Trying Another Tactic

**Warning: I realize there are people who may not agree with the most recent approach we’re taking with Isaac. Just know we’ve exhausted all options and everyone – the vet, myself, SNORT – is on board with this approach. Our behavioral trainer even mentioned this route as an future option in our first session.**

Late last week I scheduled a vet appointment for Isaac for this afternoon. Over the past six weeks or so, Isaac’s reaction to strangers has been escalating and not in a good way. He’s never been good with dogs – that’s well-documented and not likely to be completely eradicated although with the help of the most recent trainer we used, he is far better. Just today on our walk Isaac passed right by one dog that was roaming leash-less on his yard and a chihuahua who was – in typical chihuahua fashion – barking his head off without a single reaction to either dog.

"I told you I could be an angel!"

“I told you I could be an angel!”

However, he’s become a lot more reactive to strangers. Because we’ve run bloodwork we know there’s no health reason for his reactions. We’ve done behavior training and again, while I’m seeing improvement around other dogs, he’s not learning to better interact with strangers. I can’t get inside Isaac’s head but it’s likely that the longer he’s with us (and me in particular), the more protective he gets. Unfortunately, his protectiveness is starting to present itself as some aggression.

I will state that I have never once been scared around Isaac; this is very clearly a reaction only to strangers. Today on our evening walk, a friend/co-worker saw us walking and pulled his car over to chat. I forewarned him that Isaac was reactive to strangers but Isaac had no reaction at all to the individual; I’m convinced Isaac could tell this person wasn’t in fact a stranger based on how I greeted him.

"I gotta keep my family safe."

“I gotta keep my family safe.”

All that being said, Isaac is big and strong and if he is reactive at the wrong moment, I’m scared of the consequences so we visited the vet for our last resort – medication. “Puppy Prozac” as people like to call it except that it actually is Prozac.

I do not want people to get the wrong idea about Isaac; he is an utter sweetheart. He’s obviously loving – I think he loves us so much he feels the need to protect us! Our dogsitters adore him and he’s never once been reactive toward them except in a positive, playful way. He’s been wonderful around my and Marty’s families. I do think he’s just protecting me from strangers but it’s still a behavior that needs to be reversed or eased.

Several of SNORT’s fosters have been on Prozac for similar reasons and it’s done just as it’s supposed to – ease anxiety for whatever the specific cause of anxiety is for each dog.

It’s not a route I wanted to take but it would also be completely biased of me to deny Isaac medication that might help – I’m on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication myself and it’s been a very positive addition to my life.

Of course, to add stress to our day, Isaac woke up and proceeded to get very sick. His tummy was obviously bothering him and he went from having some energy when he woke up to not even getting out of bed just an hour later. I was petrified – he’s never gotten sick in the year we’ve had him! Fortunately,by lunch time he had some energy back and the vet gave him some meds to make his tummy feel better; good thing we had the appointment!

Pumpkin helps with upset tummies; Isaac left a bit on his snout.

Pumpkin helps with upset tummies; Isaac left a bit on his snout.

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3 thoughts on “Trying Another Tactic

  1. Katie, PLEASE never question the decisions you make about Isaac. You love him so much and are the VERY BEST foster Mom. I have always thought, “Go with what your gut is telling you”. This may very well be the answer!

  2. Pingback: A Long Three Days | Lucy the English Bulldog

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