We completed the 4-page questionnaire last night to prepare for the "Recheck" visit with the behaviorist today, 7 months after the initial consultation.
Kaiju did better than the last time at the office. Considering we gave him Alprazolam the first thing in the morning, it was expected that he would do a little better. (Mind you, for him, "doing better" looks like the picture below.) Unlike the last time, he started moving around right away in the room. Tail was down all the way and never curled up, but he never sat and froze next to us like he did last time. He also started taking treats a bit earlier.
We discussed the progresses (less trembling outside; faster recoveries from upsetting incidents; more sniffing around outside; more bravery in the house that came with a total freedom in the house), remaining issues (still not wanting to go for daily walks unless it's a large park; still unable to relax and have fun easily; still trembles easily in new environments and busy/noisy environments), and new problematic behaviors (barking, nippy when excited).
She told us that barking was a good sign. Especially barking at something that is unusual is a sign that Kaiju is more confident and therefore more vocal. As long as we can stop him after a few barks, it's not a problem, she said. The way to stop him from barking is to let him know that he doesn't need to bark anymore, that we got the warning and we are all safe.
As to the meds, we are going to increase the daily dose of Buspirone, because we feel that we are seeing some good effects, and it is still below the max dosage. We are also going to increase the dosage for the situational Alprazolam use, and see what happens. We really did not see much change in Kaiju's behaviors with one tablet (1mg), so we ended up not really using it at all during the past 7 months. Before giving up on this meds, we'll try upping the dosage one more time.
Other recommendations included more consistent use of a clicker, even during the walks, and more mental stimulus throughout the day. She suggested, perhaps daycare or some agility training. This will be a bit difficult for us because we don't have transportation means to and from those facilities during the day. However, we agree. Kaiju definitely could use more mental stimulation. He spends all day dozing on and off. She also said it was okay for us to pick Kaiju up and hold him through some particular areas which he has a hard time walking through (and we cannot figure out why). The less stress he feels in those areas, the more likely he starts to feel okay about them at some point, she said.
That's it. We'll just keep on working with what Kaiju can handle, and see where he ends up. No big change!