I’ll start with yesterday since we didn’t post. It wasn’t too exciting, though. We went to our Growly Dog 2 class and it was ok. There were only 2 of us in class and it wasn’t very effective to what Gypsy needs. We were able to help the other dog though, so that was good. But for Gypsy, it wasn’t much help. It was still good. We mainly did BAT setups in the classroom and I worked with Gypsy off leash in our little boxed in area. Then I had to run some errands and in the evening she was pretty quiet for a weekend.
Today was a different story. We got up early and went to a TDAA trial about 90 minutes away. It was her first TDAA trial in 2 months and I wanted to see if anything got better. In a nutshell— yes and no. Yes, she was much better with the dogs around her. She saw dogs while she pottied and we walked around, as well as going up to the entry of the ring. I didn’t carry her in this time. She was much better with that. But once in the ring, she was not thrilled for the most part. She didn’t even want to get out of her crate, which is very odd and disturbing for her. I don’t know why that was. She even had a bully stick she didn’t finish. She ate a whole one in class the other day but today didn’t want to chew on it much.
I did have her Thundershirt on, and sometimes she thinks the world is coming to an end when that happens. It could be a factor. The runs didn’t go great, but I did experiment with a few things, she was better with her startline stay, she nailed in contacts (running too!!) and had fun. The most fun she had was when we ran FEO in a beginner’s run instead of intermediate. She’s technically an intermediate level but the courses weren’t too fun for her and so I dropped her down for FEO and she did fantastic!!
On that beginner FEO run, a person at the trial had a border collie about 5 feet off the gates. Gypsy spotted him and started freaking out. She was totally fixated. She would not sit for me at the startline or connect with me. So I had her ribbon, just ran in circles with me, back and forth and got her ramped up, and then I just said “GO!” And she didn’t look back at that BC again!!! It’s interesting because when I did the startline stay I wasn’t as ramped up as I was with the BC incident and she wasn’t feelin’ it much. I guess I was too concerned about the stay so I didn’t look fun. I think that was our revelation of the day.
Back home, it got worse. We fell asleep on the couch and I thought all was good. But then she started fixating on noises outside. I took her outside and my landlord was in the front yard gardening. We did do a lot of click/reward and some recalls but she was still very hypervigilant and stressed out. She looked really stressed out. We came inside and she still looked really stressed out. I tried to calm her but it wasn’t working. I tried to click and reward and it didn’t work. So I put her in her crate, with the door open, and just pet her. She stayed in there about 20 minutes and that did calm her down. Then I took her near the couch on leash and sat with her on the floor. She found a squeaky penguin toy and just went to town on it like she was releasing all of her stress. She was squeaking it like crazy and then proceeded to try to remove all the stuffing. She didn’t pull out much. We even played a little tug with it. Whether the intention for her was stress relief or not, I tend to believe it was since she doesn’t usually get toys out of the blue on her own, let alone this penguin one. She just went crazy with squeaking it like she was beating the hell out of it like a punching bag.
After she calmed down I gave her a rawhide to chew while I did a few things around the house. I don’t know if it was the anxiety or the bone or both, but Apollo came up to the x-pen barrier and she stared and then lunged at him. He ran away. She couldn’t have gotten to her because of the barrier but I wasn’t happy with that behavior at all since I think that’s what happened the other night because there was a rawhide on the floor in the bedroom when we had that incident the other night.
So after that, I don’t know what to do. I’ve been thinking today of trying some melatonin this week to see if it helps take the edge off. Apollo goes the the vet tomorrow for his eyes and I may talk to the vet about some anti-anxiety meds. I don’t know her stance on them, but after she was so overthreshold in her own backyard just by seeing someone through the gate (she also reacted when my mom and dad were standing outside the gate last week and I went to let them in, so it’s not just people she doesn’t recognize right away), plus the anxiety in the house and hypervigilance, I just so badly wanted to help her feel better. She was panting, moving every which way, and just very very anxious. I really don’t want drugs, but I would like her to be able to feel “normal” while we work through the fear and so some CC and OC because it’s not really working on it’s own. She treats it as a game or a training session and when the session is over, so is the work. She hasn’t yet transferred it to real life and I honestly don’t know how to make that happen. I can’t just click and treat all day. She just can’t eat that much.
If anyone is reading this, please let me know if you have any experience with anti-anxiety drugs for your dogs, like Prozac or Xanex. I found this blog today — it’s a little outdated, but interesting nevertheless and something to talk to my vet about.
Today I am thankful I worked hard to get through to my dog and try to show her that she can lead a calm life. Someday I’d like to be thankful it actually happened, and not just a wish.