon.  
 I've heard that getting a puppy might help, but I'm worried that either it won't help (then we have another dog, complicating everything) or that she will pass the anxiety along to the puppy, doubling our issues.  
 Do you know of anything else I could try to help her?  Do you think the puppy would more than likely help, since she has always loved puppies?  Even though she is spayed, she is quite a gentle mothering type of dog.  She's such a loving, sweet, intelligent dog, that I just want her to be content and virtually fearless, like she was before all of this started.
 She comes from excellent hunting, retrieving, pointing stock...should we do some training like scent training, agility, etc?  She's done agility and obedience training in the past, and seems to really like it...thanks for any ideas that you might have for us.

NO PUPPY!! FOR ANY REASON!!!  Dogs learn from one another, first of all; second, your dog has sufficient stress, she does not need to deal with a puppy even if she has been heavily socialized to same.

Prozac (generic or otherwise) is NOT a drug of choice for what you describe.  In fact, in Humans with high anxiety, any SSRI can actually escalate the anxiety once the drug has become systematic.

You need to find a veterinary behaviorist (NOT a generalist).  You do this by calling the Veterinary college in your geographical area or by consulting the following sites:

This breed has a LONG LIST of inherited physiological problems, including neurological.  She needs to be screened for any/all that may be responsible for this sudden and extreme fear reaction.  I urge you to act ASAP.

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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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