Posts Tagged ‘separation anxiety’

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Destructive Behavior

March 13, 2014

Puppy biting shoe

As you may have suspected from my previous post, I am taking a bit of a break from blogging in order to spend time with my mom. So what I have here is a great and informative article written by Helen Cole:

It’s normal for dogs to chew, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When chewing becomes destructive, however, you must control the behavior to keep your pet safe and your belongings intact. Learn more about why your dog chews to prevent this inappropriate use of teeth:

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Reasons for Destructive Chewing and How to Prevent It

Dogs chew for a variety of reasons. Puppies do so while they are teething to relieve pain and help adult teeth break through, according to the Humane Society of the U.S. By providing your puppy with an appropriate chew toy, you help her feel better while also teaching what what is appropriate to chew. Anytime her teeth get too close to a furniture leg or other off-limits item, interrupt with a loud noise, such as a clap, then offer an appropriate toy and provide praise when she takes it.

Kong offers a line of chew toys for puppies. They feature soft rubber and are freezable to provide numbing relief. You can find these products at pet supply stores.

A poorly trained puppy can grow into a destructive chewer. That being said, certain circumstances can cause even a well-trained adult dog to chew. They include:

  • Medical issue — A poor diet or intestinal parasite can lead to pica, an abnormal desire to eat substances not normally eaten, which can be mistaken for inappropriate chewing, veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn points out. She also states that gastrointestinal problems can cause nausea, which can trigger chewing as a way to cope. She recommends seeing your vet to rule out such issues.
  • Separation anxiety — If, in addition to destructive chewing, your dog whines, barks, paces and forgets his housetraining when you are away, the cause may be separation anxiety, according to the ASPCA. The organization offers a lengthy description of this behavioral problem as well as ways to deal with it.
  • Boredom — If you rule out a medical issue and separation anxiety, simple boredom could be the cause. Try upping the physical and mental stimulation you give your animal. Add another walk to your daily routine or hit the dog park for off-leash play with other dogs. Food and treat puzzle toys engage a dog’s mind. Nina Ottosson toys, for example, require your dog to use his mind — plus nose and paw — to get a treat.

No matter the reason for destructive chewing, you must control both your dog’s behavior and access to items you don’t want chewed. Move what you can out of reach and spray taste deterrent on what you can’t, such as furniture. Crate your dog when you cannot provide supervision.

If you catch inappropriate chewing in the act, the Humane Society recommends the same actions as given for puppies. Never punish after the fact, as your dog cannot associate the correction with something done even a few minutes ago.

A Separate Issue: Fabric Sucking and Licking

If your dog doesn’t chew but instead sucks and licks on your fabric furniture, the above advice works as well. Instead of using a taste deterrent spray, which could stain the fabric, invest in removable covers for your furniture., for example, sells machine-washable futon covers that are easily replaced.

Back to me, Dawn. I have been lucky these past several years in that I’ve had very little problems with Maya and Pierson chewing on things they are not supposed to. The last time I had issues with a chewing dog was with Sephi in 2002 when the little devil dog chewed up all my bibles! What are some crazy experiences you’ve had with your dog chewing?

DOGTV May Help Some Dogs with Separation Anxiety

December 13, 2013

Does your dog watch TV?

Someone shared an interesting and very informative article with me, so I thought I would pass it on:

Nothing is worse than leaving for work or to run errands, only to be mournfully followed to the door by my dog’s heartbreaking puppy-dog eyes pleading for me to stay. Saying goodbye to my pup even for a few hours may be hard on me, but more importantly, and as other dog owners would agree, we worry about how hard it is on them.

According to the AAHA, about 10 to 15 percent of dogs experience some sort of separation anxiety. Unfortunately, when pets feel abandoned they may lash out by misbehaving, whether it’s peeing in the house, chewing on furniture, or partaking in other forms of destruction, or even just barking incessantly.

There have been previous attempts at aiding separation anxiety in dogs, including the Thundershirt, calming collars and simple training methods. Now, a recent digital option to help these anxious pups has appeared in the form of a new DirecTV channel, DOGTV. The channel was created by a group of leading dog experts, including scientist Prof. Nicholas Dodman and dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, and broadcasts 24/7 programming scientifically designed for dogs.

But what does “scientifically designed for dogs” really mean? The main features seem to be that the programs are color-adjusted for dogs’ eyes, and feature 3-6 minute segments meant to relax, stimulate and expose dogs to situations familiar to them from everyday life. It all sounds great in theory, but many owners will still question is if DOGTV actually works.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has stated that any relaxation and stimulation for pets is good, but has also cautioned that dog television may not work for every dog. There may be critics of DOGTV — pet owners who say it has no effect on their pets, that dogs won’t be interested in the visuals TV can present, or that their dogs simply bark at the screen. However, a poll taken by the American Kennel Club revealed that 60 percent of dog owners said their dog watched TV for short periods of time fairly often. So, if the channel can help relieve even some dogs who suffer with separation anxiety and boredom behavior, you may find, like me, that DOGTV is worth investing in.

As absurd as TV for dogs might sound, I must admit that my own dog, Oliver, seems to love it. I already knew he was intrigued by the television — whenever I turned on a movie, he stared at the screen until the movie finished, as though he was truly interested in what he saw. So I tested out DOGTV, and although I don’t have a camera to monitor his activities when I am not there, I believe the television shows distracted and/or entertained him enough to stop chewing my pillows. It provides him with the mental stimulation that I cannot give him while away at work, when he gets tired of sleeping and starts looking for something to entertain him. Instead of just looking out the window each day and then eating a pillow, Oliver has something to keep his attention and calm him down.

So, for pet owners who spend the majority of the day out of the home, and for dogs who suffer with separation anxiety, DOGTV may just be the solution to help not only keep your pet calm and entertained, but also your home in order and your favorite pair of shoes safe. I would suggest reading up on the science behind the new channel and the opinions of experts before investing in DOGTV yourself, but I think overall that the new channel is a great idea.

(The above was written by someone else. I have not used DOGTV for Maya and Pierson, but I can see how it could be helpful for some dogs. I’ve seen studies of how music can sooth a dog, so why not TV? It has sound too, plus visual stimulation. When I worked at a boarding kennel years ago, we had special “rooms” with TVs that dog’s parents could pay extra for. Some of our customers were certain the TV helped soothe their dog because the TV was on for them every day whenever they went to work. I imagine the voice of Rachael Ray and the voices of the characters on soap operas provided a familiar comfort for these dogs when their parents were out of town for several days.)

What do you think of the idea of DOGTV?

My Stray Dog’s 4th Month Anniversary of Having a Home

May 5, 2012


Pierson is wishing it would stop raining so he can go outside and play.


I read an article recently about how some people stay away from shelter dogs because they believed that shelter dogs come with issues. True, some may. But don’t store-bought puppies come with issues too? I find it difficult to understand how people could think that a puppy is going to be easier to handle than a shelter dog. Any new pet could present a challenge. Whether you buy or adopt, it will take effort to overcome those challenges.

But this article isn’t just about shelter dogs. It is about my dog Pierson’s 4th month anniversary in his new home. Pierson never made it to a shelter. He had lived as a stray dog for nearly a month, possibly more, before I caught him and took him home. Read his story by clicking HERE.

But Pierson is a good example because he came with a lot of issues and yet has turned into a fantastic dog. (Type pierson in the search field to read about some of his issues.) His issues included separation anxiety, chewing, hated the crate, severe shyness, fear, aggression with male dogs, scared of the leash, digging, eating my other dog’s poop, going into parts of the house which were off limits, putting his paws on the counter, and jumping.

A lot, right? But after just 4 months, most of these issues have been resolved or are being managed. Plus, he is very smart, super-sweet, and funny. Here is an update of his issues:

– Separation Anxiety – Resolved
– Chewing – Resolved.
– Crate Training – Resolved in a way. On the 2nd night in the crate Pierson fought so hard to get out that he actually escaped. The next day, he had a severe bloody nose and cost me $850 at the emergency hospital. So since he has never had an accident in the house and we were able to manage the chewing issue until it was resolved, I decided it wasn’t necessary to crate train him.
– Severe Shyness and Fear – Resolved. Pierson’s breed tends to make him wary of strangers, noises, and objects. But he completely trusts me now so he is nowhere near as shy or afraid as he used to be.
– Aggression with Male Dogs – Managed. I don’t take Pierson to the dog park and keep him away from other dogs. I will be working with a trainer to help him get these issues resolved.
– Scared of the Leash – Resolved. It took less than a week of practice to leash-train Pierson.
– Digging – Managed. I buried the holes he dug with rocks and watch him closely when he is outside.
– Eating Poop – Managed. Instead of picking up the yard once a week, I watch the dogs closely when they are outside and pick up their poo immediately.
– Going into Off-Limit Areas – Resolved.
– Getting on the Counter – Resolved.
– Jumping – Managing. Ever since Pierson got more comfortable, he has picked up the habit of jumping on us excitedly when we get home. Training is in progress and he is getting better.

It seems as though my stray dog came an overwhelming number of issues. Why would anyone want a stray dog if they have to deal with all of this? But as you can see, most of Pierson’s issues were resolved or managed within a very short time. I can promise you that a puppy would take a lot longer.

In conclusion, any new pet is likely to present some challenges. How long it takes to overcome them depends on both the dog and YOU. If you want a dog without issues, then be sure you take the time and make the effort to help your new dog overcome those issues. Don’t blame it on the shelter. Pierson may have taken a lot of time and patience, but he’s worth it. If I had the negative attitude about shelters and strays, I would have missed out on having the perfect dog.

Dog Training Follow-up with My New Dog Pierson

March 3, 2012

Pierson Outside Enjoying the Falling Snow

On January 10, 2012, we got a new dog. Pierson has been featured in many of my blog posts recently. There is the story of, “How We Got Our Dog Pierson“. Then there are several stories about some behavior issues we have been encountering. Dog training for Pierson has been super-easy and his behavior issues are relatively minor. The two month anniversary of Pierson being a part of our family is almost here. So here is a follow-up on how he has been doing.

Integration into the Family
Pierson and my other dog Maya get along great. They play together and sometimes even sleep together. Pierson loves affection. He enjoys praise and trains well with either treats or praise. He is attentive during training and eager to please.

Crate Training
Pierson hated the crate and busted out on the second night. On the third day he had a really bad bloody nose and had to be taken to the emergency vet. We never figured out what caused the bloody nose but I suspect it might have been caused by him using his nose to push open the crate. Since he has never once messed inside the house and sleeps through the night without trouble, I decided to skip crate training.

Basic Training
Pierson is very good at taking direction. He quickly learned which parts of the house are off-limits. He learned his name in less than 10 days, sit in 10 days, walk on a leash in 15 days, down in less than 30 days, and stay and come are almost mastered. Once he gets really good at those last two, I will start teaching him fetch and other tricks. He is also good about getting his nails clipped, teeth brushed, and hair combed.

Follow-up from article, “How to Keep Your Dog from Chewing” – Pierson has chewed up a library book, a rug, the leg of a wooden chair, a potted plant, and occasionally tried to chew the plastic dog food bowls. When I catch him chewing something he is not supposed to, I tell him no in a very firm voice, give him one of his toys, and praise him when he chews his own toy. I even purchased some Bitter Apple to spray on the kitchen rug and chair leg. These two methods are working very well. I am happy to say that it has been over a week since he has chewed something he is not supposed to.

Separation Anxiety
Follow-up from article, “Heading Off Separation Anxiety in My Dog” – Pierson’s separation anxiety seems to be under control. According to my roommates, he barks for a few moments after I leave, but settles down quickly. When I come home, I don’t find any evidence of nervous habits like chewing or scratching at the door. The only time he gets really upset is if I leave with Maya. So, I will need to work on that and occasionally leave with her to get him used to her coming and going, just like he has gotten used to it with the other household members.

Follow-up from article – “Socializing My New Dog” – Overall, this is going very well. Pierson’s nervousness around new people is less evident. He can still get frightened over unfamiliar loud noises, but he seems to handle it well. But he is showing aggression towards other male dogs. I discovered this when I was working on socialization at the dog park. Someone told me that it could be because I am keeping him on a leash. See, when dogs get scared their instincts are ‘fight or flight’. The theory is since Pierson is on a leash, flight is impossible so he resorts to fight-mode. But I can’t take him off a leash at the dog park until I know he will come when he is called. Plus, I don’t want to risk him attacking another dog. I am in touch with a professional dog trainer who is happy to help me with this issue.

The day before yesterday, a friend of mine and I took Pierson with us as we shopped in downtown Lawrence, KS. Pierson did very well. He was startled a few times by loud noises, but had no serious fear issues. He did very well when people wanted to pet him. He even did well in the few shops we visited which allowed Pierson to come in too. And he did well at an outdoor cafe while my friend and I ate lunch. It was a great day.

It may seem like Pierson has a lot of issues. But his issues are no different than most new pets. Pierson has learned a lot in the past couple of months. It is obvious that he is very intelligent. If you are training a new dog, remember that dogs learn at different paces just like people do. So long as you take the time and are consistent in training, your dog will learn his basic commands and boundaries just like Pierson has. Some behavior issues may take a little longer, but time and consistency will help with them too.

(note regarding above photo – Pierson is now an inside dog, but he still loves to be outside. I sometimes have to bribe him to be inside with the rest of the family.)

Heading Off Separation Anxiety in My Dog

February 11, 2012

As you may know from previous posts, I have a new dog. Pierson is a Border Collie and/or Australian Shepherd mix who was rescued from a park where he had been living as a stray. He has fit very well into our home, but as the days go by we are seeing some problems develop. One of those issues in my dog is separation anxiety.

From what I understand about the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd is that because these dog breeds have such a close affinity with their owner, they tend to get distressed when they are away from them for any length of time. Since I work at home, I am around my dog all the time. So obviously my dog has drawn close to me. And now, whenever I leave, I hear him whine desperately after I shut the door.

Now that I have observed this separation anxiety issue, I need to address it. But how? Separation anxiety is not always easy to fix. Right now, all he does is whine. But it could get worse. His anxiety could lead to destructive behavior. It could even lead to health problems. The best thing I can do is try to head it off before it gets any worse. And by doing that, I can help my dog eventually overcome his separation anxiety issues.

Leave Home for Short Intervals
Now that I know Pierson has separation anxiety, I need to practice leaving him at home alone more often. Since I am home most of the time, this is actually rather easy. All I have to do is go outside for a few moments, then come back in. Sometimes I go to run errands which means I am gone longer than a few minutes. By varying the time that I am gone, I am hoping to help him understand two things:  1) Although I am leaving, I am coming back, and 2) I could only be gone a short time so no need to worry.

Leave Quietly
With Sephi and Maya, I would pet them for a few moments before I left. Since they didn’t have any separation anxiety issues, this was not a big deal for them. But it seems that it could be a big deal for Pierson. So now whenever I leave, I do it quietly. No hugs, no kisses, and no petting. I just leave my dogs and ignore them if they follow me to the door. By leaving quietly, I am showing my dog Pierson that me leaving is not a big deal.

Whenever I come home, I completely ignore my dogs for the first few minutes. Although I used to enjoy coming home and having my dogs jump all over me excitedly, I know that by reacting to it I am encouraging the separation anxiety. By ignoring my dogs for a short time, I am showing them that there is no major difference between me being home and me not being home.

This is my first experience with having a dog with separation anxiety issues. As of this date, I have only had my dog Pierson one month and one day. Only time, patience, and consistency will tell if I am able to head off my dog’s separation anxiety. If you have any additional tips, please share them with me. I’d really like to prevent my dog from developing severe separation anxiety.