|Animal Radio® Audio Newsletter October 2013|
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Animal Radio® Show #721
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Animal Radio® Show #719
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...and of course, the Animal Radio® Dream Team is answering your pet questions.
Do Dogs Dream?
Is My Friend's Dog Gay?
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Jim: I inherited two dogs a year ago from my aging parents: a 10 yr. old Lhasa and a 9 yr. old Shitzu. Both are males and are adorable pets. However, we have noticed "pee" odor indoors for a long time and even caught the Lhasa marking in a couple of areas where my mother-in-law's male Poodle was caught marking before. The Lhasa urinates outside but continues to mark (a few drops) when he thinks we're not looking. Of course, when we've caught him we immediately say "no" and have placed him outside for a while. We've steam-cleaned the areas numerous times, and even sprayed "anti-peeing" products on the area; however, we still note the odor and even some urine residue on the areas periodically. What to do? Any suggestions? We have no reason to believe the Shitzu is doing this. We've never seen him do any suspicious behavior.
Doctor Debbie: There are a couple of missing pieces of information for answering your pee problem, but I'll mention several points that might be helpful.
Let me know if you have any follow up questions or info!
Ron: I rescued Toby (a now 13 year old English Cocker Spaniel) from the SPCA 4 years ago. He was previously owned by a woman who had another dog (who I understand he was close to); but, she had to give them up when she went into a nursing home. I brought him home to our other cocker spaniel, Romeo, who was 2 years older than him. They forged a beautiful bond together. Romeo passed away in May. Since then Toby has been distraught when left alone. I used to crate the dogs when we were out and at night. I also gated them in the kitchen area at all times. Since May, Toby wants to constantly be with one of us, especially me. He will follow me around the house wherever I go, always at my feet. Because of his insistence in this, I have allowed him more freedom and have trusted in him to not create a mess in the house. I have taken the gates down and allowed him to roam through the house when we are home, even at night. The only time he is contained anymore is when no one is at home; I then crate him.
No matter how much I get him to relieve himself before crating him, if we are away for any length of time he will soil the cage and then run around in the cage, which creates tiny little pieces of bowel movement inside and outside the cage, as well as on the bars of the cage on all sides. I believe he is so upset by being left alone in there that he barks constantly and gets himself worked up trying to get out. Yesterday he actually managed to do this twice, once overnight while I was away and then once while I was at work in the afternoon (even though I was home for lunch). He is generally the most very sweet, affectionate, loving dog and is a wonderful companion. He does get very nervous with men or loud noises, especially thunder/lightning. You would not believe how bad these messes are that he creates in the cage. I have to wash all the bedding and his paws, clean up the tiny pieces of dried poo from the floor, walls and bars of the cage, and clean
Alan Kabel: It's interesting that you used to give the dog good structure and when the one dog passed you removed part of the structure thinking that you were being nice. In reality you removed structure at a time where the dog needed it most. Structure, rules, strong leadership is what it takes to help a dog with anxiety, fear, excitement. Of course, making sure there is nothing physically wrong with a vet visit is where you begin. Then once you've eliminated that you are ready to move on to solutions.
Your dog is very anxious. Change is difficult for dogs. Moving, bringing a baby home, even getting new furniture can really send an insecure dog into hysterics. The problem gets exacerbated when people attempt to apply human emotions and needs to the solution. What a person wants to do is usually the exact opposite of what is needed. Emotions cloud the mind.
You feel bad, guilty because you know how you would feel if you suffered a loss but the truth is your dog doesn't know why you let him wander the house. Your dog doesn't know why you feel bad for him or guilty. He only sees weakness coming from you, not strong consistent leadership. Dogs feel loss but they move on quickly because the wonder of dog is that he lives in the moment. People do not. They agonize and their emotions get in the way of being great dog leaders. Dogs need leadership from people but they need you to lead them like a dog would lead them not the way a human would lead them.
First things first. You've got to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Evaluate your state of mind every time you deal with your dog. Are you calm, mellow, confident or are you worried, feeling bad for your dog, anticipating the worst will happen because if you think the worst will happen it usually will. All of these thoughts make you weak and weakness makes anxious dogs a lot worse. He needs you to be a strong, confident, consistent, fair leader. Stop talking to him, start acting with him. He doesn't talk. He doesn't understand what you are saying besides, good dog or sit. Your sentences mean nothing to him, baby talk, all of it.
It is just a reaction he has learned to get. I'm sure it's a big whoop Dee do when he goes in the crate. That along with anxiety is probably why he does it. He gets a reaction from you, he gets attention. When you give a dog attention even negative attention when they do the wrong thing they continue doing the wrong thing. You only give dogs attention when they are doing the right thing. What is the right thing? They are laying calm in their spot or in their crate.
So make sure you play with the dog 30 minutes each day to really tire him out good.
Then, Immediately start feeding him in his crate with the door open. Put treats in there throughout the day, toys he likes. Say good dog when he goes in. Nonchalant, NO TALKING. Just calmly like it is no big deal feed him in there and place treats in their throughout the day. (Put the gate back where it was and stop giving him run of the house too). Stay in his sight for a while (More below)
Then the next day or over time when he goes in there, close the crate gate and leave him in there for about 10-15 minutes. Open the gate say good boy and give him a treat (if he was quite in there) Do not let him out if he is making noise, only when he is quite. Don't leave the room for a while (maybe a week if you can do this. If all you have is the weekend Make sure he sees you until the end of Saturday)
Then over time, lengthen the amount of time you leave him in there while you are home but begin leaving the room for 5 minutes. Slowly over time lengthen the time you leave the room.
Then begin going outside for a few minutes. Lengthening the time over time (On Sunday). Praise him for being calm and quite, never for being excited. Do not pay attention to him or talk to him, pet him when he is excited. ONLY when calm and quite.
Make sure he is on a regular schedule for going out to the bathroom. Praise him for going, Good dog, No parade.
Bring him in and place a treat in the crate.
What you are doing, over time is changing the association he has with the kennel from bad place to good place and teaching him that he is OK without you around and that you are coming back. You are leading when you do these things. Giving affection and attention at the right time in the right way is critical. If a dog is afraid of thunder you take him for a fun, quiet calm, walk during the storm to lead, show him you are not afraid so he doesn't need to be and change the association form bad to good. It may take several times but it works.
If he makes a mess in the crate again, say nothing. Do not clean it in front of him and do not clean him right away. Put him outside where he can't see you and clean the crate. Then clean him but no talking, no big event. If he is excited do not touch him, do not talk to him until he gets calm. Turn your back on him. When you make a move to touch him if he starts to get excited withdraw quickly. Just stand up.
You are teaching him over time that he will not get attention of any kind unless he is calm. Then you pet him slowly calmly and say good dog. If you are excited when you pet him he will be excited. Do not let other people get him excited or pet him like nuts with baby talk.
When you leave the house remember the crate is a trigger. He knows you are leaving when you crate him so that is why it is important to begin crating him while at home. You eliminate the trigger but look for other triggers like putting on a coat or picking up your purse. To eliminate those put on your coat every now and again and go no where. In general you must begin looking at your dog not with human eyes, but with dog eyes.
Look for any trigger you may be pulling that makes him anxious and eliminate them like I described above.
Make coming and going a NON event. When you place the dog in the crate (and do it at various times before you leave not right before you leave. Maybe 30 minutes before one time, 15 minutes another, 60 minutes another) do not talk to him or say goodbye when you leave. Do not talk to him or let him out for at least 15 minutes when you come home. Then immediately take him out to go. Take him out to go before you place him in the crate to leave but not immediately before every time or you create another trigger. You can take him out and place him in the crate with a treat when you are not leaving so he doesn't associate going out and the crate with you leaving. You prevent the trigger.
Make sure you leave the house first, you enter the house first. Lead him
In general you are satisfying your dogs needs by doing these things. Most people think that by doing these things they are being cold, unfeeling. They are thinking and seeing human, not dog.
Dogs need. Socialization, Structure and exercise, then affection given at the right time in the right way last. This is how you give a dog the gift of a calm, happy well balanced life. You lead, you set the dog up for success and you reward. When you scold it only teaches the dog how to get attention by doing what you don't want. Give attention only when the dog does what you do want. Remember. Do not feel guilty because your dog doesn't understand it, doesn't know what you know. Dogs, even the smartest ones, think like 2 year olds. Remember this.
Complex human thoughts and feelings mean nothing to them. They live in the moment and they need leadership just like if they were living in the wild. They are born with the pack mentality, protecting the pack, survival. If the pack has no clear leader it makes them nuts because they feel they need to lead and they are not prepared to do it, they are not strong enough. This creates lots of anxiety. You leaving creates lots of anxiety because in the dog world the leader very rarely gives pack members permission to leave the pack. Only to hunt. When you leave you are doing it without his permission. When you give him run of the house, your space, he sees weakness. In the pack the members do not enter the leaders space.
He sees himself as your leader because you are weak. In the wild he would never be the pack leader. There can be only one. Very few dogs are equipped to lead so when humans inadvertently force them too you get anxious, fearful, excited dogs.
When you begin to give your dog what he needs, leadership, you will see his anxiety melt away, maybe not totally, but much of it will disappear.
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