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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

Scooter's Journey Part III

By Julia C., Vet Assistant

Scooter and I are back with a final behavior modification update! Be sure to visit here for parts 1 and 2 of this series.

Now, it was time to make a succinct behavior modification plan for Scooter. I spoke extensively to Dr. Corey about all of my concerns with Scooter. He needed to learn that he was safe and that we would be home to him in no time when he was left alone. He needed to gain confidence.

I started by leaving him home alone for short periods of time. For instance, I would run to the mailbox and then return home. Scooter would howl when I would leave and climb all over me when I came back, even if I was gone for a moment. I did not let this attachment and fear he exhibited affect my plan. I slowly moved up to leaving him home alone while I drove to a nearby coffee shop. Then, I progressed to the grocery store. This was extremely stressful for me because each time I came home, I would have to clean up a new mess that he made. Thankfully, there are several YouTube videos that helped me learn how to replace drywall. Perhaps I will still get my security deposit back!

During this behavior modification plan, Scooter was taking Gabapentin when he had to be left alone for longer than a moment. Gabapentin is mainly used for pain relief, but has sedative properties to it too. I also purchased a Furbo dog camera, which can shoot treats out. When I would see Scooter settled on the couch, I would reward him with a treat. I believe that helped a lot with the behavior modification. I was showing Scooter that being calm was rewardable.

It was at first discouraging because I wasn't sure if I was seeing change at first. The change was gradual and took a lot of time. But this time, I did not feel like giving up.

Scooter's "gotcha" day was 1/19/2022. I have had him for a little over a year now. I just came home from seeing a movie with a friend and Scooter was home alone. I felt no anxiety about leaving him. My boyfriend and I leave him by himself when we go to work. He gets his Fluoxetine and Gabapentin in the morning and a kiss on the head goodbye. I come home from work before my boyfriend every day, and Scooter, although very excited to see me, does not eat walls or blinds anymore. His growth has been grand, but let me emphasize that it took a lot of time and patience. But for this dog, anything is worth it.

Scooter still makes mistakes sometimes. He may pee or poop in the house when he is left alone. I expect these mistakes. He is a much more stable dog than he was a year ago. He is my Scooter and I couldn't be prouder of the confident pup he has become.



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