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Question
Posted by: Carol | 2003/12/03

Question re Boxer girl for karin


Hi there , this is the first time I have seen this forum.

I have a few questions for you about my boxer child but first a little background , sorry this is a little long.

Miki i got from one of the "good breeders 20 mos ago , in May when she was 1 yr old we started having a lot of trouble with her , she had always shown a lot of aggression to my JRT bitch also very aggressive , and we knew one would have to be rehomed. Anyhow I had in the meantime started training her in an attempt to improve her behaviour ... she is quite ok with my netered male boxer.

In June we moved house and I had my daughter and her boyfriend fighting continioulsy causing a lot of stress , boxers I have learnt are very sensitive ... the aggression between her and My jrt got very bad and I had to keep the two seperated, in the meantime she came on heat for the first time , and then she killed my russel , as terrible as this was , Miki I felt was my responsibility and despite having done what she had , we kept her because she is a terrific dog .

In the meantime I had rescued a little foxie cross boy , and we had him neutered , she was quite nasty to him at first but with perserverance and firm discipline , clicker training , the NILIF programme etc , she came along very nicely and the incidents stopped.

Then about two weeks ago we had her spayed, i didnt want to use her for breeding with this "side" to her nature ... soon after our stormy season started , the heatt gets terrible here in Tzaneen , my kids came home from Technikon and all hell broke loose again , with my little foxie being the victim ..

We hauled her off to the vet , in case there isnt a medical problem , and he says her behaviour is almost entirely stress related and has given us pills for her.

the tablets are "nuzak"
She has been on them for a week and her behaviour is back to normal , if a boxe could be considered normal lol

What i would like to know is this , how can i teach Miki to be less anxious ? , how can I improve her coping skills ?

Miki is a little rotter but a lovely family pet , and I do want to help her .

If these pills work , is it going to have bad long term effects ? is it wrong to have her on meds ?

Thank you for reading this long story

Carol

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi Carol
Phew - a long story! As I am not a vet I suggest you re-post the drug side of the question again so the vet can answer it. I don't know what Nuzak is, but I guess it may be a type of Prozak? There is another drug which is newly in SA called Clomicalm (or Anafranil) and may be an alternative, but I don't know much about it yet. There are also homeopathic/naturopathic alternatives, but ask the vet about those too. Usually I suggest a "drug induced holiday" for stressed out dogs in which time (1 - 4 months) the owners follow a behavioral program to change the behaviour. Then the dog is gradually weaned off the drug, if possible. Behavioral treatment of stress involves understanding and using calming dog body language - this includes stretching, yawning, sitting, lying, turning away from stressful things and "smelling the roses". Most households are quite chaotic and stressful and if people would just relax more (or pretend to) the dogs would also relax. Being the leader is also important, but positive reinforcement is the way to do it (e.g. Clicker training, as you mentioned) - lots of encouragement for correct behaviour and no reprimanding or punishment, except perhaps very passive ignoring of unacceptable behaviour by walking away. Being the leader means you are in control of resources like food, toys and space, which you can use to manipulate your dog. She should be watching you, not you watching her all the time. In fact you should try ignoring her more and only giving attention on your terms, about every second time she comes to you. Touch is another important way to relieve stress so try to massage or brush her regularly, especially on her hindquarters and muzzle as these are two places where aggressive and insecure dogs hold tension. TTouch is also a wonderful method to learn (see links on my site www.animal-behaviour.org.za/karengray). Having said all this, sometimes it's just never going to work and she may need a home where she is the only dog with no competition for attention. If your smaller dog is at risk of being killed I would seriously consider separating them permanently.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Carol | 2003/12/04

Thank you

I use TTouch on her , also I have read calming signals by Turgid Rugaas and I use these methods a lot .... Max my little foxie communicates very well using calming signals , and i use them to calm her down.

She does tend to watch my reaction all the time

And i dont use punishment methods at all , only time out if she doesnt respond to my "stop"

As it happens she is back to normal again...

Fortunately I do know her body language like an open book and know whn she is going to 'go"

I think I have just been slack with her lately , and need to pull my socks up.... also I wnt to try the Eco .... Stress ?

It does seem to me the slightest (sp) change in her routine is whats causing the problem ??

Its difficult up here in the northern province, very little expertise , i have learnt everything I know from the net

Thank you very much I will visit yr site

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