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"bumps & jumps"

hurdles and hoops to jump over and through, our coping methods, and progresses made.

BY the humans  7:00pm | Jun 1, 2011

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!

BY the humans  11:04pm | May 24, 2011

There is this brand-new dog park in the town next to ours. It has some fun features like tunnels, big stone steps, and a raised plank. Of course, Kaiju would not go into the tunnels nor go up on the plank, although he doesn't mind the stone steps. He also gets nervous about noises coming from the factories nearby during the day, and stays alert which makes it tough for him to really let go and have fun.

So we have been going there late at night when it's quieter. And since there are no other dogs usually at that time of the day, we have to run around ourselves to get Kaiju excited enough to play. It's a pain, but serves the purpose when we really don't want to go too far but want to let him off-leash outside.

We made a trip to this park tonight. Very unfortunately, even though it was late night, there were some big trailer trucks moving about in the adjacent lot. Kaiju was too distracted to even chase us no matter how much we tried. Soon, we were exhausted. He was boring us to tears. So, instead, we decided to try to get him up on the wooden plank...

First, all three of us (Kaiju's humunkle is visiting) walked up on the plank, stood in the middle of it, and called him cheerfully and repeatedly. Then we tried sitting on it and did the same. Kaiju looked up at us and ran around the plank as if to say "i don't understand!! what do you want me to do??". We then tried to meet him half way down on the ramp and lure him with treats. No such luck. So... well, the rest of the story can be viewed in the «video» below.

"Rocking Chair" by Mr. Scruff

BY the humans  9:58pm | May 3, 2011

It's been half a year since Kaiju went to see a behaviorist for his fearfulness. We have been in touch with her (who happens to be from Japan and very familiar with Shiba Inus) every few weeks to report back the progresses Kaiju made, or mostly lack of it. Kaiju has been put on medication since then, called Buspirone. He has also been completely free to roam around anywhere in the apartment even when we are not here. This was a big change. We used to put him in a small gated area whenever we left him alone at home. She told us to let him explore, make up his own mind, and the most awesome for Kaiju of all, be naughty.

Six months later, he is no longer afraid of paper bags that we bring home from grocery stores (he now sticks his head in them), or the random objects that are in foyer right outside of our door, such as UPS packages for other residents and newspapers. He now goes in to the bathroom to sniff around all on his own, whereas we couldn't even lure him into it with treats before. Outside, he no longer panics and flees when people come out of apartment buildings, and he can walk past trash bins without making big half-circles around them. He seems okay with strollers and rolling bags, too. These days, he sniffs around a lot while walking which he didn't do before because he was too nervous. He is often too nervous to take treats from us during walks, but these days, he is more frequently relaxed enough to not only take treats, but also look at us to ask for them. He even wags his tail a tiny bit once in a while while he is at it.

BY the humans  1:41am | Dec 30, 2010

Black Bear Inn, Bolton Valley, VermontAfter spending three nights in Long Island for Christmas, we drove up North for 6 hours to Vermont. Black Bear Inn in Bolton Valley allows pets in some rooms. Moreover, they allow well-behaved pets to be left unsupervised and uncrated. The inn is located right next to a ski slope, so you can pop in and out while skiing to check on your furry friends.

You are safe here, silly Kaiju. Let's relax.This was the first Inn/Lodge experience for Kaiju, so we chose very carefully. The innkeepers had told us that the room was right next to the service door, and we did not have to go through the lobby to go in and out of the room. This sounded perfect for the scaredy pup like Kaiju.

He was quite nervous when we brought him into the room. The bed there was really high. He jumped up on it, sat there, and shivered for half an hour. He looked nervously at all the windows, doors, fixtures, especially the ceiling fan (which was not moving) and kept trembling. We ended up giving him some meds to help him not feel so horrible about being there.
I want to play more. Outside... was a different story. Every time he sensed that we were stepping out for any reason, he jumped down from the bed and started stretching. He loved it. It was so frigid outside. One of the two days that we were supposed to ski, we couldn't because it was too windy and cold, and all the lifts were stopped. None of that mattered to Kaiju. He wanted to go outside again and again.

There was this path to a ski slope, across the parking lot from the inn, and it was his favorite. Even when we meant to take him out briefly for potty, just in the lot, he somehow manipulated us into going all the way to the path and through it.

hop hop run run Of course, we never minded watching Kaiju jump into a snow drift or chew on random branches, instead of skiing in the freezing cold.

We went away for hours at a time, more than several times, leaving him alone in the room. We made sure to put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and set up a camera to monitor him. We were happy to learn that he just sat on the bed and slept. He made no noise.

He has definitely proved himself fit enough to join us for road trips. Hooray! We are now totally motivated to go find more accommodations that are suited for this scaredy dog.

BY nobuko  11:50pm | Dec 25, 2010

i love this backyard!

Kaiju is at Paul's parents' place again. He was just here a month ago for Thanksgiving. This is his 3rd time here, and he is clearly feeling a lot more comfortable. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, he showed clear signs of excitement. He got out of the car happily, and insisted to be taken to his "regular" pee spot which is about 5 minutes walk away from the house. When we finally walked into the house, he headed straight to our bedroom, but came out to roam around in the kitchen and the livingroom soon enough, although carefully. We did not give him any meds for the arrival, unlike the last time, but he seemed okay. And of course, the backyard is making him happy as always.

He was pretty skeptical of the big Xmas tree and all the boxes around it, but we managed to lure him closer with some treats last night for some photos. And, although he escaped to the bedroom as soon as the boxes started getting unwrapped, he scored some very nice toys from his Grand Humans and Paul.

Which one is mine??

Today was a big day. A bunch of relatives came over to this house to celebrate the holiday. We made sure to medicate him and to give him a plenty of fun time before people started arriving. We wanted to tire him out to help him relax. We had the bedroom ready for him to hide out, too, so he wouldn't feel pressured at all to be anywhere near the crowd.

Then, he gave us the surprising performance. He stayed in the living room where Paul was sitting while more and more people arrived. He stayed on the couch, definitely very alert but also curious. Paul and I were beside ourselves with joy. It was most likely the effect of Xanax, thanks to which he was able to enjoy the attention from everyone. It rained treats wherever he went. Instead of running away, he was taking them very cautiously.

He even followed the aroma of grilled Greek sausages and ventured into the dining area where everyone stood around and talked. He didn't get the sausage, but he got tons of beef treats. He also begged to be let outside to the backyard. When we did, he went a little too crazy, running at a lightening speed in big circles non-stop. The whole situation was a bit too stimulating for him, it seemed. We had to grab him and put him back inside to prevent over-excitement.

Eventually, he retired to the bedroom and rested for the remainder of the night. After many glasses of various drinks, Paul also joined him in the sweet little slumber party.

BY nobuko  8:28pm | Nov 7, 2010

No! It's scary. I'm worried. I want to go home!

Here is what happens. We bring him outside. He walks quite fine until he finishes his business. Then, he starts pulling back. He refuses to move forward. He looks back towards home and then sits down, trembling. We look around, and there is nothing moving, nothing coming our way, and nothing making any noise. He used to at least not tremble. It started this fall.

This video was taken just around the corner from our place.

This is really hard on us. We need to walk him for exercise. We know that exercise is good for fearful dogs. But he does not have fun walking in our neighborhood. No matter which directions we go, he is scared. He just does not seem to want to go further away from home. Treats does not work once he is in this mode. He just looks away and shuts down. This makes us feel really mean, especially while we coax him to move. We often have to pull him quite hard only to end up dragging him, at which point we stop pulling.

The video on the left was taken on a better day, a quite Sunday afternoon. This is before peeing, so he walks without resisting. You can see that he's still quite nervous.

The funny thing is, after 5-10 minutes of coaxing, we do get far enough from home and he suddenly starts walking. Still alert and hesitant with frequent stopping and thinking, but he moves forward, on his own. He also trembles much less. It's like he decides to just get it over with.

And once he realizes that we are headed back home, he is much more confident. He even pulls forward quite hard to get home.

Those daily walks have not been fun for us. It is stress-inducing. We are always on the look out for possible fear triggers, so we can avoid them. It is sometimes maddening.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Ommmm....

BY nobuko  10:15pm | Sep 19, 2010

Ever since Kaiju got rejected from the nosework class, I have been obsessively reading online about fearful dogs, trying to find any signs that Kaiju is "not so bad" and that medication is not really necessary. We've been struggling with Kaiju's fear issues throughout the recovery periods after the injuries/surgeries but we always hoped that this was a temporary aftermath, and that as soon as he resumed training in various obedience classes, started exercising more, and felt less and less pain in his legs, he would show noticeable improvements towards becoming a happy active dog. However, in the nosework class, watching other dogs easily and happily perform the tasks, then seeing Kaiju unable to take even one step forward towards the boxes, and being advised to medicate him by the trainer, totally bursted our little wishful-thinking bubbles.

That's how I found fearfuldogs.com. I bookmarked it and went back to it several times because it seemed to offer relevant suggestions and perspectives for Kaiju. You find a lot of tips on mildly fearful dogs online. Most of those involve treats that help dogs make positive associations with frightening objects. Kaiju, however, snobs treats in a most of those situations. He shuts down and refuses to even glance at a high-value treat right in front of his nose. This site, and the Yahoo mailing list called "shy-k9s" are the only two places I found that discussed severely anxious dog.

BY nobuko  11:26pm | Sep 8, 2010

Since Kaiju is still not allowed to do a lot of physical activities but we are eager to resume his training which got interrupted by the injuries back in March (right after Puppy Kindergarten), we signed him up for a nosework class. The class was suggested to us by Kaiju's Kintergarten trainer, Melissa. She told us that it often increased confidence in shy dogs. We had been looking forward to it for about a month.

omg, boxes and people... what are they doing to me??

Today was the first session. This is what happens in the class. Many small, cardboard boxes are placed on the floor. One of them contains some yummy treats. Dogs are brought into the room one by one, led by their owners. They go around the room and find the box with the treats. Simple enough, right? Every dog cleared this task. Some quickly, some with more difficulties. But all of them were happy when they found the treats, wagged their tails, and followed their owners around. Then Kaiju's turn came. Paul led Kaiju out from his waiting area to the main room. Kaiju stood in one place and refused to move forward. He was too scared of those unknown objects on the floor. He wanted nothing to do with them. No treats we prepared for the class got him to move.

BY paul  11:08am | Sep 8, 2010

An interesting little tidbit that we never got around to posting, but Kaiju in fact, has a song... and its a classic too! Not just one time, but BOTH times we took him back from the hospital after his surgeries... this song was on the radio... and it perfectly sums up those emotions.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Coincidence? I think not!

BY kaiju  3:55pm | Aug 24, 2010

Yesterday was a big day. I went up and down the stairs for the first time since Feb. 28th!

For all those 6 months, my people carried me up and down the 7 steps of stairs to go outside for walkies. I was small when it started, but I've grown 9 pounds since then. They often complained that I was getting heavy, laughed, and gave me kisses.

Chris, the physical therapist, told us yesterday that we could now try the stairs as long as I went slow. My people were sooooo psyched!

I know I'm a bit rusty, but I'll get better at this soon (and will try to go super fast when they are not looking!)




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