Your dog is leading your life, always seems restless, uncontrollable, tireless, and reacts to the slightest stimuli in his environment?
He may have HSHA syndrome, a disorder that can be likened to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) found in human children.
This syndrome, which is often wrongly attributed to stubbornness or disobedience, is actually due to the dog’s inability to control his emotions.
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However, to laymen, this looks more like deviant behavior, which unfortunately leads to many abandonment of animals each year.
This emotional and psychological disorder can put your pet in a great state of distress, especially when it is misunderstood or neglected.
To better understand HSHA syndrome in dogs, this article gives you an overview of its causes and symptoms, as well as existing solutions to address them.
What is HSHA syndrome in dogs?
Hyper Sensitivity (HS)
The dog‘s hypersensitivity is directly linked to a mothering defect, that is to say to a too early separation of the puppy from its mother.
This disorder usually develops when the puppy has been taken from its mother around its 3rd week of life, well before the two months of weaning essential for its well-being.
As a result of this brutal separation, the puppy is led to discover the world on his own and without the feeling of security that his mother’s accompaniment would have provided him.
He then develops a sensory filter defect, because he instinctively feels permanently in danger during this discovery period.
The puppy cannot be secure with his mother during the first days of his life in an unfamiliar environment. Therefore, he will tend to be hyper vigilant and hypersensitive to external stimuli.
Hyper Activity (HA)
Hyperactivity results from the same type of problem induced by too early a separation of the mother’s puppy.
However, this disorder would be linked to a later separation than that causing hypersensitivity, occurring around the 4th week of the puppy’s life.
The mother is then not present to teach her litter puppies to moderate their games as they begin to nibble and jostle each other.
This essential stage in a puppy’s life is called bite inhibition learning , and is usually instilled by the mother.
The puppies are thus supposed to learn the rules of group life under the guidance of the bitch, particularly the importance of moderating their ardor so as not to injure themselves during games.
Therefore, a hyperactive dog will have defects in self-control and will find it difficult to moderate his strength and enthusiasm when he wants to have fun with his fellows or his master.
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Unable to limit himself, he will tend to always ask for more without ever being able to measure his actions.
In the case of both HS and HA, it is also possible that the puppies’ mother was indeed present until weaning. However, some bitches are too immature, tired or little involved in their puppy’s education to take care of securing it during its first steps in the world or to instill in it the inhibited bite.
In fact, the possibility of the existence of an HSHA syndrome in a dog should not be ruled out simply because he remained with his mother until his two months.
On the other hand, we should not mistakenly assume that a daredevil or turbulent dog – having or not been separated from its mother too young – is systematically affected by HSHA syndrome.
How to recognize an HSHA dog?
Depending on the specimens, the HSHA disorder’s expression can be either moderate or frankly unbearable for owners and congeners of the animal.
The aspects of HSHA syndrome in dogs are very diverse and can vary greatly from one individual to another, especially depending on the specimen’s age.
Most teachers complain in the first place of destructive behavior, perpetual restlessness, uncleanliness, vocalizations and sometimes even aggressiveness.
The HSHA dog and sleep
A dog with this symptom will suffer from a profound lack of sleep. Instead of calming down at night, it will become for him a long time when, sleep being absent, he will continue to fidget, explore, perhaps to do his business, to transport and sometimes destroy objects, etc …
This symptom is quite easy to observe. If your dog sleeps less than 8 hours a night, there is a good chance that he has this syndrome (+ symptoms listed below to confirm) . A drug treatment (see below for details) will be mandatory to help him rest and thus “eliminate” a long period each day of activity, anxiety, destruction, etc….
The HSHA dog and food
Dogs with HSHA syndrome are known to be real petty thieves, whether it’s food or the owner’s personal belongings.
Some HSHA dogs have a poor perception of satiety and will tend to steal all the food that falls under their paw, ingest too large quantities of food that they will then regurgitate, and then reinger.
Whether it is when taking food or drink, HSHA dogs also have the habit of eating particularly dirty, sometimes by overturning their bowl or by dipping their paws in it.
The HSHA dog and anxiety
Dogs with HSHA disorders may adopt compulsive gestures and attitudes aimed at relieving stress and anxiety.
A common ritual in these hypersensitive animals is to turn on themselves for no apparent reason, a behavior that often appears around the age of 3 or 4 months.
The puppy then gets into the habit of repeating this movement in case of anxiety surges. This attitude opens the door to the appearance of new substitute activities in the future (in particular compulsive grooming) .
The HSHA dog and uncleanliness
Uncleanliness is a recurring symptom in HSHA dogs that owners often find it very difficult to cope with.
However, by looking at the source of the problem, we quickly realize that it is completely counterproductive to punish a dog who relieves himself at his master’s home.
The animal acts this way to meet its need to be in a calm and familiar environment to defecate.
Hyper vigilant and hypersensitive, he will therefore favor the inside of a house rather than the outside which gives him a feeling of insecurity.
The HSHA dog and aggression
The HSHA dog is generally not really aggressive: rather, it is a dog that tends to bite without doing it on purpose.
Unable to control his jaw’s strength, he is also unaware of the limits to be respected to play properly without injuring his playing partner.
At the age of puberty, dogs with HSHA disorder may also begin to challenge their owner’s authority.
This behavior is generally attributed to the fact that it is more complex to establish a stable hierarchical framework with a dog suffering from HSHA disorder.
The HSHA dog and its congeners
is a complex step for HSHA dogs who lack control and are often impulsive.
This disorder leads in particular to inconsistencies in how puppies approach adult dogs, and a poor understanding of the hierarchy that naturally develops between animals.
The HSHA dog will therefore tend to initiate contacts perceived as aggressive by balanced dogs.
This gives rise to disorderly relationships, leading most of the time to conflicts, pushing the dog to isolate itself from its congeners failing to understand their annoyance at his attitude.
The HSHA dog and the walk
A walk with an HSHA dog is not easy for the master, because his companion is disorderly, overwhelmed by his environment and excessive in his reactions.
He will have a strong tendency to pull on his leash, swallow everything he crosses in his path, and react to the slightest stimulus without analyzing the situation.
Also watch out for runaway behaviors characteristic of HSHA dogs: do not untie your puppy in a place where you are not sure you can retrieve it!
An element is often forgotten in the education process
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Consequences of HSHA syndrome in dogs
The most distressing consequence of HSHA syndrome in dogs concerns the deterioration of the relationship between the animal and its owner.
A dog with this type of imbalance can indeed be fun during the first months of his cohabitation with his new family, but quickly becomes unbearable and can even be threatening.
Moreover, this disorder being still little known, many owners do not know how to react to a hyperactive or hypersensitive dog.
They then tend to sanction the behavior of this overly emotional “glue pot” animal, which can only worsen its symptoms and emotional discomfort.
How to handle an HSHA dog?
Above all, it is important to outlaw any violence or brutality against an HSHA dog to avoid aggravating his imbalance and deep discomfort.
The use of force and sanctions is even more frowned upon in animals with this type of disorder than in perfectly balanced ones.
On the contrary, using negative education methods risks turning out to be counterproductive and causing the handler-dog relationship to escalate in violence.
Rather, it is advisable to turn to behavioral therapy that will take into account the totality of the troubled behaviors exhibited by your dog.
The animal’s learning will focus on self-control, management of communication and interactions, return to calm, and respect for the hierarchy.
In the event that this type of therapy is insufficient or made impossible by the permanent excitement of the animal, it is also possible to use a complementary medicinal method.
It is always difficult to give a dog medication, especially painkillers, which is normal. But in the case of an HSHA dog, especially stage 2, it is CRUCIAL to consult a behaviorist veterinarian who will be able to offer a suitable drug solution, and well dosed, to help your dog calm down.
Don’t think of it as a drug aimed at shooting him, as we can sometimes see in humans and the Prozac or Xanax dispensed all over the place, if your vet is GOOD he will offer the RIGHT treatment to HELP your dog sleep better to better manage their emotions, and therefore to be quite simply able to follow behavioral therapy!
This type of medication aims to promote learning by helping the animal concentrate during the educational sessions and reduce its anxiety.
In any case, a dog with HSHA disorder should necessarily be followed by a healthcare professional or canine behaviorist experienced in the management of this type of case.
How to prevent HSHA syndrome in dogs?
The best way to avoid ending up with a companion with HSHA syndrome is to adopt your dog from a serious kennel.
This will ensure that your puppy was not separated too soon from its mother, and that the latter took care of it properly.
This last point will be verified by ensuring that the mother does not reject puppies from her litter, is in good health and appears mentally balanced.
Avoid getting a puppy from a pet store at all costs, as these poor animals are the most likely to exhibit deviant behavior as adults.
Finally, I would like to remind you that the age of 2 months is not just a recommended age to wean a puppy, but the minimum legally imposed age for puppies’ sale!
HSHA disorder in dogs may require real veterinary care to help your pet feel better about themselves and their skin.
Suppose your dog appears to be affected by this syndrome. In that case, I cannot advise you enough not to wait for his problematic behaviors to take hold before seeking the advice of a canine health or behavior professional.
The unwanted behaviors induced by HSHA do indeed tend to worsen with age, so it is crucial to learn how to manage them as soon as possible.
Final words and important recommendations
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Do you own, or have you ever own, a dog with HSHA disorder? Share your experience or ask us your questions in the comments of this article!