Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
When Tender loving care is not enough The Cure Part 3
I continue with the case of the badly abused dog in Canada where a caring lady is trying to retrain a dog that people believed did not have a chance and suggested putting the dog to sleep. The dog feared men in baseball caps, going down stairs to the cellar and because of her kindness was beginning to show signs of separations anxiety.
Yes, the problem is now of course separation anxiety. He is destroying things. It started the day before I arrived home with small things and he has now graduated to my couch. I am at work tomorrow and then I’m off until Monday. I must have to leave him outside tomorrow while I'm at work. As it is now turning much colder, this is not a long-term option. I don't believe dogs belong outside all the time. If you have time, would you be kind enough to let me know what the best steps to take are for him or could I use the same training as any other dog. For this I mean, leaving in the house for short periods alone, then extending times alone teaching him I will always be back while limiting attention given both before leaving and upon returning.
At this point, I sent to her my article 92 on Preventing Separation Anxiety and said that dogs often prefer to be outside than locked up in a home even when it is cold. I also confirmed that leaving the dog for short periods then gradually increasing the time she leaves him on his own.
Thank you for the quick response with your article. I have read it over twice. I understand and recognize the third and most common type as what is happening.
The third type is where the dog misinterprets the owners’ actions and it becomes unable to function by itself without the presents of its owners. It has become terrified of the owners leaving it alone.
After some soul searching and the help of your article of course, I now recognize what I have been doing wrong. I will correct myself on these (responding to his demands without realizing that even negative feedback is still feedback).
He has been sleeping in my room at night. He started in a kennel in the room and has graduated to just his blanket, no kennel. Do you think I should restart him by making him sleep in a different room? Possibly, I should bring out the kennel again.
Another thing I realized is that when I am not home, my other dog goes into the basement and sleeps. Captain is afraid of the stairs refusing to go down them; therefore, he is alone upstairs. Do you suppose I need to keep the two apart occasionally in order to build his confidence at being alone?
In the meantime, I am going to correct MY behaviour. (Shame on me).
She now realised she had to keep the dog out of her bedroom and to teach him the word OUT so he knew he must stay outside by command without the need of a closed door. I confirmed that there is no problem in letting the dogs remain together and she should try feeding them both in the cellar.
My next suggestion was for the stairs and should practice on all sorts of stairs using a command. Other methods she could use were to play games like throwing a ball down the stairs for him to fetch or even playing the chase me game. The most important point was she should not pander to the dogs fear but be assertive and act in a happy manner to instil confidence in the dog.
You must be a mind reader! I couldn't wait to email you. I have finally had success with getting Captain down the basement stairs! Last night, I decided to try something just a bit different, as nothing else would work. I put a short hand leash on him and walked him around the main floor, then headed for the stairs. He locked all four wheels and dropped to the ground, but I maintained my 'happy' voice and continued to move toward them. He decided to follow (I did not have to pull) and he went down the stairs. Granted you would have thought I was killing him from the screaming and whining, but he continued to move on his own. I kept coaxing him and telling him what a good boy he was and when we at the bottom and I made a rather embarrassing display (hee hee) of how proud I was. Believe me I didn't mind! I brought him back upstairs, waited 10 minutes, and tried again. It was easier and he only whimpered twice going down. Once again, praise until he couldn't take it anymore. Third time - he followed me down - cautiously - on his own with no whimpering! And now (I think I've created a monster, ha ha) when he wants attention, he goes down the stairs, comes up making as much noise as he can, runs directly to me, sticks his face in mine and you can just see in his eyes "Hey mom, did you see what I did all by myself!" It is simply hilarious. He did this for an hour! I'm simply bursting with pride at his latest accomplishment.
The bedroom - one night of whimpering and that was it. Even then, it was only occasional. I left him out with another dog for 2 nights, and then when the dog went home, he was on his own. He has no problem! He is rather excited when morning comes so I did, as you suggested - no attention until he settles - and he is great. It is amazing to see how this dog’s confidence has grown. He is quite the 'man' now.
The separation anxiety in turn has also calmed down. I have not left him in the house while I work, but have gone shopping, to the mail etc. and all is well when I return. Another success! Thanks to you of course. I never would have gotten him this far without your help. You have taught me so much I could never begin to repay you. Not only has the dog’s confidence grown, so has mine.
Of yes, I almost forgot. The baseball caps - perfect! I scattered them around the house, his pen, sleeping area, food area and he doesn't give them a second glance now. Anyone can come in with a cap and all he wants is to say Hi! Isn't that fantastic?
I have not had to use the compressed air (surprisingly enough). He listens to my voice immediately without cowering unless I am too loud. I am learning to settle my voice down.
Currently, I am not having any other issues with him at all. I realize that things will come up and I will deal with them one by one, but overall things could not get any better - ALL BECAUSE OF YOU! Thank you, thank you, thank you. The behaviourist here told me that the dog would have to be put down, that he couldn't be fixed. Thank God, I didn't believe him. I do expect he may backslide once in awhile and really hope it doesn't happen. I know there are things done to him by the previous owner that I'm not aware of yet. I will continue to watch him closely.
This is not actually the conclusion as you may have noticed the lady must only use a soft quiet voice that possibly relates to his previous owners abuse. Possibly the owner was very loud at shouting at the dog or within his family. Unfortunately the world is a noisy place particularly where children are concerned so next week I will go through ways to solve this problem.