Thursday, May 26, 2011

All the Cool Dogs are on Drugs

(Thanks for that line, Laura!)

Jun and I met with Dr. Reichl at the UofM yesterday and Jun officially has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and is going to put on Sertraline (Zoloft). So that makes 2/3 of my dogs on psychotropic drugs. The number of pill bottles on my counter just keeps going up.

Dr. Reichl didn't have too much else to say. She said what we've been doing as far as behavior mod sounds good, but recommended taking more of a BAT-like approach vs. a LAT approach. Interestingly, this is what I had been doing for the past couple of weeks. Straight DS/CC has not seemed to have any effect for Jun, probably because it's impossible to keep her under threshold, which is what DS requires. So now on our walks when we see people, I wait for her to turn to me, then she gets a treat and we turn around and walk away. Too soon to tell if this is having any effect.

Dr. Reichl recommended a calming cap and a muzzle for stressful situations. Sara had recommended these as well, but I had not followed through yet. So we got a muzzle and so far Jun loves stuffing her nose into it for treats. I haven't buckled it on yet.

Some of what she had to say I really didn't agree with. She had no solution for me for the barking, yet obviously didn't want me to use the bark collar. She didn't say I couldn't use it. Just didn't really have that much to say about it. She seemed to think Jun may have separation anxiety. This doesn't make any sense to me. Jun barks in her crate in very specific situations. She spent all weekend in Indiana in a covered crate in the car and chilled the whole time (without the bark collar on). She stayed loose in the hotel when I went out for dinner and was fine. She chills when confined in the bathroom or when left alone loose in the house. When I put her in her crate with her bark collar on and leave for work she lays down quietly and she is almost always sleeping calmly when I get home. I explained this to Dr. Reichl, but all she had to say was that it could be "situational" or it could be "barrier frustration" or "claustropobia" instead of separation anxiety. It sounds like a lot of speculation and I don't think any of these labels gives me a constructive solution.

I asked what to do about her being the back yard to play or potty and freaking out when she sees people. Dr. Reichl seemed to think I should cover my entire fence in tarps so she can't see anything. Ok, I have a LOT of fence, and that would look totally ghetto. It is impossible for me to keep her away from all people all the time and I don't even think that is the best thing to do. Yes, she gets better when she is away from people (like she was most of the winter), but when she is re-exposed she just gets worse. So I am just going to keep trying to limit and control her exposure and make her experiences positive, as I have been doing.

Dr. Reichl also said that I should keep her out of competition for awhile. This one I'm not sure of either. I agreed to keep her out until the middle of July (when Hot Jam is), but I'm not sure I'm willing to miss the Quad, particularly when I don't think keeping her away is going to help anything. The only way I can make sure she never feels uncomfortable around a person is to keep her home the rest of her life and only take her outside after dark. It's not going to happen. I can keep her out of competition in June, but she still has to come to Rochester with me for June Jam. She can stay at the hotel and chill there all day, if need be, but she has no choice but to come. And she will see people at some point. So I'm failing to see how this is any different than if I were to bring her to the comp and have her stay in her covered crate in the car all day except to get her out immediately before our runs. She seemed great with this arrangement in Kokomo, and I'm guessing I will do that for Hot Jam. I'd keep her out of competition as long as necessary if I thought it would help, but I'm not seeing how it would.

Dr. Reichl and the student who helped were very nice. Jun even played fetch with the student. I did get the meds which is good. I have mixed feelings about the behavior mod advice I was given. I don't think any of it is necessarily bad. It just seemed kind of generic, other than the BAT recommendation. But I think that is ok for now, since the main plan is to get her on the drugs and see what that does for her.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kokomo Comp

I am very proud of my dogs' behavior over the long disc dog weekend! They ride so well in the car, so no issues there. The first night in the hotel was a little rough. Someone woke me up pretty much once an hour. Elo didn't sleep much and kept barking sharply. Jun was awake and pacing in her crate, thanks to Elo. Lok was pretty much out cold but was the last one to wake me up barking shortly before the alarm went off at 5am. After the first night, the next two were MUCH better. We all slept all night.

Elo greatly impressed me all weekend. Again, it was a little rough at first. The hotel we stayed at was the hotel pretty much everyone else and their dogs stayed at, so it was kind of difficult to go out to potty dogs without seeing another dog somewhere. Elo started the weekend lunging and choking himself at the end of his leash, and ended it basically ignoring dogs at my command to "leave it." Saturday and Sunday at the comp I made sure to get him out for awhile twice each day. We practiced some loose-leash walking, some LAT with dogs, and some chilling out and just watching stuff.  This was NOT a controlled situation at all and there were dogs EVERYWHERE not to mention smells of dogs and sounds of dogs at all times. He did incredibly well!! I kept him at a pretty good distance and when I didn't push too hard we didn't have any barking. He wasn't relaxed, but that was more because of the environment in general than the other dogs. Of course in my excitement over how well he was doing, I pushed him harder than I should have. It wasn't terrible, but we need to work on just sitting and chilling more. Walking around is still too hard for him in that type of environment. He was wonderful in his (covered) crate, especially the second day! I think will continued exposure over the summer he will just get better and better!

Jun did great both days! My throwing in the quad left a bit to be desired. We started out with a 50 yard catch on our first throw and made it to the final round of our heat, but I just couldn't seem to throw anything good after that. All we needed was over 51 to take the heat, but I couldn't even get 40. Oh well. First comp of the year, and I am fine with how we did. Sunday's UFO local was awesome!! I was MUCH less nervous, not really having any plan or goal. In TC we got 4 throws and three catches. I threw well and Jun dropped the disc perfectly, rather than doing her usual circling and chomping routine from last year!! I guess all our work over the winter has paid off there! I don't know what our score was, but I am guessing about 10.5.

I went out for our freestyle round with no plan but to have fun playing with my dog! We had no routine. I just wanted her to have a good time, stay with me, and chase every disc I threw. She did AWESOME! I forgot some of the sequences we could have done, but she had fun and I was calm enough to even throw a fidget in before a toss, which is saying a ton! Normally my hands are shaking so bad I don't dare try something like that. I have no idea what our score was, but she did so well I think I might try to throw together some kind of routine for our next comp. It is so much fun to play with her when she is having fun too! Hopefully I can just keep the "fun" mindset for the rest of the year and not try to get competitive.

Lok was great too, other than ripping up my brand new jeans when I left him in the car. He spent a ton of time out with me, but was in the car for a bit as well. Lesson learned. Crate Lok when I leave him unattended.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I don't feel like working yet, so I am going to write about my dogs instead, even though I don't have much of interest to say . . .

Jun remains insane with less insane moments on occasion. Her back yard OCD running (to the back corner, slide to a stop, bark 3 times, to the gate, to the fence, to the back corner, repeat), after almost disappearing over the winter, has gotten worse and worse. It is almost always triggered by seeing a person somewhere, even very far away. I am beginning to think it is pure insanity and not fear-based at all. I remain perplexed by this phenomenon and have not found any effective way to deal with it.

We've been doing a lot of training outside and walks in the neighborhood (ok, the block at least). After spending all fall/winter/spring working on it, all 3 of my dogs now walk on a loose leash pretty well. Not perfectly, but definitely a lot better. Newsflash: Loose leash walking is a whole lot more about attention than about the state of the leash or the walking. If the dog is not attentive while you are stopped, you have no business taking an actual step. Once I figured that out (and realized that it was not cruel and unusual punishment to ask my dog to be attentive to me at all times when on leash) we were money. (And, ok, Lok only walks on a loose leash because he can't see where he's going and is too fat to want to go very fast, but I'm gonna take credit for him anyway.)

And since I never post about disc . . . we've been getting out 2-3 times a week for disc work. I have scrapped Jun's whole freestyle routine. For freestyle, we're just jamming and she is doing SO well! She's drivey, she's jumping high, she's not blowing off discs. It's awesome. We've been focusing more on distance and T&C. This is more my issue than hers, since I get so nervous and can't throw a disc, but (knock on wood) we've been doing decently so far. Elo is hit or miss. I'm not pressuring him. We are working dismissal and sometimes he plays, sometimes he doesn't (usually in direct correllation to the amount of goose poop on the field). Last night he engaged with me three times for three 10-second tug sessions and one short roller! Such a good boy!

We have our first disc dog road trip coming up in less than two weeks. Our first Quad of the year. Very excited/nervous! The dog management will be at least as, um, exciting (?) as the disc play. For Jun and Elo, I got an ex-pen to hang out in at the field and I will be covering the sides with a tarp and putting a shade screen over the top. Hopefully that will block their view of all their many triggers and allow them to semi-relax and hopefully they won't fight. Last year, Elo could not even be at the field at all, so I'm hoping he can deal with it this way. We have a local comp this weekend, so I will be giving it a test run. In the mean time, I hope to work some RP in the ex-pen a few times and work on going in and out and getting lots of great treats in the pen.

And for tricks: Elo's got his wave down and we're putting it on cue! He has gotten a TON better at picking up cues and he's already doing pretty well at discriminating the wave from his other cues! That will make 6 behaviors on cue for him! Elo's handstand is coming along great! Last night I started clicking him for lifting his foot off his bracing surface and he's holding 1-2 seconds! Still working on Jun's limp every so often. Making very slow progress, but progress nonetheless.