Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Delilah's Behavior Consult

1) Medication
I'm going to make an appointment for Delilah at a different vet clinic and get her on fluoxetine/prozac. I kind of expected that medication would be recommended.

2) Anxiety/Reactivity
Delilah has been very reactive to strangers and becomes very distressed when anyone other than me or my boyfriend are in the house. We talked about exercises we could do to countercondition and desensitize her to visitors. We also came up with a new way to introduce Delilah to visitors by meeting them outside and allowing the visitors to enter the house first. There's actually a whole protocol with a lot of different steps we're supposed to follow for visitors involving Delilah watching them approach the house, enter the house, leave the house, sit down, etc. I already have a few friends who volunteered to help to stage some training situations for me.
We're also going to try out a thundershirt and a calming cap, as well as increasing mental stimulation. She said we were already doing a good job with trick and agility training, and the food puzzles Delilah has, but she gave us some other ideas for mental stimulation as well.

3) Compulsive Disorder
The hope is that fluoxetine will help. We're not supposed to let Delilah engage in any activity that she is unable to complete the motor sequence. Like if she can't physically catch anything. So no chasing dust or light of course, but we're not allowed to play with her with bubbles or water either, which is too bad because she loves those. I'm also not supposed to redirect Delilah with a toy anymore because the trainer thinks that might be reinforcing the behavior at least partially. Delilah's very attached to me and doesn't like being away from me so she said if Delilah doesn't listen when I tell her to stop the compulsive behaviors, I should leave the room or the house for a minute or so. She said Delilah is very fixated but doesn't look like she's completely spaced out so she might be "there" enough to learn and understand consequences.
She said there was likely a genetic component to Delilah's behavior- apparently Wire Fox Terriers are predisposed to compulsive disorder and the Toy Fox Terriers and the Smooth Fox Terriers they are descended from are closely related.

4) Sports/Classes/Agility
Since Delilah's most intense compulsive behavior has occurred during agility classes and barn hunt, she said Delilah was way over threshold and may never be able to handle a class or trial environment.  She encouraged us to continue practicing on our own for mental stimulation and said if Delilah makes any significant progress with her anxiety and compulsive behavior then we could look into private lessons. She recommended an agility trainer to me that she knows that does private outdoor lessons. I'm hoping Delilah can get to that point.


  1. I know you have a very hard case and it is wonderful that you are trying to do everything you can to make things better for her. I just feel that if she loves the bubbles and water, I would think it would make her unhappy if that went away. I understand what the trainer is saying but, I don't know. Hopefully the medication will help.

    1. I know, I had just bought her an outward hound dog sprinkler as well because she loves playing with the hose :/
      But we have other games we can play that are better for her mental health.

  2. Hari OM
    This all sounds spot on and ties in with my own (side) experience with my pal's foxie, Kramer the curr-ayzee. It's a lifetime commitment to behaviour management.. and it seems you're the gal for the job! Lucky Delilah. Huggies, YAM xx

  3. It sounds like your behaviourist was very helpful. Ours wasn't. Our Hailey is on prozac for her anxiety and it seems to help. All the best.