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  1. #11
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Hello All,

    Thank you for all your ideas and I wanted to give an update.

    After 6 months Gracie has really gotten used to her new home. She seems to know that this is her forever home, has been trained on the Invisible Fence, and still loves everybody - people and dogs. She now goes to daycare each day when we are working and gets along very well to the point that the daycare owner uses her as a greeter for new dogs. Gracie also has gotten over her restless behavior at night. Occasionally, she will patrol a bit but any whining can be stopped with a quick request for her to lay down. She does fine with run of the house when we are home. Gracie could use a few more pounds but she is not a strong eater.

    Gracie is fitting into the pack with Moose and our neighbors two dogs. The smaller one (70lbs) is a Swiss Mountain Dog / Pitty mix and loves to play. Moose and her go way back and chase each other around. Gracie will join in and chases the Pitty along with Moose, but Moose is a bit fearful of playing alone with Gracie even though it is obvious that Gracie is just trying to play. Walks with the two of them are no issue at all. Moose is coming along and I do believe they will be fast friends as time goes by. We originally got Gracie as a companion to Moose and this seems to be working. Even without playing Moose is a much happier camper with her around.

    Now that the weather is improving we are taking her out for dinner with us. She is well behaved and loves the attention from people passing by. As we go back to places repeatedly, she is getting more relaxed and settling down quickly. We went out a few weeks ago and another dog came to the table next to us. Everybody was calm and collected. It seemed like the two of them were just sitting down to have a conversation over a drink of water and a biscuit. When they start to order the wine and steaks I may have to step in as the limit on her credit card is too low!

    Gracie's personality is absolutely fantastic. This is our 1st Great Pyr and I now understand what everyone was saying when they say that Pyrs are very different. She is extremely loving, calm and thoughtful. Gracie is very slow moving except when she is playing. She is just going on 3 years old but is an old sole with both her movements and the thoughtfulness you can see when she stares into your eyes. I have never been a believer in reincarnation, but the look in her eyes communicates that she has loads of experience in this world.

    The advise I read on this board regarding training styles worked well with her. Gaining her respect rather than trying to be the alpha allows her to learns things very quickly and will trust a new situation if she believes we are OK with it. There are no problems in the house when we are there except for the occasional trash can dive when we leave it out and turn our backs.

    One issue has been exhibited and is continuing. Gracie has separation anxiety. She is fine at daycare but if we leave the house for an extended period of time (more than 1/2 hour) she gets upset. This does not change even if she is very tired. The main behavior is trying to get out of the house by chewing at the windows and doors. I would imagine she is trying to find us.

    First we started her an Xanax which worked somewhat but she was still upset when we left. Secondly we tried to crate her but this is making her even more excited and she literally drools puddles. We are trying a new medicine our vet recommended that is specifically for separation anxiety (not sure of the name right now) and I will let you know how that goes.

    We have had several Saints in our home and loved every minute with the big goofballs, but I know understand how a Pyr can be very different. Gracie has a special way about her and has climbed into our hearts.

  2. #12
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen1122 View Post
    One issue has been exhibited and is continuing. Gracie has separation anxiety. She is fine at daycare but if we leave the house for an extended period of time (more than 1/2 hour) she gets upset. This does not change even if she is very tired. The main behavior is trying to get out of the house by chewing at the windows and doors. I would imagine she is trying to find us.
    Oh, I am so sorry. Chester, my non-Pyr, has been battling SA for quite some time. We have been able to make quite a bit of progress, but there have been plenty of challenging, frustrating, and downright heartbreaking days along the way.

    Chester's treatment required both medication and a behavior modification plan that was formulated for him by a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. My only regret is that I didn't seek the help of our CAAB sooner. Here is a link to the CAAB directory:
    http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org...-directory.php

    If there is not a CAAB in your area, there are some who offer remote sessions.
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  3. #13
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Oh, I am so sorry. Chester, my non-Pyr, has been battling SA for quite some time. We have been able to make quite a bit of progress, but there have been plenty of challenging, frustrating, and downright heartbreaking days along the way.

    Chester's treatment required both medication and a behavior modification plan that was formulated for him by a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. My only regret is that I didn't seek the help of our CAAB sooner. Here is a link to the CAAB directory:
    http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org...-directory.php

    If there is not a CAAB in your area, there are some who offer remote sessions.
    Thanks for your response. There is no need to be sorry, this is just something we will have to work through. Gracie is such a sweet girl that there is no question we will get the best help we can to get over the anxiety. She continues to accomplish her mission of being a steadying force for Moose and a wonderful friend to our family.

    I am, however, a big believer of learning from others. Thank you for the link to the CAAB. We do have one on the list within 1/2 hour of us. Our vet had also said this was an option but we really do not know much about this avenue and the available research really does not provide a full picture. We have assumed that this was similar to a human psychologist and with weekly visits at $300+ it would really stretch our budget. Any details of the good experience you had would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for all you do to share your experiences with the good people on this board.

  4. #14
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    We had three sessions with our CAAB. The sessions were about 60-90 minutes each, and were spaced about a month apart. We were charged a $300 flat rate, which included all three sessions, her travel time (the sessions were held at our house), and phone/email support. Her rates were comparable to or less than the rates charged by less qualified (and less effective) Behaviorists we had worked with in the past. I would guess that rates would vary from person to person in the CAAB community, but I would expect them to be somewhat comparable to the rates charged by other types of behaviorists in your area. I will say that every Behaviorist I have worked with has been very upfront about his or her rates.

    The biggest difference between our CAAB and the other behaviorists that we have worked with is that while the other behaviorists have followed a bit of a one-size-fits-all approach to behavior modification, complete with handouts printed from the internet, our CAAB really seemed to understand that every dog is different, and responds differently to different techniques. For example, with many dogs, desensitizing the departure cues is an effective element in treating SA. With Chester, it made him far more nervous, so we tried other things.

    Our CAAB also understood that for us, the idea that Chester could never ever "go over threshold" during his treatment was simply not possible. She was able to formulate an effective treatment plan that helped him learn to be comfortable with me leaving the house without me having to stay home for the duration of his treatment. He was used to being crated while I was gone, so a big part of our treatment plan was teaching him to place a stronger association between his crate and good things happening than his association he had between his crate and me leaving (if that makes any sense). It worked well for him, but wouldn't necessarily be a good solution for a Dog like Sebastian, whose fear of confinement prevented me from successfully crate training him.

    If you do decide to reach out to the CAAB in your area, I hope that he or she turns out to be as helpful and reasonably priced as ours has been.
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  5. #15
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Thank you for the input. It is greatly appreciated.

    I looked into the CAAB near us. She is at New Bolton center with is the large animal hospital associated with the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately she specializes in horse behavior. Too bad that there are only a handful of these PhDs in the country.

    We are really looking for someone who can observe the behaviors personally rather than have us translate them over the phone (we are not really experts in what little nuances to look for). Optimally, we would like them to visit Gracie in our home and meet Moose as well. A tall order I know.

    Some research showed a another option of a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (Dip ACVB) which is a Veterinarian with an additional residency in Clinical Animal Behavior. This was recommended a few places and well ahead of a Trainer, certified or not. An advantage here is that they can prescribe medication directly which would lead me to believe that they fully understand the available medicines and their function. Like CAABs, Dip ACVBs are rare - only 65 in the country.

    There are 2 Dip ACVBs in the area, one in private practice and another associated with the small animal hospital at Penn. Both utilize a similar process a) completion of a questionnaire / description of the issues and medical history (these are quite extensive and reach up to 20 pages) b) meet with the animal and family for about 2-1/2 hours, c) a diagnosis and prognosis, d) a written copy of a comprehensive behavioral treatment plan including prescribing medications if appropriate, e) a report of the diagnosis and treatment summary sent to our regular veterinarian, and f) 3 months of email/phone follow up. The cost of this is $375.

    Of the two Dip ACVBs, the one associated at Penn looks like a department head with several associates and interns. I would tend to believe that his time would be limited and we would be working more with the people under his supervision. Additionally, it would be an office appointment rather than at home. The second is in private practice following working: for another behaviorist, in academia at UC Davis, and associated with a specialty veterinary hospital. She is also local and can complete the evaluation in our home. We are leaning toward using her.

    Like you, I fully believe that effectiveness will be a direct function of individualized identification of Gracie's responses and customization of the program. Your two descriptions above about making accommodations for the individual personalities are great examples. These are living creatures and react differently. Some of the basics of the treatment (as referenced below) may be the same, but an inflexible, cookie cutter approach is bound to fail.

    http://pets.webmd.com/desensitizatio...conditioning#1

    Thanks again for the input, it has been a great help in knowing what to look for.

    Best wishes with your and your pack.

    One thing I forgot, have you any experience with Adaptil, either the collar or mist? Most of the reviews give it a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 works well, may work, or does not work.

  6. #16
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    The ACVB sounds like a wonderful option.

    Chester has been seeing our local Veterinary Behaviorist for a couple of years, now. I like her a lot, but she's not board-certified. During the worst of Chester's most recent episode, I seriously considered setting up a remote consultation with the ACVB in Austin. Fortunately, that was not necessary.

    I agree that the home consult is the best-case scenario. Please let us know how it goes!

    As for the Adaptil, I have had mixed results. The first time I moved with Sebastian, it seemed to help him adjust to the move. That time, I saturated a bandana with the mist, and had him wear it. When he started behaving aggressively toward new dogs, I tried the collar to no effect.

    With Chester, neither the spray nor the collar had any effect. I also tried a whole host of supplements without any luck.

    I think the Adaptil is definitely worth a try, but it may or may not help her much. It can't hurt...
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  7. #17
    Road Dawg

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    One issue has been exhibited and is continuing. Gracie has separation anxiety. She is fine at daycare but if we leave the house for an extended period of time (more than 1/2 hour) she gets upset. This does not change even if she is very tired. The main behavior is trying to get out of the house by chewing at the windows and doors. I would imagine she is trying to find us.

    You mentioned that she stays in a different house than your other dog, Moose. Is there a way that, whenever you leave her alone, you could actually leave her with Moose (or Moose with her)? I have found that quite a few dogs with separation anxiety will do perfectly fine if they have another dog to stay with them.

    My hound mix had horrible SA. All it took was a buddy for her. I also worked at the shelter for 5 years and recommended this to many new owners when they would call back to let me know that they had found that their new dog had SA. Many called back and reported much improvement when they acquired a new dog.
    Good Luck!

  8. #18
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I would not make any major changes to what you are currently doing until you have had your dogs and situation assessed by the Veterinary Behaviorist.

    What we call Separation Anxiety is actually two distinct disorders - Separation Anxiety and Isolation Anxiety. With Separation Anxiety, they are distressed by you leaving - whether or not there is another dog (and sometimes another human) in the home with them when you leave. With Isolation Anxiety, they don't really care if you leave, so long as they have someone at home to keep them company. Those are the dogs that benefit from having a buddy at home when you're gone.

    Separation Anxiety can be location specific, too. They can be perfectly fine with you leaving them at day care, for example, and absolutely miserable when you leave them at home - regardless of who is home to keep them company.

    I know that I tend to sound like a parrot when I tell everyone to consult a Behaviorist but there is a reason that I do. Fear-based behaviors are both individual and, at times, unpredictable. Something that really helps one dog can make another dog far worse.

    Given their history of occasional mildly possessive behavior toward one another, I would not leave them alone and in the house with one another UNLESS the behaviorist suggests that you try it. Just like with humans, stress can cause dogs to behave in ways that they normally wouldn't. For example, I assume that Gracie does not chew the doors and windows when she is not stressed about you being gone. I would be concerned that the stress of Gracie's SA could end up in one of their grumbly possessive sessions turning into a full-on fight. I'm not saying that it definitely WOULD happen, but I do see some potential for that there. I'm guessing that could be part of why you leave them separated in the first place...
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  9. #19
    Road Dawg

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    Behaviorists are always good. I've worked with a few good ones. That said, medication is not always the best answer and sometimes just trying out different, more natural, methods enables far less stress on the dog.

    Karen, you might try short periods with the two together, maybe 15 minutes or so, and return to treat and comfort everyone. Then, if all is well, try longer periods and so on.

    Whatever you decide, I hope that you find something that works for you and your Pyr.

  10. #20
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sara View Post
    That said, medication is not always the best answer and sometimes just trying out different, more natural, methods enables far less stress on the dog.
    With all due respect, Sara, the only opinions on whether or not to medicate that matter are Karen's, and those of the Doctors of Veterinary Medicine in whom Karen entrusts Gracie's care. Gracie's welfare is far too important to launch an argument for the sake of "being right".

    The only "right" that matters, here, is Karen's doing the right thing for Gracie, which is something to which she has already stated that she is committed. The techniques she ends up using are no more yours to choose than they are mine.

    It's wonderful that your hound's Isolation Anxiety was helped when you got him a buddy, and that people that you knew from the shelter found the same to be true when their dogs suffered from Isolation Anxiety. However, Isolation Anxiety is NOT the same thing as SA.

    Even if Gracie is suffering from IA, as opposed to true SA, it is in her best interest to treat the underlying emotions causing her distress, as opposed to simply suppressing it with the addition of another dog. There is a good chance that the day will come when Gracie will need to stay at home without Moose to keep her company.

    Chester's VB and I did not make the choice to medicate him because we're lazy. We put him on his meds because they were an integral part of his treatment plan. We still have to do his exercises every day, and I still have to do everything that I can to avoid letting him have a relapse. Even with his meds, I will have to be committed to his treatment every day for the rest of his life. The medication didn't make him better - they regulated his brain chemistry in order to allow him to calm down to the point that he could accept the rest of his treatment.

    None of that means that I believe for a second that every dog needs medication. It does, however, make me particularly sensitive to those who try to insinuate that I am somehow "wrong" for doing right by my dog in a way with which they don't agree - despite the fact that they have never witnessed his symptoms first hand. I became even more sensitive to it after my vet sat me down for the dreaded "Quality of Life" discussion in reference to Chester's Anxiety. That was on November 9th of last year, in case you were wondering. Just thinking about it makes me cry.

    So, yeah. As someone who has actually had to endure the thought of possibly having to euthanize a young, physically healthy dog whom I absolutely adore, due to SA, the whole "natural is best" argument really makes me bristle. His medication played an integral role in restoring his quality of life, therefore, literally saving his life. I am grateful for it every minute of every day.

    I fully understand that not every dog with SA is Chester. It is my hope that the Chesters of this world are few and far between. I hate to think of any dog suffering the way my poor, sweet boy did. I fully understand that medication is neither right nor necessary for every dog. However, I would never criticize someone for making an informed, Science-backed decision based on what is best for their dog. Again, it's not about being "right". It's about doing what is best for the dog.
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