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Medicating Molly

50219 Views 270 Replies 46 Participants Last post by  CptJack
I am starting this both so I can keep track of things myself and so others can follow along. Maybe someone will find it useful, either now or in the future. I'll probably update it about once a week.

Molly's a 20 month old Border Collie who has had fear and reactivity issues since she was about 4-5 months old. We've had ups and downs along the way, with things improving and regressing, and tried a few different methods of coping without a ton of success in changing how she *feels*, as opposed to what she does. She's also gotten worse the past couple of months in some ways (reacting to stranger things, bigger issues with trigger stacking and recovering).

So, we're on meds. She started 40mg of generic Prozac (I can't spell it) on Sunday. Today was her second dose. As of right now she's pretty sleepy and her appetite's down. I was warned that would happen and it's not too bad. She'll work for treats, she's happy and excited to go out and play ball.

The plan for now is to get the meds onboard, increase her exercise (or at least make it more consistent) and start from scratch with the B-mod stuff. We'll see where we end up. Right now, I have no expectations, really. I certainly don't expect miracles - but I'd like to at least see her more comfortable/less squirrelly at home and I think that's achievable.
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Good luck!
Great idea for a thread, as looking back on things can tend to leave you with a blurred and sometimes skewed perception of how things went. I will be following! Fingers crossed for positive results for Molly!
Good luck. I am sure your vet told you this. Unless dogs are different than people. But it will probably take a few weeks for it to truly be on her system. Hopefully it helps her and gives her some relief.
Oh yeah, it'll be a good 4-6 weeks before I expect to see anything, but right now tracking regular side-effects is pretty much my only real goal. And, well, not to lose things as they come.

And thanks guys. I'm still stupid conflicted about this but it's something I need to try.
We have a dog on meds too, but not an SSRI like Prozac, which I'm familiar with in humans. It's a tricyclic, generic for Elavil. Like Prozac, it takes a while to build up. We have noticed improvements, but we still have bad days. Sometimes I don't see much difference, until we see someone who hasn't seen him for awhile, and they will comment that he seems more happy, calm, listens better, etc. Then when I think back, I realize he IS doing better.
Jumping over from the other thread... Good luck with this! You've always done right by this dog and it doesn't surprise me at all to see you continuing trying to help her. I am optimistic that you two will make progress.
Good luck! I've known a few dogs on Prozac. It can take a while to get the dose right, but the dogs I know are much happier for it.
Good luck to you and Molly, I'll be following! If you don't mind me asking, to what degree and what "symptoms" does Molly show fear and reactivity? Molly's twin (my 10 month BC, Kaya) is also reactive on a fear base. Right now, since she is still young, we are working on behavior mod and some basic behavioral training. I don't know if it will work and I am very afraid that my dog will not be able to be out in a public place with people...
Thanks, all. The support means the world to me, given how conflicted I *STILL* am about this on some levels. I'm not even sure why I'm so conflicted - absorbing some negative/mocking attitudes floating around out there, I guess.

Kaya, Molly's reactivity as far as 'symptoms' go is typical reactivity stuff - growling, barking, lunging - or flat out FEAR where she'll hug the ground and shake. The real thing with her is that she's not only not improved, overall she's gotten worse. She was in classes from 7 months old and for quite a while able to be in group classes and doing off leash exercises, but toward the end she actually blew me off and rushed another dog. She's also had what will 'set her off' expand, a lot. She's gone from mostly reacting to other dogs and the occasional person to reacting more to people, and inanimate objects like plastic bags and, recently, freaking CAKE. Reflections in windows and doors. Weird noises.

Some of that is cyclic - she got worse, so we had to pull her from classes, so she was exposed less, so she got worse, so - Etc.

The other big thing with her is total inconsistency and clear conflict in her reactions. She'll be barking, growling, and have her hackles up - but also play bow. She'll be fine with something one day and NOT okay with it another, or five minutes later (she's reacted to my HUSBAND that she lives with, if context is even a little bit wrong), and she has no real resilience. She doesn't recover from stress/triggers quickly or well so they just stack up. So she'll cope with one thing that's a little bit hard, maybe two, and then the third thing that's normally okay will make her blow up and she'll stay wary/afraid of that thing for the next week.

She's a good, sweet, dog but she has ISSUES. Big ones.

That said, don't buy trouble. Teenage dogs often have some issues.
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Well, for what its worth, I know you're probably conflicted but if it will help her, its the way you should go. I know most people don't jump on board with meds but if they can improve your dog's quality of life, then why not. And if you can implement some other things while she is taking them, then maybe someday she can get off them completely.

It seems that Molly has some similar issues as Kaya, but to a more extreme degree. Kaya will growl, bark, and shake but then (depending on the situation) can snap out of it in 20 minutes or so. If she is distracted, like when she is with her trainer, her fear will subside quicker. She reacts to the weirdest stuff too - pull strings on the ceiling fan, yogurt cups even though she loves yogurt, and occasionally my boyfriend who she lives with if he's wearing a weird hat or something. She is fearful of people and will bark and growl at strangers, but her tail with be up and curled or wagging. I don't know, just very inconsistent.

Best of luck to you guys and, please, keep us all posted on her progress!
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Please keep us updated. I'm rooting for you and Molly and really hope that her quality of life improves from here.
I am interested in this thread as well. I know it's super helpful to implement more rules and structure on dogs that are anxious, fearful, reactive. Have you looked into introducing a place command? Do you work on BAT sort of thing? Like creating distance from other dogs when you see them out and about and then engaging her with something she enjoys OR even increasing her level of focus work at a good distance away from other dogs?

What are your goals in terms of reactivity?
Will be following this thread. All the best!
I am interested in this thread as well. I know it's super helpful to implement more rules and structure on dogs that are anxious, fearful, reactive. Have you looked into introducing a place command? Do you work on BAT sort of thing? Like creating distance from other dogs when you see them out and about and then engaging her with something she enjoys OR even increasing her level of focus work at a good distance away from other dogs?

What are your goals in terms of reactivity?
She does mat work and it was helpful before she started spiraling/getting worse. It was even useful in classes (it was most useful in classes). It's still useful at home. We've done BAT, LAT, and CAT - CAT not for very long, LAT made her noticeably much worse in that it would have her scanning the environment nonstop. BAT would be great, probably, if we had more dogs, but ultimately we don't have enough locations/dogs that we were able to get her to generalize. Ie: She'd be okay with some dogs in some locations but still over the top losing it if another dog appeared somewhere else.

To be honest, I no longer care about her reactivity with other dogs. My only goal there is to achieve any sort of threshold or fuse at all, because as it stands now if she sees another dog she is gone. It doesn't matter if they're on the horizon, if she's noticed the dog is there she is over threshold and incapable of thinking or learning. My biggest goals are a dog who isn't spooking and alarm barking because there's a magazine on the ground outside, or because light shone funny in a particular window, or my husband is wearing a coat or -

I just want the dog to be able to live life. I used to care about the dog thing and agility and reliability. I'm over that. I just want her to be able to be comfortable in life, even if that's only in a few locations. I'd like her to be able to RECOVER and to see something in the distance and know it's not going to eat her.

She's never come anywhere NEAR biting, I'm not worried about that, but I have some pretty major concerns about the fact that she gets scared to the point of doing this and, if pushed beyond, ends up on the ground shaking and just plain terrified.
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Oh and, yes, she's had a medical workup (as part of the Rx process, actually).

It's also worth mentioning that this is a puppy who was given to me by a breeder who said she was 'high stress' at 7 weeks old, and that *was sent home from a spay nearly unconscious* because she was so wigged out somewhere around 5 months old. She was normal until she was about 4 months old. After that, no. She got better for a while, but you know how some dogs get better at maturity? Yeah, no. She spiraled straight down.
Good luck with Molly. I'll be following :)
I didn't realize Molly's reactivity/fear has gotten so much worse lately. I'll be following closely as well, and I sincerely hope the medication will start things moving in the opposite direction.

You've gone through so much with her, and I can tell how much you care about her. I'll be cheering for you every step of the way on this journey and hope we get to see Molly simply be comfortable with her surroundings in the future! :)
I feel like in order to be clear in my own mind/records and so people get a reasonable idea of where we're starting I need to - well, be clear.

She has gotten worse, for sure, but it's not... necessarily the picture that's being painted, either. Inside her comfort zone, Molly is more or less okay. She has nasty moments, she recovers poorly, she stresses easily, and that comfort zone is very easily breeched, but she isn't spending all day hiding under the bed or cowering in terror, either. I *hate* and worry about the trajectory she's been on, but.

If she doesn't improve at all, her quality of life wouldn't be something I'd consider outright bad. Just very limited and not great/what I want for any dog I love.
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