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.

pain toileting after castrationJust 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’.

Six days later: Things are much better with Monty. We are so v pleased. By Thursday he had started squatting to poo again, the spinning & squealing have stopped & instead of eating it, He looks to us for sausage. He does still look behind while pooing.  Walks are much better & he has stopped sitting down. We had been mindful to walk him after he had poo’d in the garden though so he could relax & enjoy his walk. He did poo in public today on the beach & again there was no spinning on squealing. We have been mindful to keep things generally calmer for Monty & have definitely noticed him being calmer. The bottom checking is happening less. We are truly heart warmed at the difference in just 1 week. He is a much happier dog all round. 
Two weeks later: ‘I had a lovely time on the beach with Monty, I think it was wednesday afternoon & I remember feeling so grateful to you that we were able to go away as the week before, I really didn’t think it was going to be possible. He loved the beach, shame we don’t live a bit nearer!
So things are good with Monty, he has continued to be much happier. The toileting issue seems to be pretty much resolved…..He seems to be generally going for his bottom area a lot less’.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Monty. Neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do much more harm than good. The case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page).

Waking in the Night Six Times to Go Out

Waking in the night – six times.

The poor lady is waking in the night up to six times to take Beagle Dexter into the garden. He toilets (poo) most times.

Then, long before dawn, Dexter’s day has started. He looks for something to wreck.

The lady is exhausted.

waking in the night

Dexter

She has two beautiful, friendly and very well-loved dogs, Japanese Spitz, Dakota, 3 – and Dexter who is nine months old.

As I usually do before I come, I asked for a list of issues. In Dexter’s case these included jumping up, stealing washing from the line, chewing the rug on the sofa, eating books from the shelf, destroying shoes, towels and tea towels. He pulls on lead, he bites when he doesn’t get the attention he wants and he howls when not in the lady’s presence. He bites her clothes as she tries to get dressed. He constantly jumps at her when she is trying to eat and when she showers he will remove the toilet rolls.

Since circumstances changed the two dogs are now left alone for many hours every day. Dexter howls. Dakota barks at things she hears – post comes through the door, the dogs next door barking. Stress levels are constantly being topped up during the day.

And – Dexter is waking in the night up to six times to toilet.

Perhaps he, too, is suffering from sleep deprivation, adding to his stress levels.

There are two main issues. One is the night time wakefulness and toileting. The other is the stress and lack of fulfillment that is causing Dexter’s behaviours. All efforts to stop him doing unwanted things result in frustration and he will jump at the lady and bite her.

Clicking for calm.

The lady’s home life revolves around stopping Dexter doing things. There is a lack of communication. What should he be doing? Dexter is confused.

Soon after I arrived it became apparent we would get nothing done unless we worked with the dogs – Dexter in particular.

Soon the lady, instead of watching out for unwanted behaviours, was watching for every small thing Dexter did that she liked, clicking and rewarding it.

At last he was understanding what was required of him. It was lovely.

He soon settled down and slept.

Calming him down and giving his life proper enrichment is one thing. The waking in the night to toilet is another.

The lady shares her bed with her dogs, so this means coming downstairs each time and he usually performs.

Why does he need to go so often? What can the lady do to get a good night’s sleep?

This is something that needs unravelling.

What goes into the dog has to come out!

What does Dexter eat? The food is average nutrition, containing ‘meat meal’ and other bulking things that will merely pass through a dog.

Like many dogs, he also eats dog poo – his own, Dakota’s and any other dogs he can pick up quickly enough when out.

He has a daily Dentastix. Reading the ingredients speaks for itself. Assuming that a man is about ten times the weight of Dexter, it’s like his eating a large lump of junk the size of ten doughnuts.

What can the lady do? For starters she can change Dexter’s diet. I would suggest ready-prepared complete raw food as there will be much less waste. Failing that, a much better kibble.

Dakota

Dexter simply must not be able to eat poo. The only way to stop this, unless he’s tied to the lady’s waist, is for him to be muzzled in the garden until both dogs have performed. He must also be muzzled when out while recall is worked on.

(Possibly a better diet will remove his need to eat poo. ‘Coprophagia’ is a separate issue that can be looked at later).

The last meal of the day can be earlier with the walk afterwards, hopefully getting his bowels moving.

Day and night may be somewhat reversed at the moment. Because of the change in the lady’s circumstances, the dogs are left alone for a very long time. The build-up both of need to poo and of energy will then, fairly logically, come to a head during the night.

They will cut out the Dentastix and use raw marrow bones for cleaning teeth instead. The right bones (never cooked bones) will help occupy both the dogs and calm them down. The lady will install a gate in a doorway so the dogs can be separated. The degree of arousal frequently results in fights which limits the use of food when they are together.

A better night’s sleep.

What Dexter consumes will be controlled carefully.

The day will hopefully be broken up by a dog walker.

Looking for every little good thing the dog does, whether it’s just to stop jumping up and putting his feet on the floor, or simply lying down calmly, will make everyone happier. These things will be clicked and rewarded. Unwanted behaviours will where possible bring no reaction or be replaced with a desirable alternative.

Enriching activities will be added to Dexter’s life. Soon the lady should get a better night’s sleep. She will have more energy for these things.

With a positive approach, cases like this tend to improve quite quickly.

The lady will be getting her life back.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Dexter. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where any form of aggressive behaviour is concerned. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

Beautiful Little Dog With Horrible Habit

They have had the Bichon Frise Poodle cross for two weeks

Maisy

whitedogsThey have had adorable nine-month-old Bichon Poodle cross Maisy for a couple of weeks now. I was called because there a few problems – nothing major – and they want to pre-empt things before they get worse.

One concern is that she pesters their other patient Bichon Frise, Candy,  by jumping on her and annoying her until she gets cross. Another is that she runs off with the baby’s toys and wrecks them, she is reluctant to give things up, she jumps onto things and surfs the tables for crumbs and cups to lick and she won’t come to them when she’s called.  All fairly usual stuff for a teenage dog!

However, the thing that upsets them most is the things she eats and worst of all is that she eats dog poo, both her own and Candy’s.

It seems that more than half of all dogs have eaten dog poo, called coprophagia, at some stage during their lives. The reasons may be varied, from lack of nutrition in the diet or hunger, so they are ‘topping up’ or ‘recycling’, to disease like pancreatitis which affects the absorption of nutrients, to learned or copied behaviour. Until he was twelve weeks old, one dog I know who did this was in a kennel in a breeder’s barn where his food was scattered on the floor amongst his mess and as he wasn’t ‘housetrained’ having never been in a house, so it wasn’t surprising. In the case of Maisy, I suspect it is ‘puppy see, puppy do’. If in their young lives their mother had the same habit, the puppies may have copied her.

The million dollar question though is what can you do about it. The most obvious thing, to yell and quickly pounce, is the worst thing. The dog will think ‘hey – you want it too? It’s valuable?’ and will grab it before you can get to it! You make her furtive. Scolding will only mean you have a job for life (sorry). If she thinks she might get into trouble, a copraphagic dog can become very sneaky and will remember for later if there is some still out there that you have missed!

Some suggest adding pineapple or courgette in the dog’s food, but I have never found evidence that it makes any difference at all.  It’s impossible if it involves other dogs also. There are two approaches that I believe will work with this particular little dog, but it means being vigilant. The first thing is to work on a really solid recall around the house and garden, so your dog comes running to you straight away for a reward. The reward needs to be worth the effort, so make it tasty and make it fun. You are in competition with something very attractive to the dog – poo!! Soon she will be running to you for a treat as soon as she or the other dog has finished.

The other plan works best with dogs who like to chase things. Have in you pocket some of those treats that look like little sausage rolls. As you call the dog, roll it in the opposite direction. This combines food with a game. She will run after the food and you can then pick up. Soon the toileting will be the trigger for him to look at you, waiting for the treat to roll. She is being conditioned to run away from poo.

This only works when you are about of course. The likelihood is, by removing the opportunity for long enough so she doesn’t continue to practise the habit – even if it means, when out, keeping the dog on a long line or even wearing a basket muzzle if off lead – and consistently keeping up the training process, that she will grow out of it.

To the dog it’s not revolting of course – it’s food.

Harry Can Be a Handful

red labradorHarry is ten months old and a beautiful Red Labrador (his male owners says I should call him handsome, not beautiful!). He has a lovely nature, but the best way to describe him is that he can be a bit ……..too much.

He is very persistent in his jumping onto people both when they are standing and sitting down. The smallest bit of attention gets him very excited. He finds pinching things and running off with them great fun and he sometimes eats unspeakable stuff! Of course he pulls on lead too.

Harry is quite a good example of how, without meaning to, human owners who are trying to do things right actually teach their dogs to do the very behaviours they don’t want. This starts when they get their little puppy home. Boundaries and rules don’t exist. He is encouraged to leap all over people. In no time at all the little puppy gets a bit bigger, and now believes he is the most important member of the family – after all, his every wish is granted. Isn’t the most important member, whose every wish granted, the leader?.

This is what many of us are teaching our puppies.

Too soon he develops behaviours that aren’t so cute in an older bigger dog. We start to make the word NO the most used in our vocabulary. He jumps all over us. We think we are ‘training’ him by sternly telling him down and by pushing him off with our hands. In my opinion this is actually teaching him the very opposite. He may obey briefly, but he’s learnt it’s a sure-fire way of getting attention next time because he has been looked at, spoken to and touched all under his own terms. How would a respected dog get the message over to another dog that he doesn’t want to be jumped on? He certainly doesn’t use hands to push or say Down!

Stealing things is great fun when he’s then chased around the garden for the item. It teaches him to pinch things and run away! Following him on a tight lead or ‘correcting’ him which is uncomfortable, teaches him to pull because forward progress happens when the lead is tight. He may also wish to get as far away from the source of the discomfort as possible – you. Rolling around on the floor with a human who allows the dog to use his mouth and growl teaches disrespect and roughness. A dog like Harry doesn’t need assistance in getting excited! Rushing at him or chasing him when he’s about to pick up something revolting or dangerous, teaches him you want it, that it must be of value, and to swallow it quickly before you can get it.

Dealing with dogs like Harry requires outwitting them, and looking at how another respected, stable dog would deal with him. This is the key.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.