Vet Behaviourist

This past week we made a trip up to Okotoks to visit with a Vet Behaviourist. I was on my own getting her into a crate and it was challenging and horrible. My plan had been to trap her in the x-pen while eating and then put a crate in pen, and have her squeezed into the crate. Well that didn’t work. She was totally panicked and just pushed out through the x-pen as I couldn’t hold it tight enough closed (well I probably could have if I had been better prepared - I was holding the top, and she was pushing through the bottom). So then I had a poor, scared dog running in the house. That was the first time she pooped. I then cornered her in the kitchen and brought the x-pen in to limit her options. She squeezed in between our bar fridge and our china cabinet so I put the crate in front of her and applied enough pressure that she decided going in the crate was her best option. She pooped a second time during this time and I was pretty sure she would be “empty” for the trip, which would be a good thing.

What wasn’t a good thing was the copious amount of vomit and drool that greeted me when we arrived at the clinic a few hours later. The poor girl had been stuck sitting in it all that time. I cleaned up what I could of the crate then sat back in the exam room. It only took her a few seconds to decide to crawl out of the crate and into the corner under a chair where she remained for the rest of the visit. I was able to then clean up the rest of the crate all before the vet arrived for the appointment. (We got some Xanax for the ride home and it made all the difference in the world!)

To be honest, the vet does not have a particularly optimistic prognosis but we are going to see what 6 months will do. She thinks we’ll be settled into a full drug regiment by 3 months, then we’ll have a few more months to really evaluate her progress. We are starting her slowly on prozac and then we will add in a secondary drug (amitriptyline or gabapentin) after about a month once we have her up to a full daily dose. We are to start journalling her progress (using green for good days, yellow for anxious days, and red for BAD days), start charging a clicker (click and treat for no reason) and reduce her anxiety while eating. So I’ve now got her eating behind the couch where she is happiest. We’ll slowly move the dish further and further out of the house an inch at a time. And hopefully we’ll be able to start moving it into a crate after that. We are continuing what we’ve been doing in terms of interacting - applying no pressure. We’ve been doing calming signals to her (mainly lip licking with the odd yawn thrown in) and she suggests doing more yawning and blinking instead of lip licking.

Those ears are going up!

Those ears are going up!

She would also like us to eventually follow the protocol for deference (dog must sit for EVERYTHING) but we aren’t there yet. She also suggested we use hand signals instead of verbal cues when we start training. As requested, I took video of her while we aren’t home and she did exactly what I thought she’d do - hang out on the dog bed.

So I feel like we were generally doing the right things with a few exceptions and with the new meds, we should hopefully start seeing some sort of progress in a few weeks.

As for general behaviour, she only relaxes outside when I’m not out there. She mainly sleeps on the couch or the dog bed under the window. She will go behind the couch whenever she feels the slightest bit uncomfortable and we still need to back away from the door for her to enter, but for her to exit, we generally don’t need to move away. She will come and stand in the kitchen when we are preparing food and occasionally comes over to us on the couch if we are eating something.

And last but not least, I ordered her a new name tag. I figured it was appropriate. Not sure how we’ll get it on her but we’ll worry about that later.