Jun's Story

Jun, a white dog with black ears, jumping several feet in the air to catch a Frisbee.

Jun has always been a little anxious, but there was a time when I didn't recognize her behaviors for what they were. She started out a fairly "normal" dog, attending classes and competing in rally obedience and disc dog (frisbee). Around age 3 she began showing aggression toward strangers. I realized we had a serious problem the day she left a game of disc (her obsession) to bark and snap at a stranger that was walking by the park.

We started working with a trainer on her anxiety, which I learned was the cause of her reactivity as well as many other behaviors, such as pacing in the house, inability to ever relax or sleep, and hyper-vigilance. We made a little bit of progress, but the training never seemed to "stick," and I made the decision to retire her from disc competition, as I couldn't trust her. Finally, after several months of work, I decided to consult with Dr. Duxbury at the UMN VMC, and we started Jun on medication.

It has been a long road. We've had to try many different drugs, combinations, and dosages, but we've finally found what works for her! Jun is still a work in progress and never will be "perfect," but she is MUCH improved! She went from spending all her time pacing and chasing her tail to being able to lie down and relax in the house. She could not go for walks, due to anxiety that would kick in immediately anytime we left the house; and she can now walk calmly in the neighborhood for a few blocks at a time. She can meet strangers with minimal management. She has even started competing in disc again in select environments! In fact, she recently won a disc dog competition called Star Jam put on by the Minnesota Disc Dog Club!

In addition to medication and training, Jun made the biggest improvements when I stopped expecting her to be what I wanted and began accepting her as she is. That change in attitude allowed me to support her as SHE needed. This ultimately meant abandoning most traditional behavior modification protocols and simply allowing her to BE, gradually exposing her to the world in ways that made the experience positive for her. This approach built a foundation of trust that ultimately allowed us to get to where we are today!

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Have we helped your pet? We'd love to hear from you. Share your VMC story by emailing vmccomm@umn.edu. Don't forget to include a photo of your pet!