Pain & Stress Can Intensify Behavior Problems

It’s been a whirlwind these past couple of months because of my upcoming wedding. Well, it’s come and gone, was the best day of my life so far, and it’s now time to get back to focusing on dogs. I will be sure to share about our wedding experiences with the dogs in upcoming blog posts.

Many of you have been asking how Marvel is doing. Thank you so much for your concern and checking in. Between wedding planning, operating my business, medical/physical issues with first Marvel, and now Tricky, I haven’t been able to set aside time to blog and let everyone know publicly. In my last blog, I shared that after a tough few months, I had finally accepted who Marvel is. In the “good Marvel” department:  He is an awesome little dude that brings so much joy and laughter to our lives. In the “could be better Marvel” department: He also is sensitive to many different things; He barks and lunges at dogs who are in close proximity; He doesn’t want people who he doesn’t know extremely well, and trusts, to handle him; He does not want to be touched when he is resting; He guards his space and food items. All the “could be better Marvel” behaviors increase when he is in pain or under stress.

Marvel’s problem behaviors increased intensified suddenly in early January. It seemed to have intensified out of the blue, but in retrospect, I was able to track the changes in Marvel’s behavior, some more subtle than others, that have occurred over the past 6-10 months. I believe this is how dog behavior change frequently appears to their owners–the owners don’t recognize a serious problem (or problems) developing until it’s too late. That is exactly what happened to me. I was too close to the situation to be able to see the whole picture. In retrospect, Marvel’s sudden intensification in aggression opened my eyes–I’m actually grateful for it. After a thorough process of analysis and evaluation, I was able to better understand what was going on with my dog. As a result of that understanding, I was able address it sooner rather than later.

After several vet and physical therapist meetings, we figured out Marvel was sore in early January. The pain he was experiencing in early January magnified what was behaviorally already there. Perhaps it was from agility, perhaps it was from wrestling with his sister, Tricky. I also believe the three-day weekend of agility activity, with Marvel at the center of it all, put him over threshold. All of the things that trigger him stacked against him and he became overwhelmed. It probably took days for his nervous system to calm down. These physiological and physical issues likely exacerbated behavioral issues that were already developing and I was finally able to see them with sharp clarity.

Marvel is currently doing really well, both physically, mentally, and in training! In the next blog, I will write about what I have been doing to modify his behavior while managing him to minimize incidents of reactivity.

Clarity & harmony…a better way of living with your dog.