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. :-)


houndstooth said...

I think you have the right attitude about it to help Reagan to be successful, and you also realize that you can't rush through things with her. A few months off may have her very eager to be included and be able to go again, too. It will also give you some time to destress from the aspects of it that are pulling at you, too. I really enjoy teaching them tricks, too!

Jen said...

Prozac is awesome. I've never used it on my pups, but I'm on an SSRI (not Prozac, but a sibling of Prozac) and it is AWESOME. Makes you totally able to function day-to-day, without the constant anxiety. I am wishing Reagan the best!


Tarmar said...

I know it's hard to deal with issues like this. Sometimes, the only thing we can change is our attitude. I am glad to see that you are looking on the upside. A few months off of serious training might do her some good. I love the idea of training tricks. We tend to put less pressure on the dog for things like that and they often perform better with less pressure. Best of luck!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

So right about attitude. I am glad to hear folks tell me that Prozac is awesome. You aren't the only one to say that, Jen.

Anonymous said...

You and I corresponded a while back about Prozac for dogs -- my Mini-Schnauzer is on the drug and it has worked wonders. He was hyper-reactive and had an OCD - within 3 weeks I saw improvement. Not all drugs work the same for all dogs, so if you don't get the results you hoped for, talk to Tufts about trying another drug. Don't know if you are familiar with this 2006 article from Whole Dog Journal, but it might make you feel better to read about someone else who also worked through a noise phobia with her dog.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

So glad to hear your Mini-Schnauzer is doing well on Prozac. Yes, I have seen that article and I've actually been corresponding with the author. :-) Can't believe her crazy dog, Pig, lived to be 17. God help me!