Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Behaviourist

Last night was the big night, we drove 1.5 hours in rush hour (1.25 hours not in rush hour) to see the Behaviourist. We had given ourselves a lot of extra time because we were going in rush hour, so Lee had the chance to sniff around a little park before. She enjoyed this. She didn't enjoy being in the clinic as much but because Dr. W gave her lots of treats, she did settle (and periodically check to see if it was time to go home).

Checking out the woods
The issues we hope to address are anxiety over strangers, especially children, and her anxiety over fireworks, thunder etc.

Here is what we learned:

  • Hailey is at the age where she can develop separation anxiety (which she doesn't have) or have anxiety get worse.
  • It is possible she will never get over her fear of kids
  • She should be on leash/gentle lead/in her crate when kids are around to prevent aggression
  • Socialization for dogs is most important between the ages of about 3-12 weeks. It is the experiences in this time and her genetics that have resulted in who she is.
  • The Man and the Lady experience her anxiety differently and want different solutions (expect we both agree that drugs are the LAST resort. We really don't want to drug her. Please note, this is not a judgement on other people's decision to use drugs. It is our preference with our current experience.)

The things we are doing right that will help:
Checking out the room
  • She is well trained 
  • We realize she has a problem
  • We have given her quiet places to go when she is stressed.
  • We use reinforcement procedures and not punishment.

The short term plan:
  • As much as possible for the next few weeks we are to avoid situations that make her anxious. [There are some things we just can't control . . . but we will do our best]
  • We are going to teach her to "relax" and work on getting her to stay in the relaxed position for increasing lengths of time without anxiety producing stimuli around. 
  • We are going to do some research into a gentle lead (Lady likes the idea of this, Man not so much).

Tired out in the car
Last night we got home around 9, and started work on relax. We had done this years ago with her (I had forgotten), so she remembered it. She is going to get it quickly. 

We have a phone follow up next week and one a couple weeks after. 

Do any of you have experience with the gentle lead? Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.


  1. We don't know what a gentle lead is? I am not sure if you remember our Trudie that was 5 when she came to us straight out of the puppy mill. She had never been out of her cage ever, all she had done was have puppies, when she lost her last two litters they were done with her and Butch saved her. She is one of my biggest heartbreaks. She had lots and lots of anxiety! As long as she was just with us she was fine except for lots of quirks, but still okay. UNTIL the grandkids or anyone else came to our house, then she would go bezerk and try and bite them etc etc. We tried to find help in the form of a trainer, or just anyone who could come to our house and work with us, or we could go to... but our vet didn't know of anyone. (Later of course we did find someone just not in time) Trudie also had a collapsed trachea so it made it very hard for her to breathe when she was upset. It was a evil circle caused from the hated puppy mill. We put her in her crate when the kids came but because of her history with crates and pens that made it worse for her.
    After she bit one of the grandboys when he was coming in the house, the vet thought she was suffering from her trachea issue, and because it was so collapsed surgery was not a choice. It was the HARDEST decision I ever in my life had to make. In hindsight I am not ever sure it was the correct one, and I live with that everyday. The reason I am sharing this with you is because I am so glad you have found someone to help you, and it sounds like they are honest in telling you she might always have anxiety and although the ways to deal with it will not make it go away it will make it livable for all. I know you will find ways to help her and that may end up with her not being around children. In hindsight I think not everyone has the perfect dog who loves people, children, is socially wonderful etc etc. and if we as humans lose that picture of perfect that we have in our minds and just concentrate on the gifts standing in front of us, then we will figure it out. (I am talking about myself here not you). I think it is just great that you are helping her! Best wishes and good luck!
    stella rose's momma

  2. We just looked it up thinking it was something we had not seen but it looks like a Halti. Molly hated it and spent most of the time trying to get it off. We gave up with it. That doesn't mean it won't work for Lee. All these things have different outcomes for different dogs. You got to find what is best for you. We think there is no magic solution but a regime that works for you both. Finding it is the key. Wishing you good progress. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Good luck. Hope everything works out. We are trying to work with my Lily. Since 2 large dogs charged at her, she screams at every buddy
    Benny & Lily

  4. Sorry, no experience to offer you but we think it is wonderful that you are working on this with her. Too many people don't care enough to even try.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy and Stanley

  5. It all depends on the dog - we never had any problem with the gentle leader of halti when I tried them on Reilly - but he is the most relaxed and laid back dog you could find - but it would totally freak Denny out - try one at the store before you buy it.

  6. We don't know what a "gentle lead" is?
    Was she abused? Mistreated by someone? Where did you get her from? I don't know much about dogs thought:-(
    But I do know that IF an animal (Dog or Cat) is abused they well be afraid of people!
    It is most likely that she was abused and now she is afraid of people.
    My Ragdoll (Anya) she was NEVER abused,but she is scared of little kids.And most men.
    Hailey might just be shy.Some dogs/Cats are like that.
    I would give her drugs!
    I would go online and google why my do is so shy.
    Google is VERY helpful!
    I hope this helped.Good lucky!
    Love Ragdoll mommy~

  7. I meant I WOULDN'T GIVE HER DRUGS!!!!!!!!


  9. Wow, I don't know about a gentle lead, but I have some social "issues" too. Actually, I'm really very anti-social! BOL Sounds like your peeps are on the right track and I totally agree about relaxing and no drugs if it can be avoided. Crossing paws for good results for you, my furiend.
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  10. I forgot to tell you we did try drugs for Trudie they didn't work. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Good for you Hailey - you're such a good girl...."relax" is something I like to do too! I think you can learn to be more calm and less anxious because you have VERY caring humans who are working with you to make life as wonderful as pawsible. That in itself is the best "medicine" !!

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

  12. Sounds like your visit went really well! Interesting to see what the behaviorist has to say about her. I don't have any experience with the leader myself.

  13. We think it's totally pawsome that you are seeking professional guidance! Keep us posted bcuz we just know things will work out fine.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  14. Tried the gentle lead on Roxy when she was a puppy. Worked beautifully until she saw another dog and wanted to play. She managed to wriggle out of the thing!!! Haven't tried it since.

    Good luck with your plans. We hope they work well. It's no fun to be anxious.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  15. Nope don't have anything helpful to offer other than I have issues with meeting new people and mom lets me hide.

    Aroo to you,

  16. Good on your peeps for seeking out professional help. I'm sure it will help you. Sometimes we dawgs have our little "things" that we never get over.... mine is little people too. It's hard when you don't get to grow up with with any.... and your only experience of them is their screaming and rushing you in the parks. That's daunting for a pup.

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie xxx

  17. We can tell your heart is so full of love- and just wish you could make thigngs better. It so frustrating- and sometimes you might feel like giving up- but don't.
    I hope you find the answers to help.
    Thank you for your love that you sent to me-- my family can feel the love.

  18. Sending our best wishes that you get a good result. I think you will.


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