Week two back at the homestead is coming to a close and I have to say it’s been good. Irish and I are settling in and I can’t express how proud of her I am – with two very emotionally taxing exceptions – both of which involve the Houdini hound escaping her lead and romping off across the lawns ONTO THE ROAD after some dog walking by. Running in slippers across the neighbours snowy lawns at 9:30 at night yelling her name must have the neighbours wondering about my lil’sis’ crazy sister. First time she didn’t get too far and I just dragged her back and ignored her. Second time I was soooo exasperated and out of breath I dragged her home and threw her into the downstairs bathroom for an hour. Grrrr. Oh man you have no idea the restraint it took not to beat the pooch back into the stone age. But I didn’t, I don’t ever hit her. I always give her a “time-out” as my sister called it. The duration based on the offence. In pack thinking, the canines who don’t follow the rules are ostracized so this is really the only form of punishment that gets the point across.
I don’t really know exactly how she does it, but this romping off at night thing happened twice at the cottage. It was one thing when it happened during the day, but this getting off her lead at night has to stop. My sister lives just outside town on the main street into town. It’s very busy with cars and trucks…or as busy as a town this size can get. Busy enough for many a dog to have been hit over the years. My little ol’heart can not take more sorrow. If anything happened to her, I don’t know what I would do.
She is so good 99.9% of the time. Irish is just naturally submissive and therefore very obedient and easy to train. I can’t take credit since it’s just her nature to be good. Even the whole underwear on and off thing has gone better than I expected. I mean the indignity of it all for her is enough to make me feel bad. At the cottage we just had those old tired wooden floors and no carpets and her heat cycle was just not an issue – dogs generally after the first cycle take care of it themselves. Here with the white carpets on the stairs and all upstairs gives my sister kittens. AND, somehow Irish has figured out how to step out of her undies…so often in the morning we find them abandoned somewhere. Clever dog. Too clever.
At the vet yesterday I talked to them about separation anxiety. We were in for her shots and I was getting a quote from them on having her spayed. You see I haven’t worked since when she arrived on our doorstep two years ago as Tim was on Disability Assistance and I was his caregiver. Therefore she has not been used to me going off everyday. SO they gave me some literature and some really good information. The Vet Tech actually just moved 3 months ago into a new apartment and I guess her dog went through a HUGE separation anxiety bout…so her experience was very valuable and both her and the Vet were very helpful. Irish has not exhibited strong anxiety yet, but she follows me around a lot more than she has in the past. When I finally move into a new place in London this will be the second move to a strange place in less than two months and I want to make it as easy for Irish as I can. For my sake as much as hers.
A few signs your dog may show if they are under stress:
- Excessive barking
- Inappropriate urination and defecation
- Whimpering and whining
- Hiding, trembling
- Excessive greeting on your return
- All activities focused around you
So here are a few pointers:
1. Ignore the dog both when you are leaving and when you come home. Do not acknowledge them because this cues them that you are leaving and causes their anxiety levels to rise. Ignoring them helps them to understand its no big deal and you’re leaving is nothing they should be worried about. Irish used to be really good at the whole leaving and home thing and often wouldn’t even bother to get up when we got home. After Tim died she would greet me at the door…and she is doing that here at the house now when my sister comes home even though I have been here with her all day. I’m going to start this training now I think because I see now she is exhibiting the early signs and I’ve missed them. Or, ignored them because quite frankly I get as anxious at leaving her as she has at me leaving. I wish sometimes I could carry her everywhere around in my purse 😉 .
2. Mix up the routine when you’re leaving. Fool them, grab your keys, put your coat on, than sit down for a while. Do this every so often so that they don’t associate these actions with leaving. Whatever routine you have, mix it up.
3. Kong Blues filled with peanut butter or cheese are great distractions. Have one for them to enjoy before you leave so that they are distracted with the nummy good treat.
4. The final suggestion they made is something I had not heard of previously called D.A.P or Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It’s a collar they wear full-time which lets off the chemical, pheromones, that their mother released when they were puppies. Cool eh?
So if you think your dog is expressing these behaviours, talk to your vet as they will know your dog best and can recommend perhaps other techniques that they feel may be suited to your poochie pal.
I’ve had dogs and grew up around them my entire life. Although that by no means makes me any expert…as Ms. Irish so succinctly has a tendency to point out. I know that it is going to take alot of discipline on both our parts to get through this successfully. I’m so glad I spoke to the Vet about this because I by no means know everything and sometimes I guess our egos get in the way of us learning new things.
I see maybe that this experience may just help me in ways I had not imagined. Our poochie pals have a tendency to teach us, which in turn makes us better versions of ourselves. I will need to be disciplined over the next few months as we move once again, settle in and get to know a whole new abode and all the many things that go along with that.
Discipline isn’t about showing a dog who’s boss; it’s about taking responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world. Cesar Millan