Amy is our newest family member, a 5 month old mini Australian Labradoodle, which is a mix of cocker spaniel, labrador retriever, and poodle. Australian labradoodles are bred to emphasize therapy dog traits.
We picked up Amy from a reputable breeder on July 1st. She is a wonderful, smart, sweet little dog.
She also, however, is both timid and extremely sound sensitive. We chose her as she was the least hyperactive puppy in the litter, and we felt a super rambunctious puppy would be a lot for Jasper, our 7 year old beagle.
We noticed that, while Amy didn't seem to want to spend much time with her litter mates, she was very interested in connecting with us. The breeder explained that was typical behaviour for her.
I later realized that the reason she kept running away from her litter mates was twofold: she is both very sound sensitive and also prone to misinterpreting many things as aggression. The perfectly normal rough and tumble play of a young puppies was just too much for her, in spite of being a young puppy herself.
Part of me feels that Amy joining our family was most likely meant to be as, if she had gone to almost anyone else, they would most likely not be able to help her with her physiology.
Amy has been a great fit for our family but the past few weeks has started rapidly escalating with anxious aggressive barking.
I decided last week that the time was right to begin SSP.
Given that her personality is quite similar to Maggie's, my elderly dog who passed away recently, I have been very hopeful that SSP would work its magic for her just as it did for Maggie. You can read about Maggie's SSP journey here , as well as here and here.
As you can see in the photo - taken during her first hour of listening - Amy became extremely relaxed immediately, from listening to SSP. I have never before seen her sleeping with her tongue sticking out but this is an indicator of how relaxed the muscles in her mouth and face, became. Although how each individual responds to it can vary, the first hour of SSP is intended to be calming and relaxing.
And, only two hours into the protocol, Amy already began showing vivid signs of improvement.
While we are not yet noticing improvement with her sound sensitivity that is likely to come later - it takes between 2 and 7 weeks after the protocol has been completed for all of the changes to show up. If her sound sensitivity doesn't improve on this round of SSP, since she is responding so well and so quickly, it is very likely to improve on a subsequent round. SSP can be repeated as many times as one likes, as long as one waits at least 3 months in between rounds.
So far what we are noticing is an extremely dramatic reduction in both how often and how loudly she barks. Previously, sitting in the living room, Amy would watch out the windows, and bark relentlessly at any movement she saw. We live on a very busy street so there is constantly movement which was becoming problematic....
Now, however - only 4 days after beginning SSP - even when sitting in the living room window for extended time periods, Amy mostly remains perfectly quiet.
Occasionally - in the living room and in other situations in which she usually would bark - Amy does still vocalize but it's a very quiet sound, almost like she is barking under her breath. The same initially happened with Maggie when Maggie stopped barking so much, after doing SSP. It almost feels like they still feel the need to mark the occasions at times, but there is no real drive behind the vocalizations. Sort of like "this is when I'd usually bark so.....tiny woof." :)
Another very typically SSP improvement we are seeing so far is a very noticeable increase in affection. SSP works partly by stimulating our social engagement systems.
Amy has always been an affectionate dog but she is now so much more so.
With Maggie, who was my heart companion for over 15 years, during the night I would reach over and pet her occasionally whenever I woke up. Maggie always enjoyed this and Amy sometimes has but a lot of the time it has felt like she was simply tolerating it and sometimes would even move away.
Now, however, not only does she enjoy it - snuggling into me - but she actively is seeking out cuddles much more often, both during the day and during the night.
She is right now listening to the third hour of SSP - I can't wait to see how her journey continues to unfold over the next several weeks. :)
I always said that I wished so much that I could have helped Maggie with SSP from the very beginning - Maggie was always anxious aggressive and very bark-y and demanding and, as much as I loved her to pieces, she would have been a much more enjoyable and much happier dog if I had been able to help her amygdala to settle earlier on in her life.
I feel so very blessed and privileged to now have that chance with Amy. If her slight fearfulness and significant sound sensitivity settles for her, she will be the absolutely perfect dog.