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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone! Looking for some advice for Quill.

The second week of April, I'm leaving for a week for a conference. Unfortunately, my SO will also be out of town, which means we need to have someone watch Quill. The only time we've ever had to have someone watch him, he was about 5 months old. I'm worried about it, since he has anxiety when we leave and is a bit fearful of new people. Not as bad as his fear of odd things or new places, but still hesitant when he first meets them. I've only ever seen him remain afraid of one person in his life. Usually it is approach cautiously, sniff, keep an eye on them, then figure out they have toys and treats and love them.

However, I'm worried it may manifest differently if I'm 100% removed. He's been in situations where I'm gone and others have been around, and from what I've been told he's for the most part just mopey (doesn't sleep as much or eat as much, but this was pre-fluoxetine). This winter, he was at my mom's house and I was gone one night, and he was doing well until my brother (who he knows and loves) came in wearing a hood. He freaked out, fear barking, but calmed down once he removed the hood. That's basically the background experience I have with him being alone with people who aren't me or my SO.

Any tips to make this easier for him? He has Xanax that I'm anticipating giving him for the first night and giving the person in case he needs it. I'm planning on having him meet the person at our house by having them over for a dinner, then having them come on some walks with us. I've debated leaving him with said person for a night before I leave for the week to see how he does.

I also have two options. A friend's SO volunteered to watch him for us. They just lost their dog and love dogs. Or Quill's trainer knows a woman who has a reactive dog who occasionally dog sits (said dog is like Quill: reactive on leash, 100% fine with people/dogs off leash). The woman would be willing to stop in and check on Quill, or if he gets along with her dog, keep him at her house. I'm not sure which is the better option. I feel like another dog, if he gets along with her, could maybe make him more comfortable, but also it might be better to have him alone with someone.

Any thoughts or advice or what have you is greatly appreciated! I'm stressing about this...a lot!
 

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I would definitely do a trial run before the trip! Also, you might talk to your vet about getting some fast acting anxiety medication just IN CASE he seems particularly worried in a new place, especially if it could help him through the first 24 hours.

I think he will be fine though. I would choose the option that is least stimulating. As in, I wouldn't expect (or trust) another person to be in public areas with a reactive dog. One week is not a long time and if Quill gets a nice, relaxing vacation in someone's home where he can have maybe some short walks, but mostly yard play and cuddles and whatever play he likes... Low-key, home body stuff. He will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Canyx! I keep telling myself he'll be okay, but can't stop worrying. Are you talking something faster than the Xanax? He goes in for neutering on the 20th, so I'll definitely talk to the vet then and see if she has any other ideas.

Mostly, I'm worried because he does get anxious when we leave and he's sensitive to things like accidental pain or surprises. Like my SO accidentally stepped on his tail and he squeaks and then goes on guard for a few minutes. But he's good about removing himself from situations he's uncomfortable with (we've worked hard on him coming to me, or going to his kennel if he's going to be like that), so I feel like as long as I let the person know to be careful and to let himself remove himself from the situation rather than pushing him if he's nervous, it should be fine. He has incredible self control and while he gets touchy, he displays that self control with lots of warnings he's uncomfortable.

I'm hoping whoever watches him has a yard. He isn't high energy by any stretch of the imagination. He's excitable, but he's going to race around like an excited idiot when other people come over even if he's exhausted -- then after a minute, he's chill. So hopefully they can make it work without too many walks, since that's where he gets overexcited and reactive.
 

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It sounds to me like you're on the right track. Make sure he get lots of time with the person before you leave so you can be sure he trusts them. If you're having him go to a new house, make sure he gets to spend some time there too. While he's there, you could maybe leave for an hour or so and see how he does.

Good luck and let us know how it goes! I haven't been able to leave Kane with anyone, but he does well at daycare for a few days. This summer he'll be there for a full week so I'm a bit worried about him too, but it's my only option since he trusts no one.
 

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Thanks Canyx! I keep telling myself he'll be okay, but can't stop worrying. Are you talking something faster than the Xanax? He goes in for neutering on the 20th, so I'll definitely talk to the vet then and see if she has any other ideas.

Mostly, I'm worried because he does get anxious when we leave and he's sensitive to things like accidental pain or surprises. Like my SO accidentally stepped on his tail and he squeaks and then goes on guard for a few minutes. But he's good about removing himself from situations he's uncomfortable with (we've worked hard on him coming to me, or going to his kennel if he's going to be like that), so I feel like as long as I let the person know to be careful and to let himself remove himself from the situation rather than pushing him if he's nervous, it should be fine. He has incredible self control and while he gets touchy, he displays that self control with lots of warnings he's uncomfortable.

I'm hoping whoever watches him has a yard. He isn't high energy by any stretch of the imagination. He's excitable, but he's going to race around like an excited idiot when other people come over even if he's exhausted -- then after a minute, he's chill. So hopefully they can make it work without too many walks, since that's where he gets overexcited and reactive.
Xanax is pretty fast acting... I think each dog is different and this is where you trust your vet. At the shelter we use trazadone pretty liberally (needs to be OK'ed by the vet), like if a dog comes in and is stressed upon intake we will give the dog trazadone just to help it through the transition. I don't know enough about medication, and I don't know why we use trazadone over alprazolam. But I do know that various fast acting drugs exist and it really depends on the dog!
 

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My super anxious, mildly leash reactive, fluoxetine taking dog is in the same boat. I can leave her with my mom without a problem (we've practiced since I first got her), but I travel for work a lot and feel like I might need to establish a backup plan. I think the dinner, walks, and then a trial night sound like a good plan. That's what I was going to do anyway, so I hope it works!
 

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Xanax is pretty fast acting... I think each dog is different and this is where you trust your vet. At the shelter we use trazadone pretty liberally (needs to be OK'ed by the vet), like if a dog comes in and is stressed upon intake we will give the dog trazadone just to help it through the transition. I don't know enough about medication, and I don't know why we use trazadone over alprazolam. But I do know that various fast acting drugs exist and it really depends on the dog!
Also not a vet, but I do have a dog on meds. Benzos, like alprazolam (Xanax), can decrease inhibition and increase aggressive tendencies if they already exist - not a great thing to play with in a shelter setting. Benzos are, apparently, also at higher risk of human mis-use than other anxyiolytics used in veterinary medicine. And it looks like Trazodone is also ~25% cheaper than alprazolam.

I wish my shelter had used drugs. How they handle anxiety was the absolute worst thing about working there.
 

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Thanks for your input, gingerkid! That information sounds very familiar, especially not using a specific drug due to potential for human misuse!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I'm more stressed than ever! We had them over to meet Quill and the guy does not read Quill's signals AT ALL. Quill went over to greet, the guy was WAY too hands on and Quill tensed and growled, and the guy didn't let go. I intervened as quick as possible and tore my fingernail off pulling Quill back (hello, doctor's visit to have it forced back into place, OUCH!), but all things considered I'll take that over a stranger getting bit because he invaded a nervous dog's space.

Kenneled Quill and let him chill out while we hung out, then tried again and it was much better. Quill played with them, took treats, etc and started to relax, but then the guy started trying to scratch Quill's back and Quill very visibly became uncomfortable (tense, avoiding eye contact, etc), but I had to tell the guy Quill was not okay with it and he should stop. His SO read it right each time: she pointed out his error with the initial greeting and intervened just as I did with the back scratching. Too bad she can't watch him!

They want to try again, but I don't think I'm okay with him watching him. Even if Quill becomes extremely comfortable with him, he could still get nervous about something (if he gets hurt, or just the fact we're gone, or something weird makes him anxious) and I don't think this guy would read the signs until it was too late. :( UGH. I am at a loss.
 

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I can honestly say that if I had to leave Molly with someone, I would flat out board her with a professional. I would IDEALLY board her with our vet. I would do that with the full knowledge that she would be caged or crated the entire time, unbelievably stressed out, and generally miserable.

But my first priorities with boarding are basically 'dog stays alive', followed by 'dog doesn't cause injury to a person or another dog, resulting in her becoming declared a dangerous dog and/or euthed, while also getting me sued'.

She's not normal. Fun and her enjoyment aren't considerations here, because she's not going to have it anywhere. I wouldn't love leaving her, period. I'd love it less if I had to worry about her biting someone. So, vet where they know her and how to handle her/have her vaccination and medical history and can sedate her, and barring that a boarding facility that would, yeah, basically kennel her, feed her, and otherwise give her minimal to no interaction with a minimal number of people, and absolutely no interaction with other dogs. If I could find a place that had the ability to kennel her away from busy activity, all the better.

Basically the exact opposite of what I'd want for another one of my dogs. No walks. No play time. No being 'taken out' period, except possibly kennel cleaning if I was gone for a long time and it was absolutely necessary. Kennel. With something to hide in. Left the hell alone as much as possible.

It sucks. I know it sucks. I'd not be leaving him with anyone that's not some kind of professional. I think you're asking for a bite record or trouble if you do.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ugh, that's what I'm thinking. I never liked the idea of him staying with a friend because he is so anxious and reactive, and I hoped the trainer would have a better idea of a professional, but we're so limited in a small town. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and see if she has any ideas, since she has seen Quill at his worst freak out moments and knows he can react horribly under stress. I think his trainer is underestimating his anxiety since she hasn't seen him in a year.

Hopefully my SO can minimize the days he has to work (his boss is also the SO of the guy who was going to watch him, and when we talked last night she said maybe she can work an extra day or two so my SO can go home early and it will only be a couple of days -- she's super understanding). If we can figure this out, it should be a long time before he has to ever be dog sat again since we do specifically try to only go on trips he can come with. This is just crap luck that I have to go to this conference and my SO has to be out of town for work.
 

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That's too bad they didn't work out! I feel your frustration - we haven't traveled anywhere the dogs can't come either because of Kane.

Has Quill ever been in a kennel? Maybe you could find one with someone who has good dog experience and start taking him there now, just for little bits at a time. You could bring him there and just hang out in the parking lot for a bit without getting out of the car, then next time take him out to sniff around, then next time have him meet someone there, etc. Even if you have to drive farther to find a good one. This is what I had planned to do with Kane when we go away in June, but overall we decided he'll probably be better at daycare for that time since he's comfortable there and has stayed a couple of nights before, but he's never been to the kennel and wouldn't get any exercise there.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, the vet Quill generally goes to has a bad kennel set up for him -- small, and two feet from another dog at any time so lots of people and dogs at all times. The other vet does have a better set-up. For more per day (though still totally reasonable in my opinion) he can get a 6 x 6 1/2 room where he's allowed to have his own bed, toys, whatever we want to bring him (so maybe some stuff that smells like us!) and a window that looks out into the yard and because it is more expensive and larger, they don't get a ton of boarders in there so it is generally quieter than the more public kennel option. She assured me they've dealt with plenty of anxious dogs and read them well.

I think we'll end up going that route. Unfortunately we need to get Quill is bordatella and dewormed beforehand, because I didn't even think of those until after he got everything during his neutering Tuesday...so the real challenge now will be figuring out how to get him those, but otherwise I think this sounds promising. And if we can make it so it is only 2-4 days, even better.
 

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I *think* you can do bordatella and dewormer yourself if a vet or tractor supply store supplies the meds.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah, that's what we are thinking. Our friend was telling us that her dog was also terrible with vaccines and because she was a biologist who had given vaccinations to other animals, they let her do his vaccines after they showed her how. We've talked briefly with our vet about that possibility, and I think particularly since bordatella can be a nasal one, Quill would be receptive to me doing it. He generally lets me open his mouth, reach in, etc so me handling his face isn't an issue -- especially with a tasty treat in hand. I'll call tomorrow to find out.

My SO is still nervous so we may do a trial night next week to see how he responds, if they are open to it. But short of this, I don't know what else we could do with him. I feel like boarding at place with a vet clinic is about as well trained as it gets for people knowing how to deal with a nervous dog.
 

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I don't mean to make you more nervous but I wouldn't necessarily trust a vet in terms of handling and body language unless I SAW them behave accordingly with a fearful or anxious dog. I mean no disrespect at all to vets. But simply put, even though they may see hundreds or thousands of animals... They are still not behaviorists. Most vets (or techs) have 'get the job done' at the fronts of their brains. Which does not mean they don't care or that they don't try! But 'we're used to fearful dogs and we can read them' still tells me nothing about how they would handle them or how they would adjust their human body language to suit the dog in question. And really, we're not even talking vets here. We're talking techs. Vets do not do the kenneling side of things, in my experience. Vet techs or hired kennel staff do that work. I'm not telling you not to use the facility. But I would certainly ask more questions or at least bring Quill in and SEE how they handle him.

I understand you're in a rural area but if I had a fearful dog I'd be looking for this certification: https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/160601r.aspx
It's pretty new so I wouldn't expect it to be common yet.

Also, for the bordetella vaccine you'd want to quickly (but not too quickly) shoot half the dose into one nostril and half into the other. In a very sticky situation, better to quickly put it all in one than miss. But the idea is that the dog breathes it into their respiratory system. And most dogs hate it because... they're breathing in liquid. I've historically had a much easier time with injecting vaccinations than with intranasal. Soro will let me put anything in his eyes and ears and I have no problem stabbing him with anything (I even microchipped him myself and he just stood there) but heck if he'll stay still for an intranasal-anything! I hope Quill gives you an easy time regardless.
 

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In an ideal situation, yes. And in long term, work on building a relationship with someone - anyone - and the dog to make it easier.

In the short term: The vet isn't likely to let the dog escape, get bitten by the dog and wind up with your dog with a bite record (better able to manage - not necessarily handle appropriately but avoid being bitten), put the dog out with another dog and have it end in a dog fight, have the dog escape, or generally do anything that's likely to get me sued or the dog killed.

Basically, for me, this is triage.

Dog is going to be traumatized and unhappy and not have fun.

But that isn't the first priority. Ideally, dog is handled carefully and appropriately. When time and resources are available, that's perfect. When they're not, whether the dog becomes traumatized falls beneath whether the dog bites someone, gets in a fight, is euthanized, lost, or dumped, or you get sued for medical/vet bills.

And a vet is REALLY better equipped at preventing those things than your average pet sitter or doggy daycare that boards. Or even typical kennel.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
He gets touchy with his back, so that's where I worry about an injection. For example, going "against the grain" with his fur to apply a tick treatment does not go well, even with me being the one doing it. Meanwhile, I can shove a syringe down his throat without him batting an eyelash. But I will talk to the vet about that tomorrow.

The only people on that list are actually at the vet's office he sees now (not his vet, but technicians there). Unfortunately, their facilities don't sound nearly as well set up for Quill to be even slightly happy or to minimize interactions. And I know it won't be the actual vet caring for him (it is four members of their kennel staff I believe) and that it isn't a guarantee, but I feel a lot more secure leaving him with a professional of some sort than a friend, and better about leaving him in a room with things he knows than a small kennel side by side with a lot of other, potentially fearful dogs. That's mostly what I mean. I do agree I'll feel better if we could take him in and have him meet them beforehand, and so I'm all for a practice run, but given our options at the moment...this does seem to be the best scenario. They don't play with other dogs at all, but can go for up to three walks a day if everything goes well.

Best case scenario, he adjusts and isn't as nervous as I'm envisioning he'll be. From what I've been told, he's generally more mopey when we're gone but not generally fear aggressive, but that's always with people he knows...so who knows. Worst case scenario, I've been upfront about how anxious he can get and they seem confident they can handle that, and at least he'll be away from too much activity (new people, other dogs, etc) and in his own room -- a room with a closed off door, a window, and space to move around and have "his" bed and smells there.

I definitely would love to work toward a better relationship with someone for future situations, and up until January we had a friend I would have trusted him with. We lived with her for a few months, he LOVES her and her dog, and she is great with him. But she left town, so unfortunately, we don't have an option like that at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Only three hours, but she's student teaching and living with another teacher who doesn't allow dogs in her house.
 
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