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.