Friday, March 11, 2011

K, the Afghani dog, has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Resource Guarding and Separation Anxiety. That makes total sense to me.

By Lorraine May, M.A.
Executive Director, Founder and Director of Education
The Misha May Foundation
Mutts In SMART Homes Always

I received a call from a fellow trainer on March 10, 2011 to refer K to The Misha May Foundation’s Mutts in SMART Homes Always education program where we specialize in rehabilitating dogs utilizing holistic methods. K is lucky to have been brought to the USA from Afghanistan by a family who loves him, but he is having trouble adjusting to his new life.

K is described as a beautiful 10 month old neutered male, possibly a Shepherd or Hound mix. He does very well with people. His interactions with other dogs have been mixed.

K’s family has tried everything they can think of to help him. They took him to their trusted veterinarian, hired a reputable professional trainer with a positive approach, and redesigned aspects of their home. But during their absences, K has severely damaged the home and garage in his need to reach his people. Fortunately, he has not injured himself which often is the case.

K is a typical dog with separation anxiety in that he is wonderful when his people are around, but panics when they leave. K has many of the symptoms of the Separation Anxiety syndrome: lost control of bowels and bladder, vocalization and extreme drooling, and dramatic escape attempts with devastating destruction. In order to change this problem, he needs to learn 2 main things:

1) These people will return.
2) It can be safe and fun to spend time alone.

Separation Anxiety has a very specific protocol and cure. The prognosis is generally good, if, and it is a very big if, the dog can be attended to and not have another panic attack. This is very difficult for the average person who has a job and a life. That is where I come in since this is my job and my life!

One can reasonably compare Separation Anxiety to a human experiencing a panic attack. The panic takes over while the power to choose or control is lost. Humans can learn to self-soothe using reassuring self-talk and effective cues.

Dogs need humans to manage their situation while their damaged nervous systems heal. Because they are unable to cope with their terror and panic, each consecutive attack can do more damage. As the nervous system calms down, the dog can learn that his people will return and that it can be safe and fun to spend time alone.

K will be entering our program initially for 30 days with continuing evaluations. His rehabilitation will include Separation Anxiety protocol as well as integrated training with the family.

I am looking forward to meeting K and his family. I will keep you updated here.

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