Maisy may have been amazing on Monday night, but on Tuesday night, she was... not. Truthfully, I knew that I will always need to be cautious with her. In times of stress, she will probably always fall back on her old, reactive coping skills.
And she did last night.
We went to our regular reactive dog class, and she did okay for the most part. She started with a play lunge towards another dog, and slowly deteriorated from there. She had a number of loud, obnoxious lunges, some with barks, some just rushes, none of it awful, though still mildly disappointing, especially after the awesome night just 24 hours prior.
I can't say that I was surprised, though. I mean, Monday night was off-the-charts stressful, and Maisy held herself together amazingly. Still, it had to have elevated her adrenaline and cortisol levels. Although I have yet to find anything definitive, most sources suggest that it can take 72 hours (or more) for cortisol to dissipate from the body after a stressful event.
This website does a nice job of discussing the differences between adrenaline and cortisol, and this one does such a nice job of explaining how those elevated stress hormones affects reactivity that I have to quote a brief portion:
High levels of adrenaline are associated with heightened vigilance, anxiety, lowered thresholds of sensory perception; these make the dog more reactive to stimulation, rather than thinking. Higher levels of glucocorticoids cause an overactive stress response and depression. After a stress response it can take days for the glucocorticoids to go back down to baseline levels. If the dog has another stressful situation before this happens the entire cascade of the stress response starts all over.
As an interesting side note, today, while I was trying to figure out how long those hormones remain in the dog's body, I read that you can help reduce the cortisol levels through exercise immediately following the stressful event, massage, and, interestingly, some dietary things, such as magnesium, omega 3s or vitamin C. I'll have to try both the exercise and the massage, and do more reading on the dietary factors.
Anyway, all of that is simply to say that Maisy's reactivity last night wasn't really a set-back. In fact, it was actually an expected result. That not only helps me feel better about it, it also confirms the decision I made a few months ago to scratch her from a second day of trialling. At the time, I just didn't think she could do the second day, but didn't understand why. My trainer had agreed, saying that she thought Maisy was probably a one-day dog. Now I'm quite sure of that. That's really a valuable thing to know about my dog, and so I'm grateful to have had the experience last night.