Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Light, In The Midst of Darkness

Saluting The End Of Daylight Savings

The end of Daylight Savings is literally one of my least favorite days of the year.  Every year, I complain for weeks about how I hate the darkness that the end of Daylight Savings brings.  I complain how hard it is to get motivated to take the dogs running after work, and how hard it is to see while I'm running.  But this year, I'm saluting  my least favorite day of the year, November 6, 2011! 

Chico has been on L-Theanine (Anxitane) for just under 2 months.  The first month I noted, minimal changes in his reactivity, anxiety, and his general behavior.  Although the changes were minimal, the changes were present none the less.  A few of the changes we've noted is a more happy Chico, with a tail that doesn't stop wagging.  Other changes consist of easier re-direction during reactivity towards his favorite triggers: bikers and people.  The reactivity is still present but less intense and much shorter in duration.  (Read more about the changes we noted in Falls Failures blog post.)  It's been almost a month since we've gone off of Daylight Savings Time.  I believe this too has helped with Chico's reactivity.  Since there aren't nearly as many bikers, runners and dogs out in our neighborhood our runs have been calm and a ton of fun for both of us.  We've even ventured out as a pack of three, running both Chico and Rue together. 

 I love the focus on the sheep rather than Chico in this shot Dustyn took

We do occasionally see a biker, runner and other stimulus that would normally cause a reactive moment.  So far our evening runs have been reactive free and Chico has redirected with other behaviors such as "look" or "sit".   I keep telling Dustyn that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop... When you have a dog with behavior issues it's a constant two steps forward one and half steps back.  Instead of being pessimistic, I'm going to salute Daylight Savings, believe that these changes are real in Chico and that we might be finally turning a corner.

Less Stimulus, Less Stress, Less Reactivity?

Is the lack of stimulus due to Daylight Savings actually the reason Chico isn't being reactive?  Or is the L-Theanine (Anxitane) calming him enough to the point that he is able to start to think and not hit the panic button in 1 second flat?  I believe that it's probably a combination of the two.  It's not likely I'll know for sure in the next few months.  When the light, warmth and neighborhood activity take over this spring we will have a better indicator to where we are at with Chico's reactivity and how far we've come.  I'm hopeful that the lack of environmental stimulus is giving Chico the break he needs to learn new and better behavioral choices.

A windy Fall day, sheep and a happy Border Collie--Chico

Last night was a great example of how much Chico's reactivity has improved in the last 2 months... We were out running in the evening.  There was a group of runners, probably 8 or 9 men and women, even a dog.  These runners were running down the middle of the street.  We've encountered this group before while out running.  Generally I avoid them by turning the other direction and Get Out Of Dodge as fast as possible.  Last night, I didn't see the runners until they were just a few houses away.  I quickly ran to the other side of the street with Chico and Rue.  I asked them both for "sits", and "looks".  I was so proud they both sat and looked at me.  Chico kept an eye on the runners, but always looked back to me.  Rue held her gaze with me.  They both were heavily rewarded with lots of love and yummy stinky treats!  I was extremely proud of my pack.  So on this November day, I will thank the stars for being out and giving Chico the chance to be successful!

Miss Beautiful Blue Rue

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