Pain Toileting. Poo Related Phobia and Rituals
Pain toileting after castration traumatised poor little Monty
Four weeks ago the 9-month-old Cavapoochon experienced traumatic pain whilst toileting. After that he got into a real state. He squealed and spun, dropping it behind him as he went. If they’re not quick enough, he eats it as he does it – something he never did before.
Just why Monty ended up circling and screaming when pooing is impossible to prove. They assume it had something to do with the castration four weeks ago but maybe it’s not directly that, but the chain of events that followed.
Could it be the trauma of the operation being painful and at just the wrong time, coinciding with a fear period maybe? Combined with this, was it the affect of anaesthetic, the painkiller that upset him followed by wormer, resulting in diarrhoea for days and nights along with the panic of the frequent baths etc.?
Due to pain toileting – or probably now the memory of the pain toileting – poor Monty’s not wanting to walk. As soon as he needs the toilet, he sits down and won’t move.
He has had two very thorough checks by the vet and they can find no cause for pain. The vet suggested a behaviourist now.
It sounds to me like he was so scared with the pain toileting, that the whole poo process and everything associated with it now terrifies him. He even stopped wanting to go into the garden.
Trauma or pain toileting
I believe the little dog’s screaming and circling whilst pooing is a mix of trying to run away from it and trying to grab it out of himself. A cat of mine once, I remember, had difficult giving birth. She ran in cicrles, crying like she was trying to escape from from the kitten that was stuck on the way out. (I managed to catch her and help her, all was ok).
We can only guess at why Monty rushes to eat it, but I suspect he simply wants to quickly get rid of everything associated with his pastpain toileting. He’s not coprophagic (a poo-eater) as such.
The whole business of their little dog’s toileting has become a centre of huge concern for his owners. Where he would previously go at least twice a day, now it may not even be once.
What should be a natural process is now surrounded by extreme pressure in terms of anxiety, watching and persuasion. Even the fact they anxiously hover to prevent him eating it will add to the pressure.
An obsession with his bottom
For these past few weeks Monty also seems to have become obsessed with his bottom. He circles and tries to ‘catch’ it. His head frequently darts towards like he has a sudden itch.
What I observed was that the slightest bit of frustration, excitement or arousal triggered Monty’s head going round towards his bum. It didn’t seem to happen otherwise. It looks like the tiniest stress has become the trigger for this. He has developed a kind of ritual that gives him displacement behaviours when things get a bit too much for him. Because of his recent experiences lots of things get a bit too much for him at the moment.
The more he practises this behaviour, the more of a habit it becomes, like a default response now.
Is it something to do with humans? I suggest they record him to see if it happens when people aren’t about.
The main work will be to break this ritual by preventing things from getting too much for him – stress reduction. He also needs to be given something else that will serve the same purpose to him as the repetitive habit, that of a displacement activity which helps to calm him. Something incompatible with chasing his bum. I suggested they tried giving him something for his mouth – a yak chew perhaps.
Relaxation and freedom
Dealing with tension and stress is key. A less restricted type of walk will be a good place to start.
Neither Monty nor his owners really enjoy walks anymore because he pulls. Very conscientious with their training, they are struggling with this. I feel he needs a bit of freedom and relaxation in order to get his bowels working!
I suggested (probably for the first time ever because I don’t like them) that they use their old Flexilead from when he was younger – when walks had been relaxed fun. They can continue work on walking nicely as a separate exercise when ready.
He can do more sniffing and foraging in general. The little dog can walk from sniff to sniff and choose where to go. He can be semi-free on a 30-foot long line in open spaces. They will relax around his toileting. (The more they try to pounce on his poo before he does, the quicker he will be to get there first!).
Monty can be taught, as soon as he’s done his job, to run away from it instead whilst associating it with something nice – by their rolling tasty/smelly food past him. It will catch his eye and instinctively a dog will follow something moving. Later, if he still does it which I doubt, he can be taught to run to them instead.
I suggest the owners just try to take it a bit more easy. Their little dog’s dreadful distress has been horrible for them and their own anxiety will be now adding to the situation. If they do miss a bit, never mind. I feel the poo-eating won’t go on for ever. He doesn’t want it for its own sake – just to get rid of it and all it stands for.
To quote, ‘We just want our Monty back to how he was before the op. It is causing us a lot of anxiety to see him struggling so much’.