Milo’s progress in overcoming his fears came to a halt. The last 6 months had some improvements yet he was still terribly fearful. Having a big brother helped a little. It got him to show a little playfulness. However, he still wouldn’t come near my husband and it was both frustrating and heartbreaking. In an effort to help the situation, we decided to get a companion for Milo.
That’s when Luke joined our family. Milo instantly was enamored with him. Luke was everything a whippet puppy should be: happy, playful, loving, full of energy, curious, mischievous, and most importantly, fearless. The positive effects of Luke being a companion for Milo showed immediately.
The most dramatic was Milo’s playfulness. They played almost all the time, except when my husband was around. Milo’s fear of men did not subside at all. I’d have to show my husband videos of them playing bitey face so he could see them in action. At least Luke would play with my husband. Then one day when my husband was playing with Luke, Milo came within arm’s reach of him.
We thought it was the start of another improvement. I just knew it meant Milo would soon be coming up to my husband. I was wrong. He still reacted the same way.
Milo did a little better on walks. Walking between Zephyr and Luke slightly relaxed him. I still couldn’t get him to go out through the garage. His fear of cars is extreme. He’ll stop, pull backward, and do the reactive peeing the moment he is at the door. Just looking into the garage puts him in full terror reactive mode. When we go on walks, I have to take them out through the back door.
We decided to get the professional trainer to come back for a follow-up session. Guidance for the new pack dynamic would be beneficial. Plus it would be great to learn more techniques to help Milo along with re-enforcing ones we learned before. The trainer did notice some of Milo’s improvement. The session went well and we had a few new things to try with Milo.
Did we follow through on the new training techniques? Well, yes and no. I hoped my husband would do the things the trainer suggested. I think the combination of his frustration and heartbreak kept him from trying. I can understand his feeling of rejection and not be wanting to go through constant reminders of it. I also think he was hoping Milo would eventually come around after seeing him with Luke.
More tiny improvements happened because of Luke’s influence. Most were subtle and occurred slowly. It still gave us hope. Getting a companion for Milo was a great decision. The reality is the process of overcoming his fears will take a long time.
I took Milo to the vet for his annual checkup. We discussed options for dog anxiety medications. The vet recommended Composure. It’s a calming supplement containing Thiamine (Vitamin B1), L-Theanine, and a biopeptide blend. I decided to give it a try. Milo showed a teensy improvement on it. Of course, I was giving him 4 a day instead of the 1 a day dosage for his size (the vet said it was okay to give him that much).
Milo’s fear reactive behavior continued. He circles the room when stressed. He won’t eat if my husband is standing nearby. Milo will only eat if my husband is sitting on the couch or in another room. He flees at the sound of any sudden noise. He freaks out if something in the house has been moved, changed, or out of place. For example, a box in the foyer puts him into a panic. Also, we got a new table and chairs for the breakfast area which happens to be where we have their food bowls. It was weeks before he would go to eat without stress circling around and having to be repeatedly called to his food bowl.
Our frustration and heartbreak continue too. Many times I feel inadequate and wonder if Milo would be better off somewhere else. Yet I’m certain there wouldn’t be any place or scenario where he’d completely change and have normal behavior. I’ll keep trying because I love him so much.
Recently I decided to take a different path with him. Stay tuned for an update. Meanwhile, I’m always open to help and advice. Do you have a fearful dog? If so, what have you done to help it overcome its fears?
Other posts about Milo in the Fearful Dog series: