Tag - Dog

How to Teach Your Dog to be Calm

Does your dog have an anxiety problem? Does your pet seem unusually nervous, jumpy or agitated? If you’re at a complete loss, looking for answers wherever you can find them, don’t worry! The basic guidelines listed below will help you well on your way to a calmer pet!

Step One: Identify the Cause
Before you can even begin to properly treat any unwanted dog behavior, whether it be anxiety or something else, you’ll need to figure out the ‘why’. What exactly is causing your pet to feel the way he does? What changed in his environment? Once these questions are answered, you’ll have a much easier time treating the problem without fumbling around in the dark.

Step Two: Exercise
In most cases, hyperactivity is simply a result of too much energy. If a dog isn’t given an outlet for that energy, he can become destructive, run ‘zoomies’ around your house, or perform a number of other unwanted behaviors. For example, Siberian Huskies, a breed with a near unlimited energy level, have been known to dig holes, jump fences or even become a threat to other small animals if not exercised.

Take walks
Work on agility training
Play fetch, hide & seek, or tracking games
Visit the dog park
Invite other dogs over for a play date
Consider obedience/dog/puppy classes
Provide plenty of interesting toys to play with.

Step Three: Behavioral Training
Ignore attention seeking behavior. For example, if your dog jumps on visiting company, he is seeking acknowledgement from them. One of the best ways to cope with that particular type of behavior isn’t to correct the dog, but to turn your back to him, completely ignoring the pup and pretending he isn’t there. If you don’t acknowledge him, eventually he’ll learn his attention seeking behavior isn’t working.

Counter Conditioning & Positive Reinforcement
Teaching skills like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ can be rewarded with something the dog enjoys, like treats. If your pup doesn’t like to sit still, try offering an incentive!

Keep Emotions in Check
Dogs judge a situation by the reactions of their human owners constantly, almost certainly more than you think. Yelling, frequent crying or other excess displays of emotion serve only to increase your pet’s anxiety.

Eliminate Distractions
A loud, busy environment with loads of noisy kids running around, crowds of people, or other animals playing, for example, will make it all the more difficult to calm your pet. It is much easier to keep your furry one calm in a calm situation. The same rule applies with dog training in general, and is valued by most professional trainers.
Step Four: Seek Medical Attention
Sometimes, a dog’s anxiety level becomes so extreme, he is at risk for harming himself or others. If nothing else seems to work, you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian, and discuss the need for an accredited animal behaviorist.

If it is a medical issue causing your pup’s strange behavior, your vet can help. The might even prescribe mood altering medications for your pet, in order to calm the animal and prevent injury.

Q&A: How do I stop my dog from peeing in the house?

I have a 9-month-old corgi (Yuki) and she was well-potty trained when she was staying with my boyfriend. She pees and poops in a designated area and pees on command every time. She rarely goes out as she’s still a puppy so she mostly pees indoors. Recently, she has come to stay with me and my parents love her so much that they bring her to potty outside at least twice a day. Initially she would pee on command on the pee tray but gradually she has stopped listening to me. She would still pee at home but she wouldn’t pee in the pee tray anymore. She will either pee in her playpen or in the kitchen when nobody is looking. How can I re-train her to pee on the pee tray again? I want to maintain the habit that she poops outside but I also want her to know that if she ever feels the need to pee/poop, she still can do so at home but only on the pee tray. I have tried not bringing her out so that she will pee at home but she just held her pee till we bring her out in the night. Help! What should I do?~Jane

Hello Jane and Yuki! I am pretty sure I can help you here.

You must have trained Yuki by offering some sort of incentive for eliminating in the designated areas. Yuki eventually learned ‘If I relieve myself here, it makes my owner happy, or I will get something. If I go somewhere else outside of the designated area, I won’t be rewarded or my owner will become upset/won’t be happy.’ Hence, your Corgi would go out of her way for what she perceived as a reward.

This regular routine changed when she moved. Her environment changed. Her human ‘pack’ family members even changed. Many dogs develop anxiety due to drastic changes like this; you’re actually lucky this is the only issue!

Peeing in the playpen or kitchen: Your main problem is your dog peeing inside. You’ll have to go through potty training again, teaching her she is supposed to eliminate outside or in your ‘pee tray’, not anywhere she feels like. Don’t scold or chastise her, but keep constant supervision. This normally requires leashing your pup by your (or your parents) side so you are able to catch accidents 100% of the time, and running her outside every single time she begins to go indoors.

Set a regular, consistent bathroom schedule, and don’t alter it. When you can’t offer direct supervision, crate Yuki. Dogs will prefer not to eliminate in close confines or where they sleep. Yuki should probably begin sleeping in her crate during this potty training process.

If you want her to pee on the pee tray, you’re going to need to offer her incentive again; reward her when she does. Whenever she is about to pee, carry her directly to the pee tray. You can’t miss mistakes here, which will require her to be leashed by your side at all times.

Dogs will also prefer to eliminate in designated areas because they smell familiar. Even thorough cleanings don’t always mask the scent; change the bedding if possible.

To sum:
Offer Constant supervision
Reward desired behavior
Don’t reward mistakes, and don’t scold excessively either
Catch mistakes 100% of the time, correct by moving to desired location
Crate when you can’t have Yuki leashed by your side (if possible).
Set regular bathroom schedule; don’t deviate
Follow this advice, and I can all but guarantee your problem will resolve itself in time. With today’s busy schedules, I understand how it might seem difficult to offer constant supervision though.

Teach Your Dog to Heel in Three Easy Steps

Q&A: How to keep my dog from chasing cars when walking him?We’ve all seen the human and dog walking through the neighborhood that begs the question: who is walking whom? Either the dog is several feet ahead, excitedly straining at the leash as its owner frantically yells, “slow down!”, or the dog is lagging behind as the owner walks on, oblivious until the leash runs out of length and forces a stop.

A dog that strains at its leash or lags behind has not yet learned the all important “heel” command. While this behavior may seem cute in a curious puppy, it poses a great risk as dogs get older. Large breeds will be hard to physically control, while smaller breeds could become tangled under feet or in the extended leash length.

Ideally, a dog should walk next to its owner. A dog’s paws should be about even with the owner’s legs and feet, giving the dog room to explore visually while keeping him clearly within arm’s reach of the owner.

The good news is that whether you have a new puppy or a stubborn adult dog, you can teach your pet to heel! Teaching a dog to heel takes patience and confidence, but the reward of a relaxing and fun walk is well worth the investment!

Supplies Needed:
Basic Training Leash (not a retractable leash)
Your dog’s favorite treats
Safe, enclosed training space, such as a living room, garage, or back yard

Step One: Begin by placing the leash on the dog and commanding the dog to sit. Firmly hold the other end of the leash in your hand, and wrap the excess so the dog has enough length to comfortably move about 8 inches in front of you.

Command the dog to stand up. If he lunges forward or wanders around, have him sit again, and practice sitting / standing until he stands still and waits for the next command. Reward your dog once he’s mastered this step.

Step Two: Walk the dog in a large circle. If he steps forward, calmly call out, “Heel!” and stop walking. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and hold the leash. Gently tug on the leash to remind your dog to stay within reach and to call him back to you. Once the dog has mastered this, let the leash out a few more inches and practice again.

Step Three: Once your dog is comfortable walking beside you in a small space, move to a larger area and add some “distractions” – lawn chairs, stuffed animals, potted plants. Practice walking around these items while keeping the dog next to you. Remember, if your dog moves out of ideal position, call out, “Heel!”, go back a few steps, and try again.

Now that you’ve mastered this basic command, walks will be safer and much more enjoyable for the both of you. Head outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of your community with confidence!

Helping a Dog That is Afraid of Thunder or Fireworks

jack-russelDogs can be very afraid of loud sounds. For some owners, this is a MAJOR PROBLEM. For the dog, it can be extremely traumatic.

Most owners don’t know what to do. What usually happens is this:

1. The dog will be shaking from fear.

2. The owner will pet the dog in order to calm it down.

This rarely works. In fact, I have never seen this work! What usually happens is that the petting has the opposite effect.

While petting the dog, the owner is unwittingly nurturing insecurity in the dog. This can make him think that shaking and being scared is pleasurable to you.

There are many ways to desensitize a dog to loud sounds. In this article, I will discuss 2 simple methods. For the 1st method, you’ll need a recording of thunder and/or fireworks.

Play the recording at the lowest level possible while the dog is eating or playing with you. Every few days or a week, raise the volume one notch.

The idea is to gradually associate thunder with eating, playing and good times. If the dog starts shaking at a certain volume, do not raise the volume any higher. If this happens, continue to work with the dog at that volume or lower.

Once the dog has success with a certain volume, then it is time to move up. This method will not work on all dogs. There is no “one size fits all” solution for all dogs. Every dog is different.

Looking for a simpler approach? What if electromagnetism was causing your dog to fear thunderstorms?

Every heard of the “Storm Defender” for dogs? It’s like a cape that can help them cope. In my experience, it’s more effective than the thunder shirt. Here is a link for the Storm Defender cape for dogs.

Q&A: How to stop my dog from yapping when she’s excited

dog-jumpingI inherited an eight year old Chihuahua/Poodle mix. She has energy. She likes everyone. She gets so excited when she sees other dogs that she yaps uncontrollably. How can I train her to eliminate this behavior? ~Sally

This is a common behavior issue that many dog owners face. While there  are many people who want a dog who will bark, there are also those who don’t want them to. Barking is like so many dog behaviors, in that there is a time and a place for it to be appropriate and times for dogs to not bark. When a dog starts to bark to the point of them losing control, it’s become an inappropriate action.

To answer this question, first we need to look at some of the reasons why the dogs may react this way. All dogs have what is called a threshold when it comes to stimuli. The threshold basically is the distance the dog needs to be from stimuli to not react. Some dogs can go over threshold when they see another dog at the other end of the block, while others are calm right up until a parade and marching band goes by. Every dog’s threshold is unique, as are the stimuli that push the dog over threshold.

When a dog is pushed over threshold, they typically have three basic reactions. First reaction is to run away or flight. The second one is to try to fight it off, and the third is to freeze in hopes of becoming invisible against the scary thing.  Each dog has different stimuli that will set them off. Some react to fireworks, while others go bonkers at the sight of a rabbit. It sounds like the little dog above is stimulated by other dogs.

Your first step with this problem is to figure out how close the dog can get to  another dog before starting to bark and yap. In the beginning, it may be fairly far away, like across the park or a  few blocks away.  This will not be a problem that goes away quickly and will take lots of dedication from all members of the family. What we are looking for from the dog is a counter emotional response. Right now, her emotional response to seeing another dog is to bark uncontrollably, but we would like for her to sit and wait for the other dog to approach.

Your second step is to set up a successful interaction. Find a friend or dog trainer with a calm and collected dog. Have them hang out in a certain spot, and maybe walk around. This is where being in a park is a good thing, as they can go back and forth. Keep your dog far enough away that she does not go over threshold. It is ok if she notices the other dog. In fact, we want her to, without her barking!

You will need your dog on a leash and collar. No reason to have her on a chain collar. A flat buckle or harness are all you need. When your dog notices the other dog but does not bark, start treating her. You can use whatever kind of treats are very high value for her. Some dogs can be distracted with kibble, but most will need something better, like soft dog treats, small bites of cheese or chicken. As long as she is quiet, keep treating. Right now, the only criteria you have is quiet.

As your dog starts to look at you and not at the other dog, move her forward a bit. If she starts to bark, move back to where she was not barking. Always move her closer to the other dog during training times. The goal here is to set her up for success and not to test her limits. You can keep moving her forward and treat her for calm, quiet, desirable behavior. As she gets to where she can be closer to another dog, you can have your friend bring their dog closer and allow the other dog to sniff yours, as you treat. She is learning that being calm means good things are happening and that she still gets to meet other dogs. The only criteria to ask of your dog is that she is quiet. She doesn’t need to make eye contact or sit. Later, you can add these behaviors in when quiet becomes a default behavior for her.

If she is calm as another dog approaches, she can even be allowed to go off leash and play with the other dog, assuming this is rewarding for her. If not, treats are plenty.  It sounds like she wants to meet other dogs, but many small dogs will bark at other dogs as a defensive tactic. They actually do know how small and vulnerable they are,  but they try to intimidate other dogs to stay away.

Before you get her to this point, it is up to the handler to set her up for success. Are there times of day lots of other people and dogs are walking? Walk at a different time or take a different route. Does she sit in the window and yap? Crate her and don’t allow her to look out the window until she can handle it. Some people even have had great success with putting filmy plastic over their windows so their dogs can’t see out as well.  Finally, she may have learned this behavior out of boredom. A tired dog is a better dog, so lots of walks, training sessions and puzzle toys to help her use her mind. Dogs really do want to please, most just need to be shown how to and that there is value in doing as they are asked.

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Training

dog-biscuitsDid you know that how you feed our dog can actually affect their training? A dog’s feeding routine is one of the first questions I’ve always asked my clients about, and so many hadn’t been aware of the impact that food, and how it’s served can have on behavior and the training process. Sometimes, implementing a small change during that first visit makes a big difference very quickly. Most dogs are fed one of two ways. “Free-feeding”, or leaving a bowl of food out at all times or for several hours at a time for the dog to eat whenever they want, is one. The other is serving food at regular mealtimes. Food is offered at somewhat regular times and either eaten right away, or taken up after a certain amount of time if not eaten. For example, you feed your dog in the morning while you get ready for work, but pick it up before you leave, eaten or not. I have always recommended to my clients to feed their dogs meals, if possible, rather than free-feeding. This has several benefits.


Feeding habits should always considered in  the house training strategy. Free feeding can sabotage your new pet. Feeding regular meals will help establish a generally regular poop schedule. For puppies, that means you will have a good idea of when a big potty time is coming, before an accident happens – and setting your puppy up to succeed is the most important part of house training.


Training your dog requires motivation on your dog’s part, and it’s up to you to find out what your dog will work best for. Something your dog really, really wants, AND that you can use to your advantage. It can be anything from a bite of a treat to a tennis ball or tug toy. Whatever gets your dog excited that you can also control. Food, naturally, is a very popular motivator used for training because it’s readily available and goes over very, very well with many dogs.

But what if your dog is hard to train because she doesn’t seem to care about anything you can offer? She ignores treats and is not ball-obsessed. It seems that if you don’t leave food out, she’ll starve.  But actually, not having constant access to food should improve and encourage the development of a healthy appetite. This can really help with “only dogs”, who don’t have another dog around to “compete” with over food or toys.

When your dog looks forward to their dinner (and breakfast or lunch), mealtime becomes a fun and highly anticipated event, and you are the focus for what your dog needs and wants. Instead of the always-full “magic food bowl”, it’s YOU who brings the deliciousness. You have control of that resource and that gives you your dog’s attention. And that means more respect – and better learning!


Controlling meals also lets you easily keep an eye on how much is being consumed. If you’re trying to manage weight, portions are easier to control. If there is any change in appetite, you’ll pick up on it right away, and that can give you an early warning that your dog may be sick. And administering medication may be easier because it’s more likely to be eaten with a relished meal.

Depending on your dog’s age and specific needs, you may serve your dog as often as several times a day (puppies need more frequent meals) or as little as just once a day. Almost all dogs can benefit from meals rather than free feeding; but there are exceptions. Some dogs with medical issues and certain breeds are much more likely to experience conditions like hypoglycemia. If there is any question, ask your vet! But if your dog is okay to do so, consider feeding meals instead of free-feeding for awhile, and see what a difference it can make for you and your dog. Let me know what changes you notice!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Your Training

Q&A: How to get my dog to sleep through the night?

I have a 9-week old jack Russell x foxy and I’m having issues getting him to sleep through the night. Currently he is in a small room downstairs (can’t be upstairs with us as its all carpet) and we leave him with a puppy Kong bone, loads of toys an old shirt of my husbands and his bed plus pee pads. He has no issue going to bed he doesn’t whine when we walk upstairs however he does get upset at 3am I go down and let him out for the toilet (99% of the time he does a poo) but then when I put him back to bed he cries. We live in a townhouse and after 25mins of him howling and barking I have to go down it’s not fair on the neighbors so I end up sleeping on the lounge with him (he will sleep through until 7).

I’m not sure what to do I know you’re not meant to give in after a toilet break but I feel so bad for our neighbors at that hour. He had a set bedtime 10pm and we play with him until his very tired (usually he falls asleep around 9:45 or at least lays down not interested in play) and we feed him his dinner at 6:30.  Kate

Hello Kate and thanks for reaching out,

Your puppy is doing quite well if he only wakes up once in the night at this age! I can hear you about the whining and barking especially if you live in a close-knit neighborhood! Here’s likely what is going on. Your puppy falls asleep well at night time because you tire him out and drain his energy. Then, he wakes up in the middle of the night because he needs to go outside. This is reasonable and perfect as you want that. Then, he goes from being in your company to being alone again, and this time he’s no longer tired as before. The house is dark again, the home is silent and he wants you to come back. So he starts whining/howling/barking behavior, and since his bladder and bowels are empty, he is doing it clearly because he wants companionship. Normally, as you know, this type of barking/whining should be totally ignored. Instead, by going downstairs, you reinforce it. Who can blame you though, you are just trying to not bother the neighbors! Sounds like you need some type of compromise here. Here are some options:

Get a crate and keep him in a crate upstairs with you. With the crate he should be unlikely to have an accident as puppies normally do not like to soil where they sleep so they’ll whine and whine to get your attention so they can be taken out. After his 3AM outing, since you are nearby, he’ll likely relax and fall asleep again as he does when you sleep downstairs.

At 3AM after going outside to eliminate, you can try to play with him again and see if you can get that energy drained again as you do prior to bedtime. This can be a pain, but better 25 minutes of play time than 25 minutes of whining/barking. If you go this route, expect to do this though every single night as it becomes a deeply ingrained habit and your pup may whine at 3am even once he has better bladder/bowel control just to get to play!

At 3AM after going outside, try to leave him with a stuffed Kong that will keep him busy enough for some time until he gets tired and hopefully falls asleep.

Personally, I think the best option is the crate. Introduce the crate, make it a rewarding place to be and start using it so that you can speed up the house training process while providing him your reassuring presence. At this age, most puppies want to be around their family and they get distressed if they’re left alone. Then, as your puppy grows, you can gradually move the crate farther and farther away from your bedroom.

Or even better, since it sounds like your bedroom is on the second floor, let him stay downstairs so access to the outside is faster. When you’re on a second floor, by the time you walk downstairs, your puppy may have an accident so staying downstairs is better for easy access to the yard. Then, once your puppy has an empty bladder/bowel, take him upstairs and let him stay in the crate until 7AM. A win-win situation for all!


Q&A: How to help former kennel dog to become active?

We just picked up a 3-year-old Golden Retriever female from a kennel who retired her from breeding. She has lived in this kennel for all of her 3 years. The problem is she is very timid and submissive to the point to where I have to literally pick her up to take her out to potty and do the same to bring her back in the house. As soon as you get close to her she lays on her stomach and will not move…even with treats. Is she damaged merchandise or is there a chance she will start coming out of her fear of her new surroundings and what can we do to help her? ~Doug

So sorry to hear your new dog is acting so fearfully! Bless your heart for opening your heart and home to this girl. If she lived in the kennel for all of her 3 years, I am assuming she must have not been socialized much and may have missed out being around people and experiencing all the sights and sounds of life outside of a kennel.

It sounds like she is intimidated and when you approach her, she freezes and just cannot function normally. When dogs are fearful, they may react this way. They may fight (act defensively), flight (run away) or give up and freeze, which sounds like your case. If you get frustrated by her behavior, things will only get worse and she will freeze even more. If the treats are not working, I am guessing that she is to a point of feeling very stressed. If she lived in a kennel for her 3 years, it could be that she never really got a chance to understand the concept of “being taken out to potty.” She likely just went in the kennel. So this is perhaps this is all new to her.

It is hard to tell if she will ever completely come out of her shell or how long it would take. I am tempted to think that eventually she will get used to the idea of going in and out of the house to potty, but there are really many things to evaluate. Here are some things to consider and options that you can try.

Many new dogs go through a period of time when they are adopted during which they are more intimidated and fearful. It may take weeks or months for new dogs to come out of their shell and behave normally.

She might be scared of being in the yard. If your yard is noisy and it exposes her to stimuli that can be overwhelming, such as other dogs in nearby yards, scary noises or traffic. If your yard is noisy or scary in any way (put yourself in her shoes being raised in a kennel most of her life) you may want to take her when things are more quiet (early morning, lunch hour, late evening).

Instead of carrying her out, try to open the door, head out and see if she’ll follow you in the yard. She may follow you if she feels lonely and vulnerable to be left alone in the house all alone. If she does come out, make sure you praise her, but do it calmly without scaring her.

Instead of carrying her back in, try to go back in the home first. She may feel vulnerable being left alone in the yard, so she’ll likely come back inside. Again, make sure you praise her when she does, but calmly so not to scare her. Carrying her in and out, may only make problems worse.

You can try enticing her with higher value treats. We’re talking about the real high value stuff, think freeze-dried liver, low sodium hot dogs, boiled chicken, some canned salmon. Don’t use the food to lure her straight out, instead, every day start feeding some near the door, then by the door with the door open, then one step out until she’s out. Baby steps!

From your description it sounds like she’s not only fearful of the yard, but her new surroundings as well. It takes time to get used to new places, new sounds, new smells especially in a dog that has likely been under socialized and perhaps never lived in a home. A DAP diffuser, may help and so may some calming aids such as a calming cap, calming treats etc.

You need to be very patient, calm and encouraging. If you get frustrated at any time, she’ll notice it and this will only cause her to become more and more intimidated and shy. Slow and steady wins the race. I hope this helps, best wishes and good luck!

Q&A: How do I keep my dog calm when home alone?

I am trying to train puppy to stay calm while being left alone. However, the room I am keeping him in has everything he needs. I have played with him in this room, he has a bed, plenty of chew toys and food and water he also has radio on. I also put an old shirt with my sent on it so he feels close to me. My concern is him getting hurt. I have been leaving him a few minutes at a time so he gets used to it. However, when he realizes he is alone he frantically keeps running in to the door. It is a hardwood door. He also will howl and whimper. What do I do?? Please help I am afraid he is going to hurt himself or have severe behavior issues. Thanks, Stephanie

Hello and thank you for reaching out.

It sounds like you are doing everything correctly and are on the right path. It’s a good idea to keep the radio on, your old shirt and safe chew toys around to keep him busy. He has his bed, food and water so everything should be fine, yet, you mention your puppy is still having trouble being left alone. Leaving him a few minutes at a time to give help him adjust to your brief absences is also the right procedure for dealing with an issue as such. So what’s left to do? There are several options that you may want to try, but as you mention, safety should be top priority. Here are a few ideas you may want to give a try:

With a puppy, you may want to not give him the full reign of the house, at least not yet. If your puppy is slamming against the door, you may want to set up a safe play pen or install a sturdy baby gate so you can confine him in a small area of the house where he can be safely confined. I am not sure of the size of your puppy, but the sturdier these enclosures, the better. You may also want to provide some sort of cushioning if he would also tend to slam against these enclosures.

When you leave for a brief period of time, make sure you do not come back when your puppy is actively howling and whimpering. Wait it out, when he stops to catch his breath, even if for a split second, make your return. If you come back every time your puppy whimpers or howls, you risk reinforcing that behavior.

I would not leave food out for the puppy to eat whenever he feels like it. I would feed him at specific times of the day. When it’s meal time, I would give the food and then leave out of sight (not out of the door yet through) for brief periods of time. Just go in another room. Alternatively, you could give him wonderful treats stuffed in a Kong and then leave the room for a handful of minutes. Ideally, your puppy should work on getting the goodies out. When he’s done, come back in the room. The goal of this is to make him associate your absence with good things.

I would also work on desensitizing him to the noise of you opening the door. Just open the door as if you’re leaving, toss a treat his way and then shut it closed. Stay inside for now. Repeat several times. As your puppy gets good at this, you can then increase criteria and start moving out of the door as you toss a treat, then toss a handful of treats and leave for split second (the time he gobbles them up) and then return. Gradually, make these absences longer, but in the midst of them, also add some brief ones so he’s not stressed knowing that you are leaving for longer and longer times.

Desensitize him to any pre- departure cues. Pre-departure cues are things you do that tell your puppy you are about to leave. Put your shoes on as if you’re about to leave, but then just sit on the couch and watch TV. Grab your keys and then go read a book. Repeat several times.

Puppies hate being alone, but boredom and anxiety is generally worse in pups who have loads of energy. Try to drain some of that energy by playing a game of fetch or going on a walk before you leave.

Start teaching your puppy to stay away from you at times. Teach him to go to his mat and enjoy a toy or long-lasting treat on it. Don’t let him follow you from to room all the time.

Finally, record your puppy’s behavior when you are out. Often the howling and whining is most tragic the first few minutes when you leave the house, then you might be surprised to see that your puppy may play or even take a nap. By recording your pup’s behavior while you are out, you can also track progress on your plan. If you continue having problems, enlist the help of a trainer so you can nip this problem in the bud before it gets too out of hand. I hope this helps, good luck!

Q&A: How do I get my dog to stop scratching stuff?

dog-training-treatsI rescued a Pomeranian chawawa mix dog that’s about 4 years old. I’ve had him for 4 months and he’s a great dog. For some reason for the last week he stated scratching at my door and carpet when I’m away. I live in an apartment so he can’t go outside when I’m gone. What made him start doing this and how can I stop it. He’s one of the best dogs I’ve ever had and I don’t want to give him up.~Lee

Hello and thank you for your question Lee,

If this behavior is exclusively happening when you are away, it could be that your dog is developing separation anxiety. This is not uncommon in dogs who are rescued. With these fellows it’s often unclear if they are surrendered by their previous owners because of this problem or if these dogs are more prone to it because of their history of being surrendered which causes a great deal of instability and a strong need to form strong social attachments with their new owners (even to the point of the attachment being dysfunctional).

Why is this behavior happening now and not in the previous 4 months? One must consider that many rescue dogs go through what trainers call a “honeymoon period” during which behavior problems aren’t apparent. During this time dogs are getting used to their new homes and settling down. It could be your dog has now realized that you are his caretaker and has started bonding with you. In some cases, separation anxiety tends to erupt when owners have been around for a while and then sudden they get a new job and they’re out more. In any case, it sounds like this is something that needs addressed. A first step would be identifying if this is truly a sign of separation anxiety of something else.

At times, what looks like separation anxiety is just a dog who is bored and trying to find ways to keep himself occupied. In these cases though, dogs are more likely to chew up items not related with departures such as remote controls and shoes and they may also chew up and scratch rugs, upholstery and couches. These dogs tend to improve if their needs for exercise and mental stimulation are met. Offering these dogs a walk prior to leaving and a few stuffed Kongs or safe toys to chew, often provides them with enough outlets for their boredom.

Dogs with separation anxiety instead focus on barriers that prevent them from reaching their owners. Their strong desire to be re-united with their owners causes them to focus their attention to doors, windows and anything close by. If the carpet is right by the door, chances are it’s part of the manifestation of anxiety your dog feels. In these dogs, providing them with walks, toys to chew etc. is often not enough as these dogs are anxious and entirely focused on the door as they’re nervously waiting for their owners to come back.

I would suggest to record your dog’s behavior next time you go out. Then when you come back, take a look at it to have an idea what your dog is doing in your absence. Dogs with separation anxiety typically, pace, whine, bark, scratch and chew at windows and doors. They also tend to drool, act restless and even eliminate indoors. Please keep in mind that this is not done out of spite of being left alone, this is a real form of anxiety. Showing the video to your vet or a trainer/behavior consultant will help confirm if you’re really dealing with a case of separation anxiety.

If that’s truly what your dog is diagnosed with, consider that there are solutions. Based on how severe it is, your vet may suggest behavior modification along with prescription drugs or behavior modification alone. May I suggest a great read? “Don’t leave me! Step-by-step help for your dog’s separation anxiety by dog trainer “Nicole Wilde.”