After several recent hikes with a highly stressed Kona Dog, I decided it's time to adjust my approach to help Kona with her fear.
Over the past eight or so months, my approach with Kona has been simple: minimize her exposure to high stress and do a ton of stuff she loves to boost her confidence and strengthen her trust in me.
I've never done much counter conditioning with her because she's really too hyper vigilant for that kind of behavior modification to be successful. If Kona isn't totally relaxed in her environment, exposing her to triggers can immediately send her over her threshold.
So The Plan:
Teach relaxation and decrease hyper vigilance with two things: relaxation protocol (Thanks Roxanne) and l-theanine supplement.
I first heard about the relaxation protocol through the book, Control Unleashed. The author says (and I'm paraphrasing), if your dog doesn't know how to relax, good luck to you. Teaching a dog to relax is foundational to any behavior modification.
Ya hear that Kona?
I've done some spastic relaxation protocol work, but not consistent enough for Kona to really get it. So I'm committed to 60 days of relaxation work (we're on day three!). I'm not going to follow the protocol to a T, but will tweak it to best suit Kona.
Because we all need a little help, I'm adding L-Theanine to Kona's daily routine. (Thanks Sam for giving me great info on this!) L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that supports relaxation. It's as safe as adding fish oil or glucosamine to your dog's diet. I'm not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals, so I feel good about this. I'm picking some up this afternoon. Kona will be on a full dose of 100Mg a day.
I'll write up on our progress from time to time. Expect at least a once a week, "Yes, we're still relaxation protocol-ing," just to keep me in check!
Here's to continued success towards brave-dom!