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Discussion Starter #1
I've been talking about it for almost a year now, but we're finally going to consult with a trainer about Delilah's anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

It was really hard to find someone in VT- there was a behaviorist but the wait list was several months out because she teaches at Cornell or something and only comes up once a month for consults.

Then we were recommended a trainer, who told us she was busy and didn't have a lot of experience with compulsive disorders but referred us to another trainer who did!

We've had several email exchanges and she seems really experienced and knowledgeable, and we set a date for the 19th! My boyfriend's even going to take work off so he can be involved.

I'll update after we've had the consult. I'm hoping it goes well!
 

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So the meeting with the trainer went pretty well. I really liked her and she seemed to have a lot of experience with dogs like Delilah. Some things we talked about:

1) Medications
I'm going to make an appointment for Delilah at a different vet clinic and get her on fluoxetine/prozac. I kind of expected that medication would be recommended.

2) Anxiety/Reactivity
Delilah has been very reactive to strangers and becomes very distressed when anyone other than me or my boyfriend are in the house. We talked about exercises we could do to countercondition and desensitize her to visitors. We also came up with a new way to introduce Delilah to visitors by meeting them outside and allowing the visitors to enter the house first. There's actually a whole protocol with a lot of different steps we're supposed to follow for visitors involving Delilah watching them approach the house, enter the house, leave the house, sit down, etc. I already have a few friends who volunteered to help to stage some training situations for me.
We're also going to try out a thundershirt and a calming cap, as well as increasing mental stimulation. She said we were already doing a good job with trick and agility training, and the food puzzles Delilah has, but she gave us some other ideas for mental stimulation as well.

3) Compulsive Disorder
The hope is that fluoxetine will help. We're not supposed to let Delilah engage in any activity that she is unable to complete the motor sequence. Like if she can't physically catch anything. So no chasing dust or light of course, but we're not allowed to play with her with bubbles or water either, which is too bad because she loves those. I'm also not supposed to redirect Delilah with a toy anymore because the trainer thinks that might be reinforcing the behavior at least partially. Delilah's very attached to me and doesn't like being away from me so she said if Delilah doesn't listen when I tell her to stop the compulsive behaviors, I should leave the room or the house for a minute or so. She said Delilah is very fixated but doesn't look like she's completely spaced out so she might be "there" enough to learn and understand consequences.
She said there was likely a genetic component to Delilah's behavior- apparently Wire Fox Terriers are predisposed to compulsive disorder and the Toy Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier they are descended from are closely related.

4) Sports/Classes/Agility
Since Delilah's most intense compulsive behavior has occurred during agility classes and barn hunt, she said Delilah was way over threshold and may never be able to handle a class or trial environment. :( She encouraged us to continue practicing on our own for mental stimulation and said if Delilah makes any significant progress with her anxiety and compulsive behavior then we could look into private lessons. She recommended an agility trainer to me that she knows personally that does private outdoor lessons. I'm hoping Delilah can get to that point.
 

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I'm glad your first consult went well and you like the trainer. I hope going forward with her training works for you, good luck and I look forward to hearing more updates :)
 

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I'm glad the meeting went well, and it looks like you have some ideas for forward progress! I'm sorry to hear about the trialing situation, but you never know. Maybe you can find some trials and just drive to the parking lot and sit with her. Let her hear the noises, smell the smells and then leave.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Just made an appointment for her regarding the anti anxiety meds for Sept. 7 (the vet the trainer recommended is on vacation until then).

I'm glad the meeting went well, and it looks like you have some ideas for forward progress! I'm sorry to hear about the trialing situation, but you never know. Maybe you can find some trials and just drive to the parking lot and sit with her. Let her hear the noises, smell the smells and then leave.
Yeah, she does much better outside than inside- which is why the trainer recommended private outdoor lessons. So that would probably work out well for her, just to watch from outside.

I'm super bummed about not being able to do agility though- that was the one thing I wanted to do with my dog.
Plan A to get her back into agility
1) Behavior modification and meds
2) PT and/or surgery for her luxating patellas
Plan B
Get a healthy, mentally stable dog from a reputable breeder. I don't think I want to take the rescue risk with my next dog :/
 

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This might be a suggestion you've already gotten ad nauseum, but just in case, Nose Work is a ton of fun, can be as competitive as you like, is unlikely to trigger CCD behaviors (though that's a "check with your vet first" type of claim, of course!), and tends to work for dogs with a wide variety of physical and/or behavioral challenges. Nose Work trials are set up to be considerably calmer and more controlled than most other sports environments, although the down side is that they are relatively infrequent at the moment (but catching on!).

Glad you found a trainer you like, and her advice sounds good to me. What a tremendous gift to yourself and your dog to find a solid professional to lean on!
 

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This might be a suggestion you've already gotten ad nauseum, but just in case, Nose Work is a ton of fun, can be as competitive as you like, is unlikely to trigger CCD behaviors (though that's a "check with your vet first" type of claim, of course!), and tends to work for dogs with a wide variety of physical and/or behavioral challenges. Nose Work trials are set up to be considerably calmer and more controlled than most other sports environments, although the down side is that they are relatively infrequent at the moment (but catching on!).

Glad you found a trainer you like, and her advice sounds good to me. What a tremendous gift to yourself and your dog to find a solid professional to lean on!
I considered Nose Work because my local Humane Society offers a couple of classes! But again, that's in a class environment. So I'll have to see how much Delilah improves with meds and training. It's funny, the trainer that runs those classes was the one that referred me to the current trainer I'm working with. Maybe she would be willing to do private lessons with us.
 

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How cool! Our humane society uses NW for the dogs in the shelter, for enrichment and therapeutic purposes, but is too noisy a facility to really work as a training space otherwise. It's great when shelters can offer classes though!

NW classes only have one dog in the room at a time, which is why they tend to get billed as great for "reactive dogs." Of course, there are usually lots of people in the room too, not all of them particularly dog-savvy, so it's not always comfortable for dogs who don't appreciate being stared at (though usually they don't interact beyond that). It might be worth asking the instructor if you could come sit in on a class though, just to see what the environment is like...there's a lot of variation. Actually, in my beginner NW class, we had a person "audit," taking the class without her dog and then bringing what she'd learned home to practice in a calm environment where her dog could thrive. Wish I'd thought of that when I had my own people-reactive dog!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, barn hunt was like that- only one dog at a time but several people watching. Ironically Delilah LOVES other dogs, it's the people that set her off. But auditing is a good idea- I might see about that!
 

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Delilah started fluoxetine about a week ago now. So far I haven't noticed any positive or negative changes in her behavior.

Sam had a friend come over last night without letting me know and the guy knocked on the door... Delilah of course started freaking out and I was trying to find her harness to leash her so she wouldn't charge or jump on the poor guy. Failing to find that I started carrying her upstairs so she could just stay in the bedroom and Sam went to open the door. I told him not to and he ignored me and open the door when I was with Delilah right there. She completely lost it. :/ I told him afterwards I need time to either prepare her for visitors or put her away upstairs before he let people in and he said she's just a dog and should just deal with it like other dogs do :(
 

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I've been talking about it for almost a year now, but we're finally going to consult with a trainer about Delilah's anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

It was really hard to find someone in VT- there was a behaviorist but the wait list was several months out because she teaches at Cornell or something and only comes up once a month for consults.

Then we were recommended a trainer, who told us she was busy and didn't have a lot of experience with compulsive disorders but referred us to another trainer who did!

We've had several email exchanges and she seems really experienced and knowledgeable, and we set a date for the 19th! My boyfriend's even going to take work off so he can be involved.

I'll update after we've had the consult. I'm hoping it goes well!
Good luck :)
 

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Delilah started fluoxetine about a week ago now. So far I haven't noticed any positive or negative changes in her behavior.

Sam had a friend come over last night without letting me know and the guy knocked on the door... Delilah of course started freaking out and I was trying to find her harness to leash her so she wouldn't charge or jump on the poor guy. Failing to find that I started carrying her upstairs so she could just stay in the bedroom and Sam went to open the door. I told him not to and he ignored me and open the door when I was with Delilah right there. She completely lost it. :/ I told him afterwards I need time to either prepare her for visitors or put her away upstairs before he let people in and he said she's just a dog and should just deal with it like other dogs do :(
It'll take a few weeks to kick in and after that, hopefully training you do will "stick" better.

I know based on my own experiences with SSRIs, they tend to help you get in a better place to make adjustments that need to be made regarding behavior. It's not always perfect, there will be setbacks, but hopefully fewer and you can learn from them a bit better.

I know how frustrating it can be regarding visitors! It's especially frustrating when other dogs are totally fine with it. I know my terrier mix used to be afraid of visitors but once she learned they were people who played with her, she started to love them. But with a dog who is truly, at the core, not only afraid but also -reactive- it can be a lot harder to, as my personal psychiatrist says, "get away from the ledge of panic to actually learn or take in a situation".

You can Delilah will do great, and feel free to vent here if need be - I'm sure I'll understand for sure!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
We had an unusual reaction from Delilah a few nights ago. She has been on fluoxetine for about 2-3 weeks now.

We've been following the protocol for when people come over and she's slowly improving- she still barks and seems very uncomfortable but she's able to be in the same room without reacting as long as I'm giving her treats. Even two of Sam's friends have commented on how much better she seems.

I had taken Delilah to Petco and she was great and didn't bark at all or seem nervous- she mostly paid attention to me and also tried smelling all of the animal smells there.
Then we went to Pet Food Warehouse. I had been looking for a few things for her. I ended up buying an Adaptil collar (and a toy) for her. At one point in the store people came into the aisle we were in from either end and that set her off and she started barking. Once we got out of that situation she was better but still a little on edge. I did some training with her afterwards and we played with her new toy and that seemed to immediately put her in a better mood.

Later around 6:30 pm Sam (bf) had a 20 something year old guy come over to look at an amp Sam's been trying to sell. Delilah and I stayed in the bedroom while they were downstairs in the music room. Delilah started barking when she heard him come in and periodically after that. I didn't have any treats but I was massaging her and talking to her on the bed and she started to quiet down but would occasionally "woof" or grumble. Her ears were back and her pupils were dilated and she seemed pretty stressed but she seemed to be calming down. I stopped touching her and pulled my hands away to see what she would do. Instead of barking she put her head back in my hand for more comfort.

This is a pretty big change for her because barking is a behavior that Sam and I, and the trainer, noticed seemed to have a compulsive component to it. Once she gets going she can't really stop herself. Like we had gone away for a few days once and left her with my parents and when we got back she freaked out on us like she does with strangers and couldn't stop barking. At one point she seemed to recognize us but even then she couldn't stop. So the barking's a big thing.

Eventually I took out one of her toys and got her interested in that. I threw it for her and she jumped off the bed after it but then jumped back on the bed and peed on my elbow/the bed. I think she partly just had to go but she's usually pretty good about holding it and asking to go out. It had only been about 3 hours since she was last out. I think it might have been at least partly from stress as well.

I took her out from the bedroom and brought her outside. We went on a short walk. When we came back in the guy was still here and she walked past him and saw him but didn't react at all other than shaking off. So I took out some treats to do some training with her and she was perfect. She was completely quiet and didn't seem bothered- she'd look at him and look at me and just keep watching me. When he took out his keys the sound of the keys seemed to set her off again and she started barking so we went further away into the living room.

So it was a weird visit. Part of the time she was much better than usual and part of the time she was much worse. I don't know what to make of it. Overall she seemed to cope better and I'm not sure whether it's due to the fluoxetine, the training, or the Adaptil collar she just started wearing today- it's probably a mix of all of those things.
 
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