Virginia Hoffman, a dog behavioral consultant who also works out of New York, could be described as a sort of "Super Nanny" for pets. She comes to the clients home to try to get to the root of behavioral problems.
Hoffman, who has mixed feelings about "puppy Prozac," suggests that it's overprescribed. She hates the idea of owners going to the sort of vet who just doles out prescriptions like business cards, especially if they are not told that the key to maximum effectiveness is for the owner to work on behavioral modification in conjunction with the medication.
"Sometimes we rush to the drugs," she says. "It's the last thing I will go to if people have worked diligently [at exploring other options] ," says Hoffman, who adds that she's seen dogs get very lethargic and withdrawn. It's generally a matter of dosage or of that particular drug not being suited to the dog's chemistry.
Quora, a 16-pound Chihuahua mix that veterinarian Becker calls "the canine cocktail" or "the hairy hand grenade" spent her formative years in a cage in someone's backyard before being adopted. She had issues.
She delighted in tearing apart favorite shoes including Becker's Sorrels and his mothers bedroom slippers. She would urinate in the house and hypersalivate. Unlike with their other two dogs, food puzzles, exercise and play time didn't help.
Eventually, he says, they decided to try Reconcile, a chewable antidepressant for dogs. She's been on it for about six month, he says, but they noticed a difference within a week. "She's still vibrant but not as bipolar," he says. "No more super highs and super lows. She seems more content."
And now that her shoe fetish has dissipated, the Beckers no longer call her "Imelda Marcos."