Behavioural Issues

Could It Be Underlying Pain?

If your dog is displaying certain behavioural issues it could be due to underlying pain, in particular chronic pain. This is generally more so the case for dogs that have recently developed an undesirable behaviour, but could also be the case for dogs who have always displayed a behaviour.

 

For many owners, it is a shock that there dog could be in pain because there are many misconceptions about chronic pain:

  • They would yelp/whimper if they are in pain

  • They wouldn't play if they are in pain

  • They have a higher pain threshold than humans

  • They are just ageing and slowing down

 

These signs are generally attributes of acute pain, which is sudden, intense and short lived. When it comes to chronic pain, the pain is subtle, dull, persistent and long lasting. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to identify in dogs as they just get on with life, which is in part due to them not knowing they have other options and due to them hiding the pain as a means of protecting themselves from danger. 

Not 'Just a Naughty Dog'

Society has led us to believe that when behavioural issues arise it is due to poor training or a dominant/disobedient dog. However, this is not always the case and many of these dogs will be taken to various dog trainers who will attempt to train them to be a 'good dog'. Thankfully most dog trainers use positive reinforcement, but sometimes harsh training methods are used for the more 'unruly' dogs, which can make the problem worse. When a dog cannot be 'fixed' through training they may be subject to a variety of labels and pain may not be acknowledged:

  • Naughty Dog - could general naughtiness & disobedience be a way of coping with or distracting themselves from pain?

  • Untrainable - could it be due to pain's ability to prevent them from learning?

  • Vicious Dog - could the pain be too much for them to cope with & they are warning others to stay away/not touch them?

  • Moody Bitch - could the grumbles & withdrawn behaviour be irritability due to persistent pain?

  • Miserable Old Man - could that lack of interest in playing & increased sleeping be the result of pain?

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Myotherapy for Behaviour

Myotherapy may be beneficial in the treatment of behavioural issues if it is determined that the behaviour has arisen due to chronic pain. If this is the case, Myotherapy may help reduce undesirable behaviours by alleviating the chronic pain, promoting relaxation, reducing stress hormones and increasing endorphins (feel good hormones).

 

To gain insight into whether some of the behaviours your dog is displaying could be an indicator of chronic pain click here. Generally if your dog is displaying several of these changes, it is likely that your dog may have an underlying medical condition, which would need to be diagnosed by your vet. However, it should also be noted that just because your dog is displaying one or more of these indicators that it does not necessarily mean that they do have an underlying issue.

Free Comfort Assessment

If you believe that your dog may have an underlying medical condition or is suffering from chronic pain, I highly suggest that you contact your vet for a check-up.

 

If you would like a free online comfort assessment, please get in contact and I can provide you with a 'Suspicion of Chronic Pain Report' that you may find useful when talking to your vet. To create the report, I will require some information about your dog alongside a few photos and videos.

*PLEASE NOTE*

Behaviour is a very complex subject and it may be possible that your dog's behavioural issues are simply due to psychological and/or environmental problems. If this is the case and underlying pain/medical conditions have been ruled out, the best course of action is to discuss and implement Behavioural Modification Training.

Follow-Up Behaviour Work

In some cases where chronic pain has led to behavioural issues, some behaviour and training work may be required after the Myotherapy treatments. Myotherapy is not a cure all, which is especially true when it comes to behaviour due to the complex nature of behaviour formation. This means that treating an underlying physical condition may only slightly reduce problematic behaviour and in rare cases, it may not have an effect on the behaviour. This is more common when behaviours have been displayed for a long time or have been (unknowingly) regularly reinforced as the behaviour becomes a habit or becomes positively rewarding.

A minimum of three sessions is recommended and all behaviour and training sessions occur at your home or suitable location on a one to one basis.