Weekly Training Update (Aug 8)

Last weekend, we bumped Lilly’s clomipramine up to 40 mg twice a day. Her alprazolam stayed the same at .5 twice a day. While I wait for the OK to move onto the next stage of the behavior plan, which includes noises, I’m doing what I can to spice up the routine and challenge Lilly in mild ways. I’m starting with visual things since they generally cause less fear than noises.

Things that Flap
For example, one of Lilly’s visual issues is things flapping in the air, especially above her head. So, if I happen to have laundry out on the clothesline (a money-saving and energy-saving strategy), we go outside and do her baseline sit-stay (relaxation protocol) work with clothes flapping in the wind.

Heck, one day, there were sheets flapping her right in the head, and she didn’t care. I figured laundry was a good place to start because she likes to hang out while I hang laundry, for some reason.

Things that Spin
It only recently got REALLY hot here, so I flipped on the ceiling fan in the kitchen one day last week, and it pretty much freaked Lilly out. So, the next day, I turned it on low before she came into the room to do sit-stay work. She did fine, so the next day, I turned the fan up, and again she was fine. I’ll keep doing that until I can turn it on full-speed while she’s already in the room since I think it’s more about something starting to spin (like a change in the environment) than it is the spinning itself. I might be wrong, but that’s my working theory.

One day I tried turning the fan on and off during her sit-stay work, but that was too much for her. So, we went back to having it on at higher speeds before she comes in the room to work.

Ginko Helps (sort of)
I also let Ginko stay on the room sometimes. He’s a total food mooch, and he won’t stay put for anything, but I figure it’s a good distraction for Lilly to have him in the room, just being himself.

Attention Seeking
As far as the attention seeking, I can report that some days it really does seem to be getting better. Like Monday, she hardly bugged me at all. Then, again, Tom was home working for the first day in several weeks, and I suspect she bugged him.

Then, other days, she tries new things — like grunting at me, rather than trying to touch me. She’s always done this little grunt under her breath, but now she does it louder when I’m ignoring her. Another form of extinction bursts.

BUT, she is spending less time during the work day in my office. If I’ve had to leave the room and ignore her for seeking attention, she’ll often slink out when I come back. She’ll go off somewhere else to hang out for a while (sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes an hour) before her next attempt.

It makes me sad to see her go away, but the process of not letting her always have access to me to soothe herself is supposed to teach her to cope on her own. After all this time, teaching her to rely on me. That feels a little odd.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.