Helping Dogs with Complex Behavior Needs

Challenge Week: May 4-10

You Can Be a Champion for Animals Like Margo

When an animal faces challenges or hardship, OHS is there to help. Support from donors like you makes our lifesaving medical, behavior, and rescue programs possible.

At just six months old, Margo was an overstimulated and anxious puppy. She was big and growing stronger every day—making her hard to manage. Her owners knew that, at her core, Margo was a sweet girl, just looking for love—she even sports an adorable heart-shaped spot on her back. The family tried their best to work with her, but with young children living in the home, Margo’s exuberant behavior became unmanageable. 

This can be a painful scenario for many families. It can be hard to admit that, though you love your pet, you are in an overwhelming living situation and it’s a challenge to know what to do next.   

OHS is working to reduce the stigma around pets with complex training and behavior issues, and provide solutions to families in need. Our behavior helpline at (503) 416-2983 is free to the public and takes thousands of calls a year. In 2023, our Behavior and Training team helped over 2,500 families by providing one-on-one training and group classes.   

But Margo needed more support than the traditional resources could provide. And after much consideration, her owners made the heartbreaking decision to surrender her to OHS, so she could get the life-changing care she needed.   

Thanks to the generosity of donors, OHS opened the Behavior and Rescue Center in 2022. Led by certified trainers on the Behavior Modification (BMod) team, this space is designed with pets like Margo in mind. Here, our most shy, fearful, and anxious animals can get specialized, one-on-one training in a calm environment.   

However, when Margo arrived, staff noticed she had an awkward walk that seemed to be causing her pain. After a thorough examination, the OHS medical team discovered that both of Margo’s hips were severely displaced, an injury that may have occurred at birth. With this new information, Margo’s anxious behaviors began to make more sense, but her case became much more complicated.  

Under the care of OHS medical staff, Margo underwent a Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) on one of her hips to correct her irregular gait.  

Today, Margo is healing at her own gentle pace in the Behavior and Rescue Center, under the watchful eye of our BMod team. They are working slowly and diligently with her to correct the behaviors she developed, some of which the team believes were to compensate for the extreme pain she was in.   

Often pets with complex medical and behavior needs have limited places to turn for the support they need. Exhausted owners may abandon them or seek to re-home them into unstable environments, and complicated behaviors can quickly grow into outsized problems.