Dynamic Dog Case Study Betsy
January 06, 2023
Reactive Dog Walking

We knew it wasn’t just a Behaviour Problem

I met Besty, a Romanian Rescue Dog who was initially struggling to cope with the urban life of Edinburgh. She was reluctant to go out, scared of traffic noise, strangers and dogs. In short life outside her new home was a lot for her to handle. 

Her humans reached out to me for help in Nov 2021, Betsy had definitely landed on her paws in her new home but her humans were unsure how to help her be confident and go outside without being carried. Betsy also mouthed to get attention as well as jump up at people. 

Behaviour Plan 

Together we put into place a plan starting with helping Betsy get use to sudden noise and movement with Food Challenges. These allowed Betsy to grow and develop her resilience. 

Also ensured that some training fundamentals were taught so her owners had simple repetitive games to play. 

We added in calm association training for the things that Betsy found scary while allowing her time to process seeing and hearing novel things. We also taught her Leave and Drop to help prevent her from stealing items in the flat. 

Over the course of the next 8 weeks with Fortnightly appointments we gradually got Betsy use to going outside with short predictable walks. Along with her Humans hard work Betsy was able to comfortably walk to the near park which was 15 mins away on foot. 

Excellent Progress Until… 

Then Betsy had her first Season and all her hard work disappeared. Once she passed her season, Betsy had regressed in terms of her confidence and resilience. So we reset her training back to the beginning but it wasn’t as easy as it had been. 

After the stress of her season they moved home (a move that was planned prior to Betsy’s arrival) to a location with a busier road and a busy bus stop near their front door. Betsy could just cope going outside for a walk but if she saw a person, bus, heard noisy traffic she pulled to go home… essentially the walk would be over before it began.

Walks turned into a trip to the garden for toilet breaks or putting Betsy into the car to take her somewhere quiet. In quiet locations with no people around she enjoyed herself and even On my client meet up days Betsy was full of energy and running around with other Romainan dogs. 

Snaps, Growls and Lunges

She started to get snappy with one of her humans and was defensive of the location of dog food in the kitchen. If she was disturbed from sleep or dozing she would lunge and bark, she didn’t want to move when she was asked to get off the bed growling to make her humans leave her.. 

She was checked over by her Vet a couple of times too during this time and was diagnosed with a Phantom Pregnancy. This condition can cause aggression, fear, anxiety in dogs so we had to wait for her to get over it and restart training and see if her behaviour would reset. 

Once the phantom pregnancy ended Betsy’s overall behaviour in the home and outside did not improve.

After a lot of trying with behaviour and training and even after getting the all clear from the Vet. Both myself and her humans felt that something more was going on for Betsy beyond ‘just’ behaviour problems as suggested by the Vet. So I did a Dynamic Dog Assessment

Betsy and her humans
Betsy Playing

Spring 2022 Dynamic Dog Assessment

By this point I had developed a good relationship with Betsy and her humans, however I still performed a full assessment. We had a 90 min chat so I could make sure I had all the information about Betsy’s everyday life as they’d all gone through a number of changes since we first met. 

Questions involved learning exactly what Betsy’s day involved from the moment she gets up until she goes to bed. Asking how she eats, how she prefers to go to the toilet, what her favourite places to sleep were, how she liked to lie down, sit and stand. 

In short we went over a lot and the answers I was getting were starting to make me think pain was involved for Betsy. 

The Assessment results

Betsy’s humans were tasked with getting me particular videos and photos for me to analyse so I could correctly assess her postures and gaits, how she liked to move when eating and toileting. How she performed different activities like jumping on the bed and off it. 

My analysis highlighted abnormalities in Betsy’s movement her Right back leg was intermittently lame and she kept it off the floor longer than the left back leg when walking. She didn’t walk or move in a straight forward direction instead her left back leg moved towards the center and this caused her to veer right. 

Betsy also tilted her pelvis underneath instead of maintaining a natural neutral position and in turn this contributed to Betsy’s spine curving upwards at her lower back area. This happened in sit and while walking.

All these are considered faults in a dogs gait and posture, they could indicate that there is underlying discomfort or pain in these areas.I wrote a detailed report for Betsy’s Vet including the video and photographic evidence. I asked them to investigate to find the cause of these faults.

In the meantime Betsy’s humans continued to manage her behaviour which was becoming unpredictable and she was still snapping and reacting to her humans in the home. Very reluctant to go for a walk local to where she lived.

Chronic Pain in dogs doesn’t get expressed by whines and cries. It gets expressed via behaviour changes. This means a limited Vet exam will not provide accurate feedback on pain. 

When Betsy visited her Vet Unfortunately they didn’t agree with the findings in the Assessment as Betsy showed no signs of pain when they felt her over. 

Deciding Betsy ‘just’ had a behaviour problem, the Vet prescribed an Anti-anxiety medication to help.

Several weeks later there was no improvement to Betsy’s behaviour so her Humans pushed for a pain relief trial, stop the anxiety medicationl and the Vet agreed as originally suggested within the Assessment,

Within 6 weeks of being on pain relief Betsy’s behaviour improved MASSIVELY – she stopped snapping and reacting in the home. She found her confidence to go on walks again, was starting to return the Betsy we knew before her first season. 

The trial had proved that Betsy was in some form of pain or discomfort. Next steps were getting X-rays at her pelvic area where the assessment had highlighted faults. 

X-rays showed Betsy has Hip Dysplasia in her Right Hip. 

Betsy continues to be on pain relief as she goes to Hydrotherapy and also has laser therapy to strengthen her hip muscles and joints. Long term the plan is to hopefully remove her pain relief medication.

Additionally we revised Betsy’s behaviour and training plan, to ensure her good behaviours return in an easy fuss free way!

Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs during the growth stage in dogs. It results in the loosening of the hip joint, which causes dysfunction and pain. As the dog grows, the cartilage and bone of the hip begin to wear down. Over time, this causes arthritis, muscle atrophy, and limited mobility

Untitled design28 1
Untitled design28 1

Betsy’s humans say 

“Suzanne wanted to make sure we left no stone unturned and after hearing our feedback decided to carry out a Dynamic Dog Assessment with Betsy, explaining why she thought this would help. 

Suzanne picked up some anomalies in Betsy’s movement, which could be pain related and sent a report on our behalf to our vet. 

 Without this analysis and report, we would have had no idea that Betsy was in pain, which could be the root to her anxious and frightened behaviour

This investigation led to Betsy being diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Betsy is still ongoing with the treatment but we are already seeing improvements, just with the pain relief. We are very thankful to Suzanne for thinking outside the box and being able to provide this expert posture and movement analysis!”

If you like to find out more information about how a Dynamic Dog Assessment can help you and your dog CLICK HERE to book a call with me.

Further Reading

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Dynamic Dog Case Study: Yuki

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