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  1. Hello, I'm feeling discouraged and need to hear your encouraging stories about difficult reactive OCD dogs. :-( We adopted Merlin a year ago. He was 3 years old and had been given to a shelter by his previous owner. We know very little about his life before: he was with the same owner for 3 years until he moved in with his girlfriend, who had "a little dog", the two of them didn't get along well and they decided to give Merlin. He was with 2 different foster families for 2 months until we adopted him. Since the beginning, we noticed Merlin was very anxious and fearful. He had this spinning behavior and obsession with the neighbor's cat that worried us and he was not interested in toys or in playing games. We did a 2-week test before officially adopting Merlin and I remember sitting on the floor and crying one day because I already loved him, but I wondered whether we should return him and try to find a "normal" dog. Of course, we ended up keeping him. Time passed and nothing changed much. Merlin was an anxious, fearful dog who had very little interest in us. I assume he was raised as an "object" and had very little attention from his former owner, never learned how to play with humans, never learned to have fun with toys or games or tricks. We first tried going to a group obedience class, thinking it would help him learn new things and bond with us, but it was a disaster. We knew very little about the different training techniques and the "no violence" method this trainer offered turned out to be pretty violent, with choking collars and scaring the dog to respect you. It didn't help Merlin at all. We finally found a positive reinforcement professional and we tried a few training techniques. But Merlin is not very crazy about food and treats, so we have a hard time making progress. We tried several natural aids to help him calm down, with no or very little success. We ended up asking a veterinarian to give us something to help him. He made a lot of progress with fluoxetine (calmer, fewer spins, no more shut downs, more interest in us) but with time he started developing a reactivity with other dogs on the street (barking and snapping). We finally had an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist, that diagnosed Merlin with OCD and did not discard neurological problems (due to his pretty intense shut downs). She changed the drug from fluoxetine to fluvoxamine to see if it could help with the reactivity. She said he could have adverse reactions during 5 days or so (like more anxiety). Since day 2 he was at already 10x more anxious, restarted old behaviors like the spinning and shut downs (which had been gone for a couple months with the fluoxetine) and started having terrible panic attacks whenever we went for a walk. By panic attack I mean barking non-stop and spinning and pulling on the leash for no obvious reason (no dog, no cat, no person, no car: nothing). The vet told us to try for a few more days, so he was on fluvoxamine for 10 days. The next step would be to wait 1 week and then try another drug (Clomicalm). And this is where we are now. It's been 5 days we stopped the fluvoxamine and no sign of Merlin getting back to normal. I'm starting to lose hope he will ever stop those panic attacks on the street. We need to go for walks for his pee/poo needs, so we have to live with that for the moment. Sorry for the long text, but I needed to get it off my chest. :-( I would love to hear your stories of difficult dogs that eventually got better with the help of drugs and/or time, patience and love. Thanks!
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