Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oh No, my dog needs drugs!

So often when I'm doing behavioral work, we decide it would be in the best interest of the dog to get on some form of calming drugs.  Yes, I've been know to try oils, etc.  But most of the cases I see are way beyond that.  (I use lots of oils for myself - love them, love them on my dogs for various reasons).  Please remember that taking the edge off your dog will allow him to "hear and respond" to you better.  The drug alone isn't magic, and won't work without doing behavioral modification in tandem with it.  So if the vet says your dog would benefit from a calming med, be sure to IMMEDIATELY contact a behavioral trainer to help you with the modification portion.  There are some vets who are wonderful at remembering this, there are some that aren't. 

Also make note of how your dog may change during the initial six weeks of trying to find the right dosage.  Just like people, there is an adjustment period when a new drug is introduced.  You may see for the first 2-3 weeks that your dog is sleeping more, seems a little lethargic, etc.  Remember, you are now seeing him RELAXED, and if he truly hasn't been able to do that lately, it will look different to you.  My dogs sleep a lot during the day - and they are not medicated, they are just being relaxed dogs!  If indeed after your first month you are concerned he over medicated, talk to your vet and get his dosage changed.  Yes, we WANT to see a difference in his behavior, but if he's been a zombie for 3 weeks, then his body isn't adjusting and we need to drop it down a bit.

Just being on drugs won't help him with aggression, or reaction.  He will still have them, but it may be in a lighter dose than before.  This is why we want to use training during this period, to help him actually "feel" how doing an alternative behavior works for him (i.e. treats and love!).   Before meds he would most likely get into a reactive zone so fast  you couldn't possibly step in with modification exercises!

So be aware that meds can be helpful.  I always start folks out saying we'll readdress the med's in six months to see if he needs to continue, or if he's modified his behavior enough to be off them.  It's always about the dog - not the handler! 

Enjoy your day folks - hoping to get some warm weather now that we're nearly into June!

Deb and her crew, Evereee (BC), Eli (Bloodhound), Cosby (Basset) and Kizzie the torie cat!