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We have two dogs. Opie a 3 year old lab/shepherd mix and…

We have two dogs...

We have two dogs. Opie a 3 year old lab/shepherd mix and Jace a 1 year old Catalouha Leopard Dog Mix. Opie has separation anxiety and has been known to chew furniture and walls. Jace has also done his fair bit of damage, but we believe it is more boredom from the amount of energy he has. As a result we keep them confined while we are out of the house. We purchased a 4X8 outdoor kennel and set it up in our basement so they could still be kept inside. This has been fine. However, last week I took Jace to a vet appointment and left Opie home alone. Since then Opie has wanted nothing to do with the kennel. He won't go in on his own, where in the past I would find him waiting for his treat, and once in he now huddles in a corner with his hair on end.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name and age?

Opie age 3

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the dog's name?

Opie

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Opie?

We have wondered if there is a dominance issue going on between the two dogs. Opie has begun stealing/guarding toys. However in the kennel he seems to be more scared than aggressive... we have always thought of him as the more submissive of our dogs.

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Answered in 3 hours by:
3/27/2018
Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9,959
Experience: Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
Verified

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 an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today. I am working on your question now. 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 sorry your question was not picked up sooner.

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Did this just start when you left him in there alone without the other dog?

Do you know of anything going on in the neighborhood that may have spooked him/ (firetrucks, police sirens, construction etc?)

What have you tried as far a products and training to help him be alone?

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Customer reply replied 30 days ago
Avoiding the kennel and huddling in the corner seemed to start around the time I took the other dog to the vet. This was one of the only times Opie has been with out Jace since we first got him.We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood. There is an interstate nearby so we do hear sirens occasionally, but that never seemed to bother him. There hasn't been any construction in the area.As for training to leave him alone, I give them both Kong toys filled with some sort of treat. Trying to give them something to distract them. I've done several different options. Peanut butter or making ice cubes from a mixture of chicken broth and veggie puree seem to be the favorites. Until now this has seemed to be enough.We have been trying to work towards having a bed or blankets in the kennel, but these tent to get destroyed. We have also started leaving the TV on so there is some sort of noise.The dogs are currently kenneled together, which originally seemed to help with the separation anxiety (destruction nearly disappeared when confined to a single room). We figured maybe the puppy was enough company to keep him happy.

Thank you for that information. It may have seemed to get better for a while with the other dog but generally dogs with SA do not find comfort with other dogs for very long because it is the human that the dog gets anxious over. It's possible that he now knows the pen means he will be alone (with out you).

Generally there are steps with training the owner has to do to help a dog with SA learn to be by himself and it has to be done daily.

There are also other products you can try and I have them in my hand out that I will put below which explains a little more about SA.

Try some of the training and products and see if they help. If it gets more severe over time you may have to get a stronger prescription from your Vet. However, sometimes these strong drugs can cause other problems such as aggression so lets start with the simple things first:)

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/

Hemp treats should not be combined with any other medications. They should be kept out of reach in a safe place.

https://www.coloradodog.net/

More Separation Anxiety tips

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx

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Customer reply replied 30 days ago
Thanks for the tips! Luckily I have a long weekend this week to try some of this out. Hopefully, I can help him out!Do you think there are any ways to help him attribute the pen to something else? Would feeding him meals near (and maybe working towards in) the pen or casually spending time in the room help? While we would love to let them roam the house, I know it will take time and may not ever be possible.

Yes if he likes to eat feed him in there, put his kongs in there but do not close the door . When you put an animal in a place where it fears, you take away its free will and rarely does it trust you again for that. Feed him many meals (break up his daily dose) and add a little canned food in there for aroma, let him follow you to the pen, put the food there but don't close the door for now. Gradually you can start closing it for a few brief seconds then open it again and build up your time . If he likes toys, pick up a few cheap toys and put them in there when he is not aware so he actually finds fun things in there.

Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9,959
Experience: Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
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Sally G.
Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9,959
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Experience: Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator

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