Category Archives: Behavior Information

Articles and Links… Dog Behavior

Renee PremazaPhone: 609-280-9338Email: jerseydogtrainer@gmail.com

Help You Can Give To Your Separation Anxious Dog

If you haven’t read my first article about Separation Anxiety, please read it before reading this one (scroll down this page to see it). Judging from the amount of comments, likes and shares in that article, I can see that many of you, or your friends, are dealing with this issue. I will provide as many suggestions as possible so you can, at least, get started on your own to improve your dog’s anxiety. However, I would still urge you to hire a Behavior Consultant who is very experienced working with SA, or visit with a Veterinary Behaviorist at some point to help you get as much success as possible.

It is important NOT to leave your dog alone until you are seeing some success with your teaching your dog to accept being alone. More often than not, I will recommend to clients to take their dog to a doggy daycare 2 to 3 times per week, as long as the dog gets along with other dogs. Daycare has a 2 day effect because they’re still tired the next day. Some doggy daycares can leave a dog crated (if she’s crateable!) if she doesn’t get along with other dogs, but will play with the dog or walk her periodically through the day. Of course, hiring a pet sitter to come a few times a day can also be helpful. If you have a friend or relative who would be willing to take your dog, that also would be very helpful (as long as your dog’s anxiety doesn’t involve one specific individual who leaves. If any of these suggestions would not work for you, there are still things you can do.

Purchase an Adaptil, Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffuser to help your dog feel more relaxed (aka DAP). This product is available at Amazon. Many veterinarians also recommend this product. The DAP Diffuser needs to be plugged into an open outlet that is not blocked by anything. If your dog can remain in a crate, plug the diffuser into an outlet nearby. The liquid in that diffuser will last around 30 days. Don’t neglect to have a refill on hand. The liquid will emit through your house wherever you plug it in. I love this product! However, if you have a pet rabbit or bird, you cannot use this.

I have discovered FREE music choreographed specifically for dogs with SA to help them relax or sleep. The music can play for as long as 10-15 hours (please avoid leaving your dog alone for that long — EVER!). You can download this music to your TV, computer or phone. Sometimes, I’ll play this music just because I like it too. However, you need to play this music randomly throughout the day when you are home. You don’t want your dog to think the music means  You’re Leaving!

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcasa&p=calming+music+for+dogs+with+separation+anxiety#id=1&vid=862f1927fa965c00febf50ca145649a4&action=click 

Teach your dog to wear a Thundershirt. I call this “Hug Therapy.” Thundershirts are available at several retail stores (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Petsmart, Petco, or www.thundershirt.com). The thundershirt is guaranteed and you can return it within 30 days for a full refund!

There are some good calming treats available. Give the recommended amount to your dogs at least an hour prior to your leaving your house. If you have a pet sitter come during the day, ask to give your dog another one before leaving. When going to these companies, type in the names of these items into their search boxes:

  • Zesty Paws, Calming Bites – Available at http://www.amazon.com
  • VetriSCIENCE, Composure Pro – Available at http://www.amazon.com
  • Bach Flower Essences, Pet Rescue Remedy – Available at: http://www.entirelypets.com

Make sure to give your dog some mentally stimulating activities to keep him occupied so she’s not thinking about being alone all day long. Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep at least 3 frozen-filled Kongs in your freezer all the time. Freezing Kongs makes it more of a challenge for the dog to lick all the goodies out of it. I suggest soft mixtures like peanut butter, yogurt, cream cheese, or banana. Mix whatever soft food you’re putting in with chunked up bits of healthy biscuits (never Milkbone!! – not healthy), fruits or veggies, or left-over kibble.
  • Provide your dog with a Kong Wobbler. This is a wonderful food-release toy that your dog must push around in order to get treats or kibble to come out of a hole that’s on the side of it. Teach your dog what to do with it and get all excited when encouraging him/her to interact with it.
  • Hide treats around the house in little containers. Put them just slightly underneath your furniture, in the kitchen just underneath your oven or sink. Hide treats in corners and areas that she has to work in order to get them. I like hiding a couple treats in cardboard boxes (remove all staples) and scattering those boxes around in rooms where dogs are allowed to be.
  • Take one or two pieces of your laundry and fold some treats in them. It will comfort the dog to have something of your scent while hunting for treats.
  • Have you heard of a Snuffle Mat? Check that out at www.amazon.com. It’s  kind of a new thing. It’s a mat with tons of folds in it to hide kibble and treats to keep your dog busy hunting for a long time. If you purchase this, make sure to see how he uses it before leaving him alone with it.
  • If your dog loves to shred newspapers, then let him have newspapers you’ve already read, to shred when she’s alone. All you’d have to do when you come home is throw the papers out.

Here’s what I definitely do not want you to do:

  • Never punish your dog! I realize how difficult it is to come home and see destruction, or pee and poop on your floors. But… your dog is already suffering from anxiety. Punishment creates more anxiety! When you leave, he finds things to do (like destruction) to occupy herself until you come home.  Peeing and pooping in the house is not spitework. It happens because she is stressed to the max!
  • If you just rescued a dog, or if you just brought home a new puppy, do not make a big deal when you leave your house or when you return home. It may sound cruel, but when my dog sees me coming home, it actually takes him a minute or two to come greet me! It’s a calm greeting! I just tell him, “you be a good boy” when I leave, and “hi buddy” when I come home. That’s it! Believe it or not, some of my clients are so used to acting woeful when leaving and excited when returning, it is harder for the humans to change that habit than the dog getting used to its human’s new greeting routine!
  • Again, if you just rescued a dog, do not allow him to sleep in your bed for at least a year! Separation anxiety is very common with shelter dogs. They’ve already lost a home or two. Sleeping in your bed will only make him feel more dependent on being close to you. Don’t add fuel to a possible fire!

I have some referrals for you if your dog is suffering from this emotional disorder:

  • If your dog’s SA is severe (a lot of damage to the structure of your house, poop all over walls and ceilings, dog is escaping the crate and injuring himself, broken glass where dog has attempted to escape), you must see either your own veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist. A dog that’s showing severe SA will likely need to be put on medication. However, don’t think meds are going to be a cure! Medication will help your dog to be able to learn better when doing behavior modification training. If you live anywhere near Mount Laurel, contact Dr. Shana Gilbert-Gregory at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. The address is 220 Mount Laurel Road, Mount Laurel, NJ. Call (856) 234-7626 for an appointment. She also makes house calls.
  • If your dog is struggling with SA, but some of his behaviors are causing him to become injured, I can also recommend a certified SA trainer, and can work with you either by phone or remotely using Skype. Her name is Leslie Wiesler. You can contact her on Facebook by typing in her name and messaging her.
  • I also work with dogs that suffer from SA. When speaking with me on the phone I can often determine whether or not you first need to speak to your vet or to Dr. Gilbert-Gregory before doing behavior modification: (609) 280-9338.

I hope these suggestions are helpful in making your dogs feel less anxious! But there is more work to be done…

 

Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety is one of the most complicated behavioral issues dogs can develop. Separation Anxiety (SA) is an emotional disorder. Dogs are such social beings, and when we bring them into our homes and expect them to be alone for up to 8 hours, 5 days a week, it can sometimes be very taxing on them. To make things worse, we don’t realize our dog is suffering from anxiety because we’re too quick to get angry at them for making a huge mess in our house. People come home from work and discover their dog has eliminated in the crate, or all over the house. People are shocked to see their dog ripped into the pillows of their sofa and chairs and there is pillow-stuffing all over the house. Dogs with SA commonly chew the walls and woodwork around windows and doorways! Some dogs are so anxious to escape their crates, they will actually break their teeth trying to escape through the wires of it, or they will chew a hole in the airline-carrier crate to get out. Dogs with SA can bark or whine for hours throughout the day causing the neighbors to complain.

Many of my clients exclaim “My dog knew he did wrong because when I told him he was bad, he looked guilty. She cowered and ran behind the sofa!” NOOOooo! Dogs do not feel guilt! Cowering and running away is an attempt to escape your anger. Reprimanding only increases the anxiety. This can happen over and over again, but the dog only continues its destruction and elimination.

Let me give you a few reasons dogs develop SA so you’ll have a better understanding of how this disorder can happen:

  • You are a teacher and are home all summer. You figure this would be a great time to get a puppy because you’d have plenty of time to spend with her. Then… you go back to work in the fall.
  • Your teenage daughter always takes your dog for a walk and plays with him when she gets home from school. She’s graduated from high school and just left for college. Your dog is alone now for several additional hours until you come home.
  • Grandpop has lived with you and your family for many years. Your little dog loves him and spends hours sitting on his lap everyday. Sadly, Grandpop passes away.
  • You and your family move to a new home. You spend a week getting settled in and then go back to work. When you return home, you’re shocked to see the dog has chewed all around the wall and woodwork of the front door and insulation is exposed.
  • You adopt a beautiful dog from the shelter and spend a 3-day weekend with her. On Monday… you go back to work.
  • You purchase 2 littermate puppies and are so impressed with how close they are. You make sure to put them both in the same crate, and they are together 24/7. Sometime later one of the dogs needs to go to the vet, and the other dog winds up having a major panic attack! The same thing can happen when adopting 2 shelter or rescue dogs at the same time. They can bond and their over-the-top closeness is encouraged.
  • Shelter dogs commonly develop SA!

I will follow-up with another article offering some ideas to help dogs suffering from Separation Anxiety.

 

 

Littermate Syndrome

So… you want a new puppy. You look for breeders, you research online and you see pictures of the most adorable puppies being offered, you see a picture of a pup and you’re all excited to go see it. The breeder brings out your puppy of choice, along with a litter-mate. These pups are the last to be sold. Breeder tells you how attached the two puppies are, and it would be really sad to separate them. Your heart melts and you return home with two dogs.

You place both pups into one crate. When feeding the puppies, you put their food into a single bowl for both of them to eat. You allow them to be together all day and love to see the strong attachment they have toward each other.

Around the age of 4 1/2 to 5 months, you begin to notice the puppies are squabbling with each other. One puppy is always trying to steal the other one’s chew toys. That same puppy gets very upset when his sibling is getting attention from the humans in the house. When eating their meals, that same puppy will not allow his sibling to approach the bowl until he’s finished eating. One day your two loving dogs are having more serious fights, even when they’re in the crate! Suddenly you realize you need help from a professional.

One of the puppies has become a bully, and his sibling has no self-confidence at all. “Littermate Syndrome” is very common! If you think your own dogs are suffering from this you should read this article:

Littermate Syndrome: The risky downside to raising sibling puppies

A Message About Christmas Puppies

For those of you who are planning to purchase puppies this season, please give this idea a lot of thought before you make that final decision. Puppies are a lot of work! Ask yourself if you will have the time to devote to this new baby in order to get him housetrained properly. Will you be able to take him for potty breaks every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes throughout everyday? If you are planning to keep puppy in a crate for 8 hours every weekday while you’re at work, your puppy will not be able to hold his water or bowels for that long. Puppies have a bladder the size of a pea! He may wind up soiling his crate and get very upset about having to sleep in a mess. Puppies that are crated for too long will not become emotionally stable dogs! They need both mental and physical stimulation every single day. So… all that being said, will you be able to provide your beautiful new puppy with all of his needs during this very hectic time of the year? Please think carefully about this before impulsively getting a puppy.

Puppies need to be thoroughly socialized. They need to meet 100 people by the time they are 12 weeks old! They need to meet other puppies and dogs of different colors, sizes and breeds too. Puppies need to be exposed to everything in their environment that they will experience in their life by 12 weeks of age. Will you have the time to devote to getting your pup sufficiently socialized throughout this holiday season? Most people would have to answer, “No.”

Sadly, June of every year is a month when shelters begin to fill up with adolescent dogs. These surrendered animals were the puppies purchased during the holiday season. People surrender their dogs at this age because (1) they are now showing shy, fearful and aggressive behaviors due to insufficient socialization, (2) they have not been completely housetrained because nobody took the time to get the dog out often enough for potty training, and (3) the novelty has now worn off for the children to whom these puppies were given as Christmas presents.

Puppies are living, breathing creatures. They have special needs just like human infants. Please think carefully whether bringing a puppy into your home during this holiday season is an appropriate decision to make for you and your family. A better choice might be to wait until spring when the weather is warmer and you won’t have to worry about housetraining your puppy during a snow storm. Also, you’ll have more time to research the breed that will be best for your lifestyle.

©2010 Renee Premaza

A Message from an Aggressive Dog

Dear Humans,

For some reason, my humans have decided to tie me up outside everyday on a chain for hours and hours. Everyday I feel lonely and isolated. While I’m tied out on this chain, I watch as the world passes by. I see children playing and running around. Sometimes children throw sticks at me, but there’s nothing I can do to protect myself from them. They scream at me and tease me by coming close and then running away. Sometimes I watch people walking their dogs. Other times I see dogs pass by without any humans. They try to get near me. I get nervous and growl and bark at them so they’ll go away. Everytime I try to run and sniff someone or run toward another dog, the chain holds me back. I get a sharp pain in my neck. Ouch! That hurts a lot! It makes me very angry and frustrated. Now I don’t like children and I don’t like other dogs because they make this pain happen. I am getting angrier with people. I am living a miserable existence.

I wish my family would let me come inside with them. I want to be with the rest of my pack, and not out here so isolated. I wish my family would take me for walks and play with me. I want to be with them. Why did they bring me here in the first place? If I am a problem, they should have me trained. I want to do the right thing, but I need to be shown what I’m supposed to do. They punish me instead. I am a dog and do not think like humans. I do not speak English. I speak “Doglish.”

Today I bit a child who came too close to me! The police were here to talk to my family. They said a judge may say I have to die! Please don’t let this happen to your dogs! Please, please don’t tie your dogs out on a chain.