Saving Sasha: 7 Months Later

February 10th marks 7 months since rescuing Sasha, and boy has she come a long way! We have been trying some new exciting things this past month in order to help her reactivity improve, which is still her biggest challenge.

Most notably, I began giving her Fluoxetine, which is the generic version of human Prozac. I made this decision (with the help of my awesome veterinarian) because we had seemed to hit a plateau with Sasha’s reactivity training: though she had come a long way in 6 months, her threshold at which she would react to dogs had not decreased in a long time, and it seemed like she needed a little help. Though Fluoxetine does not make reactivity disappear, it helps dogs to be better able to focus and respond to training rather than becoming worked up. I thought Sasha would benefit from this since, when seeing other dogs, she would react and would have a hard time coming down from that level of arousal. So, we started her on the lowest possible dose of Fluoxetine, once a day. It has been 4 weeks now since she started it, but typically people do not start noticing differences until between 5 and 7 weeks; so, I will post an update when we are a little further along.

(Note: Medication, like anything else, is simply a training tool. It should not be used to replace positive training methods; rather, it should compliment your training program.)

I also began using the Behavior Adjustment Training method with Sasha (BAT for short: more info here) in order to further help with her reactivity. So far, it seems to be helping her to be calmer in certain situations. I am excited to continue seeing the results of BAT in helping Sasha to be more relaxed around other dogs!

We have also added a few more tricks to our repertoire! Sasha is crazy smart and loves learning tricks; in fact, she can typically learn a new trick in about 10 minutes. These new tricks include:

  • T-Rex (standing up on two legs with her arms bent)
  • Dance (twirling around on her back legs)
  • Peekaboo (circling around me, poking her head through my legs, and sitting)
  • Shake

It has been another fun month with Sasha! Her favorite things lately are doing nose work indoors, having playdates with her best friend, and running through the snow; however, I for one am ready for warm spring weather so that we can go hiking again. I hope that you and your dogs are having a great winter too! What are you most looking forward to about spring?

Another one of Sasha’s favorite things is hanging out with her kitty siblings. It’s so cute when they cuddle that it is one of my favorite things too!

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