Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cookie Monsters

Maisey has made some excellent strides!

Our biggest behavioral problem is that she would bark obsessively at stuff - mostly squirrels and the neighbors. Not normal dog barking, but obsessive, hackle-raising, in-a-trance-that-we-couldn't-break barking. It was this kind of barking that broke two windows because she slammed up against them in her frenzy. When she got like this, nothing could pull her away. Trust me, I tried, and got nipped once. (No blood, no broken skin - but that was the point at which we called the behaviorist.)

I'm proud to report that we are now able to verbally call both Maisey and Gypsy away from any situation with the sound of our voices. The world's biggest squirrel could be taunting them from a tree, there could be an entire construction crew on the other side of the fence... it doesn't matter.

We simply call out, "Girls! COOKIE! COOKIE! COOKIE!" We changed the "treat" word to cookie. It's very distinct sounding and the girls "got it" immediately. So no matter what they're up to, no matter how intense the situation, we yell COOKIE and they drop what they're doing and run to find us. We reward them with a dog biscuit, some broccoli, or maybe popcorn. We keep tossing or handing the treats until they calm down and forget all about the squirrels. Once they're calm, we release them, and all is right in the world.

Guess our old gal can learn some new tricks.

Did someone say cookie?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More updates

Maisey is tolerating the Prozac well, which is to say there have been no adverse side effects. It will take a month to see if it has therapeutic value for her.

Other measures we have taken (sealing off our very loud mailslot, using a "DAP" pheromone diffuser, and lots and lots and lots of training and positive reinforcement) have helped her come a long way. The awesome thing is that Gypsy is a better adjusted dog as well, because she is experiencing all of these things as well (with the except of the medication).

If you have a dog that suffers from anxiety, I highly recommend a DAP diffuser.

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) mimics the properties of the natural pheromones to reduce or eliminate stress in dogs of all ages. Dog Appeasing Pheromone has a relaxing effect for both the young and adults dogs. It is an effective natural way to help your dog cope with new and fearful situations such as fireworks, thunderstorms, holiday stress, traveling or moving to a new environment.

We've been using a DAP for about six weeks now. We can't smell anything, but the dogs sure do. We noticed a change in behavior recently (they were both sort of skittish and easily agitated) and we realized we were a week overdue in replacing the DAP refill. A few hours later, things were back to normal.

If you decide to give a DAP a try, shop around for the best deal online, especially when it comes to replacement cartridges.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Maisey Update

Over the past few months, Maisey has been struggling with what seems to be anxiety issues. So we brought in a qualified (DVM) behavior specialist a month ago to observe her behavior, both good and bad, and help us to help Maisey.

We got some really great ideas about environment modification and training and she has been steadily improving. But this past week she had a set back and broke a window (her second) freaking out over the mailman. She's also started snapping at her treats instead of receiving them calmly. So we checked back in with Dr. R, who now believes that in addition to behavior modification and training, Maisey may be a good candidate for medication. We're taking her in this afternoon for a full work up (to ensure her problem isn't physical) and bloodwork that will help the doc determine the best type of medication to help ease her anxiety. The plan is to use meds for about 6-12 months and continue with the behavior modification and training. At the end of that time frame, ideally we can wean her off the meds but continue the training and Maisey will be right as rain.

The pic below is Maisey "standing guard" on the front porch.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Apparently we've been keeping Gypsy up past her bedtime.