Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recheck with the Veterinary Behaviorist: Plans for the Future

After all my blathering on, I still haven't gotten to the crux of the appointment: where do we go from here? So today I'm going to share what Dr. Duxbury and I agreed to do next.

Not ones to mess with a good thing, we are not changing Maisy's paroxetine. She will remain on a daily 10mg dose for the forseeable future. I don't know when/if we'll ever take her off it, but for now, it remains effective and awesome.

However, given how traumatic her recent vet visits were, and considering that Maisy will be staying at a boarding kennel for the first time in her life next month, we decided that we do want have a little something for special occasions.

We did try trazodone at her ultrasound, and I was unimpressed with it then. Still, that day was weird- she was already stressed from her appointment the day before, and the city was doing ripping out the sidewalk in front of our house that day. Plus, Dr. Duxbury really prefers trazodone over the alternatives (it's typically less addicting and seems to have fewer side effects, including paradoxical effects), so we agreed to give it another try, this time on a day when nothing was going on.

Based on the feedback Dr. Duxbury received from our reactive dog class trainer, we discussed the possibility of trying more conventional training classes. (I'm thinking I'll try an advanced rally class, but I might try an advanced obedience class, too- depends on what works best in our schedule, really.)

We're going to take it slow, though.

Maisy and I will remain in our current reactive dog class, but only attend every other week. Dr. Duxbury said we could start taking regular classes immediately, but I think I'm going to take it a bit slower instead. My plan is to go to the club where I plan to take classes every other week and set up Maisy's crate and do the same stuff as we do at reactive dog class: mostly chill in the crate, but have her come out to heel, work on a perch, etc., near the other dogs. I'll probably spend two to three months doing the every-other-week thing before actually signing up and attending a class.

The purpose of doing reactive dog class every other week is to give us a barometer of how Maisy is doing. If Maisy gets reactive in the regular class, but not in reactive dog class, we'll know that she's not ready for the regular class yet. If she gets worked up in the regular class and the reactive dog class, we know there's an issue, but that it's probably not related to the class schedule.

Beyond classes, though, we have two additional assignments: first, I am to condition Maisy to wear a muzzle. This was mostly my idea, but Dr. Duxbury did fit Maisy for a muzzle because I couldn't figure out what size she needed. (As it turns out, she's between sizes.)

Second, I am to condition Maisy to love being picked up. She doesn't care for this right now, but if she finds being picked up pleasant, it will make it easier to move her through crowded doorways and spaces without increasing her stress level. It's meant to be a management strategy, to prevent stress, as opposed to something I do in response to stress.

Because Maisy did so well just hanging out at the last trial, Dr. Duxbury said we could enter the next one! However, we both agreed that the best course of action is to play it by ear. I'll go, hang out, and if Maisy's doing well, do a day-of-show entry. And then, depending on how she's doing as we enter the ring, I am to seriously consider purposely NQing, and either do just one to two signs, or have a “cookie run” instead of trying to actively compete. Either way, we've been given permission to enter the ring, and I'm happy about that!

Both Dr. Duxbury and I are thrilled with how Maisy's doing. We'll return in three to six months to reassess things again, and I am very excited to see where she's at then.


katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

Sounds like Maisy's still doing well, esp with all the vet excitement she's had lately!

I'm really interested to hear how you'll condition her to love being picked up and what's the benefit of that. Magnus really doesn't love to be picked up, which isn't a huge deal, but I would like him to enjoy it a little more. Another great post!

Crystal Thompson said...

The club I want to take classes at has a sort of narrow entry way. It's also a very busy club, so it can get pretty crowded at the door. The thought is it would be less stressful for Maisy to be carried into the building than to have to pass several dogs in very tight quarters. Of course, this will only work if she doesn't find being carried stressful...

As for how I'm going to teach it, well, it involves cookies! I'm going to say "up" and then pick her up. I'll feed her a high value treat (freeze dried tripe, used only for this purpose). As soon as she's done eating it, I'll set her down. I'll do a max of 3-5 reps per day. Both the "up" cue and the max reps are direct suggestions from the Eva and Emelie presentation at ClickerExpo. ;)

katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

Sounds like a good plan. Have you ever used a crate dolly? It might be awkward for a small space, but I know Maisy uses her crate at class so perhaps she would like to be transferred in that? Just an idea.

I think teaching dogs to like being held is just practical, like conditioning her to accept a muzzle, or in Magnus case the Thundershirt. We ask our pups do handle so many things as members of our communities, it's better they have some practice ahead of time. Thanks for the ideas!

Crystal Thompson said...

You know, the idea of transporting her in her crate is really creative! That's great thinking, especially since you're right- we've worked hard to make the crate a zen-like place. I'm not sure what she'd think of it moving though- she hates it when things move under her feet. Which would win out? Her love of her crate or her hate for things that move?

Crystal Thompson said...

Oops, hit reply too soon! ;)

My guess is that the hate for movement would win out. It's also just more practical to carry her, but... your idea is VERY intriguing.

katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

I'm glad the idea has some merit.:) I know lots of dogs don't like things moving under them. Mine both got used to that early. Magnus in the airport on the way home and Maizey with her knee surgeries. I have a backpack type carrier that has wheels. That's something that's on my puppy socialization list, for the same reason I listed muzzles, etc. earlier.

Crystal Thompson said...

I will have to add that to my puppy socialization list. It's a REALLY great idea, and I wish I could use it for Maisy!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Yay! I can't wait to see her strut her stuff soon!

And my vote is for an advanced obedience class. Rally is just obedience doodles anyway... You should come Wednesdays so I can see her!

Crystal Thompson said...

Hahaha. Well, Laura, we can definitely do the hang around in her crate thing on Wednesdays. We'll probably start in August- July is just jam-packed with stuff for us.

Sophie said...

I'm always so excited to see posts on the future like this! It's so amazing to see how far you've come with Maisy. :)