Sunday, January 30, 2011


Been so pleasantly busy with the start of the new semester. I am a person who loves her routine and keeping busy.

We took Gustav off the prozac as we didn't see any change and, to be honest, he actually seems a little more responsive on walks since then. Too many confounding factors to attribute that to the prozac, though.

Loona, my mom and dad's dog, is living at our house for the weekend. I took all three on a loong two hour walks yesterday and everyone was lovely. Gustav sort of dragged behind, which was odd, but did a great job with autowatches and keeping a lid on things. However, he did poor job responding to his name, which is something we've been practicing on walks. The addition of Loona and loss of the prozac are both possible factors in his behavior.

I'm looking into the possibility of another anti-anxiety drug. Justin is skeptical and I'm not sure, but I'll do some research and see what I think.

I had goals for the dogs training-wise in terms of set-ups and other things a certain number of times a week. I would say I get a "C" for fulfilling them. With the gradually warming weather and getting used to the school routine, I'm optimistic that I can get completely up to speed. It's fairly modest: a set-up a week for each (together is fine), relax-on-a-mat for Dottie three times a week, and a separation anxiety session for Gustav twice a week. And lots of u-turns and looking at me (for Gustav) on walks. The u-turns are going great, the looking at me is okay but I practice a lot so hopefully it will improve, the set-ups are pretty much on par with my goal, but the matwork and separation anxiety have not been getting done. Oh well.

So, that's what's new here.

Monday, January 3, 2011


If you've read this blog for a while, you know that Gustav's "rock bottom" was snarling at Justin's mom and hitting her hard in the face, enough to cause a bad nose bleed. Granted, he was chewing on a meaty bone and she was leaning over him, petting him behind the ears.
In any case, she was over recently and we crated Gustav like always. After several hours, we decided to try having him out. It went completely fine. He totally ignored her and acted as though he were home with just us. Maybe we were being overly cautious all this time, as he hardly ever had any problems with strangers in the house before that (a few strange exceptions included him barking at certain visitors. No clue what made him fine with almost everyone but not just a few).
Anyhow, I was very happy. Definitely time to get Tisha over to test out how he does. I think crating him for the first little while is key, while Dottie calms down and there's no dramatic entrance scene, complete with looming, to deal with.
Yay! She always wanted to be his buddy. Maybe soon he'll be putting his head her lap for petting like he does with his "inner circle."
Still no prozac effect. It's been ten weeks. We just upped the dosage a week ago, since I wanted to give it two months just in case. I obviously want to be giving the lowest effective dose possible.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stupid weather

It's very cold. I'm trying to find ways to keep up with some of our training goals in the face of very very cold weather. I need two things: a large indoor (ish) training room to do BAT with Vanya and Nancy (even a barn or something would be good) and to figure out a way to do training with Gustav and Tisha in my house. I can't decide if she should toss him treats or just ignore him, and I can't decide if he should be leashed, behind a gate, muzzled, or none of the above. Finally, I need to decide on a protocol that works for inside the house. I think that just having Tish around would probably help Gustav get used to her, but it might not teach him anything useful (for example how to move away if you don't like someone).

In other news, no visible effect from the prozac yet. Friday is the 8 week mark. We may up the dosage after that. Also, Dottie's diet is wildly successful and she has her lovely slim figure back. She will be so happy when we get to go back up to maintenance rations, instead of weight loss rations. I've never seen her eat her food so fast.

One positive about the cold weather is our walks have been very quiet and uneventful, which is after all my ultimate goal. In this case, we're reaching it by not seeing any or hardly any triggers. I love walking my dogs when it's not stressful like that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dog park!

Great news! The small neighborhood dog parks that a group of people on the eastside campaigned for over two year for, myself included, have come into being as of this weekend. I took the dogs out on a jog on Sunday and headed over to one. Once I got there I realized that they were small enough that I could go in and always keep track if anyone was coming, and then high tail it out of there. Thanks to our brilliant design recommendations, there is an entrance and an exit, and both are double-gated. So Gustav got to run around free with me completely nerve-free for the first time in at least two years. No muzzle, no heightened scanning, just fun (and Dottie being grumpy at him for trying to play, but he's much better at listening to her now). I won't lie: I might have been a little misty watching him tear around at fast as he could. His recall is just awful, as might be expected, but I'm so excited for this new training opportunity. It's maybe a ten minute jog from my house. I figure if we show up and no one is there, they can run and play. If someone is there, we can stand across the street or farther and do some nice controlled training, knowing that the dogs are fenced in.

Hooray! I love my city. And my dogs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Serotonin? Maybe?

Gustav has been on Prozac for about a month. We haven't seen any big changes yet, except for one weird thing. Today Gustav was willing to go in the basement, something neither he nor Dottie has ever accomplished (except once for Dottie when we first moved in). Justin sort of led him down there, and he went. Usually if you encourage him he just balks at the second step and barks. Weird.

Nothing else new. I've been so busy with school that normally my walks with the dogs are once briefly in the morning and a decent one around 8:30 or 9:00 at night. These walks are great because no one is out and we are all calm and relaxed.

I have a new band that practices at my house on Wednesdays. I'd love for Gustav to get used to them eventually. He was on a leash last time, and he whined at them a little, but also barked (along with Dottie) when they all first came upstairs from the basement. I'm not ready to have him loose with them around yet, but I'm hoping to someday.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quick update

Nothing much new around here. Crazy weather has gotten in the way of some training sessions, and I still haven't managed to set up my weekly Tisha sessions. I'd better do that before the weather gets really miserable. Two new items: there are new dog parks in the neighborhood! I worked with the Eastside Dog Park coalition for a few years, and we finally won! Very exciting, and also gives me a new, closer place to bring Dottie for controlled training (i.e. we can wander around the outside of the dog park and control distance and practice BAT).

The other thing: Justin berated me for staring at triggers too much and therefore calling attention to them. Interesting idea. Today on our jog I practiced not looking at all at dogs behind fences or people out and about, except in my peripheral vision to keep track. Gustav did not bark and lunge at anyone. On the other hand, I don't really know if he tensed up a lot or not because I was just looking forward. Also, an off leash dog came up near up and instigated a pretty fierce stare-fight but was too intimidated to come all the way up to us. Dottie barked a few times, and Gustav did not bark and lunge at all, he just stood stock still and stared the dog down. Pretty interesting. Then the owner came up and got him and we all went on our way. So, while my dogs were not exactly relaxed and happy, then did not go totally crazy and the other dog was smart enough not to come up and start a fight. All in all, I was pleased with the jog. The only downside of ignoring triggers is that I am losing a training opportunity, in that I usually stop and do look-at-that or a tiny BAT set-up. Do you think Gustav learns anything one way or the other by just staring but moving past without incident? I'm not sure. But at least he didn't have any bark/lunge fests.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I have been SO BUSY. I haven't had a moment to update here. Briefly, I finished Reactive Rover with Gustav, been doing weekly BAT/mat/etc work with Nancy and Vanya (what a find! I'm so glad I finally found a committed dog owner to work with. And we're both helping one another out, I don't feel like I am incurring a huge debt with someone by taking up their time.), and jogging, walking, and so on. I have been incredibly busy with school, but mostly sticking to my one-big-formal-session a week plan plus the usual day-to-day stuff. Now that Reactive Rover is over I plan to set up a weekly or every-other-weekly session with Tisha to continue BAT with Gustav. On the off weeks I can maybe drive Dottie over to the dog park and do some BAT, assuming Justin is home or I get a little farther on my completely stalled separation anxiety treatment with Gustav.

Other big news: we started Gustav on Prozac this week. This news has sort of freaked out or disappointed some friends of mine, but I think they've mulled it over and realized it's not such a crazy decision since they've watched me work with dog for two years and honestly, not a whole lot has changed. In fact, he's still worse than when we first got him (to think: we used to go to the dog park and let strangers pet him and have parties at our house with people out and dogs visiting!!) but perhaps not as bad as his worst. It's really discouraging. Chelse just said that she didn't want to pressure me, but that every time she saw Gustav "prozac" popped into her mind. So why not. We're giving it a 3-month trial. I just can't ignore an option that could make my dog lead a more balanced and happy life.

Okay! Busy busy busy! I have work to do. And dogs to jog. I'll keep you all updated on Gustav's entry into the 21st century of SSRIs. Who knew I'd ever be here? Sigh.