Delta: Reactive Dog

Caroline Ingraham Animal Chronicles

Delta was returned to the breeder by her first owner in December 2010, because the owner said she couldn’t cope with her disobedience and aggressive nature. 

Delta The DogWe brought Delta home from the breeder on 1st January 2011 when she was 18 months old. During the first nine months we saw precious little evidence of her aggressive behaviour. The aggressive behaviour really began after spaying, culminating in a terrible incident in August 2012 when she bit her groomer badly. Delta has snapped at us both subsequently and has also started to attack Django (our other dog). Django and Delta used to play happily for long periods with or without toys. However, in the last year this has changed dramatically and they can now play for no longer than a minute before she becomes aggressive and we have to separate them.  Delta is now also extremely possessive with her toys - to the extent of gathering together every toy in the room and lying on them to prevent Django from getting near them. We would not consider it safe to take a toy or any food away from her.

Normally Delta is very obedient. It is as if she has a switch and can suddenly turn from being a loving, affectionate, obedient dog who loves being stroked and having human contact, into a primitive, feral, wild animal. When reprimanded she can become very petulant - like a stroppy child, and goes running off outside in a tantrum, barking loudly.

Delta has always been food-obsessive, but it is becoming progressively worse. When we are cooking or eating a meal she constantly prowls around us with her nose to the ground scavenging for the smallest crumbs or morsels she can find. She has also had a major obsession with birds and will even actively go looking for them either in the sky outside, or by looking through the blinds for them on the roofs of adjacent houses, however we have noticed that she doesn’t do this when out on a walk. Delta has recently started to bring in stones from outside and over-reacts to noises. She also has a number of fears - water (swimming, being bathed/showered, rain), thunderstorms, windy weather and fireworks. Delta has had several UTIs (Proteus) since being spayed in Nov 2011. We have not had her vaccinated since she has lived with us, although her previous owner did vaccinate her. She is wormed using Verm-x.

Delta is a predominantly loving dog although she no longer gives the impression of being “happy.” When we first had her, she seemed happier and always had a waggy tail, but now she seems more tense, anxious, highly strung and on the alert. She often seems troubled and insecure no matter how much love and attention she is shown. She is fed a BARF diet: she gulps her food down, and has a noisy, voracious appetite. Primarily we want Delta to be as healthy as possible; we want to give her the best and happiest life we can. In addition, we all need to feel ‘safe’ around Delta and to not have to be concerned about the safety of family and friends visiting and worrying if she is suddenly going to ‘turn’. We are especially concerned at this time of year about the effect of firework noises on the dogs; we have tried everything we can think of to help but with very little success. Just recently Delta is not wanting to go far outside, so we arranged an appointment with Caroline.

Caroline Takes Up The Story

The session took place on 7th February.2016. My latest methods resulted in dramatic changes. After offering powdered nutrients, which Delta was not interested in, I went onto offering remedies for dogs that have been spayed.

Delta was spayed five years ago and had suffered from a lot of urinary tract problems. So I went straight to remedies that support the bladder, since pain and discomfort can be present without infection, due to adhesions causing inflammation of the bladder. I offered sandalwood, which many spayed dogs select. She immediately lifted her back leg for it to be applied, then she lay on the floor exposing her abdomen/bladder area for further application. Delta had approximately 2mls applied before indicating that she had had enough. She then took a few drops of undiluted yarrow orally from my fingers and then wanted it topically on her bladder area. She also inhaled carrot seed, German Chamomile and lemon.

Delta was desperate for thyme essential oil, which is a very potent oil, she licked it undiluted from my hand and then lay down, licked her front legs and began to ‘process.’  She also selected garlic, bitter almond and clove, all of which she spent some time inhaling, as well as wanting them applied topically. I wanted to see if Delta needed pain relief to her bladder area. She chose St. John’s wort although didn’t want it on the bladder, instead she wanted it on the inside of one of her back legs, along the vein which offers rich absorption into the blood. In addition she sniffed wintergreen.The night before my session, Delta, had been up half the night beside herself with fear, due to intense windy weather. During the session the wind was still in the height of a storm, but Delta was no longer bothered by it, neither did she care that someone sneezed, something she would normally react to. Delta was oblivious to anything that she had found scary in the past.

I then offered Delta remedies that support the stomach, and she could not get enough ginger essential oil, it was a key remedy for her. She spent a very long time with it. She also enjoyed the ginger being applied along the inside of her leg. It made her really playful, something her guardian had not seen before. It was wonderful. I re-offered the main key oils: clove took over from thyme, Delta was now really keen on it and spent a long time sniffing it. I put a few drops of clove on a cloth and she went to sleep with her nose by it. When Delta awoke, she started eating dried seaweed, so I offered undiluted seaweed extract, which she wanted orally. She became playful again. When I re-offered wintergreen (she had taken stomach support), she licked a few drops undiluted from my hand. I checked to see if she wanted any between her legs, and she did.

Delta is not keen on being handled or groomed (can bite). If she sees clippers, scissors, or brushes she will run to the door or hide, shaking. She has never allowed the fringe covering her eyes to be lifted up. However, at this point in the session, it was no longer a problem. In the past, violet leaf, vanilla and linden blossom had been used to help support Delta’s grooming experience. I put ginger essential oil all over her grooming equipment, with a little violet leaf and put it by her bed. She walked over to it, sniffed it, and went to sleep with her nose by the brush, clippers and scissors!

Delta’s Recommended Key Remedies

  • Spayed: Sandalwood; yarrow - urinary / bladder support
  • Stomach: German chamomile, ginger, and black pepper
  • Antibacterial: Thyme, lemon, garlic, clove
  • Pain: St. John’s wort, wintergreen
  • Behaviour: Violet leaf

It took one hour and fifteen minutes for Delta, in the session, to become playful, relaxed, and no longer noise sensitive, while showing no fear of her grooming equipment. The remedies that she selected indicated that her problems seemed to be related to stomach/digestion and complications that can be experienced from being spayed. She was also offered remedies for hormonal support but didn’t select them. In the past, many more behavioural oils were offered, without the results that were seen with the physical remedies.