Another view of behavior problems

By Debby Kay ©2016 all rights reserved.

Every year hundreds of well-bred seemingly healthy Labradors end up being cut from training programs or turned over to lab rescue because owners can no longer deal with behavior issues. Many behavioral problems are an expression of an underlying health problem often not recognized by trainers and veterinarians as the case studies that follow illustrate.

CStonyfrogleggedase Study 1: Blackjack was a typical Labrador puppy, full of energy, bright and responsive to his owner but he could not “hold” his bladder long enough to make it outside to relieve himself. By 7 months of age, after many consultations with professional trainers and a full exam by the local veterinarian, he was still not housebroken. A very frustrated, disheartened owner gave Blackjack to Lab Rescue.

Case Study 2: Dana was a gorgeous yellow show prospect that came from a highly regarded kennel with impeccable bloodlines known for their good temperaments. She was well socialized and was never mistreated by her owners who were very experienced dog trainers. At 9 months however, Dana was growling and nipping with vicious intent at every human and animal that came near her. Fearing for their children’s safety, Dana was given to Lab Rescue with the label of “fear biter”.

These and similar situations are common and are repeated countless times across the country every year. At first glance, it would be too easy to say Blackjack and Dana were either the result of bad breeding or had poor training or socializing. The truth is that neither situation applies in either of the case histories.Annabelwithtoy

Both dogs were fortunate enough to be examined by a knowledgeable holistic veterinarian who recognized they needed a chiropractic adjustment. Blackjack actually had 6 spinal vertebrate and 2 toe bones out of alignment. After his initial adjustment, he went to his new home and has not had an accident in the house since. He continues to do remarkably well in obedience and is a very well mannered companion. Dana had a slightly different problem in that nearly every vertebrate was out of alignment but in particular, several of the nerves controlling vision were affected. Dana had her eyes cleared for PRA at a breeder’s clinic at 6 months however; it was pointed out that this type of problem would not show up normally in that type of examination. Dana took several visits to make everything right again, but her attitude improved immediately after the first adjustment. She is a wonderful and trustworthy companion today with no signs of aggression or fear biting.

Dog owners, when dealing with health and behavioral issues, frequently overlook alternative veterinarian chiropractic treatment. A veterinarian must undergo specialize training in this field in addition to their regular training and as a result there are not many in practice, however that is no reason to discount a potential problem with the spinal column as a contributing source of a health or behavioral issue. The chiropractic involves adjustment of subluxations[1] of the spinal column and as in the case of Blackjack, the toes or extremities. Their examination will include posture analysis, gait analysis as well as examination of the spine and legs including range of motion. X-rays may or may not be part of the examination depending on the nature of the initial diagnosis. What I find particular good about the chiropractic is that is a drug free approach to health care. The basis of chiropractic is that if an individual has a spinal column properly adjusted which in turn keeps the nervous system inside it operating properly; the result will be a healthy benefit to the entire system.

Labradors are active dogs and thus are subject to many potentially damaging jolts, twists, and turns that we might overlook as insignificant. However, these small seemingly harmless events can build and potentially lead to significant health and behavior issues. All of our Labradors can benefit from an annual chiropractic examination in addition to their regular physical. To find a certified, qualified practitioner near you visit the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association web site at or you can call them at 918-784-2231.

[1] A vertebral subluxation is a spinal misalignment or dysfunction of the joint that results in nerve or biochemical problems.