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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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I'm writing about my sweet Otis - a one and a half year old,

Customer Question

I'm writing about my sweet Otis - a one and a half year old, neutered, 7.5 pound male Chihuahua - Otis. I got him at 5.5 months of age from a woman who bought him from the original breeder as a potential show dog. But his tail was too long and she wanted to place him as a pet.
So he was cared for but never really loved or allowed to bond with anyone. He was timid and scared and quite sick - intestinal issues - when I took him home. The first couple of months were mostly about trying to get him healthy. Now he is - no more issues and a normal weight - good appetite.
The problem is his anxiety or (what seem to me) his irrational fears. I have my own business - work at home mostly - but must travel sometimes to teach art classes. He goes with me as often as possible. While with me - he's just great - goofy and playful - and a great little friend. I love him so much . He wants to stick with me - but is good with others - never aggressive or mean at all - he seems to love to travel with me and enjoys my groups. I have dedicated myself to having him with me and bonding for about 6 solid months in a row.
Sometimes however, I have to travel without him. He stays here at home - with a friend. She loves him and he gets along great with her too. No real issues I know of.
But when I come home - after trips of a week or so - he loses it. (This has happened 3 times since I've had him) . He barks at me and is clearly afraid. It's as if he does not know me . This lasts a few minutes to an hour. I don't push or crowd him - just talk gently to him from a distance and then sit on the sofa quietly. Eventually he always comes around - jumps up - and is eventually licking my face off. But very insecure.
That he does not seem to recognize me is really disturbing. He carries on like he does with no one else - only me.... As if he's angry - confused - scared - and as if I am about to hurt him - which I never would or could do. Never even raised my voice with him.
Maybe it's just how it is. My vet has run every test you could think of. Nothing . But I'm at my wits end trying to think what else I could do to make him trust me. I was working in Europe for almost 2 weeks - got back yesterday and this happened. Today he is fine - and getting better - but still a bit tentative .
Sorry for the long story - but thanks so much - Tom
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible.....

Have you had dogs in the past?

Are you able to do some training classes with him?

How much exercise does Otis get?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I had another Chihuahua . We lost him two years ago at 13 years
Training classes? Yes if needed
Otis gets a long run/ walk every morning and afternoon
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Great. Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

It sounds to me like Otis may be dealing with a little anxiety based on his history of being given up when he was a puppy. It sounds very much to me like he is very bonded to you, and when you go away, it confuses him. When you get back he's working through that anxiety.

There are a couple over-the-counter products that you could try that reduce anxiety in dogs:

Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.

Try a DAP collar. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

If this were me, I'd actually use the collar. It's good for 30 days, so you can put it on him when you leave town, and he wears it while you're gone and when you get back. It should help take the edge off.

I hope this helps.