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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 27420
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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For the past week or two, she needs to be constantly held,

Customer Question

For the past week or two, she needs to be constantly held, doesn't want me to leave the house and once in a while shakes. She eats fine, drinks fine, seems to be eliminating fine, doesn't seem to be in pain, she is blind in one eye, her other eye looks fine, I checked. She is a 4 pound toy poodle.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Is this new behavior?
Customer: Definitly
JA: OK. The Veterinarian will know what to do. What is the toy poodle's name?
Customer: Peeka
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Peeka?
Customer: No I don't think so. I give her olive oil once a week on cheese to keep her bowels moving smooth. recommendation from the vet.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

While this must necessarily be conjecture on my part, I believe that Peeka is demonstrating separation anxiety rather than a medical disorder. Please peruse my synopsis of this behavior and let me know if you think so too...

The discussion of separation anxiety is exhaustive - lectures I've attended encompass hours on this problematic behavior alone. I can, however, give you a synopsis of its management that should be helpful. If possible it would be best if you could have a board certified animal behaviorist come to your home to better evaluate the dynamics that exist there. Her vet should be able to refer you to such a specialist or you can find one here: www.dacvb.com

Step 1) Change the relationship - Teach Peeka independence. She should not be allowed to get attention on demand. When she gets what she wants every time she nudges or whines, she is more likely to be anxious when she is alone and can't get social attention. You can give her attention when you so desire but it must always be on your terms, not Peeka's.
Step 2) Departures and predeparture cues - Departures should be kept as calm as possible. The presence of certain departure cues will typically create anxiety about an impending absence of you. Peeka should be desensitized to those cues that can't be avoided during departure. You should repeatedly pick up the car keys, open, shut , and handle the door, put on a coat or pick up a briefcase so that she habituates to these cues and they lose their strength in eliciting anxiety. Placing her in her cage, locking it in the kitchen, or opening and shutting the door are events that Peeka should be constantly exposed to when you're at home, during sit-stay and reward training sessions. Until she has been desensitized to these cues, they should be avoided whenever possible during actual departures. Putting jacket and boots on in a different room, leaving a briefcase, handbag or key in the garage, and leaving through a different door while she is otherwise occupied or distracted can greatly help reduce departure anxiety. Cues that are commonly associated with calmness, food, and your presence can be provided during departure to reduce anxiety. During departures, a TV, radio, or videotape can be left on, or Peeka can be provided with a favorite blanket to lie on. Some owners do not understand the principles of these techniques so that the dog is placed in a cage or a radio turned on only when the owner leaves, so that these cues become associated with anxiety and departure, not calmness.
Step 3) Greetings - Homecoming should be kept very low key and Peeka should be ignored until she is calm.
Step 4) Obedience - Teach "sit", "down" and "stay" commands so you can begin teaching her to tolerate being alone.
Step 5) Teach the pet to be alone - phase 1 - This phase should begin with Peeka staying for a very short period before accompanying you to various rooms throughout the home. Gradually, she should be required to stay for longer periods of time, until he will remain in another room for 30-60 minutes or more.
Step 6) Teach the pet to be alone - phase 2 - After Peeka has been desensitized to the departure cues, you should practice short mock departures. You should initially leave for a very short period of only a few seconds to a few minutes. The duration should be shorter than the time in which it takes her to show signs of anxiety. Periods can be lengthened gradually as Peeka responds without associated anxiety. The duration of departure should be lengthened on a variable schedule, so that she can't predict exactly how long you'll be gone.
Step 7) Exercise - Lots of aerobic exercise should be provided.
Step 8) Distractions - Peeka may be less anxious when he has something to do while left alone. highly stimulating toys should be provided. New chew toys, food chews (pigs' ears, rawhide) or strongly motivating food pieces hidden in the toys, such as meat or cheese may get his interest. These treats can be hidden inside toys so that they are difficult to remove, in packages that she must open, or hidden under bowls around the home. In rare situations, having another pet will provide a playmate (or distraction) for a dog.
Step 9) Confinement - May result in increased anxiety unless Peeka is already accustomed to confinement. Acclimating a pet to confinement should be done gradually. If this is not practical, anxiolytic medication (benzodiazepines, TCAs, SSRIs, buspirone) or D.A.P. may be useful.
Step 10) Punishment - Punishment should be avoided as should any other treatment modality that might cause anxiety.
Step 11) Hormones/Drugs - Dog appeasing Hormone (D.A.P.) may reduce anxiety, especially in primary hyperattachment disorders. Tricyclic antidepressants such as clomipramine (Clomicalm from his vet) are a good choice for chronic anxiety problems and have proven efficacy in clinical trials. Fluoxetine or other SSRIs may be an effective alternative. Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and clorazepate may also be useful for immediate control of severely affected pets, especially those that have panic attacks. Other drugs such as barbiturates, propranolol, buspirone, and phenothiazines may also be helpful adjuncts to behavioral therapy techniques. However, on their own, they are rarely successful for treating severely affected pets.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
could be, but I also have boo the pomeranian. but boo is 12 and not looking so good, I wonder if she senses boos coming to the end of life soon.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

That's an interesting consideration. There's little question that dogs are able to perceive illness. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin