Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recheck with the Veterinary Behaviorist: Before and After Videos

It probably wasn't fair to leave the last post hanging like that, mostly because Dr. Duxbury and I didn't really discuss the logs. She thanked me for bringing them in, but the bulk of our appointment was spent watching videos.

Because she had three students in the room with her, I showed the “before” videos that complemented the "after" videos so they had a frame of reference. I'm really glad it happened like this, because I don't think we would have watched the before videos otherwise. Why would we have? We both were there, we both remember what Maisy was like... right?

The truth is, when I watched the before videos, my jaw dropped. I didn't remember Maisy being that anxious, that vigilant, that slow to bounce back from stress. What I remember is Maisy being herself, and that she'd improved a lot through the training we'd already done.

Here's the before video. For context, this was taken at my reactive dog class last fall. We were pushing Maisy a little bit harder than usual because we wanted to make sure we got good video for the initial appointment. (I was later told that wasn't necessary, so I do not recommend you do the same thing.)



And here is the after video. There are some differences between the two videos- different location, different dog, different orientation- but not enough to cause the drastic change you will see in Maisy's behavior.



Amazing, right? Let me tell you, if I had had any doubts about whether or not medication was the right choice for my dog, well... they're gone now. Instead, I turned to Dr. Duxbury and said, “Why didn't I do this sooner?”

16 comments:

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Those videos are amazing! What a huge difference!

Ashley Hiebing said...

Wow, I was expecting a change, but that was incredible! I'm really happy for the both of you. And I know which vet behaviorist I'M going to go see when I have the chance ;)

Anonymous said...

Gosh, watching Maisy in the earlier video was almost painful. Only because my little guy is VERY similar to how Maisy used to be, so I know, somewhat, how that's like! As soon as another dog or something strange is in the vicinity, it's like a wire in his brain short circuits and he CANNOT stop fixating on this new, troublesome object. I have tried lots of positive reinforcement, but he loves food, so it seems to make him even more hyped up.

Anyways, thanks for sharing this. Just guessing here of course, but Maisy looks a lot happier to me now. She doesn't act like the other dog is ready to eat her, even though the other dog in video 2 looks way more amped up than Maisy!

This is an amazing transformation. I am really happy for you and Maisy. I feel like you gals have worked so hard, and truly deserve this little miracle.

Sherry

Crysania said...

I'm so glad you watched the before video back to back with the after one because there is a HUGE difference. Maisy looks great in the second video, so much more relaxed! She notices the other dog but doesn't seem to be stressed out. I'm so glad the medication is working for her.

Crystal Thompson said...

Thanks everyone. I'm still just astounded at the change between the two videos. When you see a dog every day, you don't notice what's happening... but good grief. Like Sherry said, the before video is almost painful to watch. Poor Maisy!

Melissa and the Shelties said...

Your videos honestly made me feel like crying. I'm just so happy and relieved for you that she's done so well on the Paxil, I know how hard it is dealing with a dog with that much anxiety. After seeing the difference in her behavior, it floors me that some people can argue that medication is bad 100% of the time!

It also gives me hope that one day Toby will be that calm, your earlier videos of Maisy are so like my Toby. For now I'm going to continue working with him without medication, but your videos and info make me feel so much better about considering meds, should that day come.

Lindsay said...

Those videos side by side really hammer home the HUGE difference in Maisy! That's very nice to see!:)

Ninso said...

WOW!!! That is absolutely amazing! She's trying so hard in the first video, though. And in the second she doesn't seem "sedated" at all--just better able to control herself and focus. I really need to get a video camera so I can start taping Jun. I always have "feelings" about her behavior being better or worse, but without video or behavior logs it's not scientific at all.

Crystal Thompson said...

Melissa- I'd highly recommend taking some videos now. Then, set a time limit (6-12 months, maybe?) and work your butt off with behavior mod. Then take another set of videos that are as similar as possible. I think that will help you decide if medication would be helpful.

How's Toby been doing recently? Has he calmed down since that flashmob thing?

Crystal Thompson said...

NINSO-

I'm really glad you saw that Maisy was trying so hard in that first video. Dr. Duxbury commented that she thinks that video is fine evidence that behavior problems aren't always obedience problems. Maisy clearly knew what I wanted her to do, and holy crap, she was really working hard, but sometimes her anxiety just got the best of her. The poor little thing.

Sarah said...

There is obviously a huge difference in her anxiety level between the two videos. And while she is definitely calmer in the second video, she also seems shut down. She's not having fun. When I work with anxious, fearful dogs, I want them to be focused on me and having a good time, so they make positive associations. Sometimes, food isn't enough of a motivator to make sure that the dog is enjoying herself. Even just talking to her in a happy voice can sometimes brighten her up (and if you still only reward calm behavior, the happy voice won't cause her to get up). They can be calm, yet still be happy. For example, if I were to do that exercise with my dog, he'd lie nicely like that, but would wag his tail when he gets a treat or when he makes eye contact with me. It looks to me like Maisy should be further away from the dog so she can be having fun without worrying about the other dog. Then slowly move her closer until she can be that close to him and still be happy. It looks like she's still overthreshold, just not as anxious. Do you think Maisy was happy or just calm?

Sophie said...

The difference between the two videos is astounding. She's come such a long way - and the medication has really, really helped for her. I'm so impressed.

By the way, there's a blog award waiting for you over at my blog - http://courtoftails.blogspot.com/2011/06/wonderful-weekend.html

Thanks for being such a great blogger, and for sharing so much time to attend training seminars and do huge posts for everyone.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Sarah,
I don't know, I want mat work to be pretty boring with my dogs. I do agree that calm doesn't necessarily mean that the dog can't be happy, but in general I have the goal of mat work to give the dog an expectation of being off duty and practically nap time. I want to get rid of treats and my happy voice as soon as the dog can handle it as that will only serve to get them more in "working mode" and offering behaviors (even if they're just working hard at eye contact or head down). I think a happy waggy tail and offered eye contact can be counter productive to the mat being a place of relaxation versus just being calm on one. That being said, I can see backing Maisy up a bit in distance because she is still checking in on the other dog quite often.

Crystal Thompson said...

Sarah, there's a certain irony to your comment... we've actually worked REALLY HARD to get Maisy to stop wagging her tail during relaxation time!

I've found that with Maisy, tail wagging is due to excitement, which is the exact opposite of what I want during mat work. If you watch closely, you'll see that every time she alerts to the other dog, her tail goes up. If it had started wagging, she probably would have left the mat, like in the "before" video. Her tail is telling, but it isn't always happy.

My goal for mat work is a puddle of puppy... I want her so calm and relaxed that she melts! Laura really stated it quite well. Now, we aren't there yet, and I think you and Laura are both right that she could have benefited for a bit more distance, but the point remains: what you're seeing is what I've reinforced. I would not define her behavior as shut down- she was still engaged and taking treats.

I'd love to see some video of mat work you've done, though- I'd like to get an idea of how other people do it, and what it looks like.

Thanks for commenting!

Ninso said...

Crystal, I agree. When I am doing RP with Jun and she starts wagging her tail it indicates arousal, not happiness, and usually means I'm getting close to threshold with whatever I'm doing. If I don't back it off, she will get up. My goal is also no tail wagging. Of course, when doing regular training, she can wag her tail as much as she wants, and does! I also disagree that she looks "shut down." She looks calm and attentive to me. Shut down to me means unresponsive. Mat work is probably not a good exercise to gauge whether a dog is shut down, particularly if you're not actually there seeing the work be done and the dog's state of mind before and after.

Crystal Thompson said...

Ninso, thanks for the comment. You're right that you can't see what happened before and after the video- she was quite happy that day, and we played a bit on some agility equipment.

The tail stuff is interesting. At certain times, it indicates arousal. At other times, it indicates happiness. I'm really going to have to start paying more attention to other dogs' tails...