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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28931
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My coat Russel has an obsession with the top of a timber

Customer Question

My long coat jack Russel has an obsession with the top of a timber retainer wall that the neighbours fence shares. He will stand outside for hours in -2 degree cold waiting to be placed on the wall. When I lift him up he spends 3 minutes walking up n down then jumps off.. I only have a small yard and he is walked every day for at least half hour. I've tried giving him access to the wall but he still waits for me... I think he's lost his marbles... Any ideas??
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We can rule out Clyde's losing his marbles because he's otherwise normal. He does sound to be obsessive-compulsive, however. I have advanced training in canine behavior and am pleased to discuss his behavior with you.

Ideally, whatever Clyde is looking for should be removed but I understand that this can be difficult because that something can be a small animal on the other side of the retaining wall or activity by your neighbors that you can't control. It's important to note, too, that treatment for such behavior may only be necessary if it poses a health risk to Clyde. Standing outside in such cold weather might pose such a risk and so restricting his access (rather than encouraging it by lifting him up and thus reinforcing his undesirable behavior) to the top of the wall would be prudent. In fact, treatment for most compulsive disorders involves a program of interaction and stimulation for Clyde. The goal is to avoid situations of conflict and anxiety and to motivate him to perform acceptable activities that are enjoyable and incompatible with the undesirable. This might entail much longer walks and more intensive command training - regular interactive activities with you and other pets so that Clyde's time on his own is spent settled and sleeping. Providing toys and chew products should keep Clyde occupied and contented when you're not around. If he's sufficiently food-motivated, toys that are stuffed or coated with food and food or treats that have been frozen can provide extended interest and play. Dogs that are more motivated by chewing should be provided with durable and appealing chew toys while those that prefer to explore could be given a variety of novel toys - with or without food - strategically placed throughout the home. Occasionally, the introduction of another pet can provide additional social companionship and a playmate for a dog when you're not available.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Hi Zeb,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Clyde. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin