Now in New York City at Instinct Dog Behavior and Training

When Pain Doesn’t Look Like Pain

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My dog Dexter has been slightly anxious for several months. I had thought it was possibly due to me being away more frequently.

We had been giving him some calming treats with supplements that seemed to help. I had the vet check him out and did some basic blood work which looked normal.

My plan was to see if he improved once my seminar circuit was finished for the year and to start up his chiropractic treatments again as soon as I could. He’s been dealing with a soft tissue injury since the Spring and the chiropractor helped a lot with that.

However, recently his anxiety has increased. He has been reluctant to respond to basic cues like sit and down but still fine with recall and attention, which is very unlike him.

I attended a seminar this weekend and he is usually very calm and comfortable in this environment but seemed on edge the whole weekend, even in the hotel room. He refused to sit especially quite frequently – again very unusual. I thought at that point perhaps he was sore. Even in the hotel he seemed on edge and having a hard time settling, not listening as well etc.

He was especially bad in the car, panting the whole time when he normally settles and travels well. The whole 5 to 6 hour drive home today he hardly settled.

After chatting with my wise friend Kristy Gibson about how he was on the drive home and his continued odd behaviour since we got back, I gave him some medication I had on hand (prescribed for my other dog, never give your dog any medication without speaking to your vet) at her suggestion. He pretty much passed out within 20 minutes which tells us he was likely sore and keyed up because of it – now that the pain is gone he is finally able to rest and is crashing.

I will be looking into a better pain management system for him but I wanted to share this as it is a great example of when physical pain can manifest in subtle behavioural signs. Because I know my dog well I can pick this up and move forward.