Reub's journey

21 May 2011


A week ago I vowed to keep a record of our training with Reuben, who has shown increasing signs of fear and aggression over the past year. Hoping to turn this all around, we decided to commit some time and training. We are in week two of this effort.

This week has gone pretty well. After playing days of phone tag with our wonderful vet, I finally had a good talk with her. We discussed three different possibilities: a pheromone collar, laser treatment, and Prozac for dogs, all of them to go hand-in-hand with behavior modification training. The laser treatment, focused primarily on the thyroid gland, didn't appeal to me. The pheromone collar is of interest and may be added to our repertoire.  We spoke at length of Reconcile, the canine Prozac drug.

Prozac for Reub? Well, to borrow a term from Homeland Security, it would seem that Reub is almost constantly on Orange Alert these days. A small trigger sends him into Red Alert very quickly. He needs to come down to Yellow Alert as his norm, giving us time to handle him successfully, and perhaps time for him to assess a situation as... Not... So... Scary. Prozac may help Reub attain this lower level of anxiety, so we are going to try it. At the same time we must continue to train him.

The doorbell has been a trigger for this boy, causing him not only to bark like a normal dog, but to go rigid with anxiety, a precursor to aggression. Last week I was trying, with mixed results,  to get Reub to settle down when the doorbell rings.

Reuben has been on Reconcile for 2 days now and I already wonder whether he isn't a bit more mellow. Is it my imagination? Or is it the frequent ringing of the doorbell-accompanied by treats-that has begun to make a difference?

Or is it the magic butchoo-butchoo-butchoooo crazy-speak with which I apparently reward him?


  1. When do you wean him from the treats?

  2. I have a treat can near the door, and it will stay there forever, if it has to. But eventually it may work to praise him verbally without feeding him. We'll see.

  3. Ah, poor Reub.
    He must have had a hard time before he teamed up with you. This behaviour is surely learned?

    Boris, Benno's predecessor, regularly peed himself and cowered flat on the ground, when his new master first came near him. He bonded with me very quickly but it took a long time before he lost his abject terror when confronted with men.

    Good luck, I will cry my eyes out if the problem with Reub does not have a good outcome.

    I'm a big softie at heart, in spite of my cranky blog.

  4. Reuben is such a lucky dog to have you on his side. Wow.

    LOVE the pictures so so much.

  5. Friko: The increasing anxiety seems to have its roots in a few incidents that happened here, but it's likely combined with his own background and breeding, all of it unknown. Well, we do know that he was abandoned in a rough rural area, and subsisted on garbage and carcasses for awhile. He was not a blank slate when he came to us.

    I am fully aware that the outcome of our efforts may not be a fairy tale ending, and it is a risk to write about all of this. But putting it out there for others to see does make me try harder to make it work.

    I love your blog, especially when you're cranky.

    Reya: Thank you! It is so great to have your support. I know that you have a real understanding of this situation; Jake was your informer on this; together you had an amazing bond, one that transformed your life.

    I love to photograph this dog.

  6. Wow! That's a huge difference in doorbell response in a short time!!! Huge! Well done. You are making very good choices in my humble opinion.



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