Weaning her off

I’ve been weaning her off of the anxiety medicine, and have noticed some changes. She has been sick a few days, like she used to be (throwing up, upset tummy). She isn’t anymore and I’m happy to say she’s eating again. The only 2 things I changed were the medicine, and new hard biscuit treats. I stopped giving her the treats, hoping that was what was wrong, and not the fact that shes in so much anxiety that she is getting sick.

We went to the Poconos for a while, and she did very well. Of course she liked to bark at anyone walking/riding a bike past the house, but other than that it went pretty well. She loves laying outside and spending time exploring-she is so curious.

We had her go in the canoe, and she did well, but kept drinking yucky water. She wouldn’t sit and relax, and tried to eat lilypads when we passed. Needless to say we had to go back to the dock sooner than later considering my mom is very fearful of falling in the water!

So we’ve noticed since we’ve been weaning her off of the medicine a little more anxiety such as barking at a neighbor she never barked at before and barking at a ceiling fan. I’m hoping the other medicine we will be trying will be more helpful.

Oreo did very well in the Poconos with training, I am hoping it carries over to being home. She is sleeping now and seems zonked…very tired from all the walking and excitement.


Some progress…and cracked feet

Oreo’s making progress with the “Spin” trick. She is excellent at leave it, and giving me attention when I have treats in view. “Here” and “Touch” commands are going great. However, I am having difficulty with getting attention from her once I walk out the door. She can do the sit, stay, go through door, attention, tricks–perfectly inside the house, but outside the house it is more of a distraction. It doesn’t help that she was sick for a day. Now she also has small cracks in one of her paw pads, it seems to be healing though. Definitely need to stay off of hot pavement.

I recieved news that I am moving to a new school (I’m a teacher) and a new grade. This has caused me extra stress and sadness, and I think it could be rubbing off on her. This morning she wasn’t even interested in steak! I have noticed much more gas from her (smelly too! gross!). This is telling me something is going on. Perhaps more stress from weaning her off of her anxiety medicine? Or maybe the new wheat-free treats? I’m not sure yet…

She is still running from the thundershirt, but when I put it on her, she does not snap or anything. She usually lays down and sleeps. She is more anxious without the anxiety medicine, but I don’t think it is as beneficial as another medicine may be. She does frequently bark at the ceiling fan now, which hasn’t happened in a long time since she was a puppy. Not the best week, but we are making it through.

Keep your dog on a leash!!!!

Today’s blog is short…keep your dog on a leash when you are at the park!!!! If you are at a dog park, with a fenced in area, great. If you are hiking, okay. If you are in a public park with kids, other dogs, and strangers-you need to keep your dog on a leash!!!


I’ve undertaken something new…a thundershirt. At our training lesson last Wednesday, the trainer suggested a thundershirt and asked if I knew what it was. She was very surprised to know that I have been doing all this research. I promptly searched local stores looking for a thundershirt in hope that this will help Oreo. Thundershirts are like wraps that velcro around the dog to create a feeling of safety, security, and lessen anxiety. There are many great reviews for this product, and some not so great. Many people use thundershirts to lessen the fear of thunder (hense the name).

It was suggested that I put this on her a few times a day leaving it on for different amounts.  So…I put it on her and she stood looking at me, wide eyes, and didn’t move. It was like she was in shock. Then she looked around and wobbled a little like she was off balance. I actually believe she may be getting her balance. Some dogs do not really notice their body. They don’t know their body extends and aren’t aware of it, so that makes it scary when people touch them. I am hoping the thundershirt and ttouch will help with this.

So…she followed me around like a lost puppy dog. She stood on me, followed me to the chair and jumped up to stand on me. It was like she was in shock. To me, she seemed super anxious, although she wasn’t whining or anything, she was just looking, and not moving, very odd. So I took it off after 5 minutes so she can get used to it. Next time I tried to put it on…what do you think happened? She RAN!!! I e-mailed the trainer telling her what happened, and the trainer said that she thinks this will help so I should try to get her used to it. REALLY. That hit me. Wow, yes I am a worry wart. But considering the way she acts when I tried putting something she is scared of near her (she tried to bite, snaps, growls, shows teeth). So I confronted her. Usually not the best thing to do..but I followed my gut. She hid, but I put it on top of her and she did not resist, she did not bite, or growl, or snap.

I’ve putten it on her a few more times and she’s been sleeping on the floor with it on, I think it may be working, relaxing her a bit. She is taking treats now with it on which is good. She still will run at the sight of it. Hopefully she likes it and I’m not forcing her into something scary. I think she has a love/hate relationship with it. She loves it because its calming to her, but she hates seeing it. I think each time I put it on she is a little less scared and a little more relaxed. Hopefully the trainer is right. Not sure yet…I’ll keep you updated.

Do Fidos Need Furry Friends?

I didn’t take much interest in the subject, until I learned today that Oreo’s best friend and neighbor will be moving soon. She is reactive, and only gets along with dogs she knew before the attack. She would do anything for this dog. We go outside and she lays hypnotized at the door, hoping for Boomer to come out.

I love seeing her play with Boomer. She is careless and anxiety free. They romp around the yards, diving on top of each other. Oreo is a smaller dog, while Boomer is the size of a golden retriever. Boomer will lay down and let Oreo jump and pin him down. They play tug with toys and I feel this is a time when Oreo can really be herself. It is truly a joy to watch.

I am saddened to know they are leaving, to know Oreo’s one true playmate will be gone. Walking outside, Oreo heard Boomer barking and whining inside because he is crated when his parents are gone. She layed down outside and refused to move. I enouraged, pulled, and instead of moving with me, she flopped down on her side. She did not want to move. She wanted to stay by Boomer, even though he was inside, she wouldn’t miss a chance to see him.

After learning of their moving, I did some searching about Pet Pals. In fact, I found that most dogs do not enjoy the company of other dogs, but are just tolerating it. I can see that especially when we force dogs to meet on leashes, facing each other. I also realize that many dogs form a very special bond. I think Oreo has that special bond with Boomer.

With my research, I have found that dogs can be just as happy if not happier spending time with family (humans), and it can sometimes be much betters, especially for anxious dogs. I am not saying that dogs do not need socialization, of course they do. Here is a great article about socializing dogs and if they should have friends http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-socialization-good-bad .

Play dates and socializing depend on every dog. I thought bringing my dog up to meet every dog when she was a puppy was a fabulous idea. While trying to socialize her, I think she thought she could go up to every dog then, and that every dog wanted to play. She also probably got anxiety from greeting many dogs. Now I would hate it if someone came up to me and my dog walking wishing to greet us. You live and learn I guess.

On a different, yet interesting topic. I have noticed every time Oreo encounters a fellow neighbor dog who is a small hot dog, she lays down and turns her head right away as soon as she sees him from a distance. YAY! Good Oreo for using calming signals. She is scared of every other dog, but uses appropriate calming signals with this dog. She doesn’t love to play with him, actually he is too frightened, he may come sniff but then runs away. She must know he is scared to send off calming signals. It is very interesting. I hope to utilze this somehow in the future.

Don’t get depressed

We can’t get depressed with our reactive dogs. They are very scared and we need to remember that. The world is scary for them. I often find myself drifting, thinking of how horrible things could be if we didn’t have good management skills, along with training. I always think of what if we have a kid one day? What will happen then? These thoughts haunt me, but I need to put them to the side, because that’s not now, and I have years to work with her.

Yesterday she was resisting having me clean her ears. Even though the witch hazel is unscented, I am sure she can still smell it. We may not have powerful enough noses, but I think she does. She doesn’t detest to a cotton ball near her ear as much as she does when I put some liquid on it. I did manage to kind of clean her ears yesterday, so hopefully that will help.

I discussed with my vet the current medicine Oreo is on (Clomipramine). She said she should be on it at least for a month before we will see progress. It has been about a month, but I haven’t seen a big difference, however she was much more comfortable at training in the beginning than before. That could be because she knew what she was getting there, TREATS!! However, I don’t see that much of a difference at home. She seems a little sleepier, but still reacts to flies, ear cleaning, people, dogs, and so on. The trainer seemed very concerned that she was reacting to flies.

When Oreo sees a fly she will sometimes try to eat it. But most of the time if a fly lands on her she freaks out walking in circles, freezing, and panicing. One was in the house the other day and she wouldn’t calm down for 5 minutes, she had to find it. We are going to wean her off of the medicine and see how it goes. Instead of 2 pills a day, this week we will do 1. Next week we will do 1 pill every few days. If I don’t see a difference then I will know my hunch was correct, it made no difference.

My vet said we could stay on it a little longer, or try Amitryptiline. Amitryptiline is used for general anxiety and seperation anxiety. Clomipramine is more used for just seperation anxiety, which Oreo does NOT have. It is a fine line to decide when to stop the medicine, because if we would try it again it could have lost it’s effectiveness. I feel that this probably is not the right drug for her and the trainer mentioned the same thing. So I have to go with my gut. Always follow your gut…that’s for another post!

Why does a reactive dog need to leave it?

Oreo when we first got her

So, I just got back from Training Session #2. Oreo was much more comfortable at this session, even laid down a few times and had very soft eyes. She did very well with the previous things we have been working on (leave it, off, trade game, and so on). We discussed switching vets at the same clinic, to someone perhaps more knowledgable. She was put on Clompramine, but does not have seperation anxiety, and it seems to have no affect after a month of upping the dosage.

We are going to work on a more advanced “leave it”. You may be wondering why should I practice leave it with a reactive dog who needs to work on much bigger things. Well, this works on focus and makes her think. When she is running after something she will have some practice thinking wait, let’s look at mom and then think. This works on eye contact also. Oreo is pretty good at leave it, so we skipped a few levels of training. We are setting down the foundation.

We will also be working on “here” and “touch” (hand and finger targeting) but from distances, in the air, and all over the place. This allows her to be less afraid of things, and also for her to come to me. For example, yesterday our neighbors grill was moved and a big black cover was put onto it. It was blowing in the wind and Oreo went out and was barking at it. I put my finger on it and said “here”, and she came over and touched it with her nose and got a treat. After that she was fine with it.

We will be working on a protocol for exiting doors, such as the bedroom if someone is here. First we will start by having her sit with her leash on and stay. I will look through the door, click and treat if she stays there. I will do this a few times, then advance through the door and tell her to come. She will have 10 seconds to look at me when I call her name. I then click and treat. Then I have her do a few things (Tricks and such) and click and treat for focus. Then we go back into the room and PARTY!!!!! (do lots of things she likes for 20 seconds). This will lay a foundation down for everything we are doing.  Eventually (hopefully by next week) we can move to doing this in the car. Next time the trainer said she will get her dog at a distance and I will do the protocol from the car. AHHH!!! I hope it works… haha she is very reactive towards dogs, but this is what the training is for.

We meant to do some work with the muzzle, but we forgot. Unfortunately we were interrupted by someone walking in the door, after I believe I locked it (maybe the other trainer had a key?) and Oreo couldn’t calm down. I need to slowly move her away. When she looks at me click and treat away from what’s bothering her. It took her at least 5 minutes to stop barking, but very intense, so no strangers in the house or any house she is in for a long time until that’s worked on…hopefully? We will see how it goes.

I am also going to get her a thundershirt to wear at different times during the day and hopefully this will help.

Just when you think everything is okay…

Everything has been going a lot smoother now that the ear drop extravaganza is over. Oreo’s meds have been upped, but I have seen no noticable difference. However, I have become much more observant and versed in doggie language (calming signals). I think I over analyze everything. Or maybe everything just doesn’t see from my eyes, and Oreo’s eyes. Talking about eyes, look at those eyelashes she has!

Everything has been going pretty well because of management and training. We haven’t had issues with growling when taking things away, instead we “trade”. She has learned that getting off of the couch or bed get her good things. Even as I am writing this it gives me hope to think of all the good things she can do and the progress (no matter how small) she has made. She waits at the door sitting before we go out, the other day she actually went upstairs with me and my husband was laying in bed and she waited, sitting until I said it was okay to go on the bottom of the bed (WOW! big deal for her, she NEVER does that with the bed). She will wait calmly while I put her food down. She still isn’t calm enough to eat “normally” but she will eat if I mix chicken with her food or something else.

Her itching has improved, but within the last few days she has been itching more. She gets probiotics and extra virgin organic coconut oil with her food. I believe this has helped her stomach, and overall health. She used to be sick all the time throwing up and loose stools. We also cut all gluten and wheat out of her diet and give her treats like chicken. It does take a while and can be a pain, but it’s  better that she is healthy and getting quality food.

Well…so everything was going well….then we were at my parents and my aunt, uncle, and niece (toddler) decided to pop in for a visit. Before I knew what was going on, my uncle came through the door. Luckily I got the leash on but she started barking and jumped and got a hold of his shorts and started pulling. I’m not quite sure what she was doing, this has not happened before. I’m guessing she was nervous and thought he was some kind of intruder? She continued to bark and I took her outside for a walk. My niece and aunt were in the pool and Oreo was whining and trying to get to my niece (2 years old). Eventually she calmed down, but when she got out of the pool again Oreo was whining and pulling with the crazy stressed out large eyes look. I believe she is very curious/nervous/excited around kids. I did not let anyone touch her at these times and kept her distance from them. I hate to keep her away so much, but also don’t want anyone to get hurt.

I hope at the next training session (In 3 days) I will learn what to do with exposure and getting along with people. Would I love for her to get along with dogs? Yea! She loves the ones she knew before she was attacked, but I need to live in this reality, she was attacked, and if I was too I probably would avoid whatever attacked me for a long time if not the rest of my life out of fear. I would like her to be more comfortable around people without her being crazy and nervous, but that will take time. She is comfy with people she sees all the time, but new people are scary.

This is becoming a long post. After my uncle said goodbye with his neice and wife Oreo was barking and lunging toward him, and of course he told his grandchild, “BAD DOG, she’s a BAD DOG”. I didn’t say anything, he is ignorant when it comes to dogs and reactivity. These dogs aren’t bad…they are scared.

My neighbor has a fearful dog, who is not fear aggressive, but super shy around people and will run away. Her brother-in-law was visiting and kept telling her what a bad dog he was, that he needed obediance training. This really bothered me, and my neighbor. People can be very ignorant. I was an ignorant person myself, I must admit it. We live and learn, unfortunately, most people do not learn about how to approach dogs. I recently visited http://boogiebt.wordpress.com/ , a dog blog where the blogger posts pictures and great examples of calming signals, and when you can tell a dog is afraid.

New Challenges

Oreo is having fun at the park, attempting to run after birds, but I can’t let that happen yet. Her ears look pretty clear, although she keeps itching them. I am hoping just allergies, but hope this improves. I recieved witch hazel today to rub on her ears to help clean them. However, she seems scared of everything near her ear now. She is not aggressive, but turns and runs away. I will have to keep working on this with the clicker.


I recieved my copy of “‘The Tellington TTouch” in the mail and started reading it. I am surprised many people don’t know about the TTouch, and that I never did before my life with Oreo. It has been used for a long time and can make fearful animals less stressed, and enjoy touch instead of fearing it. This is my hope for Oreo. The trainer is having me do Noah’s March and Zig Zag (feather touch). It’s been 2 weeks and I haven’t seen her relax enough with it. She does when she is on Xanax (for the pesky ear drops), but without it she is fearful and wants gone. She will just start to move away but will allow me to touch her.

I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, I know I can help her, but I know it will take a LONG time. In reading the book, I have come across many different TTouches to help fearful animals and I can’t wait to use them. 2 I am particularly excited about are one that touches the ears and mouth. This will help her be more comfortable with those 2 parts of her body. I need to do more training, I was on vacation a few days and have been slacking a litte! Time to cook up some chicken for treats-yum!!!