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New Year Update from Darcy

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Readers of this forum will recall that Darcy, our 8 month old BC pup, and his humans have had some struggles related to over-arousal, resource guarding, etc. Many on this forum have provided wisdom and encouragement, so I wanted to provide an update.

A couple months ago we started Fluoxetine (an SSRI, brand name Prozac for the human formulation). That helped some, but he was still constantly over-aroused and it was very difficult to get any focus from him in anything other than the most controlled environments. On the recommendation of both his trainer and his behavioralist, we added clonidine (a blood pressure medication which as a side effect also reduces noradrenaline release in the brain and is somewhat sedating).

This combination has calmed Darcy down a great deal. The most important benefit as I see it is that Darcy can now focus on his training. It has made it possible for us to make progress with counterconditioning because he no longer goes from 0% to 100% arousal at the drop of a hat. One of Darcy's big triggers is cars--he barks and lunges at them. Over the past week we have made great strides counterconditioning the car stimulus and this morning he held a sit while a car passed during our walk three times (and was also able to collect himself after playing with another dog for a few minutes and continue a loose leash walk). It is important to understand this is not just the drugs (he was still lunging at cars last week while on clonidine, and unlike fluoxetine clonidine is short acting and does not build up over time). It is the combination of medication and training that seem to be moving things in the right direction.

All is not roses. We continue to have issues with resource guarding--both Darcy and his humans need more training in that arena. Darcy is still hysterical when meeting new people (not in an aggressive way, but in a way-too-enthusiastic way). But I feel like the door is now open to real training and real progress.

I attach two pictures. One is just fun--he has activated Herding Mode as I get ready to kick a soccer ball for him to chase. The other has a relevance that you can't tell from the photo. Thirty yards behind me is a 4 lane road with many cars going by at 50 miles per hour (80kph). He is holding a sit with one ear calmly half-cocked. Never would have happened a month ago. (Needless to say, he had a sturdy leash and harness on for this training, as he always does).


(P.S. I got a copy of On the Other End of the Leash for Christmas--wonderful! And Click to Calm is arriving today.)




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This is wonderful to read! Well done, you. And Darcy of course, too.

And I'm so happy that you posted about your experience. Some people are oddly reluctant to try medications to help with issue like this, so it's great that you can offer a very real example of the potential benefits.

And excellent that you point out that the meds themselves aren't a magic bullet that will make all behavioral challenges disappear. What they do is allow the brain to become receptive to the training necessary to alter the behavioral patterns.



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A friend of mine who was a wonderful help when I had my first b. collies had Tourette's syndrome. Shoshone, the dog who went on meds for anxiety, could not be in the same room with her. A couple weeks or so after we started Shonie on Clomicalm, my friend dropped in for a visit. Friend loved dogs and was active in rescue and plopped herself down on the floor so she could pet the dogs, (I had 3 b collies at the time) while we chatted. All of a sudden, there's Shoshone, shoving the other two out of the way and pretty much climbing into my friend's lap, so she could get her share of the attention.

Friend and I were astonished, very happily astonished. Shonie lived the rest of her life much less reactive, able to ignore our 2 cats, etc. We had tried Prozac and that had no effect. Happy to read your good news and share my anecdote.

Ruth & Gibbs


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