March 11, 2013

Doggy Anxiety. D.A.P & Rescue Remedy

Isabella has suffered from anxiety and neophobia since puppy-hood. The strangest things make her uncomfortable. In particular, new things brought in to the home; furniture, blinds, pinwheels and on one occasion, my nephew's pumpkin for Halloween.

I've spent a lot of time desensitize her to new things. She trusts me, but everything new takes time and lots of rewards. (She received a small pool for her birthday last summer and it took me almost an hour to get all 4 of her feet in at one time. Once in, she loved it.) In her classes there was initial trepidation with tunnels, chutes, and hula hoops. She eventually overcame those fears, but has yet to claim victory over the stair/ramp combo. She loves to learn, but sometimes getting to the point where she is successfully engaging in an activity with props can be tough.
In addition to her uncommon phobias, she has a strong sense of anxiety. New situations throw her in to a  tizzy. (An "Izzy in a Tizzy" if you will.) She loves nothing more than riding in the car, but if it comes time to get out of the car, she sometimes is leery of my intentions. (Weirdly, she has no fear of her veterinarian(s), shots, or exams. The scale that weighs her though? Forget about it.)

In my attempts to ease her anxiety I have tried a couple things.
In this entry I will share with you two of my experiences in trying to calm down a fussy, skittish pup.

First up, D.A.P. Dog Appeasing Pheromone.
I wish I could say this made a difference in her behavior, but it didn't seem to.
I also tried it on Angel, who hates riding in cars. Okay, hates is an understatement, she totally and completely despises car rides. D.A.P made no difference with her.
It was pretty costly, considering it had no noticeable effect on either of them. I tried it out at different times, typically using the ol' "spray a bandana" trick. The only difference was the adorable accessory they were sporting. I tested it during Isabella's "settle" times (code for a doggy time out,) by spraying her beloved blankey with it. Comparing it to when she only has her settle down toy, I can't say there was any real change in behavior.
Long story short, this product mostly sits on a shelf. I sometimes spray Angel's bed with it...just real reason. I may as well use it, and it's likely not hurting anything.

Next...Rescue Remedy.
The pet formula. Not to be confused with the human Rescue Remedy.
This product is a liquid that comes in a small brown bottle with a dropper. I found that dosing wasn't an exact science for us. I started out with about half a dropper for Isabella before we encountered a stressful or excitable situation. Then a little more later, as needed. I don't know if she just acclimated quicker for some reason, or if it truly was/is the rescue remedy helping. I know several dog parents who swear by it though - and I personally did notice a small difference in her about 15 minutes after administering it. It has been helpful with our walks in the past, too.
I can't say I saw as big a change in Angel's demeanor. Maybe ever-so-slightly. Her total freak outs in the car turned in to more of a whine-fest, but still, it was no miracle worker.
I keep this one around, and I do toss it in to my purse (or the dog bag) when we hit the road.

So there you have it - two calm down methods.
Truthfully, I find doggy massage more effective than either of them, but Rescue Remedy, combined with that, seems to be a great combo for soothing Isabella.

(These are my opinions and personal experiences. It is not intended to be a replacement for medical care. And in the case of R.R, you may want to run it by your veterinarian before giving your dog any new substances.)


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