You’ve always owned dogs and you’ve never had any hard time training them, but this one right here seems like a lost cause: he’s completely unmanageable. He doesn’t listen, he makes a mess out of the house, he’s scared of everything, and he can’t seem to calm down. In other words: he makes you go through hell! Is this something that you’ve already experienced? You felt like you were so incompetent, that you couldn’t manage your dog even though he’s not the first you’ve owned.
Then perhaps your dog is a “special edition”?
“Special editions” is the term used my Dr. Martin Godbout, a veterinary behaviorist, to describe dogs that are more difficult to work with. These dogs often secrete a less important quantity of relaxing hormones; they stress and get anxious really easily, and will have a hard time calming down. These types of dogs are easily distracted by various stimuli, easily scared and seem incapable of learning anything. You can come across dogs showing all the mentioned signs or just a few of them. If you think you own a “special edition” dog, it is important to have your pet assessed by a veterinary behaviorist to be sure it is really the case.
If the evaluation confirms it, it is probable that your dog needs to be medicated in order for him to be able to learn, to have less excessive reactions and to calm down quicker. The faster the problem is identified, the better it is because dogs learn more during the first 4 months of their lives than they can in a lifetime. Of course, easier said than done! A puppy is generally more excited. However, once it sets paws in your home, it is important to start training it. So despite that you’ve been training your puppy from day 1, it’s not able to learn, it’s often distracted, and has excessive reactions, do not hesitate to contact a professional. In Quebec, a survey has been developed in order to help veterinarians assess whether or not your pet is a “special edition”, an “in-between” or a nothing. Depending on the results, you’ll be able to know if your dog needs medical help. In some cases, the medication can be prescribed for a several-months period or for a lifetime to ensure your pet regains a normal health and learns how to have a better control of he’s reactions.
Unfortunately, a great number of dogs that have this condition get abandoned by their owners and end up in a shelter. Many of them are put to sleep even though a logical explanation to their behavior exists. Often, people wait too long before taking any action and end up being exhausted from all the work. They then choose drastic measures to solve their problems while if they had consulted at an earlier point their dog would have been able to regain a stable behavioral health. It’s only with the right information that we can make the right decisions and not rush into ones.
Si vous pensez que vous êtes dans cette situation, n’hésitez pas à voir votre vétérinaire. Le plus tôt sera le mieux et vous retrouverez un chien normal et agréable à vivre. Attention, ce n’est pas parce que votre chien ne vous écoute pas qu’il est forcément une “édition spéciale”. Souvent, un simple cours d’éducation canine en renforcement positif vous permettra de mieux comprendre votre chien et ainsi régler certains problèmes de comportements. If you believe you are in this situation, do not hesitate to see a veterinarian. The earlier the better and you’ll be happy to have a normal and easy-to-live-with dog. Be careful: your dog not listening to you doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a “special edition”. Sometimes a simple dog training class of positive reinforcement will allow you to have a better understanding of your dog and solve behavioral issues.
Catherine Gouillard, BSc Biology
Certified Animal Behaviour specialist