Saturday, July 30, 2011

Training Session #14

"I'm not afraid of the rain."
 wet Brando watches the rain on the car windshield
I'm happy to report Brando is doing very well in his obedience training, which is helping him move forward toward earning CGC.  My daughter and I have been taking Humphrey Bogart to stand on the sidelines during his sessions.   I was hoping that Brando may feed off of Humphrey's good energy.  Humphrey loves everyone, and vice versa.  This plan doesn't seem to be working.  Tonight, before we began the workshop, the trainer talked to us about herbal supplements to try to help Brando to calm down.  He's afraid that Brando's fear based aggression is turning into aggression.  I can see it.  Even going for a walk, he's getting worse.  We met up with Ms. Passerby, again.  Only this time, instead of Ms. Passerby trying to guess his breed, she started barking at Brando.  "Can I have one?"  she asked my son about the puppies.  We all started laughing since he didn't know how to answer her.  Brando let out one bark when we started laughing.  She immediately started furiously barking back at him, which sent him into a tizzy.  Tail up, he was dominant,and lunging.  He went from zero to 10 in a second.  I've never seen him so mad.  The angrier he got, the more intense her barking became.  The trainer has trained us how to handle strangers, but not a barking stranger.  I really wasn't sure what to do.  "Leave it!"  wasn't cutting it.  Body blocking was working either.  He wanted to bite Ms. Passerby, and if he had his way, he would have.  That's the first time I've seen him escalate so quickly, and to the point where he was in complete control of the situation. He finally calmed as she left his line of sight.  "What in the world was that?!"  I never want to believe it's Brando fault.  I went straight into a motherly protective mode,  "Why would you bark at a dog?!  What was wrong with her?  She was just egging him on!  He only barked once, and she had to bark a million times back at him....."  See my point.  When everything settled, it dawned on me that Humphrey couldn't have cared less about her, or her barking.  He wanted tummy rubs.  Brando's trainer has strong feelings about how Brando was treated before we got him.  I thought his breeder was a nice old man, was it a front?  Could it have been a puppy mill?  Is the trainer right?  The very thought makes my stomach turn.  He said if we don't see some improvement in a few more sessions he's going to recommend we talk to the vet about Xanax.  He thinks Brando needs more help than just training.  I looked down at my little love, and for the first time saw just how miserable he is.  Can a dog suffer from "puppy panic attacks?"  Is a herbal supplement the answer or just covering up the problem?  Is it unfair of me to ask Brando to be CGC?  Xanax?!  Look out Google, here I come!


  1. What a very strange woman. I'm not sure I would know what to make of that situation either. Poor Brando. I've only ever met one Cavalier that was aggressive and it was with a young boy about 12. He said they had adopted it from an abusive household where it was locked in a cage. So sad. Cavaliers are just the gentlest nature dogs. I hope you can get some help for little Brando. The thought of him being scarred for life over something that happened in his breeding home would be terrible and I hope it's not the case, just a case of something that will fade with time and your love. A barking woman LOL! Still can't get over that. Why would you? Strange...just very strange. Keep us posted to your progress with Brando. That is just the cutest expression on his face watching the rain by the way. So gorgeous.

  2. So sorry this happened to you and Brando! I know how frustrating it is to have things like that happen when you are working so hard to protect your boy.

    There are lots of herbal supplements for anxiety. With Maizey we've used Rescue Remedy and that helps some. I know a lot of people swear by a chinese herb called Calmshen. Search my blog and there is more about it on there. Do you read Reactive Champion? ( She has a great series on herbs and what she's achieve with her reactive Maisy is amazing.

    One thing about Xanax, I have never gone the benzodiazine route, but I know some dogs experience worse anxiety on it. Also be very careful with one called Acepromazine, it's very dangerous for reactive dogs.

    Christine, it really sounds like you're doing so much for Brando! Maybe it's time consider some specific behavioral modification. I'll throw out some names that you probably already know, but these are the things that have helped Maizey. BAT from Grisha Stewart. Control Unleashed from Leslie Mcdevitt. Relaxation Protocol from Karen Overall are a few that we are seeing success with. I'm not trying to overwhelm you, my heart just goes out since it was about the same age I started seeing the signs of reactivity and anxiety on Maizey. I know how much it can hurt your heart.:(

    Keep up the good work, you are doing your best! Hang in there! Sorry for the novel of a comment, this is a subject a lot on my mind lately.LOL

  3. We hope you find an answer to help him soon!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  4. Oh, the poor boy! I'd go a little nuts if a strange woman was barking at me, too! I'd steer clear of this crazy woman if you see her in the future. I don't know what people are thinking sometimes! Would she walk up to a baby in a carriage and start crying at it?!! Lots of nutballs out there.Be careful! Hope he calms down and feels more secure soon!