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Hyper-reactivity in military working dogs: a report of two cases – Presented by O. Soares, DVM, PhD

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Hyper-reactivity in military working dogs: a report of two cases

Hyper-reactivity (HR) is a behavioral problem characterized by extreme response to external stimuli that usually leads to difficulties in training programs of military working dogs (MWD). Two dogs from Brazilian Army, one 7 y.o. Labrador Retriever (LR) and one 3 y.o. Malinois Belgian Shepherd (MBS), unneutered males, reported with poor performance and exacerbated reactions to environment. The MBS had history of circling behavior and an episode of redirected aggressiveness. Dogs were evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist and their physiological and laboratory parameters (CBC, TSH and T4) were normal but both dogs showed very high arousal, exploration of the environment and response to any stimulus, with some anxiety signs. Recommendations were: improvement of the handlers’ knowledge on behavior; use of food toys and increment in exercise load; maximum reduction of confrontational techniques; and pheromone (Adaptil®) and fluoxetine therapy (1mg/kg, SID). Improvements in HR sings and performance were noticed within 15 days. In four months performance returned to normal and medications were discontinued. The reported cases show the occurrence of HR in MWD, which if diagnosed and treated possibly brings good prognosis of returning to work. Difficulty of diagnosis, either for lack of qualified professional or for questions of denomination and definition in the literature, can be found, however, behavioral veterinary medicine seems to provide adequate tools for handling these cases also for military working dogs.

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