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 ARTICLES > TTouch > Shanti Update
  TTouch  Article:
Article By: Eugenie Chopin        Publish Date: 2008-08-28

: A Look at Dog Reactivity in the Home

by Eugenie Chopin


Iím about to write to you about a very difficult subject. The fact that almost 2 weeks ago, Shanti had a go at Angelique. I believe itís important to tell you about this as so very many people have reactive situations in the home and donít know how to resolve it. Itís also important to know that many of us who have or have had reactive dogs are in the business of working with animals and it doesnít mean that weíre immune to the problems!


I was hoping that it was a once off attack and a few days of cooling off would solve the problem, but it hasnít been the case. As far as I can tell, there was no discernable trigger to the incident other than the fact that it was next to me under the office desk. So maybe itís partially a space issue. I have thought a lot about it since then and there are several factors that I think have contributed to Shantiís stress in the last couple of months. And as we know Stress can completely change the chemical balance in the body.


 Itís serendipitous that I just received a great book about Stress in Dogs (next monthís Book of the Month). It then starts to become clear that if itís taken time to build up Stress, then it will take time to de-stress the dog as well, so Patience is going to be a big virtue around here in the next months.


Possible contributing factors:


* Pain: Shanti has an injury between two of the toes on her front foot (probably from agility jumping) that will make her limp from time to time. There is no cure for this as an Op can make the injury worse. The most we can do it anti-inflammatory / pain meds to make her comfortable. She had been limping on and off for more than a month. I had actually taken her again to a specialist just to make sure that is what it was and nothing more. At the time of the Vet visit (2 weeks before the attack) I told the Vet I felt like she was depressed. Iíll also mention that Shanti (like her Mom) doesnít handle pain very well!


* Less Exercise: Because of her limping we were trying to keep her more contained and therefore she was getting less play and exercise.


* New Puppy in the House: Shanti has been the Puppy in the house for 7 years. She got the most attention, played the hardest and had everyone who entered the house at her beck and call. In early May, Harley arrived and because need dictated that her be trained quickly, he started to receive lots of attention as well as having an irresistible ďcuteĒ factor for anyone who entered the house. I can well believe that Shanti was feeling left out and displaced.


* Loss of Danilo last year left Shanti and Angelique as the only 2 dogs for 5 months. The loss was already one factor of having 1 less dog to share attention with and then bringing in Harley again changed the family dynamic.


* Gautrain Blasting: Yes, the Gautrain is running practically under the house and weíve had daily blasting and drilling for a several months. And as has been pointed out to me, we donít know how much more she is feeling and hearing from the blasting that what we are. Shanti is definitely sound sensitive and Iím sure this is adding to the stress levels.


* New PA in the office: With new full time staff in the office, the dynamic of the house has changed. This is always an adjustment until everyone gets used to the new person.


So you can see that itís not a straightforward issue like food, chew toys or even my attention. Itís more complex than that and itís going to take time to sort out. The fact that Shanti has had so many stressful factors tells me that what we have to do is minimize that stress in the best way we can.


How we might be able to do this:


* Pain: For a couple of days after the incident I gave her 75mg of Rimadyl in the hope that we could start to make her feel better physically. I have since started her on Flexi-joint, which seems to have helped in keeping the foot feeling better. For the emotional stress, she is getting 2 Nutri-Calm in the morning and 2 in the evening.


* Less Exercise:  Itís a well known fact that exercising the mind and be more productive than exercising the body, so I and others will be doing more clicker work with her as she not only loves to work, but it will stimulate her in a meaningful and fun manner.


* New Puppy in the House: Well the boy is here, but weíll try to keep the activity on an even and equal level as much as possible. Also I can see that Harley is really pushing her at playtime and I want to try not to have the equilibrium disrupted there as well. Itís going to be a bit of a juggle and I want to have Harley be with both dogs during the course of the day.


* Loss of Danilo: Not really much I can do about this other than to speak to Shanti in a manner that can help her know that Iím trying to understand how sheís feeling.


* Gautrain Blasting: Again, there is not a lot I can do about the situation. However, I can treat it the way I do thunderstorms and Fireworks and that is to play a bit when it happens, talk with a cheerful voice and hope that it stops soon! Actually as it is usually only for a few seconds (up to maybe 20) itís over before I can make any kind of association, but itís still impacting on Shanti.


* New PA in the House: As Iím leaving for the US next week, Iíll be asking Morag to do some Clicker work and some Play with Shanti. Iím sure this will help to fast track their relationship and let Shanti know that she has a friend there. Itís great to know that Morag has the training and experience with dogs to do this.


* General: Needless to say, Iím doing TTouch on Shanti. Making sure that I work the ears as the Triple heater Meridian, which runs around them, influences the ďFight or FlightĒ response. Helping to loosen any tight muscles in the body can also help. Unfortunately Shanti has always been skin sensitive, so there is a limit to the touching I can do and putting body wrap on her would stress her even more. However, TTouch is not just about body work, but also in communication and how we react to situations and of course, doing some groundwork with her to help her focus and improve her confidence level.


So there you have the Situation. Itís certainly not an easy one and I knew I needed help, so I have called in a couple of people to help me. First of all, Iím too close to the situation and wanted to be sure I was seeing all the signs and then of course I only have 1 pair of hands and one set of eyes!  Iíll tell you more about that in the months to come!


All good thought are welcome!

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