Sensory Deprivation Syndrome in Dogs

Is your puppy or dog abnormally fearful? He jumps at the least usual domestic arousal, shows great fear of the noises of the city, at the arrival of a family friend whom he nevertheless knows. Is he trying to run away, hide or become aggressive? Maybe he has sensory deprivation syndrome (SPS)? This behavioral disorder is characterized by the animal’s inability to adapt to its environment. A dog suffering from SPS can even refuse outings and games, feeling reassured and safe only in his place of life. If he were young, he would choose to fly. However, as he grows up, he gains confidence and is able to choose to attack each panic attack provoked by noises and daily encounters: cars, thunder, congeners, other pets or children, postmen… development “kennel syndrome” can eventually turn our doggie into a real little bomb or lead to depression.

How does sensory deprivation syndrome manifest in dogs?

Different manifestations accompany the fears or phobias of the dog suffering from SPS. Depending on his age and his habits, he may freeze in place when faced with the noise, the person, or the event that causes his fear. Avoidance and flight are characteristic reactions of a puppy suffering from sensory deprivation syndrome. Older, he gains self-confidence, growls and barks at the sight of usual or unusual noises. Finally, even at an older age, he can attack and go as far as to bite to defend himself from what he considers a danger and scares him. Neuro-vegetative manifestations often accompany these reactions of intense fear:

  • Acceleration of heart and respiratory rate;
  • hypersalivation;
  • Urination;
  • Wastes;
  • Trembling;
  • Pupils dilated.

Their behavior can go as far as destruction or self-harm or prostration. Every innovation for them is synonymous with danger, even the simple change of place of a piece of furniture. When the dog reaches the worst stage of this disease, he may refuse to go out and prefer to lie down. In the depressive phase, he eats less or when the whole family is in bed. He will also avoid defecating and refuse to play. If your puppy is already showing various signs of “kennel syndrome”, consult your veterinarian to confirm your suspicions. His health professional will accompany you to restore peace. Also, if he is an adult, consult your veterinarian.

What are the reasons for such a negative sensitivity to an environment?

Many developmental disorders are due to genetic support. Scientists and veterinarians suspect a link in the development of genes Kennels syndrome or SPS. However, poor stimulation in the first months of the puppy’s life seems to be responsible. This syndrome is usually seen in animals raised in boxes, without stimulation, from their 3 weeks to their 3 months. It is during this time that their brain sets up a sensory filter. This then determines the sensitivity of the animal and its emotional threshold in the face of the unknown. If the demands are poor, he will more easily develop fears in front of unknown objects, noises and people. If the stimulation is rich, he is more inclined to curiosity and innovation. We have also seen that some puppies raised in the countryside who are too late to join their new home in the city are more likely to develop this syndrome. However, not all dogs raised in crates, in the countryside or with an overprotective mother have SPS. There is a genetic breeding ground favorable to this dysfunction.

So above all it is up to the breeder to prepare his puppies and socialize them to prevent this syndrome linked to animal development. However, it is important to continue this work as soon as it arrives at your home.

How to prevent sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs?

Inside the farm

Before education, it is important to look at genetics and the crossing of breeding stock. If one of the parents has anxious or very emotional traits, the second parent with not the same traits is preferred for the future litter. The socialization prepared by the breeder and the behaviorist must take into account the age of the puppy and not over-stimulate or under-stimulate it. From the fourth week, the puppy is exposed to different noises, animals or people. Outdoor trips are important to prepare doggies for the diversity of our lifestyles. By encouraging contact with other peers of different sizes, other animals and people of all ages, the puppy is more inclined to accept the new or the noise of the vacuum cleaner. However, the difficulty in his outings and meetings is also a result of the puppy’s primary vaccination. Not yet vaccinated, breeders and owners are reluctant to risk the health of this little fox, which is completely understandable. However, a remote meeting, without the need to feel the muzzle, allows the dog not to be afraid of his companions or his future surroundings. Finally, if you choose breeding, present your place in life to his breeder, he will introduce you to the most suitable puppies or prepare your choice.

After your puppy arrives at your home

When your puppy arrives and has not yet received his vaccines, it remains important to take him outside and introduce him to his new living environment. To avoid direct contact with pathogens, you can choose a backpack-type bag so that he gets used to the noises of the city, people of all ages and the different animals he might encounter. Take him out of the bag from time to time so he can smell the surroundings and observe this new world. On the other hand, avoid contact with other dogs and human pets unless they are vaccinated. To perfect his education, puppy schools are great meeting places to play, learn, relax and spend quality time by your side.

How to help a dog suffering from sensory deprivation syndrome?

If your loulou unfortunately suffers from this syndrome, it is necessary to act as soon as possible. Of course, you should consult your veterinarian first to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the stage of the disease, several actions will be put in place to help your canine companion not live in constant anxiety. During stages 1 and 2 of the condition, your vet will recommend a behavioral vet who will offer behavioral therapy tailored to your canine companion’s “kennel syndrome”. The exercises can be carried out with the presence of a regulator dog that will bring a sense of security to your animal during the sessions.

Behavior therapy is developed along 3 axes:

  • Counter-condition. If your pooch is afraid of seeing a cyclist or jogger, for example, the job is to reduce his phobia. When approaching a person on a bicycle, the command “sit” is given. Reward the animal only when the phobic state returns to normal.
  • Controlled immersion. If the dog develops noise phobia, to “desensitize” it, we approach it to a noisy place, we make it sit. We wait for the emotional state to return to normal to be rewarded.
  • Desensitization. Audio recordings of noises that scare the dog are played at low volume. It should calm down on its own without the intervention of its owner. We increase the number over the weeks according to progress.

If the sensory deprivation syndrome prevents any exit and contact, the vet will prescribe a treatment to calm the dog’s anxieties. Behavioral therapy is associated with a prescription. Depending on the evolution of your loulou’s stress and fear, the medication may be changed and then withdrawn. This drug and behavioral therapy gives good results in young dogs. The duration of treatment and therapy will obviously depend on your pet’s age and stage of PSS. As for his education, helping him to get this syndrome requires regularity and patience. And finally, you will find a more peaceful dog where many activities will come to you to build your beautiful friendship.

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