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Advice please - ADHD

Discussion in 'Doberman Talk and Discussions' started by VicDobee, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    Hello, I have a 3 year old female Doberman who I love to bits. At about 12 months she was diagnosed with ADHD. It was like the normal Doberman teen liveliness, but ten fold. And she has never grown out of it like she should have by now. I avoided medications and decided to engage in a strict training regime, which has been pretty successful. She knows the rules and generally does as she’s told, although can be a complete nightmare at times. However, when she gets distracted by something she is difficult to stop. Taking her for a walk is a nightmare. She generally walks well on a leach, although walkeis can be really over stimulating for her and I come home from every walk with a new injury. Generally grazed knees and hands where I hit the dirt, but also a shoulder injury that took weeks to heal and a cracked bone in my elbow. But besides all this, she has been a sweet and loving dog when there isn’t too much stimulation around. Luckily I live on a large rural property where she has a quiet life and loads of space to burn off her excess energy.
    Over the last year, her excitement has started to become vicious. She has attacked my other dog (a staffy) three times. And a few days ago she managed to pull down a big fence in order to attack another dog. Luckily I got to her in time and there were no injuries. But the determination to get this dog was frightening and there was no stopping her or calming her down. She didn’t respond to any commands and was just so completely focused. I feel she had now become a dangerous dog and I have lost all trust in her. I have made the very hard decision that it is no longer safe for me to keep her, but due to her behaviour I am nervous about finding her a new home while she has these issues. Sadly, a few people have suggested euthanasia due to the level of danger she is presenting with, although I’m finding it difficult to think about this. I guess I’m trying to make some tough decisions about what to do next and was hoping to get some views / advice / opinions from you kind folks.

    • Empathetic Empathetic x 5
  2. Panama

    Panama Hot Topics Subscriber

    Have you sought the help of a professional for training and behavior modification? Without actually trying the medications under controlled conditions an actual diagnosis of ADHD is just an assumption on your vet's part.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. Oh Little Oji

    Oh Little Oji Formerly Tad Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    I don't think I have heard of ADHD in animals.

    Your injuries on walks: It sounds like she is pulling and jerking on leash so hard she is pulling you down and you are falling?

    This, along with going after other dogs does not sound like a special medical condition. In fact, it sounds pretty familiar. Am I missing something?
    • Agree Agree x 4
  4. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    I do think that the diagnosis was a bit of an assumption, which is another reason I avoided medication. As far as I am aware, she is the only Doberman in the area so I don’t think my vet is too familiar with the breed.
    I have been through a couple of trainers, one of which would take her for a walk each day, with us trying all different techniques and training devices between us, although none of them worked and her behaviour still escalated when something caught her attention. The trainer gave up and stopped working with us.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Rodyboy

    Rodyboy Jr Member

    I just joined this chat not long ago and have been waiting to see a post like this. We have a very loving, beautiful dobe that we love very much. I have had a black eye, a lump on my forehead, my finger almost cut off from a leash, knocked down at least three times on our back patio which is cement, dragged across the front yard, AND I am considered a senior citizen. I live in the US in Ohio and we have a vet that works closely with behaviorlists. Buddy spent a day with our vet and was observed and diagnosed with ADHD. We have had 5 previous dobermans. I have never dealt with anything like this. Two of our dobermans were rescues that were abused. They had their problems but nothing like this. We had three puppies adopted from six to eight weeks. We had one I called slap happy, the other ones were just energetic dobes with all the traits you expect to see. None of them, not one, had Buddy's problem of non focus. Our vet loves this breed, he has told us that and I can see it when he works with him. In the early days of tKing him to the vet the techs or our vet would help us take him outside. We have worked and worked with him through training and daily work of sit and waiting for him to focus on us for every command. I have had little time for else. You should see my house! Doc said try medication, we rejected for months. When he turned about 18 months we opted for medication. My husband is a right leg amputee and Buddy was on leash while he was in an outdoor chair, Buddy being supercharged on some distraction pulled him and the chair over and hubby weighs over 200 lbs. That was IT! Now, it is not the cure all beat all of the century but it does help, attention span is better and also helping as he ages. He won't have to remain on it. Just long enough to learn a calm down point which we help him to do. Now, we were thinking of rehoming and asked our vet what to do and he said, this was at about a year old, and he said Don't Put Him Down, we weren't even thinking of that yet, and he said he would help us rehome him. A Doberman rescue tagged him as unadoptable, and a person wanted to keep him outside.......no dobe can survive outside..... The weather snow and such and their stron human attachment. Sooooooooo what do we do? Put him down? We couldn't do that. Although at times, with my patience wearing thin........you know. Anyway, last vet visit was the best and our vet says he is a different dog. Could not believe it was the same dog. It has been a lot of work and time and I have three loads of laundry that need folded, and black hair everywhere, but he is catching on. It is a difficult problem and time and patience is the only answer. We felt for a long time we were not good for him but our vet told us we have really been good for him and he was glad we decided to keep him. I don't know if my experience can help you, being retired has given us the time but it is one day at a time, over and over with the training every day. Keep low on outside stimulants. Walks can be way to stimulating. They need to run and play in safe setting for you. Let us know, we do understand.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    Oh wow. I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I can relate to everything you have said. My house is a complete mess. No carpets left, all have been ripped up or eaten, door frames eaten, table destroyed, no plants left in the garden, numerous dinners knocked out of my hands and flung across the floor, and I no longer own any hats or umbrellas. But I can deal with all of that and don’t really get bothered by it. I’ve spent 3 years trying to get her to focus and she has come a very long way and made some great improvements. She even knows 2 tricks! That might not seem a big deal, but believe me it is.
    But even now, just going to pat her can be over stimulating at times and result in something flying across the room. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been knocked over when Ive just got up to visit the toilet, and the excitement has been too much for her. All of this has been very frustrating at times, but she’s been such a gentle and loving dog with her goofyness, and it has all come from a place of love. And her lack of focus / distractability has always been about fun, which in a way has helped with training her to improve her focus. I now have a couple of rugs on the floor that haven’t been destroyed. Progress!!
    But it’s the change over the last year (approx) that is getting me worried. She was always just goofy when over stimulated. But now she can get vicious and just so focused on getting to the thing she wants to attack. Some time ago a chicken managed to escape the coop and find its way into the dog garden. I found the poor thing sitting under a bush, unharmed but dripping wet in dog drool. I have no doubt that if that were to happen again now, the chicken would be ripped to pieces.
  7. Ddski5

    Ddski5 Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Never heard of ADHD in dogs.

    But I find that Dobermans are ALOT like kids. They thrive off of structure, discipline and boundaries. Don’t give them this and their world is just way to erratic for them to understand. They need this to put things into order for them control their wants and needs.

    You prob have already but I would lock him down with a leash tethered to my hip and do structured NILIF.

    He must understand you are the boss and all things come from you. Easier said than done, yes....but you have to get control for him to be in control.

    My 2cents.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  8. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Before I made any decisions on this dog's future I would have to have a very thorough examination with blood work to rule out any medical problems.
    A few years ago, a friend of a friend came to me having very similar problems with her dog. The Vet put the dog on prozac and she didn't respond well, lots of itching and a huge loss of appetite, she lost almost 10 pounds. I am not even close to a trainer but this woman wanted me to look at her dog because mine are so well behaved. She wanted to get her off prozac sooner than later.
    I just asked her a few questions and felt it wasn't a behavior problem but a medical problem. She went to a different Vet for a second opinion and sure enough, it was a thyroid problem. In this case it was hyper vs hypo like dobies can suffer from. In less than a month of treatment the dog became completely normal, no more erratic behavior. She's almost 10 years old now and the sweetest and well mannered dog.
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  9. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    She is actually well aware of who is boss, and she has firm boundaries. As with all dobermans, she pushes boundaries and puts her own slant on things. But due to the ADHD, normal training methods do not work and you have to find other ways.
    The attention deficit part of the ADHD means that she has very poor concentration and most of the training needs to be aimed towards gaining focus. And doing this with fun activities can lead to the hyperactive part of the ADHD being stimulated, and then all hell breaking loose.
    A simple explanation of this (to try and help people gain a bit more understanding) is giving her a simple pat on the head. Going to pat her can be very stimulating. She will knock you out the way, bounce around excited and then end up running around and around the garden, getting more excited and distracted by something as simple as a leaf falling off a tree. So in order to pat her, you must get her to sit and look at you. If she shows any excitement when you go to pat her, you must stop and put your hand behind your back, gain her attention again and then try to pat her again. It takes an average of 4 attempts before you are able to pat her calmly. And when you get there, she loves it, relaxes on the floor and demands belly rubs.
    Discipline also needs alternative methods. Being firm and authoritative is very over stimulation and results is behaviour escalating. I have found that the best form of discipline is to simple ignore her and removes her from the environment, away from me and my other dog. The feeling of being left out, and missing out on something will focus her attention after a while, and she will calm down. She has learnt a lot with these methods and now responds to certain cues.
    But the ADHD is not something she can control and at times you can see her trying so very hard to control it that it pulls at your heart strings.
    But I think you miss the point of my dilemma. The ADHD on its own is not really an issue. The aggression, on its own is not really an issue either, as it can generally be trained away. But the combination of the two leads to a very dangerous situation.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    Thanks for that. Very constructive and well worth looking into. All previous examinations have been fine, but worth trying again.
  11. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    I have never heard of ADHD in dogs either, so I’m intrigued to see more comments coming in. To me, now, it sounds like a normal young Doberman. I know it’s hard to hear, but sometimes the people evaluating our dogs don’t really know what they’re talking about because they deal with rather relaxed breeds that are ok to chill out on the sofa. My 1.5 year old Doberman was told to go back to puppy class for no reason other than that he ‘appeared’ to not be able to focus. He’s plenty focused, it’s just that their training methods were boring and didn’t work for his breed. Who are your trainers? What experience do they have? Any titles? It is important to get the right trainers for this breed otherwise you’re wasting your money. We tried so many before finding the right ones. We have to know our dogs, and advocate on their behalf.

    We are first time Doberman owners as well, so hang in there, my Doberbeast says I’m right. He’s nothing short of amazing now that we have the right people supporting us.

    FF6F8CEE-501D-421A-929A-1FF475800658.jpeg 67C370AF-AC96-46FF-999B-4FCCDA680EF9.jpeg
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  12. Rodyboy

    Rodyboy Jr Member

    You have done so much work with your dog. I had never heard of a dog being ADHD either till Buddy. I think I will also have his thyroid checked. The behaviors you are experiencing are also in Buddy. He is so over distracted and we have had to work on focus so much. Being the owner of 5 other dobes I can truly say this is not a norm. I thought it had to do with no training for five months and left in a kennel ago forth but it is not. He is on Prozac and does fine with it. Like I have said it is not a cure all and it was with much research and trepidation on our part we agreed to it. It has helped, but has not slowed all of his behaviors. For instance a bug flying at him can set him off. He has slowed down some but I see the same thing, trying so hard to listen or stop and sometimes he wins sometimes he loses. It is heartbreaking because you know they are trying. It is NOT normal Doberman behavior, our dog has been observed by our vet, and I trust him to know this breed and their behaviors. He suggested medication to calm him down so he could enjoy life instead of being harassed by it. He has had no reaction to it, and he has allergys to certain types of flea meds, to the nickel on collars. I hope this helps you. Let me know. I am going to ask vet about thyroid.
  13. Doberman Gang

    Doberman Gang Hot Topics Subscriber

    ASHD in Dogs? Interesting, I wonder if that is a term they are using for higher drive dogs now.
    Are you allowed to use any kind of correction collar in Australia that can teach her how to walk on a leash properly?
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  14. cheribuns

    cheribuns Novitiate

  15. WiglWerm

    WiglWerm Hot Topics Subscriber

    I was reading the issues and all I could think of was PRONG COLLAR!! LIFESAVER!!! Seriously, almost an instant change...like walking a FEATHER and I mean 2 full grown dobies at the same time. EVEN when a squirrel crossed our path I STILL had complete control!!
    • Agree Agree x 6
  16. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    I am so glad you wrote this post. Thank you so much. It’s good to know there is someone else who is dealing with this issue. I was starting to get a bit frustrated by people saying they have never heard of ADHD in dogs and then insinuating that it doesn’t exist by suggesting I try training her. I thought about going on a big rant, but realised that my focus was being drawn towards defending my dog rather than dealing with the situation at hand. Thank you.
  17. VicDobee

    VicDobee Lurking Member

    Correction collars have actually been amazing. When she gets over stimulated and turns into an unstoppable ball of bouncing energy, there is always A LOT of barking. I started to see the barking as a way to help try and control her behaviour. I initially tried putting things up all around the garden that make a nasty sound when she barks. But in many ways she is a normal Doberman who is hyper aware of her environment. When these devices made a noise, it represented a change in her environment which just escalated the situation. Plus they sent me other dog running for cover and made her quite anxious. So then I tried a collar that sprays stuff in her face when she barks. This also acted as a stimulant and increased the barking. So much stuff was sprayed into her face that her eyes would get red and watery. This resulted in her not being able to see properly and so not being able to do her job of monitoring the environment, which led to hyper vigilance and increased the crazy. As a last resort I got a static electricity collar that gives a small shock. I did my research and found one that lets her bark a few times, encouraging normal behaviour, before letting of a warning sound. If she ignores this sound, she gets a shock. This works brilliantly and she learnt very quickly. Initially the shock would stop her in her tracks and she would instantly calm down. Now, the warning sound is enough to start calming her down and in most incidents and helps her to start controlling herself before she gets zapped. It has helped her gain focus and many aspects of her behaviour have changed, although she still has her moments of uncontrollable crazy, just without the barking.
    However, when she went for the other dog a few days ago and managed to pull down a big fence to get to it, she was wearing this collar and was barking constantly and viciously. She was so focused and intent on getting this other dog that she ignored all of the zaps. It really was frightening.
    As a side note, the collar didn’t work on walks. Walks are just too over stimulating, and so we don’t do them anymore. She has half an acre to run around in at home, so has play time and exercise in an environment she knows, without extra stimulants. This works well, and my other dog has a few hiding places that she runs to when the crazy kicks in.
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  18. Rodyboy

    Rodyboy Jr Member

    I was also feeling bad about the advice you were getting on training and the problem with being open enough to accept that there can be a physical cause for some behaviors without making the owner feel as though he has done something wrong. I to have had to put walks on hold as you probably are saying. Over stimulated especially by sounds. I use stimulation collar also. The ecollar does not shock it just stimulates the muscle like the tensil unit my husband has implanted in his back. It has helped, but nothing is fail proof. The over stimulation does cause anxiety because they still ARE so willing to please and do not understand their own reaction. I am not trying to humanize them, they do know NO and ok, like that is good behavior that is bad. You can try medication, the thyroid check and go from there. We each have to make our own decisions based on Our knowledge. No one walks in our shoes, we can only TRY to walk in someone else's. God bless you and your girl, you have shown incredible patience and caring. All anyone has to do is look at your other dogs behavior, looking for hiding places. I hope I've helped a little.
  19. jazzies mum

    jazzies mum Notable member

    I am in Australia too and empathise with your problem. If you have a good vet you trust and they recommend some type of medication it might be worth a try. Just my opinion though as I haven't had any experience with ADHD in dogs.

    However, regarding a prong collar. This is frowned upon in Australia, but is not illegal to use in a humane manner. It might be worth researching this online to get some idea of how it works and the basic training methods if you haven't already. Having said that, it isn't recommended for dogs that are dog aggressive. Just letting you know that you can acquire a prong collar in Australia via online sellers if you feel it might help you. :)
  20. Ravenbird

    Ravenbird Member

    I think we are a kind group and the advice you were given was given in a kind manner, not critical of you or your dog. Some simply stated that they had not heard of this in dogs. If prong collars are allowed where you live, I would encourage you to try it for your walks. You are dealing with a very hard situation and have lots of tools/methods/training to choose from to see what works, no matter what the cause of the behavior is. If they don't work, toss them out and try another tool. We are here to suggest things, just as you wanted us to!
    • Agree Agree x 3
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