(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.