Otto, a young puppy, came to Bath Cats and Dogs Home as his owner wanted him euthanised for unpredictable biting with no apparent trigger. Rosie, a behaviourist who worked at the rescue centre, fostered him and noted behaviours such as waking up in the middle of the night, growling at walls and inanimate objects, as well as at her. Other times he just stared into space, seemingly in a different world. However, most of the time Otto continuously mouthed his toys, chewing hard, almost in desperation and extreme frustration. He could be on a lap or lying next to a person, and all would appear to be okay, then suddenly he would bite (not mouth) and yelp. The bites were a low level but would split the skin, most likely due to sharp puppy teeth. The Bath vets recommended euthaniser; they said that if he is this ‘bad’ now at such a young age, there would be little hope for him becoming a 'safe' dog.
In the hope that AZ could shed light on Otto's behaviour, he attended one of my classes. He showed little interest in behavioural remedies; instead, he selected four powerful plant-based painkillers, St John’s wort, arnica, devil’ s claw and birch. Otto chose to take these orally other than birch, which he spent a long time inhaling, after working with all of the pain related remedies he yawned several times and drifted into a deep sleep. Rosie took Otto home that night along with a bottle of birch; once he settled he began to play-bounce it. He became very possessive over the bottle of birch, almost desperate for it, staying near it for the entire evening. Otto and was noticeably calmer, for the first time Rosie wasn’t woken by him growling, and in the morning, she had a much happier settled puppy.
Otto selected his remedies for over the week before losing interest in them, he was a changed dog. The vets allowed him to be put up for re-homing and shortly afterwards Otto was rehomed to a lovely family. Rosie followed up with a courtesy call and was amazed to find out that even though Otto had been getting on very well, he defecated a long shard of wood, much like that found on a skirting board. Interestingly the lady, nor Rosie had any wood/skirting board that matched this piece in their homes. It is very likely that his caused Otto a lot of pain, which is most likely why he bit then yelped; wood is invisible under x-ray, so would have gone unnoticed. Once Otto had passed the plaster, his behaviour took a massive leap of improvement, he sailed through puppy class and is now training to be a PAT (Pets as Therapy) dog! This case is a clear example of physical discomfort/pain causing a behavioural problem.