27 April 2010

{27apr2010: Roid Rage}

Darwin's new nickname is Roids as in Roid Rage.  Ever since she's been "sick" and more so since she started taking all her drugs to treat meningitis Darwin barks at everything.  Any noise she hears, even if she's heard it a thousand times before, like the neighbors door opening or closing, or a bird, or any noise, she barks.  It usually starts as a low growl noise, then a soft grunt, then a bark and then another bark and then another.  She's even started barking at her reflection in the glass sliding door.  Sometimes she'll be laying on the bed or the couch and won't even lift her head to bark or grunt, she'll just lay there grunting at a noise. 
She also whines a lot more now.  She doesn't get what she wants... whine.  She can't get her food out of her bowl cause she's scared of the noise... whine.  She LOVES tomatoes and rice (besides apples) and so if we have some we'll put some in her bowl.  For some reason when she eats these things out of the bowl she bangs her bowl around and it scares her and she won't eat her food, but will stand there whining.  If she eats her regular food out of the bowl and it clangs around, she's fine.  But eating 
anything else out of her bowl becomes some big dramatic production.  See for yourself.

This was a short version of how she usually carries on and I know I probably shouldn't give in and hold her bowl for her, but if I don't she'll carry on FOREVER.  Any ideas how to help her get over that?
We're a few days away from finishing up all the main drugs and will start the process of weaning her off the prednisone.  Hopefully that'll help with her excessive thirst and eating (and peeing and pooping as a result) and the barking roid rage.

Thanks to everyone who's voted so far for Darwin!
If you haven't done so yet, please check out this post and vote for Darwin so we can win a trip to the Oregon coast! 


  1. poor darwin!!! i hope things get better soon!

  2. Take care, my friend. I hope all is better very soon.

  3. Hopefully things will change when she's off the drugs. Though I think I would bark if I looked at a glass door and saw another huge dog coming at me.

  4. Golly Darwin, sounds like there are some mentals issues going on there. Hey! I cry a lot and get freaked out too. Maybe because my nards supply me with roids 24x7. Hehehe. Hope you get your head back on straight again soon.


    P.S. Momma says clicker training might help if you haven't tried already.

  5. Oh no Darwin! Are you losing your marbles! I hope you get back to your old self really really fast!

    If it makes you feel any better I bark at EVERYTHING and I'm not on ANY medicine at all...

    Wags and woofs,
    Mack and Mia

  6. Awwww, poor girl. I hope it goes away when she gets off the meds. Some times things like that can get to be a habit. I know there are more issues than just with the food bowl but can you put a dish towel across the opening of the feeder so it does not clank like that when she goes to eat? If that does not work I would not feed her at that feeder until she gets less sensitive to sounds... As for the other stuff I am not the expert but I would not be overly consoling or give her attention when she cries, if you are on you toes you could praise her for not crying at some of the triggers you mentioned but that is really hard. You can also praise when she stops crying but that is tricky too because I never know how long to wait for them to stop crying and sometimes when you wait and are about to pet them they will start again and I am never sure about what they tie the praise too. I am just gonna keep my fingers crossed that when the prednisone goes away the regular darwin will return!

  7. Oh poor Darwin! Sounds like the side-effects from the drugs are horrible. I'm sure you're not doing this but just be careful that you're not rewarding her with any attention (even inadvertently) when she is barking/whining otherwise it will quickly become a habit that'll be hard to break, even when she's off the drugs! Dogs often develop behaviour bad habits when they're sick as they quickly work out that it gets them attention and of course, their humans feel sorry for them during the sick period and give in more easily...I know of one dog who learnt to start limping whenever he wanted attention (even after he was full recovered) and another who learnt to cough for attention! Dogs are such opportunists and will learn anything which gets attention really quickly!

    As for the bowl, I have to admit - Honey is a wimp too. We have to have her metal bowl fixed in a proper holder - otherwise if it slides around as she is eating, it'll scare her and she won't eat. Back in Auckland, we had a stand made for her but since moving to Oz, we haven't got one yet and so we just put her bowl on a chair...but it slides around and scares her, so we often have to hold it for her as she's eating!

    Once she flipped it over by mistake and it made a huge noise when it hit the ground and food splattered everywhere - and she just stood there barking at it like an idiot, instead of just eating up all the food like any other dog would have done! I always laugh because people talk about food resource guarding aggression and training your dog to allow you to touch their food bowls when they're eating...well, we've got one who won't eat unless we're holding her food bowl!

    I don't know if it's so much a drug thing as a wimpy Dane thing! :-)


  8. Oh- just wanted to say that Moose's human's suggestions (above) are good too - and if you are having trouble "marking" the moment she stops crying (to reward), a clicker (or marker word, eg. "Yes!") might help there.


  9. Hi Brooke - thanks for your comment! About your question about barking - that's a hard one as different people have different ideas. The "purely positive" people always believe that you should only ignore and wait until good behaviour occurs spontaneously to reward it - but as you said, in practice, this doesn't work sometimes when it is just too disruptive or even dangerous to just ignore the dog.

    Others (including myself) believe that it is OK to use an "interruptor" to interrupt the dog's behaviour - and then you can praise them for stopping. In this case, an interruptor can be a verbal reprimand from you or a sudden noise or (depending on the dog) something stronger (eg. spritz of water) - the important thing is that it HAS to stop the behaviour. So if you find that if you say "Shush" to Darwin and she stops barking long enough for you to reward her being silent "Good girl" (and/or redirect her onto another behaviour - eg, send her to her bed - something incompatible with barking) - then that's fine to use. But if you find that you're constantly having to say "Shush!" and she just keeps starting up barking again - then it's not an effective interruptor (and may even be a reward in the form of attention) and so you will need to look for something else that's more effective.

    I personally always give the dog 2 chances - ie. if Honey barks at some noise, I acknowledge it and don't reprimand her for it the first time - I say "OK - good girl - no more" - in a nice tone, because I think it's fair enough natural behaviour for the dog to alert us. But then if she persits in barking, I will change my tone to a harder, louder reprimand and say something like "No more, Honey!" - and as soon as she shuts up, I immediately go back to my sweet voice and say "Good girl!" - I find the variation in voice tone works very well with Honey. Of course, we're lucky in that she is not a very noisy dog so I don't know if this would work so well with another dog. If Honey didn't shut up after the 2nd reprimand, then I'd be looking for another interruptor that was more effective - eg. when she was a pup, we used to spritz her with water when she got too "naughty" - she hates water and that was very effective in stopping any unwanted behaviours! Purely positive people don't like these methods - they call it punishment - but I don't find that it damages my bond with Honey as long as I immediately praise her for stopping/changing her behaviour (ie. praise her for what she is doing RIGHT as well as correct her for what she is doing WRONG) - and also build bond at other times with lots of games & positive training.

    Hope this helps!

  10. Hey Brooke and Darwin,

    Some of Mobility Dogs I work with are scared of the metals bowls they eat out of - either because their collars hit it of it bang across the concrete. They still eat out of it now - mainly beacause we never realised that the reason they weren't eating was because they were scared of the bowl, we just presumed they were being stubborn/controlling(we don't watch the dogs eat)...so we took it away, and in the end the fact they were getting hungry and wanted the food concured their fear of the bowl. If you pretend you don't notice darwin being scared of the bowl and you don't react(which tells her the bowl is scary) she may just fix it herself - hehe that's if you can handle the whining :)

    I agree with Hsin-Yi with correcting the barking - there is no problem with correctign the behaviour (it's natural for other dogs correct each other).

    Acknowldge the noise, then if she doesn't stop, tell her to shhh(with whatever word you choose). And if she continues to carry on, I would shut her away.

    Hope you get the problem fixed,

  11. You poor thing! I hope once you finish your meds you'll be back to normal!!!
    Tail wags,