I am a longtime volunteer at a large municipal shelter (Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, AZ). A number of years ago our shelter started using Trazodone for some of our dogs suffering from kennel stress. They also prescribe Prozac for a few dogs with more specific needs. This has really been a game changer for our dogs and the staff and volunteers who handle them.
As we continue to save more dogs who exhibit more difficult shelter behaviors we are growing our behavior program and learning how best to help the dogs who are most difficult to handle due to kennel stress. These dogs may exhibit frustration over-stimulation, jumpy-mouthy behavior, dog reactivity, barrier reactivity with potential to redirect, leash biting etc. and may require special equipment like hoods, chain leashes and basket muzzles.
Our clinic dispenses meds 2x a day but not always at the same times. For example, they may dispense as early as 6am or as late as 9am in the morning depending on workload and emergencies. We try to work with our most reactive or difficult dogs out as early as possible (doors open to volunteers at 6am) to avoid many other walkers (we don't have separate kennel areas for these dogs and not a lot of quiet places free of dog/people traffic to work with them). So the dogs are often not actively medicated when we are taking them out early and with some dogs it really makes a difference. In the evening we face the same issues. The morning dose has likely worn off and the evening meds haven't been dispensed yet. When meds aren't onboard we really see the difference in some of our highest level behavior dogs. The concern is for increased behavior issues, bite risk and the learning capability of the dog whose stress and arousal level we are trying to keep to a minimum.
For those of you with more developed behavior programs and more difficult to handle dogs, do you experience the same challenges and do you have any solutions to try to mitigate? Many thanks for your thoughts!