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I rescued a 7 year old Shih Tzu in September whose previous…

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Hi! I rescued a...

Hi! I rescued a 7 year old Shih Tzu in September whose previous owner abandoned him at the shelter. I know he was there for about a week or two and during that time he went home with a foster family for the weekend before I adopted him. From the moment I brought him home he's clung to me. If I ever have to leave, he stays with my husband but Max does go to work with me. I occasionally need to be able to leave the him at the house alone without him freaking out. The only time I left him without a human companion, he ran around looking for me for two hours and cried the whole time. He does sleep in a crate but in the morning it's scratching hyper like to get out. Please help.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the Shih Tzu. What is the Shih Tzu's name?

Max

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Dog Training
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Answered in 3 hours by:
11/22/2017
Dog Trainer: Sally G., Animal Behaviorist replied 7 months ago
Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 10,107
Experience: Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as a service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today. It may take a few minutes for me to type a personal response or type questions regarding your situation. Your patience is very much appreciated. I am reviewing your question now.

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Dog Trainer: Sally G., Animal Behaviorist replied 7 months ago

First, I apologize that your question was not picked up sooner.

In looking at your problem it seems that the dog has separation anxiety and there are steps you will have to do to help Max overcome this.

Because you just rescued him, over time as he gets used to your schedule and can see some consistency in the home , he may get better.

Of course as a rescue , we really never learn the true history of the dog and you may over time see other idiosyncrasies down the line.

It is important to help him build some confidence in his life and not become so dependent on you and we do this through positive obedience training so he is always succeeding.

I am going to post my handout on how to handle this that I give to clients. I would try a variety of things at once, and definitely start on positive obedience, even if he knows many commands, we are actually building confidence to be alone.

Separation Anxiety

Copyright: Sally G

Generally dogs with Separation Anxiety lack self esteem and this can be due to changes in their life. Where they once felt secure they no longer dog so you need to help them to build self esteem through daily positive obedience training and the more short sessions you can do in a day the better. Through that training you want to get a good ‘down stay’, meaning the dog should not get up until a release command is given. This means you need to start training this at a close distance to the dog just a few feet at first and try to give a release command before the has time to get up as this allows the to succeed in what you have asked. The goal is to eventually be able to put the in a down stay while you move out of site. This will start the process of the dog learning to be alone. Continue training throughout the dog’s life to keep from backslides. This does not mean it has to be formal, like every day at 2:30, it means to ask for a command anytime you are with the dog and be sure the dog can succeed at giving it to you for praise or a treat. This is all to build self confidence.

I would also invest in some mind stimulating toys such as the talk to me treat ball, ( this is a ball that you can hide treats in and as the dog rolls it a recording of your voice is played) the Kong stuffed with cream cheese and frozen, the buster cube where kibble or treats are placed inside, and dog puzzles. This is all to keep her mind occupied while you are away from home. I have also found success in filling a large Gatorade bottle with the daily kibble as it lasts a long time as they try to get the food out.

You will have to change your routine a bit so the dog never really knows if you are coming or going. I would start this training on a weekend or at a time you don’t have work or any appointments and I would do it all day long. What you are going do is change your behavior which the dog has learned means you are about to leave. Whatever your routine entails prior to you normally leaving are things you want to change. This means everything from taking that morning shower before work to picking up your keys and leaving the house.

Some find it helpful to make a list of things they normally do before leaving because humans are so automated we do things that we don’t even realize, but the dog picks them up as cues.

You want to do these things all throughout the day preferable for a couple of days in a row, but never really leave the home for hours at a time.

So pick your keys up, jiggle them a little and put them down again , put your coat on walk around the house a bit and take it off, get dressed for the day then get redressed for bed. If you take a shower in the morning each day change that to a night time shower and interchange them on days you are home or away.

Do not give good byes or hellos. Do not acknowledge the dog for at least 15 minutes before you leave and after coming home. Soft talk and acknowledgement of a dog that is acting nervous is actually rewarding to that dog. When you think about training a dog, we ask for something from them, they do it, we praise them. When it comes to doggie habits, they paw our arm and we pet them, so it works because the reinforcement of petting was immediate. When you acknowledge a scared dog with petting or soft talk it is actually a reward and so the behavior continues and gets worse over time.

When training in commands to succeed I find it helpful to use the clicker (which can be found in any pet store) as it is used as a marker over the person’s voice. Sometimes when humans train strictly with their voice , their frustration comes out and the dog hears that, which then makes the dog more nervous. So clicker training is simply giving the dog a command and waiting for the dog to complete that command, they use the clicker as a market that tell the dog they did the right thing then praise & reward. Sometimes the clicker noise frightens a dog so in that instance you will want to use your voice as the marker but keep it to one word such as “Yes.” There are also clickers that make a louder sound and some that are softer so play around and see if one will work for your dog.

The clicker costs about 3 dollars in a pet store and if you cannot find a treat bag for your belt use an old fanny pack. Not quite as stylish but it worksJ For reward I prefer very small soft treats so there is nothing that can crumble to the ground when chewed. When items like biscuits are used and the fall out of the dog’s mouth to the floor it takes the dog’s attention off of you.

Items you may want to try along with training: a thunder/anxiety wrap, a DAP diffuser, ( I have heard through customers that the diffuser works better in home situations than the collar) You may want to try over the counter Melatonin but always consult your vet before using any over the counter meds. I usually use this for dogs with anxiety to noise and separation. There are also a CD’s out called Through A Dogs Ear found on Amazon that I have found helpful to my own dogs in having them rest more peaceably.

Keep in mind that a dog with a case of separation anxiety is normally attached to the owner so getting another dog to help with separation anxiety may not help the dog at all, but cause you more headaches. However I also say “never say never” especially if you have adopted an older dog because you may not know if that dog was actually attached to another animal before it came to live with you so it would not do any harm to having a family member or friend’s dog stay with your dog for a couple of days to see if it helps.

Below are sites to aid you in finding what I have mentioned above .

http://www.clickerlessons.com/

video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm

Melatonin found in drug stores by vitamins Use only if not on other meds. http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/prescription/melatonin-melatonex


In the UK http://uk.evitamins.com/melatonin

DAP Diffuser

http://www.amazon.com/Comfort-Zone-DAP-Plug-In/dp/B000J3HZWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359418808&sr=8-1&keywords=dap+diffuser

Through a dogs ear calming CD

http://www.amazon.com/Through-Dogs-Ear-Canine-Companion/dp/B003C1F1PI/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982686&sr=1-2&keywords=through+a+dogs+ear

calming music on youtube to try out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OHEB41yRdU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=89&v=joe-ePqCqWc

Anxiety wrap

http://www.amazon.com/American-Kennel-Club-Anti-Anxiety-Stress/dp/B00C3HHAPG/ref=sr_1_cc_3?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982713&sr=1-3-catcorr&keywords=anxiety+wrap

Puppy toy with heart beat.

https://www.puplife.com/products/snuggle-puppies-dog-toys?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&variant=400293629&gclid=CjwKEAjwoLfHBRD_jLW93remyAQSJABIygGptMzVh4XjKk_1fpjjA9NPelkYWG5Ef_TBhGhhgCW0XxoCJsbw_wcB

Kong these work great when stuffed with cream cheese and frozen

http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Extreme-Dog-Large-Black/dp/B0002AR0II/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982805&sr=1-1&keywords=kong+dog+toys

Buster cube

http://www.amazon.com/Buster-Food-Cube-Large-Colors/dp/B0006G54OU/ref=sr_1_2?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982864&sr=1-2&keywords=buster+cube

Dog Puzzles. If you just type in dog puzzles on amazon you will come to a page full. I just happened to pick this one . PetCo also carries dog puzzles.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dpets&field-keywords=dog+puzzles+for+large+dogs

confidence building skills - sprinkles

https://www.dog-games.co.uk/sprinkles-tm/

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Should I try locking him up in the crate, letting him have free roam of the house, or just confining him to one room?
Dog Trainer: Sally G., Animal Behaviorist replied 7 months ago

I would get him used to the crate by feeding him in there and tossing treats in there through the day to make is a nice den for him. He may sleep there well at night , but he may sense you being nearby.Do a trial run, put him in with a Kong stuffed with treats and see what happens. You may have to leave the room or house briefly to see how he handles it.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I do know he paws/scratches at the cage and cries/barks a lot to get out. What then?
Dog Trainer: Sally G., Animal Behaviorist replied 7 months ago

for that you have to wait for him to take a breath and stop then open the door. If you let him out when he is acting out , he will learn that is what he has to do to get out.

If you feel he would do better in one room with little damage then try that first, it may be less stressful.

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Dog Trainer: Sally G., Animal Behaviorist replied 7 months ago

I am just checking in to see how things are going.

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