|03-13-2014 02:28 PM|
Pongu was pretty bad in the beginning. And he will never be able to handle some of the stuff I would have liked to do with a stronger, more confident dog. He'll never be entirely free of his fears. Today we had yet another massive failure in our morning training session; it was windy and stuff was BLOWING AROUND!!! and therefore Pongu was totally unable to do any work. Yay. Four years of this, and we still struggle.
But we take it day by day and we push a little farther with each session, and over time, things do get better. I mean, Pongu used to run out of the room to escape the terrifying horrors of a clicker (which I had already muffled with tape over the metal part AND by putting it inside a balled-up sock -- nope, still too loud and scary), and now he's #1 nationally in his Rally division.
So there's hope. Some hope, anyhow. Along with all the many, many frustrations.
And again, I don't think we would have gotten there without relying on medication for a while.
|03-13-2014 12:46 PM|
Zeeva, no worries. It's helpful to have a bit of the history in the thread anyway.
Merciel, I must say, I am IMPRESSED with all you've done with Pongu! Look at all those titles. All those done with Pongu's issues, wow. I would be THRILLED if we could get a RN. Maybe someday? Regardless, what wonderful accomplishments!
Emily, those sure would be fantastic results to see. What a nice success story.
Pill the First was last night. He is getting 20 mg/day (45 lb dog, sometimes goes up to 50 lbs). I'm sure we'll have to increase the dosage but I feel good about starting small.
|03-12-2014 10:16 PM|
I thought at first trying to explain, giving examples of his behavior, finally said the heck with it. They couldn't comprehend the idea of a dog that was absolutely terrified of 'outside' (which btw he loves now) or why if he is so scared why is he trying to eat them up.
You do grow a thick skin with this.
|03-12-2014 07:39 PM|
|glowingtoadfly||Skadi came to us under socialized and easily overwhelmed by stimuli. She would start in with mouthing that left bruises when she would be overstimulated by our busy ( old) neighborhood. With the help of our behaviorist and vet we put her on Prozac and started driving her to the woods to walk every night, because the mouthing rarely happened in the forest or suburbs. Now, we have a dog who can be walked. In our new neighborhood which is calmer and less dog dense, she walks very well. She was also fearful/ sensitive about being touched and with the behaviorist's management plan and the meds we now have a dog who is much happier. Soon, we will feel comfortable weaning her off the meds. Sometimes, she still has bad days but the meds really gave us a window of management that we needed to reach her.|
|03-12-2014 07:34 PM|
Gosh. I see. I'm sorry I didn't read your backstory...
I didn't mean any offense by making those suggestions...
He sure is lucky to have you. Others may not have taken such a proactive approach.
|03-12-2014 07:33 PM|
Oh, also, I tried unsuccessfully to take him off the Prozac at one point earlier in the process, and had to put him back on it because he started self-mutilating. Pongu has always had some OCD tendencies that manifest most often in biting/chewing his tail, flanks, and feet. The first time I tried to wean him off Prozac, his OCD behavior worsened substantially and he started injuring himself pretty badly.
The second time, though, I was able to manage the behavior, and it's actually been a while since he chewed a hole in his tail (although I think the fur is permanently messed up from all his previous chewing on it). Pongu's OCD behavior seems to have been reduced along with his general reduction in anxiety.
But anyway my experience was that even though we failed at getting him off the medication once, it didn't mean we couldn't take him off it later. Just that he wasn't ready the first time I tried.
|03-12-2014 07:28 PM|
I saw no effects for the first three or four weeks (and I was keeping a journal at the time because I had heard that the effects might be very slight, and I didn't want to miss anything), then saw very small reductions in his fear and anxiety outside the home. It never was anything dramatic, but it was enough for us to get our foot in the door with a behavioral modification program.
Ultimately, training/behavioral rehab did all the heavy lifting -- the medication alone won't do much for you -- but there was a time when Pongu needed the medication to get past his fears long enough to work with me.
Side effects for Pongu included dry mouth (I had to brush his teeth more often to keep them clean, since he wasn't producing enough saliva) and reduced appetite/anorexia, especially on the higher dosage. All side effects went away completely when we discontinued the Prozac.
I think it worked pretty well for us. Pongu's still severely fearful and he'll always be fearful, but he is way WAY better than he was. Again, your dedication to a behavioral modification program is going to be the real make-or-break factor. But the medication did help us, and I don't think we'd be where we are today without it.
|03-12-2014 07:19 PM|
Zeeva, this is how he is, sadly. When I first adopted him and brought him to a VERY experienced trainer, she made it clear what was on the end of the leash. We stuck with it and have been in classes for years. We're well versed in BAT, counter conditioning, all sorts of methodologies, various trainers and professionals, psychology, behavior, body language, the whole gamut. This is my first dog and he's given me a doctorate-level education on canine behavior and training as well as observation skills. I used to be very active on the board and those who have known me 2006 - 2011 on this board know very well our story.
That said, I'd be recommending exactly what you just have to someone I didn't know. I really wish things would be different. There are times he is wonderful and other times where he is not. If he never had to leave the house or leave me, he would be fine. Unfortunately, that just isn't the world we live in and I have to acknowledge that while it is very difficult for us to deal with, it must be horrible for him to feel like this, always on edge, always ready to react, always worried the world will get him first. It's no way to go through life, although we have done very well, overall.
We started training classes 50 yards away from the rest of the class. I had a raging, screaming bobcat on the lead, not a dog. In several months, we were doing agility obstacles in class with a drag line. That's pretty dang impressive. I always had to be vigilant and watchful and there were times he blew up but he always settled back down. We dropped out when it was clear health problems were interfering and making him quite cranky.
Ruby, thank you for that candid post. I don't give a hoot what other people think. I live with him, not me, and if they asked any of his vets and his trainer, they would agree with my decisions in a heartbeat. It isn't going to be an easy road, that's for sure.
|03-12-2014 06:09 PM|
Diana, one thing my niece experienced were TONS of unsolicited advice/opinions which were nothing more than uninformed knee jerk opposition to using psycho-active pharmaceuticals, especially using them on canines. While undoubtedly they were well intended, they were in fact insensitive, unkind & painful for my niece. I'm well versed in what was said b/c many mutual friends/family members would tell me as well.
Prozac wasn't the 1st thing she tried. It was among the last things, in fact. Nor was it used as a substitute for training or behaviour modification. It was a desperate situation & in her case gave the dog many additional years.
Her guy was perhaps the 1st dog I've known well who had serious temperament & psychological issues. The experience was humbling. I SAW how much love, effort, time & expense she put into Baxter. I saw too how it was an ongoing struggle...How even the best combinations of drugs & therapy yielded less than perfect results...How often it was one step forward & then a bit later 2 steps back. And in her case, the ultimate heartbreak when there was nothing more to try, nothing to be done b/c he began to get worse, much worse.
For those reasons it made me REALLLLLY, REALLLLLLY MAD when people would blithely condemn her for giving him Prozac. IF you use it, be prepared that some people, possibly including friends, will argue against it & judge harshly anyone who does use it.
I'm certain you're up to them, just be ready.
|03-12-2014 04:20 PM|
Just curious but is the anxiety/aggression all the time, or in certain instances? Since Renji is 6 years old, is it a recent development?
Have you tried training or a behavioralist?
Keep us posted will you...?
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