Saturday, March 20, 2010


I appreciate the pep talks in the comments of my last post. I have formulated my noise-phobia-attack-plan for Reagan and we are settling into the routine. A lot of what had me overwhelmed was that the behaviorist was making a lot of suggestions I just could not comply with. For example, Reagan should get 20 minutes of aerobic exercise....twice a day. Without a treadmill, it is simply impossible for me. Having to avoid the van and certain places perfect for aerobic exercise makes the task even difficult to accomplish even once a day. Plus, a couple of times a week I would like to take Riley to the forbidden places and feel normal. It is the behaviorist's job to tell me everything she can about noise phobias, but it is up to me to find the balance that works for my life. The world simply cannot revolve around Reagan.

As you know, she is on Prozac which is Tufts University's #1 choice for noise phobias. It raises the level of serotonin in the brain and helps reduce the fearful response. Alone, Prozac rarely works. It is simply an aid to behavior modification and it may help keep it from getting worse. The triggers currently in place (train and van, especially) may not be reversible as they are well practiced at this point. For now, I simply need to wait the 2 months for Prozac to take an effect before we start working on them. Until then, it is important to avoid the triggers.

Avoiding Reagan's triggers can be difficult since hers seem to vary so much and catch me off guard. But the inconsistencies are also a blessing. For instance, I am surrounded by trains. I hear them in my backyard, from inside my house, at my agility field, and other hiking spots. In fact, the train is "the train" to be avoided, but we are hearing it from different locations and it is not a trigger in other locations at this point.

Other thoughts.... I will probably only do agility with Reagan. Most of the triggers happen when Reagan is walking or hanging out on leash and during stays. The pace of obedience and the required stays are just too much of a risk. I believe now that the problem with sit stays had less to do with her sits and more to do with her phobias.

Also, over the next couple of months, I would like to teach Reagan some fun tricks. Just little things we can do to keep her busy and distracted when we do get caught in a situation with possible triggers.

All in all, I am feeling much better. I have been reminding myself that Travis' high prey behavior around non-greyhound dogs was frustrating and left me feeling hopeless at times. But Travis succeeded more than I could dream. However, the one big difference here is that I know how good Reagan is. I have dreamed and I have goals, but now there is a big mountain in my way. Regardless success is sweetier with a challenge... I think. :-)