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Hi all,
I have just joined the forum and was hoping you may be able to offer some words of wisdom/thoughts/insights about my dog's behaviour on walks.
We have a lovely 3 year old westie called Fergus who, like most dogs, absolutely loves his walkies.
About a year ago, he started to become nervous at times when out on a walk. It was usually in response to people coming the other way - running, in groups, on bikes, pushchairs or occasionally on their own. There was no apparent rhyme or reason as to why he chose certain people to be scared of. It initially was worse in a particular part of our walk, which we avoided for a while.
If Fergus is on the lead, he becomes very jumpy - looking around him anxiously. When he has been off the lead, he has run away in the direction of home, but then waited, refusing to come until I go and get him.
I really want to let him off the lead, as he loves to run and sniff freely, but this is becoming difficult.
This is not now isolated to the same area and the strange thing is that with some situations he is fine, but not others. He is always fine with other dogs.
There has been no incident that we are aware of that has led to these reactions and we are not sure how to make him less anxious.
Any thoughts?
Many thanks,
Christine
 

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Hi all,
I have just joined the forum and was hoping you may be able to offer some words of wisdom/thoughts/insights about my dog's behaviour on walks.
We have a lovely 3 year old westie called Fergus who, like most dogs, absolutely loves his walkies.
About a year ago, he started to become nervous at times when out on a walk. It was usually in response to people coming the other way - running, in groups, on bikes, pushchairs or occasionally on their own. There was no apparent rhyme or reason as to why he chose certain people to be scared of. It initially was worse in a particular part of our walk, which we avoided for a while.
If Fergus is on the lead, he becomes very jumpy - looking around him anxiously. When he has been off the lead, he has run away in the direction of home, but then waited, refusing to come until I go and get him.
I really want to let him off the lead, as he loves to run and sniff freely, but this is becoming difficult.
This is not now isolated to the same area and the strange thing is that with some situations he is fine, but not others. He is always fine with other dogs.
There has been no incident that we are aware of that has led to these reactions and we are not sure how to make him less anxious.
Any thoughts?
Many thanks,
Christine
Its probably understandable that he is worse still on lead because if things spook him he cant exercise flight which is often a dogs first response when in a fearful situation, so stuck there on lead they usually feel even more vunerable so are usually even more reactive, it seems to confirm this as when off lead you said he does exercise the option of flight and runs off if spooked.

Pups can do through a fear period but this is usually between 6/14 months so if he is 3 now and started only a year ago at 2 years he should have been way past that so that doesnt sound a likely factor, they usually just go through it eventually anyway, and as long as the owner makes positive associations and they dont have bad experiences it just passes. If you are sure too that no bad experiences with people, sights, sounds or situations didnt occur that started it and its become an ingrained phobia then that rules that out, although sometimes owners may not even have been fully aware and/or just forgotten about something that may have sparked it off and its become a phobia.

There are medical conditions that can cause fear and even fear agression and agression itself and changes in behaviour. Has he been vet checked and have they done any bloods to see if there is any underlying health problems.
There is something called hypothyroid that Ive just checked and is known in Westies as you will see just googling Hypo thyroid in west highland white terriers. This requires a full thyroid profile blood test which is a specific test,
there are other endocrine problems too in westies. Has he shown any other changes in physical appearance at all, as hypo thyroid can affect so many things. Ive linked you below to articles.

Although the title says seizures its about other changes in behaviour too
47% of dogs with fearful behaviour had hypo thyroidism in the studies. One of mine started seizures at 2 years old and hers turned out to be hypo thyroid
as well.
Are your dogs seizures caused by Canine Epilepsy or Autoimmune Thyroiditis?
She had no other clinical signs of which there are many and can manifest in different ways and symptoms.

Here is a link to other clinical signs and symptoms
Clinical Signs of Canine Hypothyroidism

Certainly may be worth getting him a through health check and blood tests maybe.

If there is no health underlying causes, then your next best bet would likely be to speak to a behaviourist and think about getting a few one to one assessments and a re-training programme to help him over the problems
CAPBT - COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers should find a behaviourist in your area. Most anyway will often suggest a through heath check first to make sre there isnt any medical reasons for the changes in behaviour.

There are natural calmatives too that you can maybe speak to your vet about
A few good ones are linked below

Zylkène - For life's ups and downs

http://www.nutri-science.net/pets/pdfs/KalmAid DL.pdf

Scullcap and Valerian Tablets for Dogs and Cats - Dorwest

The zylkene is based on casien a protein found in milk

KalmAid is made from L-trytophan an essential amino acid needed for serotonin which has a calming and relaxing effect, it also contains L-theanine another amino acid and also vitamin B1 which a deffieciency of can cause nervous disorders so this is a supplement really.

Scullcap and valerian is a herbal preparation so all are completely natural and side effect free unlike some of the veterinary type drugs that are given, you can buy these from reputable vet pharmacies on line as they are not drugs or chemicals.

There is also adaptil which comes in a collar and spray form as well as a diffuser form for inside the house, that can help too and is an artifical version of the pheromone mum emits to calm and soothe pups so again quite safe,
Adaptil - Adaptil
 
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