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Old 05-18-2009, 01:36 PM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Default Barking all day when left alone

Hello all,

This is my first post about questions regarding separation anxiety and my boyfriend's dog, Dookie.

Under normal circumstances, Dookie is very nervous. When people come to visit, she urinates on the floor (we're not sure if this is nervous or subservient behavior), she snaps at other dogs when they approach her (she does not allow them to sniff her at all) and any type of change in scenery or routine is enough to through this poor insecure girl into a loop.

Unfortunately, this dog has been through alot in her lifetime- she's a rescue, plus she had to go through a divorce where she stayed with my boyfriend and her canine companion went with the x wife. So, she's really not used to beign alone.

Anyway, she started destroying things about 7 months after the divorce when left alone so we had to crate train her (I had just come in the picture- I'm not a home wrecker I swear! LOL). She has a bad habit of getting into cabinets and trash and chewing anything she can find.

Now, though she is safe in her crate (as oposed to being able to potentially get sick of something the chewed on in our absence) she barks literally all day when we are gone.

We know this because we've been told, and also we've come home during random times only to hear her barking from all the way outside of the house.

Since I've read in previous posts that the phermone wall plug ins don't work, is the next step medicine? Like anti anxiety meds?

We've though about using bark collars, but I really hate doing that. For one, I think that she would ignore a citronella collar, which leaves a shock collar, and I think those are cruel.

Are they as cruel as I think? I don't want her to associate being in the crate with being shocked.

Any input is very, very welcome.
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:57 PM
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Romy Romy is offline
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Personally I would exhaust other options before a bark collar, mainly because she is so insecure.

Does she get any toys in her crate? Treats to chew? How long is she crated for?

You might try a product called Rescue Remedy. It's sold in health food stores for people, but works well with dogs. It's an herbal anti anxiety blend. The nice thing is it helps with the anxiety, but it's not a sedative.

The piddling is an appeasement behavior, our puppy does it too. It is something that needs to be ignored and eventually it will go away as the dog gains confidence. Charlie is getting much better about piddling, he does it a lot less frequently. What we have found works in the meantime, to save our floor, is to take him out and give him a back massage. This triggers a giant piddle, and we just keep doing it until he's empty. Then he's safe for about an hour, lol. Lately, he doesn't even piddle then, so he's getting more confident.

You can help her be more confident overall by doing short little training sessions with her. Just do 5 minutes at a time, and ask her to do things you know she does well. Give her spiffy treats, or a lot of nice attention when she performs well and end it on a positive note.

When guests visit they can give her really good treats, like little pieces of cheese or hotdog, whatever it is she likes best.

For crate barking, we cover Charlie's crate with a heavy blanket to make it dark inside. We also make sure he's exhausted when he goes in for more than 20 minutes, so that he's more likely to rest instead of fret and bark.
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Old 05-18-2009, 03:31 PM
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My puppymill/petstore bitch was a submissive and excited peerer. Took till she was just over 2 to have enough confidence that she stopped submissive urination. The excited went away shortly after.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:14 PM
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How old is she and do you know what her breed(s) is/are?

Sounds like she's a very nervous girl and being alone is a very frightening thing for her. I absolutely would not use a shock collar in this case, it will make things worse instead of better. She mightn't bark anymore, but her anxiety will come out in other, possibly more destructive ways.

Work on establishing a set routine. Do the same thing at the same time everyday for her, make sure she's tired when she goes into her crate, use the Rescue Remedy and/or Comfort Zone (comes in a spray for blankets or a plug-in. I find the spray to be more effective). Give her a frozen stuffed Kong (there just was a thread on good stuffing recipes on here) right before you leave. Leave the TV or radio on low, so there's some "homey" background noises.

Also, take a couple steps back in crate training. Put her in there like you're going to leave for work or the day or whatever it is, but come back before she starts barking. This might be as quickly as shutting the door, scraping the key on it like you're locking it and then coming right back in and praising for her being quiet. Gradually increase the time to the 20 or 30 minute mark or so. After that, most dogs lose track of time and 30 minutes is about the same as 3 hours. If they're not going to do something by 30 minutes, they typically won't. There are exceptions, but that seems to be the general rule of thumb. I had to do this for my foster Lab--she had been ruined on crating by her previous home (kept in there too long and learned how to break out of a couple different crates) but she's a horrible counter-surfer/raider. I couldn't leave her alone for a literal minute at first and had to invest a lot of time in building her tolerance, just so I could go down and get my mail without her trashing something in the 5 minutes I was gone. It took a LONG time but it was worth it.

If you are able, find a good positive behaviorist in your area and work on building her confidence. Sounds like she's got quite a few fear issues to work through and confidence building exercises will be a great thing for her. A confident dog typically doesn't see the need to get all worked up/fearful/snappy, making for a more relaxed household overall.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:45 PM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Hi everybody,

thanks for the great replies. They are much appreciated.

As for Dookie, here are stats:

6 years old

Female

black and white spayed Pit bull mix

Boyfriend has had her for 5 years, she was rescued at 1 year

Her issues have existed from the moment she was brought home, and have remained the same

She is well trained: she knows sit, stay, laydown, and paw. She sits before every meal.

She probably doesn't get walked as much as she should. I'm in school full time and I work full time, so that has to be my boyfriend's job. I encourage him to be more active with her.

The BF was recently divorced (as in about a year ago or so)- the x wife took one dog and my BF took the other, so Dookie spent 4 years with a canine friend and was not ever alone. Now, she is totally alone during the day.

We had to crate train this dog at 6 years, due to the fact that she started destroying things as her anxiety grew. One day she ate some christmas/chanukkah (we're a bicultural couple) decorations off the table and at that point we were like, "Ok, we have to crate her for her own safety"

I have read Patricia McConnell and jean donaldson and ian dunbar, but I'm not a behaviorist. I just have a better sense of WHY the dog behaves as she does, but I still don't know how to change the behavior.

I think a behaviorist is a good idea. Does anyone know anyone in Ohio that could assess Dookie?

Oh, and as for the crate training itself:

I have made her kongs with different recipes- liver and peanutbutter. what dog could resist that? Well, Dookie did. She's so stressed out that food has no appeal to her while she's in the crate. totally ignores it. When we got home, she devoured the kong.

We then tried a treat ball, thinking well, if we force her to work for her food, maybe she'll be more interested in eating in her crate and less focuses on being nervous, and maybe relax a bit.

Nope. Dookie only eats when we're home. So...

that leaves what...the behaviorist (I like that idea), the phermone plug ins, and prozac for dogs.

Is that pretty much on the mark?
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Old 05-19-2009, 04:25 PM
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And MUCH more exercise!! Pitties are very active dogs and a tired dog is a good dog, regardless of breed.

Look into spring poles and such (again, lots of threads on here), more walks, agility can be amazing for building confidence. Mental exercise is just as effective as physical, so teach her more commands, silly pet tricks, etc. Get her thinking and it will wear her out as well.
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:02 AM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Thank you for the great replies.

We're going to work out a better walking schedule for the dog. He'll have to do more then me...well... because A) it's his dog and B) I just am never home.

We're also going to buy the plug ins, but I don't think they work too well. It's worth a shot, I suppose.

He's also thinking about getting the dog into an obedience class. What that will do about the SA, I don't know. But, maybe like some posters said it will boost her confidance.

Again, thank you for all of the replies. The advice was great and much, much appreciated.
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:19 AM
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I would honestly go for the spray over the plug in. Spray it all over a blanket and if she's allowed to have blankets in her crate, put it in there with her. If not, lay it as close to the crate as possible. Pair it with the Rescue Remedy, these are drops you can put in her water.

Obedience will help a lot with confidence too. Make sure you're finding a class that uses positive reinforcement as well, you don't want to end up shutting down your dog, which can cause greater stress, because they learn to take every cue from you and are taught not to think for themselves. Then when you leave again, they have no idea what to do and it's stressful.
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Old 05-24-2009, 09:17 AM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Well, here is what is going on:

The boyfriend is walking the dog twice per day now, and we're going to look for the spray this week. He's also coming home from work for a little bit to work on some training exercises.

I will walk her when I have time, but I'm in school and working full time, so my free time is very limited. She belongs to the BF, and I think that your advice really helped him out.

Thanks for the advice!!!!
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