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Discussion Starter #1
I'll probably regret posting this, but I feel like I'm slamming into a wall, and I just need to get it out there.

As I'm sure some of you might know, I have consulted a vet who works specifically with behavior cases to consult with Chisum. There aren't any reviews that I can find on Google, but she came recommended by the school I worked on behavior modification with.

Her philosophy seems good: she comes for an initial visit that can last a couple of hours, in which she meets you and your dog, helps you get started on some behavior modification that could be beneficial, and if need be she suggests additional support: be it medication, pheromones, diffusers, thundershirt, etc. Essentially, she's not someone who just drops by and writes a script, which is a good thing.

For the first consult, she wanted bloodwork done on Chisum - checking liver and kidney function and just making sure that if she needed to prescribe something, it was safe to do so. Chisum went in for vaccinations yesterday so I figured my vet (whom I have previously loved) could do it then.

No dice.

Unfortunately, I had to work so I sent Chisum off with my brother. We had to get medication from my vet to sedate him before the appointment - not ideal I know but otherwise he would have had a meltdown and wouldn't have made it through the door.

My brother asked for the bloodwork, and even read off the message I sent as to what he needed and why. But, she (my vet) refused. Apparently, the explanation why had several points:
- she said he wasn't "that bad" (duh, he was sedated)
- she said that daily medication was a bad idea, and that he should be prescribed something he's given only for training days (???)
- she said he was probably either picking up on my anxiety or trying to be protective (yeah, no)
- she also said that he just needed a job to do, like bringing in the paper. This is also the advice she gave me when he was younger, of course back then he just shut down in the presence of scary things, which was anything or anyone aside from me, instead of the massive meltdown he has now.


So now I have to find someone else to do it, apparently.

My biggest issue here is that I'm not sure I'm making the right choices. My family now thinks i'm just trying to drug my dog - which couldn't be farther from the truth. My mother has said that he has made so much progress -- he's made a bit of progress, but his issues are still what I'd call severe, and they're incredibly globalized. I know I need to work on behavior mod, but he sees a trigger, loses it, and I can't get him back. Distance has to be well over 100 ft which is nearly impossible to work with regularly. I've tried sitting in a car and giving treats for looking at people, but the car makes him nervous and once he sees a person, no matter how far away, it's game over.

My family's training style is essentially that the dog will pick up what he needs to learn naturally. They are also +P, not with my dog, but with the other two - saying "she knows better" or "she needs to learn". Our other two dogs are very well behaved, so it's not really an issue with them, but both my brother and father want to purchase an e-collar thinking it will solve all of Chisum's problems.


So...with so many people against me, am I making a bad choice? Am I just being lazy? I have no idea what this other vet's going to say, or what to expect, I just feel like I need a second opinion. I don't want to hurt him or make him sick, I just want to help him in the best way possible.

If you've stuck with me this long, I'm sorry for the rant. I just feel like a bit of a failure. :(
 

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First of all, hugs to you for all you're doing and trying to do for Chisum.

I will say, that sometimes it's easy to get so wrapped up in all of the advice of a board like this one that it's possible to lose sight of one very simple reality. It's. A. Dog. Sometimes, when I'm getting all stressed over the fact that Winston barks and growls at every little noise (sometimes), chases the horses in the pasture (sometimes), goes nuts when the neighbors come by the back fence in trucks, golf carts, and/or on 4-wheelers, and chases them like a vicious beast, gets worked up into an obsessive frenzy over his frisbee, whines and claws the walls when left alone, acts like his crate is hell on earth, carries on like a mad dog at certain visitors with relentless ferocity no matter what I do to reason with him....etc, etc, etc, I have to stop and say to myself....HE. IS. A. DOG. That's it! He's a dog! Dog's do that kind of stuff! And the more I fret over it...guess what? Yep. The MORE he does it. Interestingly, the minute I decide "Forget it. Whatever." is the moment he seems to be cool about things.
I think the internet is both helpful and a bit of a hindrance for things like this. It's just so easy to get wrapped up in all of the theories and studies and strategies. It's the same with horses. I nearly drove myself insane spending time on various horse message boards. I learned a lot, but I became obsessed with making sure I was feeding the very best of what everyone said to feed, and any time any little thing was off with the horse, I'd post to get advice and yikes! I find that most advice on the internet tends to be EXTREME. It's the land of over-reaction and hyperbolic hysteria, and it's easy to make US, the humans, get extremely anxious about how we're caring for our animals, which in turn makes the animals just as anxious!

My advice is to not overthink it or get yourself too worried about it. I don't know what Chisum's "meltdowns" consist of, but try not to have them along with him. Go about your life and remember that Chisum is an ADDITION to your life, not the epicenter of it.

I'm a natural caretaker for animals, and I have no children, so they receive that part of me too. But I have to give myself a reality check now and then. It's a dog.
 

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Medication is a perfectly valid tool. Pip is on clomipramine and it changed his life a million times for the better.
This. You are not being a lazy trainer, you are doing what's best for your pup.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@sassafrass and @Gilliandi -- thanks. I feel a little bit better now that it's not 6 am. :)

I'm going to go one step at a time. Can't hurt to get bloodwork, right, at the least I'll know he's healthy - so I'll go to the vet school for that one. Then, I'll see what the other vet says and take it from there.

I'm graduating college in a year and want to take him with me when I go. My ultimate goal is to do just that. I don't need him to be everyone's best friend, I just need him to be able to function in a town setting.

@Gretchenpc - thanks for your answer. To note, I do have school, work, friends, other hobbies. He's not my epicenter, but he is my dog. I've had other dogs in my lifetime that were perfectly able of just finding a way to cope in different situations; unfortunately with him it's just not possible. Yes, dogs bark, my little terrier mix is incredibly vocal and absolutely barks at guests. But, she's not afraid - just excited. After we had bad weather on Thanksgiving and our family had to stay for several days, most of which I was glued to a shaking, whimpering, reacting dog I realized I needed a pro's opinion.
 
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