Vito Behaviorist Recheck- Plan H?

Vito had another 6 month checkup with the veterinary behaviorist.  I can't believe he's been going to see her for 2.5 years now!

Overall picture- Well I think we are long past plan B or even plan C.  Yes, Vito is somehow even worse than he was at our last meeting.  That's a steady decline over the last year.  Which actually is pretty rare for my rollercoaster dog of ups, downs, and complete reversals.
Trials and training for dog sports is still going great.  General life not so much.  The hope I had for our long plan of weaning Vito off of Prozac and onto Amitryryptiline didn't pan out to much.  Zero improvement in any of Vito's anxiety areas.  Some worsening of reactivity and ability to relax at worse, but I don't think it's enough to attribute to the drug vs that's Vito.

Where we're at now:

Praying to Robot
- Car anxiety: Complete panic attacks every 1st car ride of the day.  Usually very calm on subsequent car rides.  Polar opposite dog.  I brought out his Robot a few weeks ago to see if that would help him take treats in the morning.  It did not.  But he loves to pray to it in the afternoon!

- Separation Anxiety: Same as where we were at in December.  Vito will start whining, panting, and howling if left for anything more than 15 minutes now.  It's safe to say we only do this in emergencies now.  It's not like I had a social life any way!

- At work: Continues to be very reactive to people walking by.  Reacts multiple times a day and has a hard time turning off.  In general he is also having 1 or 2 "Bad Days" a week where he just can't calm down.  Major panting and to a non dog savy person he looks "very happy" as the slightest touch will cause him to tuck his butt and start trying to sprint around the room.  Luckily I have some nice co workers who are willing to take him to their cubicle and let him pass out in his exhaustion.  Otherwise he has even started to do some howling when I leave him on those days.  Thankfully not every day is a Bad Day and he will often curl up under my desk and sleep when I'm gone.

New plan includes:
1. Wean off Amitriptyline.  Start Zoloft (Sertraline).  Back to the SSRI family.  Thankfully this is going to be a fairly fast wean and switcheroo.  Weeks instead of months.

2. DAP diffuser at work.  Yes we tried a DAP spray awhile ago for car rides and no it didn't have any effect then.  Hopes are not high for this, but I already have the plug in from our early behavioral work as a puppy.

Toller on a Needy Day at work
3. Give Vito a 3rd dosing of Clonidine before bedtime.  He gets the drug at 6am and 2:30pm now, so it's out of his system at bedtime.  Since he is the perfect bed partner I've found no need to do this before.  But we're hoping that just maybe the AM car ride will be better if his levels stay consistent.

4. Consider putting a signup and having coworkers chuck food at Vito during the day.  A potential concern of mine is that Vito is...special.  He already has a favorite coworker at work that he goes absolutely nuts when she arrives (only x1-2 a week she comes to the office).  Major panting and whining until she lets him go visit her cubicle.  She doesn't actually say Hi to him until he calms down, but it takes a good 10 minutes minimum.  And then he passes out underneath her desk and is a happy calm Toller.  But if he can't go visit because she's in a hurry then his arousal levels stay high and he's more anxious the rest of the day.

Kristen  – ( June 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM )  

I think it's great that you are sharing this part of your experience. I hope one of the plans gets you to a workable resolution.

achieve1dream  – ( June 12, 2014 at 1:44 PM )  

Poor Vito (and you!). It must be so frustrating trying to figure this out. I hope you have a huge breakthrough soon.

Dexter  – ( June 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM )  

As always, thanks for sharing. I know your difficult journey with Vito gives hope to other dog owners struggling with similar issues. You are so wonderfully aware of all the subtleties of managing his environment. Seeing that he has a favorite at work and might benefit from cultivating other friends is just one example. Sending supportive thoughts your way.

Mango Momma

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