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Old 06-29-2012, 01:03 PM
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monkeys23 monkeys23 is offline
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Default What do I need to know to prepare?

I apologize in advance, this is really long.

Well Scout has hit another plataeu/backslide in her anxiety issues for no apparent reason. No big changes have happened recently and when we did have the big change of Spaz (now Zack) going to his forever home I was blown away at how well she handled it. I was worried she'd freak over being left home alone during Lily's individual walk as they usually each get one individual plus one together every day. But no she's been fine.

Likewise she's been slowly, but steadily improving in regards to her fear of other dogs on our walks. She's been brave enough to glance and participate in some impromptou LAT/BAT instead of just making herself as close to the ground as possible and wanting to run home... she still wants to run home, but she's trying! Now if I walk them both, she's brave enough to bark reactively when we see a strange dog, but participates in LAT and focus with me very easily and automatically. Also I've made big improvements in keeping myself calm and controlling my own physiological responses to situations of loose dogs and the like which is really good.

I put her through a test I maybe shouldn't have last Friday. It was National Take Your dog to work day, so I took Lily to work with me. I left Scout home because I knew she'd be overstressed in this environment. We're on summer hrs, so I work 9-4 and am home for an hour at lunch. So suffice to say she was not left home alone very long at all in a stretch. She was fine when we came for lunch, a little over pumped, but generally fine. I took her on her lunchtime walk after I ate and then Lily and I went back to work.
When I came home had to hit the restroom upon getting home, so didn't let her out until a couple mins after I had gotten in, I noticed the recliner by her crate was crooked, so I went to straighten it and that is when I noticed the hole ripped in the side of her kennel....
She ripped the wires off/apart to where she could get her head out and pulled the back/bottom panel off the chair, shredding it, and pulled out some chair stuffin. Can I say whoa, totally not even mad was just impressed. So I took her out to potty, checked her mouth to make sure she hadn't hurt herself, and cleaned stuff up.

The way she went about destructing stuff was very very new. Usually she just undoes the crate latch on her kennel door. I have been very lax and not double locking with the climbing caribiner since she hasn't broken out in destructo mode in like 8 or 9 months. She's broken out while I'm training Lily in the living room and she's kenneled or when I've taken Lily out to pee, but when she did those it was all bouncy yay here I am, which this was obviously very much not because she was so ramped up on stress that it took a while for her panting to slow and etc.

We went to my mom's like normal for the weekend and Scout was pretty normal for Scout, that is to say her normal goosey self. Other than having to stay on her about ignoring a BC out on the road (she's weirdly in love/codependant with other dogs despite having become fearful of strange dogs from all the loose not so nice ones that bombard us in the city... its a very odd chunk of behavioral change, she is certainly unique!) everything was run of the mill and she didn't show any weird signs of stress. Lily on the other hand was really goosey all weekend which is not normal for her. I strongly suggest its caused by how closely bonded the girls are and Scout's stress affecting her.

So then we start our week like normal... no big deal. Nothing notable happened on Sun-Mon, but Wed evening when I was out giving Lily her individual walk Scout ripped out the repairs I'd made to her crate and ripped the hole bigger and then did an even bigger number on the chair before diving out the hole she'd made. No other damage done, but she'd been trying to look out the window. Again she was really ramped up stress-wise and took a while to take it down a bit to her normal levels.

So Thurs morning she was fine when I took Lily out for her turn to potty in the yard... its just easier to do one at a time since my yard isn't fully fenced and there are always semi-feral cats they want to chase. Ditto at lunch time, she was fine. Then when I got off work, took Scout out, then kenneled her to take Lily out we weren't out there twenty seconds and we could hear Scout freaking out. She'd already ripped out of her kennel before we even got back inside. Lily was too perturbed to pee so we came right back in.

I know she's not wired right and will never be normal, but she has been doing so well for so long. I don't know where the hell this is coming from.

Physically she's healthy as a horse, glorious coat, very little shedding for a plushie, good muscle and her body fat is actually pretty high right now for her. I say for her because she's built weird and will always have a bony topline despite the rest of body holding weight totally normally. She's not the only dog born out of that bust with these physical characteristics.

She's been in confidence building behavioral adjustment positive training since I took her on. Both with me and with a trainer at various times. I don't put undue pressure on her, we just have fun. I stopped holding her to the same standards as Lily and do not put her in overly stressfull situations... it won't do any good socialization/desensitization wise if she's too stressed and shut down to function. As an example, I stopped taking her with me when I modeled for art class last fall term because some of the girls in class wouldn't stop staring at her because she's pretty and she was stress chewing her feet really badly. Not enough to lose hair, but thats her quiet way of freaking out about being the center of attention. Because Scout very much does not want to be the center of attention, except to me.

I've tried DAP which helped a little bit, haven't used it in a while... will probably get some more.
And my previous upstairs neighbors were really violent which greatly contributed... when they got arrested/evicted was when her last bad plataeu ceased so i thought for sure that was what the cause was. Now I'm not so sure...

Holistic aromatherapy stuff didn't really do anything and the Thundershirt made her feel special about having a fancy jacket, but didn't alleviate any stress. I might try it again to be sure since I still have it, but it didn't seem to do jack the two weeks I tried it and that was during the period she was doing quite good for her. Thing is that even when she's doing really well, she's still got a LOT of anxiety. She's not a danger to anyone but herself and she's the sweetest thing on the planet.

So basically I am at the point where I need to call the vet and schedule a time sit down and discuss anxiety medications.

We need to improve Scout's quality of life because this isn't fair to her to live like this. Given her roots/genetics I do think there probably is a chemical imbalance there, so if we're lucky maybe medication can help. I'll be honest I feel like trying meds is a last ditch effort because we've literally tried everything. She's pretty functional most of the time and to the casual observer she seems hunky dory... but her body language is screaming calming signals half the time and she has a hard time relaxing enough to elimate at times. Even at the relaxed, secluded times at my mom's house where she can be off leash she has to pace around for a good spot to go. I'm so mad every day at that hoarder who allowed all those dogs to breed and the "rescue" that is so proud of saving them. How dare they pat themselves on the back when this poor sweet wonderful dog can never fully escape the monkey on her back?

So yeah. Who has had experience with canine anxiety meds? Good or bad?

What should I put on my list of things to ask the vet?

Do we need to run any tests like bloodwork?

What side effects do I need to worry about?

I have read up a bit on all the common ones, so I kind of have an idea. I just want to be as prepared as possible.
I think I'm going to write up a detailed overview trying to present a decent picture of Scout's overall issues for the vet to have before our meeting because holy crap is it a long drawn out story. And she HAS made a world of improvments to where she seems like a pretty normal dog to most who meet her. On a day to day basis she always always has some degree of anxiety though... Its not her fault and its not fair.

I honestly do not give a crap about any of the torn up stuff or anything. Its just stuff. I just want my dog to be happy and have good quality of life.
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:41 PM
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thehoundgirl thehoundgirl is offline
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You know I have no advice on the anxiety medication route because I am not experienced with anxiety medicine in dogs. But, I do think it can help.. atleast I certainly hope so. I know how much you love her and how hard this is on you. It's not fair to either of you, but I hope you can get some help with the meds.
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Old 06-29-2012, 03:05 PM
StillandSilent StillandSilent is offline
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For me, the choice came down to getting Gambit on medication or having him PTS. His problems were that over the top, and with his coy status, no shelter would touch him with a 50ft pole. We were using both DAP and the Thundershit, and seeing minimal improvments. I tried with him for over a year, using every positive method in the book.

I wish I had gone with medication sooner. Once his baseline stress levels were lowered, both the DAP and the Thundersirt had a much more noticeable effect. He's not, and never will be normal, but I finally saw progress.

Only you can know what it is like to live with your dog, and only you can see the stress that she goes through on a daily basis. Do not be afraid to try meds. If they don't work, you don't lose anything, except for a little cash (and Gambit's meds are on the $6 plan at Ingles, so not even that much cash). If they do work, you have so many more options.

All vets are differnt. My vet would not consider meds until Gambit had been evaulated by a behavorist. She also evaluated him herself, which took over an hour. She ran baseline bloodwork on him, and he will go in yearly to have a mini liver panel run.

I went from a dog who hid under the bed if he so much as saw I was going to open the apartment door, to a dog who will chill on the futon, right in front of the open door with a baby gate up. He still hides when people walk direclty past, but he's made such incredible progress, and I attribute a lot of it to his medication.

Don't get me wrong, I still do a ton of work with him, but before I could have worked all day long, and he was never relaxed enough for any of it to take.

I have not see any side effects with Gambit. FWIW- he is on Clomiprimine aka Clomicalm.
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Old 06-29-2012, 03:38 PM
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monkeys23 monkeys23 is offline
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Thanks for the support Krista.

Thanks very much for sharing how its helped Gambit. Very interesting to hear the difference it made for him.
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