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Thread: Dog training problems and related issues

  1. #11
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    Yeah, this is separation anxiety. What does she do after you leave, though? Do you come home to a trashed house, chewed stuff, "accidents"? Does she howl and bark until you come home? And what do you mean by "throws a fit"?

    This isn't a problem I've had with any dog, mostly because we rarely start with a rescue (although we have), and we just don't go anywhere that often. All the dogs would like to go with me when I go somewhere, but they all accept being told "nope, stay here and guard".

    But my second son and his wife adopted a dog with SEVERE separation anxiety issues- Tucker was so bad that two other adopters gave him back within a week. He would TRASH the house... chew walls, couch cushions, carpets. He is also a hoarder... he would steal a loaf of bread and HIDE it in a chair seat... only to be found weeks later, blue with mold! It took them about two years, but they CAN leave him now (they both work, so they don't have a choice) and not come home to a trashed house.

    For milder cases, simply desensitizing can work... going through SOME of the motions of "leaving for town"... without actually going anywhere... can work. It does take time, though. You put on your coat, grab your keys- and then go watch TV! Or carry the car keys with you (clip them to your belt loop or something), jingle them occasionally... but don't leave.

    It's also vital that you NOT make a big fuss when leaving- or when you first come home. Dogs often interpret our "excitement" as "reason to worry"... spending a lot of time "reassuring" them when you're getting ready to leave gets translated as "this is a BIG deal. I might not come back home again".

    IF the dog settles down within a few minutes of you leaving, it's not a big deal, unless she's getting worse. One thing that quite a few trainers have found really helps is having a "special" toy that you only put out when you're leaving. There are "kong" feeder cubes... specially designed to "reward" a dog which plays with them by releasing individual kibbles. Giving one to the dog JUST as you walk out the door (and then collecting it when you come home and putting it away until next time) can often distract them enough to get "over the hump" of you leaving.

    Playing a radio or leaving the TV on when you leave helps some dogs...

    Crates... crates are great for dogs which were accustomed to them from puppyhood. For adults who never were crate trained... not so much. I love a crate in the house, especially if there are kids... I've been telling the puppy buyers who have children to teach the kids that the crate is the dog's "private place" and they should be left strictly alone when they go in to lie down. Handled correctly, the dog sees it as "home" or a sanctuary.

    If a dog with separation anxiety is trashing the house, a crate may be necessary. But it's important to remember, this behavior is NOT really under the dog's control... it's a version of a panic attack, and one which hasn't ever been accustomed to a crate may go absolutely berserk if locked into a crate and left. NOT a good thing!

    Here is a good article on separation anxiety.
    http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/separation-anxiety-dogs

    One thing that I would try if I had a dog with these issues- the herb called Virginia skullcap. I've only used it on dogs a couple times- for thunderstorm phobia. But it was absolutely amazing how well it worked- we had an old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix and as she got older, she got more and more terrified of storms. She wasn't a housedog, and bringing her in the house didn't really help much... she was generally nervous about being inside, on top of the storm.

    But she was getting SO agitated that I was really afraid she'd end up getting hurt or worse (she was about 14 at the time). So I gave her a single capsule of skullcap herb. In 20 minutes- with thunder still booming and lightning flashing everywhere- she was sound asleep under the kitchen table! It was amazing...

    So I would probably try giving her skullcap (the "1 capsule" worked on a 40# dog... you could even open one and put part of it on food if necessary) an hour or so before you need to go somewhere. It *might* just dampen her adrenal responses enough to help.

    Summerthyme

  2. #12
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    is it acceptable to put the dog on a velcro wall to restrain them so as to not be able to mess the house and keep them out of trouble?
    float like a butterfly...

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  3. #13
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    is it acceptable to put a child on a velcro wall to restrain them so as to not be able to mess the house and keep them out of trouble?
    float like a butterfly...

    <img src=http://www.thetreeofliberty.com/vb/image.php?s=fd42b01563865e774f96446ef657fe33&type=sigpic&userid=769&dateline=1223824178 border=0 alt= />
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    highly functional, paranoid, tinfoiler
    currently in charge of the aluminatorium

  4. #14
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    LOL! Maybe not... but it sure is TEMPTING at times!

    I picked blueberries today... with four puppies "Helping". Every plant is covered with nylon netting... every puppy got stuck/tangled in the netting at least 6 times! Two of the little stinkers decided blueberries were good to eat... they were picking and eating them!

    Velcro sounds like a GOOD idea!

    Summerthyme

  5. #15
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    Thank you, SummerThyme.

    That helps a lot. It's mostly barking and crying when we leave, although she has ripped out several window screens and scratched up the door in an attempt to get out. She's not a chewer, thankfully. There have also been accidents waiting when we get home. We haven't punished her though, because we recognize that it's fear and not acting out. And then of course, she barks and tries to jump up when we come home, but we have been totally ignoring her, and she stops within about 30 seconds.

    I have to assume that she gets over it fairly quickly, because we have been leaving a kong stuffed with goodies, and it's usually empty when we get back. It would help if we left more often, but we we don't.

    I've made skullcap tincture, and will try it on her. Between the skullcap and the vodka, she might not even notice that we've left! Skullcap is one of my favorites, but it never occurred to me that it might work on a dog.

    And those puppies are adorable.

    Thanks again,
    Jen

  6. #16
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    The tincture should work... I'd dilute it in something (milk, or broth maybe?) as it would be awfully strong "straight". Maybe 1-2cc or so in 10 cc's of broth, squirted into her mouth? You'll have to experiment with the dosage... try it when you're going to be home and see how it affects her.

    The value of "medication" (I'll include herbs in that, because I don't really like the idea of Prozac or Valium on dogs, but I do know that SOME dogs can really benefit) is that it can "short circuit" the panic response... which then allows them to think rationally. It's basically impossible to train something that is in an utter panic... sort of like trying to reason with a preschooler who needs some sort of medical treatment. It's just not happening!!

    It might be worth "leaving more often"... even if it means just driving down the block out of sight and then sitting there and reading or surfing on a notebook or something. Start with very short "trips" (5-10 minutes) and extend them as things improve.

    The truth is, there isn't any one "one size fits all" remedy for this- or most training issues. It's the major reason I start with puppies if I have a choice... while that's not foolproof, at the least, you're not left wondering "I wonder what happened before we got him that made him so (fill in the blank)?" It's a LOT easier to prevent problems than fix them!

    Summerthyme

  7. #17
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    Huny, you can make a play tent by draping an old blanket or sheet over two chairs kitchen chairs, facing the opposite ways. Kids and dogs can generally be convinced to play in there while you get some work done. You can pin the "doors" shut with clothespins and add a toy or two.

    If you have outdoor clotheslines, you can build a similar tent with sheets/blankets and clothespins. The kids might make it into a fort, put on puppet shows through a door or "window" or otherwise occupy themselves for awhile. It comes apart quickly at the end of the day.

    Dogs will frequency play and then nap in them.

  8. #18
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    Housebreaking!!!!
    Our sweet little Miss Molly the Collie is a stubborn little girl.
    Until now, I have been of the opinion that "accidents" were the peoples' fault more often than not.
    Molly is making me wonder about this.

    She is pretty modest and likes to poop in the weeds rather than in the open when she goes outside.
    Inside, she doesn't go in the middle of the floor but under something or behind something.

    This morning, for example, I had her out for a while-15 to 20 minutes.
    We went through the weeds and I left her alone so she wouldn't get distracted by harassing the ducks and chickens.

    Just a short while after we came back in I noticed not one, not two but three piles. In the usual locations.

    After we clean up we sparay the spot with vinegar water hoping the smell will discourage her.
    Doesn't work.

    Another thing is she pees on her pillow and the old dog's pillow.
    I suspect she does that to claim it as her own.

    I crate her at night but I'm wondering if I should during the day. (I'm not a fan of crates, BTW, but they do have a purpose.
    What I may try is to crate her for a while when we come back inside if she hasn't done her business then taking her back out agin in a short while.
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

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  9. #19
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    DC, we rescued our lab puppy when her owners were going to euth her @ 3 months old b/c they couldn't afford the surgery to remove her bladder stones. It took me 6 months to get her potty trained. (she's not bright, either!)

    I took her outside q15 minutes during the day, and praised her up and down and immediately rewarded her for going potty. I did that for a good 2 weeks. Then it was 20 minutes, then 30, and so on.

    You can also try putting a bell on the door that she can reach with her nose. She'll learn to equate that ringing bell with going outside, and many dogs learn to use that as their signal that they need to go out, and ring the bell with their nose.

    I am sure there are other ways as well that others can suggest. . . .

    Good luck!
    It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. - Charles A. Beard

    In this day and age, the only path of honor for a patriot IS to become a traitor. - Miradus
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  10. #20
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    Molly is still pretty young, so a lot of that may not be deliberate. Her mother really isn't properly "house trained"... (she was sort of a rescue, and had been a crate/kennel dog almost her entire first year, so it's not really under our control). What we've noticed in Red is that she CAN "hold it"... and she KNOWS very well she's not supposed to make a mess in the house. But if we let her have access to the basement or great room, she'll HIDE it... we'll find puddles or piles in remote places, under/behind furniture, or behind the canning shelves in the basement.

    If we contain her to the kitchen and office (with doors and pet gates) she can stay in all night and NEVER make a mess. (yes, it IS frustrating... and it's why she's a barn dog!)

    If a pup is trying to hide messes, though, it may be more of a "I know this is bad, but I've REALLY gotta go!" thing... in that case, simply getting her outside more often may help. And yes, if you're going to be out for an hour or more, crate her if she's not able to be outside with you.

    I was rather amazed the other day... I brought both of the "leftover" pups in the house, because I needed to take pictures of the cattle, and they want to "help" a little too much. The job turned into a bigger one than I thought, and I didn't get back for over 2 hours. I was very surprised to not even find a puddle!

    But two hours is about the longest pups that age can "hold it". Best thing to do is express "disappointment" (not anger) to the pup when an accident happens, and immediately put her outside. And that is one big reason that crating them if you aren't around to supervise works better... you can't come back to a mess which was made anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours earlier and use it in any meaningful way to teach or discipline- it's the ACT of making the mess that needs to be caught and disciplined.

    And by all means, make sure you praise her when she DOES do her business outside in an appropriate spot! You can also train them to "go" on command, believe it or not! VERY useful for folks with limited time on their hands... they can take the dog on a brief walk, command it to "potty" (or whatever command you want.. I'd suggest NOT using something like "hurry up" or other "generic" terms unless you're SURE you don't use that particular wording normally... can you imagine having the dog in the car with you, and telling the driver to "hurry up".. if that was the "poop on command" wording!? LOL!

    Anyway, you simply use the command every time you see the dog begin to poop, and they WILL learn to associate it with the action.

    Summerthyme

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