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Martha Windisch
Martha Windisch, Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 113
Experience:  17+ years experience as a pet dog trainer. AKC titles in obedience, tracking, field and agility.
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My dog follows me even to the bathroom. She can be sleeping ...

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My dog follows me even to the bathroom. She can be sleeping by my feet. If I get up, she instantly wakes up to follow me. She is always at the back of my feet. What does this mean and what can I do? It drives me crazy!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Martha Windisch replied 7 years ago.
Customer

How old is she?

What breed or mix is she?

Where did you get her from?

How long have you owned her?

When did this behavior start? Has it occurred ever since you have owned her?

Is she crate trained?

Do you have any gates in your house?

If you shut her outside of a room you are in, how does she react?

Where is she when you are gone? How does she react when you are gone?

Does she tend to be scared of anything?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to Martha Windisch's Post: She is 10 months old. She is Pitbull. She is spayed and current on all her shots.We got her from a family that the parents are divorcing and moving to apartments, so couldn't keep her. They had two children that Nikia (my puppy) was very good with. We have had her about a month now, and I guess minus the first week, she has done this. The previous owners gave us a crate, stating that she slept in at night. We only put her in when we both leave together. (which has only been twice.)The only gate we have per say is a metal fenced back yard. If we go to the garage to smoke, and don't take her, she will scratch on the door.She is scared of the vacuum, mop, and tonight discovered that she was afraid of loud rock music. My significant other gives her more people food than her dog food.(meat, potatoes, veggies, sugar donuts, baked beans, etc.) We tend to disagree when it comes to her. He told her "good girl!" when she barked at me coming in the house, stating that "she should bark at strangers coming in the house." He also allows her to follow him without minding it. Please help with some advice for both of us. I love her. pix of Nikia Thank you.
Expert:  Martha Windisch replied 7 years ago.
Customer

When you left her in the crate the two times you left her, any idea how she did when you were gone? I'm wondering if she was anxious and thus barked, scratched at the crate, etc. Since you were gone then, it might be hard to know how she was. You can tell by leaving a tape recorder near her. At this time I would not risk leaving her out of the crate when you leave, because if she is anxious when you are gone, she may start to comfort herself by barking and chewing things up.

It sounds to be that she may be developing separation anxiety. The signs of separation anxiety are reacting by barking, or scratching, or chewing, or having accidents due to anxiety when the owners are gone. This is quite common with dogs who have been in more than one home (shelter dogs, for example). Following you around everywhere might be a sign that she is getting anxious about you leaving her.

If the separation anxiety is not full-blown yet, to prevent separation anxiety, make "coming" and "going" a gray area. Also make "here" and "gone" a gray area. This means that when you leave you act non-chalant for at least 20 minutes prior to leaving. That means to ignore her and make leaving very low key. Do not leave after giving her a lot of attention or playing games with her. Also do not give an emotional departure when leaving. Same goes for coming back home - come in and be low key. Put your things away and go to the restroom, then take her out, but do not give much personal attention. After you have been home for around 20 minutes, then you can greet her.

Making "here" and "gone" a gray area means to sometimes place her in the crate when you are actually home. If she fusses, wait until she calms down to pay her any attention or to let her out. She needs to be able to handle being left alone and when she is following you around she is being compulsively needy.

For detailed information about separation anxiety, I highly recommend getting the following two books: "Dogs Home Alone" by Roger Abrantes and "I'll be Home Soon!" by Patricia M. McConnell, Ph.D. These are short reads, the first book is around 50 pages and the second around 37 pages. To find these books go to my web site www.PersonalizedDogTraining.com and click on the doggy marketplace at the upper left corner - this takes you to some links to sites that sell dog books.

On page 30 of Patricia McConnell's book it talks about "Teaching 'velcro' dogs to handle separation. She states, "... if your dog shadows you around the house obsessively, it can't hurt to teach him to be more comfortable when he's away from you. You can work on this when you're home by getting him used to being in another room of the house when you're home. The easiest way to do this is to give him some food that he has to work to get. Try stuffing a Kong toy or giving a Buster Cube and shutting the door between you. In the first weeks, return to him and take the toy away before he's eaten all the food, then gradually let him stay there longer and longer."

McConnell also says, "You can also teach a good solid stay - start with short stays where you remain in the room and give him treats when he is staying. Once he will stay a few minutes in the same room as you, begin to ask him to stay for just a few seconds as you leave the room and return. Work gradually and eventually he should be comfortable on a down stay for 15 minutes with you in another room.

Also, teach your dog to inhibit himself (to learn self control) with a 'pack leader' program also called "Nothing in Life is Free" program. This involves asking your dog to perform a command prior to getting anything he wants (treats, feeding, leash on or off, petting, etc).

To find an in-home dog trainer who can help you with training and behavior, check out my web site: www.PersonalizedDogTraining.com and click on the puppy manners button and then in the index, click on find a trainer. This links you to several professional dog training organizations where you can search for a trainer by your zip code.

Also, click on my web site and check out the button labeled "Socializing/Separation" for some additional information about keeping socialization and "alone training" in balance for your dog.

I hope this was helpful.

ps tell your significant other that healthy people food is not too bad, but it should not exceed 10% of your dog's diet - unless he wants to learn how to actually prepare homemade food for her and feed a balanced diet. The sugar donuts are not a good idea, nor is any fast food such as fries. Not good for us nor them! Check out my web site www.PersonalizedDogTraining.com and click on feeding to learn more about feeding a good diet.

Also, your significant other should NOT be praising her for barking when you come in the door. She should not be praised for barking at people who are supposed to come in the door. It is not a good idea to over-encourage the protective behavior. I truly believe that if the situation warrants it and someone is coming in that you really need protection from, she will bark. It's bad policy to praise her for barking at friends and family - especially with the bad rap pit bulls are getting these days. You want her to be will socialized and to take cues from you who needs to be barked at and who does not. By him encouraging her to bark at you, he is giving her the cue that family and friends need to be protected against - and that you do not want that.

Martha Windisch, Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 113
Experience: 17+ years experience as a pet dog trainer. AKC titles in obedience, tracking, field and agility.
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