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 Post subject: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Hi all,

I would like some advice on my puppy, Renoir. Renoir is a fabulous dog, he is very friendly outside the apartment, very social outside, and loves other dogs and people. However, inside the apartment, there has been some problems with his sensitivity about being groomed and handled.

A little background: I got Renoir at 13 weeks. Although from a reputable breeder, Renoir had some issues, he was extremely stubborn on leash, very afraid. Seemed very afraid of the world. Very sensitive. It took a while to get him out of his shell with a lot of positive reinforcement. Now he is more confident.

Handling him, however, can be a challenge. We had a major issue after I invested in a blow dryer for him. I gave him a bath, and then after using the blow dryer for ten minutes, he went into a shell - he wouldn't eat his treats, he was sitting there with his head bowed, I felt so awful. The manufacturer had said they had never heard of a dog having that reaction before. So I returned the blow dryer, but he was upset with me for days.

Once, we were on a walk, and in front of us on the path was a man holding a stick. Renoir got extremely afraid and curled up, was afraid to walk. I began to wonder if maybe someone wasn't nice to him in the past.

In spite of his beauty, Renoir was not a very expensive dog. The breeder seemed to want to move him out. Now, he is very sensitive about being handled, he doesn't like to be combed, even if there is a freeze-dried treat in it for him at the end. I am thinking about putting him in puppy cut.

The latest incident was tonight. Renoir was eating his food, when a painting slid on the floor and a floor lamp almost came crashing down. I grabbed it really fast, but Renoir got scared and stunned and ran out of the room. It never hit the ground, but it was enough to get him scared (I've since moved the painting, which was not hung).

But the thing is that, unlike a normal dog, he doesn't seem to recover that quickly. He remained scared and upset, and wouldn't eat the rest of his food, even after I moved it to a different room. He is so sensitive about being handled, and I wonder if it is related to negative experiences from before I got him. I have been really working hard on positive reinforcement, and he is never punished, but an obstacle is that he can get diarrhea from having too many treats.

Of course, I am crazy about my little "boy" and want what is best for him. He adores me and follows me around the house. But sometimes he needs baths, needs to be handled, combed, things he doesn't like. I am super gentle with him, and of course it is in his best interests, but as a dog, he doesn't totally understand that. He probably thinks I am just being mean, which is a little hard for me to take.

Has anyone here ever experienced a situation like this, and what do you think?

Thank you for your input. :paw


Last edited by RenoirTheArtist on Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:26 pm 
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Now what is a reputable breeder? Our second cocker a female she could not be groom and she was the last of the litter from a so called reputable breeder by someones standards. Even the calm down drugs made it much worse, boy what a fighter. She lasted ten year as she passed away from teeth pulling surgery. Two of us could not even groom her as I held her. No one would want to groom her. Our last cocker came from a very reputable breeder as a show dog kind of person. We never had a problem with him as he's been to the dog shows as a puppy before we bought him, and knows the routine. He does need to be carried to the bathroom to the shower, but he'll walk into the stall. It was worth every dollar spent compared the other two cocker from so called reputable breeders. Only thing he doesn't like is the fly swatter as he will run and hide if we bring it out, as we don't know why. Maybe the noise of swatting the flies. In fact groomers should pay us because he's so good.

If you are looking for a breeder I would recommend INFODOG listing of all dog shows in your state. I'm guessing 1,500 dollars and it could be much more. Your paying for the training of being groomed and handling.

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:00 am 
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First thing first. Dogs experience fear imprinting stages at very particular points in their puppy-hood. Whatever they experience, sticks with them.
8 to 10.5 Weeks -First fear imprinting stage
6 to 14 months - Second fear imprint
Read more here: http://www.doglistener.co.uk/puppies/cr ... iods.shtml

I'm going to guess the blow drier was too much too soon... think more in tiny steps: see dryer...sniff dryer... listen to dryer in the other room, listen to dryer in the same room but opposite end, listen to dryer closer...closer... closer... longer times... Each step gets followed by lots of praise, each step is repeated multiple times before going to the next step. If you jump steps too fast, dog will react, and you have to start all over... Point is to see no reaction, consistently, before going to next step. It can take months for some issues, so it is very important you do this now while he is young.

"blow dryer for ten minutes,... he wouldn't eat his treats,... he was upset with me for days." - Days is surprising. A tip... don't make an issue out of the things that bother him, no petting, no sweet talk consolation. No pause at all, just go about things as though nothing happened. Dogs are not humans. When you make an issue, you are reinforcing that there is something to worry about. Redirect attention to things you know he likes helps--play with a toy, throw a ball.

A tip... don't reward sulking behavior with treats. Stop using treats, use his dog food as treats(don't serve meals, measure it out then use it up as treats during the day). A hungry dog is more likely to eat.

"Once, we were on a walk, and in front of us on the path was a man holding a stick." -- He needs a LOT more exposure to everything and everyone. People are good, people mean love, people mean food. Find a place near a bunch of strange people, but far enough away that he's not scared. Stick food in his face every time he looks at strangeness, before he gets distracted by it and gets scared. Keep his attention on the food. You can practice this at home before trying it outside, so he knows what to expect. Good opportunity to teach him his name or "come"(take steps backwards with the food in his face, reward when he follows).

"If maybe he had someone who wasn't nice to him in the past. I have always had that sense about him." - Dogs can hear our heart beat and smell our hormones. When we react, they pick up on it and react. Change your thinking to: Renoir loves everyone and everyone loves him, he's super confident and he is the best dog ever!

"The breeder seemed to want to move him out and the deal was made very fast. ...Now, he is very sensitive about being handled, he doesn't like to be combed" - A reputable breeder makes sure a puppy is very familiar with being handled and combed from birth. You have to make up for it if a breeder did not do this, and if a breeder did do this, you have to keep up the breeder's efforts. Everyday, every hour or two, touch him everywhere with your hands, particularly on his ears(inside and outside), face, neck, mouth, gums, teeth, paws, toes, nails, rear end, tail. Then repeat, but use a comb(toothbrush for mouth), very lightly. Over and over and over throughoutt the day. Reward with food, praise, petting. Make a huge deal about it, hoot and holler --your boy just did the most awesome thing ever! After a week or two, use more pressure on the comb, building up more every few weeks. Do not tug if you find mats. This is just for the sensation, not actual grooming. If you do find mats/tangles, on a separate occasion not related to the desensitizing exercises, hold the hair it one hand close to the skin, and GENTLY comb, starting from the ends of the hairs, working your way up to your other hand. By holding the hair you are combing you feel exactly how much pressure you are applying.

"painting slid on the floor and a floor lamp almost came crashing down. ... scared" - Normal to be scared of strange things. Ignore his reaction, redirect his attention with stuff you know he likes. Find a toy he really likes, make a big fuss over it, play keep-away, don't let him have it for long, hide it **when he is not looking**, then bring it out and make a big fuss over it when he reacts scared. Oh boy, look at what I have!

"diarrhea from having too many treats." - using his dog food solves this. If you feel you must use treats, use tiny morsels(just for the taste) of chicken(boneless skinless breasts at $2.50/lb, cook it yourself in oven(plain)... cheaper than any store treat, and super nutritious). Growing boy needs quality food.

"he doesn't totally understand that. He probably thinks I am just being mean, which is a little hard for me to take." He needs you to be calm and consistent. On one hand you have to get the stuff done, on the other hand he is not used to any of it. Doing the exposure exercises over and over, every few hours, will help. The idea is not to torture him or to force him. Instead of a whole bath, do 1 paw dipped in water for a second, followed by lots of praise. Toss his toy in a bowl of water, see if he will reach in and grab it.

"Has anyone here ever experienced a situation like this, and what do you think?" Yes, I think you have a lot of work to do to de-sensitize him, and that if you don't take the time now, you'll be in deeper trouble in the future. Also, I highly suggest you enroll your pup in a puppy socialization class and dog parks if he is fully vaccinated, and possibly obedience to then do agility(confidence boosting).


Last edited by Lizzy on Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 4:22 am 
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Joe and Lizzy,

Thank you very much, the breeder is a Breeder of Merit, but she said the whole litter was stubborn. The stubbornness probably as a result of the "fear response" cited in the very useful link Lizzy provided, it seems that some of it might be genetic that this particular litter has that fear trigger.

I returned the blow dryer and will not use it, mainly because it was loud and neither of us like the noise, since I have Tinnitus. He is very cooperative about being combed and bathed, just doesn't like it. I did try to comb out some matting a couple times in his armpits and he got mad, so I guess it should be shaved out or clipped with a scissors?

About the treats, I am trying again with Stella and Chewy's freeze-dried. Except, this time, instead of giving him the entire treat, I'm breaking off tiny little pieces of it so he doesn't eat as much. If that doesn't work, I'll probably do the cooked chicken pieces as someone here recommended. His kibble is big and he prefers to eat it wet.

I think you're right that I look for approval too much, I should let him be a little bit around the house, not always try to pet him. Other than the incident with the man with the stick, he is very well adjusted to other people and the outside world, loves to be petted by strangers. I attached a photo of him playing with a labradoodle puppy.

Thank you so much, this is wonderful advice that you have offered.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:43 am 
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I sent you a PM.

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:13 pm 
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Our first two cockers were papered by AKC, which doesn't mean very much today's world. If anything I would support the ASC in finding a cocker breeder. (The American Spaniel Club - Established in 1881)

Not very many reputable breeders if at all advertise anywhere. It's word of mouth.

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:49 pm 
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He's in a tough to manage coat stage. His puppy coat is coming out, creating mats. If you can hang in there and not cut or shave, it gets easier.

Cutting makes multiple lengths, causing more mats. If you have to cut, cut in the same direction of the hair, not across. This will break up the mat enough to comb it out.
Shaving starts you back at scratch, again creating different lengths to the non-shaved areas. Shaving also holds heat, creating a potential hot environment in the arm pits for things to grow. If you do shave, watch for skin issues and be sure to dry the area completely.

In my experience, if you let it all grow(no cutting or shaving), a comb out once or twice a week under the arms is enough to prevent mats, depending on how active he is. (But then you can't use a harness because it causes mats with long coats) Be sure to comb before he does running(gets the tangle out before it gets a chance to mat).

Letting him be is a wonderful plan. Another tip: if the dog is not learning behaviors from you, he is learning behaviors on his own, and it might not be what you want him to learn. In other words, if he is doing bad things in response to the scary things, redirect him or teach him to lay down and relax in his spot.

A Breeder of Merit means:

"The following must be met in order to be accepted into the program:
•Has a history of at least 5 years involvement with AKC events.
•Earned AKC Conformation, Performance or Companion* event titles on a minimum of 4 dogs from AKC litters they bred/co-bred.
•Member of an AKC club.
•Certifies that applicable health screens are performed on your breeding stock as recommended by the Parent Club.
•Demonstrates a commitment to ensuring 100% of the puppies produced are AKC registered.

*CGC (Canine Good Citizen or Community Canine) title does not meet the event requirements."

From: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeders/breeder ... uirements/

This is not the same as a "reputable" breeder, although by no means is it a sign to discount the many reputable breeders that achieve this distinction.

Can try a smaller kibble size for treats.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:18 pm 
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I don't have any issues with the breeder. The breeder has a lot of accolades. I think the breeder is a little old school, and it was just a sensitive litter. Certain ways of doing things just don't go over well with individual dogs.

Lizzy, thank you so much for the advice on keeping his hair long. I really didn't want to shave it. So, this is perfect, you have been a tremendous help. I hadn't known that that was why he was having a tough time - the changing from puppy coat to adult coat.

I had previously had larger breed dogs, a Gordon Setter and Black Russian Terrier. So dealing with a little fellow is new for me. Renoir is really doing quite well, though he has been sick a couple of times, which happens with puppies.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:29 pm 
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What dryer did you have? They can all be loud, but one brand, is horribly loud. I can't think of the brand right now. I used one on Abby as a pup, and I thought she'd jump out of her skin. The dryer we have now is loud but not like the first one I tried. The first was at a do it yourself dog wash place.

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:14 am 
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It was the Kool Pup, they say it is the quietest dryer in the industry. I think I just have a sensitive little fellow. It seemed like a very high quality dryer.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:49 am 
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He needs to get used to it. Abby shook like a leaf at first. She still does not like it, but it's not fear any longer. I'd buy that dryer again, and get him used to it. It's a good one. Maybe hold it further back, if you weren't originally. I think a grooming table is also a must!
RenoirTheArtist wrote:
It was the Kool Pup, they say it is the quietest dryer in the industry. I think I just have a sensitive little fellow. It seemed like a very high quality dryer.

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:47 pm 
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Thanks, I would try again but it worsened my Tinnitus so neither of us like it. A grooming table would be fabulous, but the apartment can't accommodate it. Thank you for all the grooming tips.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:46 pm 
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Lizzy is right about the fear stages in a pup. Fortunately when I got Snickie at 16 weeks of age,I missed the first one, and she came to me well adjusted and confident, and I kept up with brushing, grooming, touching the feet, and socializing her. I am a firm believer in bringing them to dog training classes. As well as learning manners, which we all can do, the teacher would have things like a stick, a cane, an umbrella, a wheel barrel, that she would walk by a dog with, if your dog freaked out on something, you knew what you had to work on. Snickie was really afraid of a wheel barrel.So at home I had to get the wheel barrel out and wheel it around, now she thinks nothing about it. I remember taking her to the feed store and getting a shopping carriage, which she freaked, but I worked with her, and walked slowly with it, praised her when she was confident,now she calmly walks beside me with the shopping carriage.In the class the dog learns to be touched all over and if the dog doesn't allow you are given exercises to do as homework.The teacher even drops books and a chair, if the dog reacts, you have to work on that. These are everyday things your dog has to get use to.The problem with fear is if you ignore one, another and then another one crops up. One thing that I remember from class, she said that by the time the pup is 20 weeks old, it should be touched by at least 75 different people, that is what we had to strive for, that was a lot of socialization.
When Snickie was about a year old, she developed these imaginary fear spots on our daily walk, I mean this dog would't move, I had to pick her up and carry her through it. This happened every single day. At that time I had just enrolled her in a CGC class and didn't think much of her fear spot issue. The first class went well, the second class, guess what, her imaginary fear spot reared its ugly head, the teacher had me go to another area of the room, guess what, that area became another fear spot. By the time we ended class 7 weeks later there wasn't an area in that room that she didn't fear, plus our daily walks. The teacher said that she was at the age of when the last fear stage happens. So when this class ended I knew I had my work cut out.This had to be taken care of, otherwise it would only get worse. So every day on our walk I brought a lot of yummy stuff like chicken or steak, and before we got to her fear spots I would get her really excited and have her look at me with my hand held down at her nose with the food and we walked really fast as I praised her and got her through her fear spot, then I gave her, her treat.She was so focused on me and the food, she forgot her fear spots. It took me a couple of months doing this, it wasn't once and done.
To this day Snickie is not to fond of water,she hides when it is bath time, oh well, just go and pick her up and plop her in, she gets over it. You should have seen her the first time I took her to the beach, talk about fear when she saw that body of water! She wouldn't go any closer than 50 feet of it! About 20 minutes later a couple walked along the edge of the water with a Bischon and she saw that and then for her, it was ok,another dog was walking near the water, so she could too.I take her once every year, she is not crazy about it,but she deals with it, new smells, and lots of other dogs and people, and one big long walk. If I lived closer to the beach I would bring her more often. Dogs shouldn't be afraid of anything, it's up to us to help them through whatever they fear,and if you can't do it alone, then you need to find a trainer that can help you do it.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:08 pm 
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I put cotton in the dogs' ears and my ears when I blow them dry. :YAY :YAY

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:15 am 
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Chris Gomes wrote:
I put cotton in the dogs' ears and my ears when I blow them dry. :YAY :YAY


Good call, I was actually wearing hearing protection but it still tiggered my Tinnitus, so it is off the table, but good advice for most people and dogs.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:20 am 
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Denise, you are correct. Sounds like you've got a challenge in Snickie. Have you brought her to a trainer? It can be hard to find a good one and here in Boston it will cost $150. Yikes.

Yesterday, I went to the dentist and Renoir came with me, he is very cooperative. But as he was laying there, a dental assistant stepped over him (not on, just over) and he got a little afraid. Then the assistant decided to step over him a second time, so I put my arm out to protect him. That was a mistake - it send the signal to the dog that he was in danger, and he panicked a little. Then he changed where he was laying down.

So I got a little overprotective in that instance and would have been better off just relaxing and having done nothing, then the dog would have realized there was no threat. Learning experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:32 pm 
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Yes Snickie did have a trainer, and even though she was well adjusted and confident as a pup I still wanted her to have training, and yes I know how expensive it is, it's the same price down here, plus the thieves in this state collect tax on it, so that's another 10 dollars added on. My previous dog was a nightmare, I did two years straight of obedience training, trying to undue the mistakes that I made, like what you just did with Renoir at the dentist, and the fact that I got her at 8 weeks old, which I will never do again. I have found that having a trainer can help you so much, and helps the dog also. We try so hard to do what we think is right, that sometimes we miss what we are doing wrong and just make things worse, by confusing the dog with mixed signals.
As for drying the dog, about a month ago I misplaced the dryer and Snickie needed a bath and it was winter here,so I dug out this small electric heater, plugged it in put it on med. put her about a foot and a half in front of it, and dried her that way, and as you can see I keep her in a long coat, and to be honest it didn't take me that long to dry her. Now that is quiet. Might want to try that :wink A few years ago when I used the Eden heater, I dried her several times with that during the winter, again very quiet.During the summer here when its not humid I'll let her dry outside,dries out in about a half hour in the sun running around


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:35 pm 
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Denise,

Yes, we are not perfect, but I think we need to go easy on ourselves. It's a learning experience.

I've decided to feed him Primal Raw once a day. I didn't want to feed raw to young puppy, but now he is older.

My trainer was excellent but the treats gave him diarrhea, and then things sort of fell apart with the training.

Best,

"Renoir L'artiste Profonde"


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:05 am 
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I did wind up giving Renoir a puppy cut. It is very short, doesn't look to good, but he seems happier with it. Also, the raw food is helping. Renoir seems back on track. I probably won't do the puppy cut again, but at least it gets him through the stage where his coat is transitioning.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:37 am 
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Your story sounds familiar. I got Dillon from a rescue in Dillon, Montana. He was just 8 wks old. I didn't pick him, he was picked by the woman at the rescue. His mother was Cocker and delivered to the rescue ready to have pups. Dillon is a dog afraid of the world, but has gotten better. A plastic bag falls off the kitchen counter and he shies away. He is afraid of my son, who was with me when I got him at the shelter. I know my son has never mistreated him, but I think Dillon associates him with the trauma of being taken from the shelter??? Taking him on walks with another one of our Cockers has helped a lot. He looks at them and sees that nothing is going on so he calms down some what. I asked the vet about his behavior and he said "some dogs are just goosey". I agree exposure to other people, places and situations helps. He goes to a groomer and now can handle it, he gets boarded (infrequently) but being with the other three Cockers is ok. I remember years ago Prozac was given to dogs with severe separation anxiety disorder, crazy huh :dk

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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:47 am 
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Thanks, Renoir has improved a lot since I started him on raw food about ten days ago. Maybe you ought to try it with Dillon. Primal Raw is top notch, not so expensive because cockers are small, and he is a lot more affectionate now. Also, his stool is amazingly small and uber-firm. I would recommend it so far.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:11 pm 
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Sense your feeding the frozen Primal that's a great start on you puppy's health. Did you know that you can feed any kind of raw frozen dog food and not get an upset tummy, you can't do that with kibble. Dog tested by my Oliver.

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice - cocker sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:12 am 
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Joe in North Bay Ca wrote:
Sense your feeding the frozen Primal that's a great start on you puppy's health. Did you know that you can feed any kind of raw frozen dog food and not get an upset tummy, you can't do that with kibble. Dog tested by my Oliver.

Joe


Yeah, he downs his Primal Raw meal in twenty seconds flat. He loves it. Has improved stool, as well. Worth every penny.


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