DYLAN’S REHAB JOURNEY
Dylan came into the rehabilitation centre due to very complex guarding issues and a bite history. His behavioural issues were multi layered and he was generally at odds with the whole world. His list of issues was pretty long but not unusual: Self-guarding, resource guarding, touch reactive, environmentally reactive, and human reactive. In December 2023, Dylan joined us for a rehabilitation stay and he worked very hard on his issues and he’s been back with his amazing family since March, a much happier, healthier boy.
Below are a few of Dylan’s rehab diary extracts from his time with us and some updates from his family once he was home.
Dylan joined us in late December. He is a complex fellow who can show high level reactivity at home. He has been under his vets with his family for physical issues that may be affecting/enhancing/be the cause of his behaviours and next week moves under our vets for further investigation into this chicken and egg situation to enable us to help him further and truly understand exactly what’s going on for him physically and emotionally. He is very relaxed and settled here and takes each day in his stride in his own way. He’s a fab lad that just needs more help on behavioural and veterinary levels to understand what’s happening for him right now so we can hopefully make the world a better place for him.
(Dylan was paired with a friend who was also on rehab) Dylan and his friend have very similar issues, they are intense worriers, can be guarders and show high reactivity in the home. Dylan on arrival could be very reserved and not always engage fully and his friend is very reserved and nervous.
Having been here for a while and having been assessed they moved under our vets to see if the vets felt medical intervention would support them in their journey with us and so they have started this week on their anti-anxiety medication to help them generally run at a calmer level. Just like human’s dogs can find the world just too much and long-term ineffective coping mechanisms leads to snowballing of stress and anxiety and the inability to cope day to day of course comes through in their behaviours as it does with us and dogs of course can’t easily tell us complex things like "it’s just all too much and I’m not coping".
Over the week the boys have been more relaxed, less "in their own heads" and engaging more with the outside world. More tail wags, more confidence as they become braver and calmer, and this has been great to see and very noticeable. We have not done any “work” with them this week we have simply let them start their new medication and come out to play and burn about each day and let them move in their own time to a calmer place.
Dylan has had a good week, day by day he comes out of his shell more. He is multi handler with the staff now as he widens his trusted people circle here.
No guarding or shut down behaviour being shown as he relaxes and is engaging with the world again … being a dog without pressure or expectations.
Dylan and a friend enjoying free play time with the staff and group walks together investigating the fields, sniffing, and scenting and engaging really well with each other and their environment without hesitation or worry.
Dylan is doing well, enjoying being a dog, panting, scenting even some fuss and careful body touch. We showed him a grooming brush and he communicated really well … he growled and walked away from Jess, so he needs more time and help with this. However, he did choose to come back a few times to sniff and investigate the brush so that’s good progress for Dylan as life generally can be a challenge for him.
Dylan is still wary of body touch with a brush so we’re taking that slowly. He is not feeling the need to guard items or space or food, just himself when it comes to grooming. He is much calmer; he now interacts fully in his way with the world and feels less inhibited. He has come a long way as one of the key things he has also learnt is that when he talks and communicates whether that be a snarl or growl, we back off, so he does not have the need to take it further as he feels listened to which is massively important …. Never punish the growl … instead reassure verbally and create space.
Dylan’s diary for last week: we tried very gentle, slow harness training with Dylan, and he just couldn’t cope with interacting with a harness and started guarding behaviours again, so he has had a couple of days to decompress again and a change of scenery looking for pheasants, sniffing about and seeing the farm animals and he is back to his old “new self” here again.
End Of March 2023:
Dylan leaves us this weekend. He has had a long journey with us and achieved so much. He’s learnt a new way of being and socialising with people again on his own terms using hand signals to invite him to socialise in our space and being able to choose when he leaves that interaction when he needs to. His self-guarding has diminished, his original aloof interaction with the world has moved to him engaging and showing emotions and being a part of it again. He has not been able to accept grooming which is no surprise as he was totally touch reactive. So, Friday, I am taking him to the vets for sedation and clipping and he’ll have a final check with the vet before he goes home. He struggles with 24/7 domesticity and the pressures that puts on him so his family have installed a kennel so he can have “Dylan time” to decompress daily. The biggest gift you can give a very complex dog is acceptance for who they are, and Dylan’s family are doing this by ensuring he has all he needs to help him cope with the world after rehabilitation.
A couple of updates from Dylan’s owners:
Hi Joy. Little update on Dilly. He’s been doing really well! Been much less reactive and settling in well at home. He spent yesterday afternoon in the sunshine, cuddled next to me on the garden swing seat. We’ve taken him to his favourite walking area, and he was great, responded to all his commands, had a little play with a couple of very boisterous dogs and then recalled immediately back to us when I blew his whistle. So, really pleased with him. Many thanks x
Hi Joy. We went to the Game Fair today with Dylan, a big test for him with thousands of people and dogs – he smashed it! Was really calm and did really well in the dog agility. The first time he’s done that since his op and rehab. Can’t believe how far he’s come since the dark days before Xmas. Thought you would like to see how all your wonderful work with him has really helped him xx