Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Napoleon Update

I’ve been wanting to update everyone on Napoleon’s progress, but it’s been hard to know what to say. I think that, overall, he’s doing better… but he’s still got a long way to go. I doubt he will ever make the progress that Maisy has, if only because there is no way I have the time or energy to do that again. I wrote recently about the time and money costs that went into her training, but that doesn’t even begin to touch the emotional costs. No doubt about it, rehabbing a reactive dog is exhausting and occasionally discouraging work.

Then again, living with a reactive dog is too.

Napi has a very small world. He almost never leaves the property. We are lucky to have a relatively large privacy fenced yard, and even luckier that he actually uses it to exercise. He may not get daily walks, but I’d be willing to bet that with the amount of zooming around he does -chasing and being chased - he actually gets better cardio.

It’s sad, though. I enjoy going to the dog park with my dogs; we have a large, wooded park with great paths and huge open spaces. While dog parks definitely have their own challenges, it’s my only legal place to walk my dogs off leash, so we go. Or, we used to. We don’t go much anymore since we feel sad leaving Napi behind.

His behavior makes it hard to travel; we took the crew camping a month or so back, and Napi really struggled. He ended up getting quite a bit of trazodone as a result. It’s also hard to have people over, since he gets pretty worked up when folks first arrive. While the other dogs will calm down quickly, it takes him much longer.

WHY does this picture have to be blurry??
Still… he’s doing better. We had some friends over the other day – two adults, and two children (4 and 7) – and he was eventually able to calm down and visit with everyone. We still haven’t quite figured out the best way to introduce him to new people and dogs. Restraining him makes things worse, but he’s an absolute ass for ten minutes or so (barking and nipping and dogs, barking and humping people). This time we tried crating with a bully stick for awhile first. It worked okay.

Our biggest area of struggle is just everyday living. He will bark and growl and trot around the house when he hears noises. Unfortunately, we live in a duplex, so there are often noises from upstairs. Nothing big – sounds of footsteps, mostly – but while the other dogs have gotten used to them, he just can’t. Maisy was like this at one point too, but medication really did fix that for her. Unfortunately, Napi is like this even though he’s already on meds. My vet and I are doing some drug experimentations, but so far, I’m not thrilled with what we’ve tried.

What I really need to do is suck it up and do the relaxation protocol. To start working on exposure. Find some time to get him into another reactive dog class. There’s no reason I can’t do this, other than what I said back in the beginning – I just don’t have the energy. Still, we’ll all be a lot happier if I do this, so I guess it’s time to work up a plan.

I’ve decided to start small with one small training session a day. Since his anxiety seems pretty generalized, the relaxation protocol seems like the best place to start. I suspect we’ll get the most bang for our buck, and it really doesn’t take much brain power. It’s mostly just boring. Right now I’m working on teaching him to go to a mat. I’ll spend a few days on this, then move on to a modified version of Day 1 of the protocol. I’ll keep you guys updated as we go.

1 comment:

un piloto inmenso said...

Thanks for writing this blog. I unknowingly adopted a reactive dog who has gotten better, then worse, as I've been learning about management and training. It's heartening to read about your successes and struggles. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the new year.