Helping a Dog that Suffers from Separation Anxiety

Helping a Dog that Suffers from Separation Anxiety
Written on 02/12/2014 by Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA in Ask the Trainer, Front Page News
Posted by: Randi Case, DC

I get questions on how to fix separation anxiety very often. I wish there was a quick easy answer. However that is not the case. SA for a lot of dogs is so severe that they are losing all control. This leads to urination/defecation in the house, torn up walls/doors, puddles of drool etc.

Firstly, lets get some myths out of the way. When this is happening this is not your dog seeking revenge on you. Your dog is not doing this because he is mad at you and trying to get back at you. This is also not happening because your dog thinks he is in charge and did not give you approval to leave. (The last one sounds silly but I’ve heard that one mentioned on TV before.) It is important that we understand that is a pretty serious condition in dogs that depending on the severity can take from 6 months a year to fix.

Secondly, it is important that we make sure this actually is SA and not just a bored dog. A dog that has copious amounts of energy will find a way to get rid of it. If the human doesn’t give him a proper outlet he will find one himself. Which typically means the dog destroying something of the humans.

When dealing with moderate to severe cases one of the first things I recommend to do along with the training protocol is to get the dog on a medication to help with the anxiety. It is important to have a training protocol because medication alone is not going to fix this. I know that not everyone is a fan of the medication part of it. My response to that is the amount of stress that the dog is going through on a daily basis is not healthy at all. If we can give him something that will help remove that horrible stress and it is only there for a short period of time it is worth it. I have tried using some all natural herbal anxiety remedies and have had mixed results. From my experience they do not always work as well and are rather pricey. When I was going through anxiety issues with my dog I started off with an all-natural herbal product that was $30.00 per bottle and that didn’t even last a month. I switched to a fluoxetine and was spending $10.00 a month. It is a good idea to hire a trainer to help you with this. It is also a good idea for the vet, trainer, and owner to work together as a team in solving this.

A couple things you can try along with the fluoxetine that are natural that could be helpful are DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), a Thundershirt, and different relaxing music.

Lets talk about how to get the anxiety to cease. The ultimate goal is going to be the human leaving the house and the dog not caring. One of the first things you can start to do is incorporate a cue that lets your dog know you will be back. I usually say, “Be right back.” This is the last thing the dog hears you say before you leave. That means the next thing that follows it in regards to you is that you are coming back. With repetition he will start to associate you saying, “be right back” with you coming back. You can do lots of repetition of this. Say your phrase, step outside for 1 second, come back in and reward him. He will start to associate you leaving and coming back with good things. Each time you do this increase the amount of time you are outside. In the beginning your dog will be very concerned with you leaving. After some repetition he will know exactly what is going on and will start to relax when you do it.

The next exercise is going to consist of some auto-shaping. For this you will need something that has a hole in it like a Kong and something awesome to put inside of it like Peanut Butter. The idea with this is to keep the dog busy and focused on something besides the human. I like to use a crate for this because we can create a place of comfort. Every case will be different though so use your best judgment. The idea is that we are going to give the dog something it really enjoys for a short period of time and we are going to stay right next to the dog. The first time you do this do it for like 5 minutes. After 5 minutes tell the dog “okay” and safely remove the Kong and PB. If you cannot safely remove it do not attempt. The next time you do this increase the amount of time that he is in the crate with the Kong, and also take a baby step away creating more distance. Remember to stay stationary during this exercise. If you move around there is a good chance the dog will notice which could result with him focusing on you and potentially getting anxious. Continue this pattern. If done correctly you will get to the point where you will be able to be out of sight and your dog will be comfortable with that. A quick tip in regards to the Kong and Peanut Butter: You can put the Kong and PB in the freezer prior to this exercise to make it last longer.

These are just a couple ideas on how to help your dog be more comfortable when you are out of sight. Remember to take baby steps to ensure your dog stays comfortable. If you try to rush this you will just end up with an anxious dog. Once again hiring a trainer could be very helpful with this process.

Remember that to fix this issue it is going to take dedication. It is going to be very important to practice protocols multiple times a day. Also remember to stay very patient.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

Written by: Matt Richtel (Published: November 30, 2013)

More and more, cats and dogs get the human treatment. There are pet spas, pet therapists, pet clothes. And as it goes in life, so it now goes in the twilight. The latest phenomenon: pet hospice.

Denise Fitzmaurice, right, brought her 4-year-old dog, Sophie, to Dr. Michele Price’s mobile veterinary clinic for an examination.

Around the country, a growing number of veterinarians are offering hospice care, and marketing it as a way to give cats and dogs — and their owners — a less anxious, more comfortable passing.

The approach, in the spirit of the human variety, entails ceasing aggressive medical treatment and giving pain and even anti-anxiety drugs. Unlike in hospice care for humans, euthanasia is an option — and in fact, is a big part of this end-of-life turn. When it’s time, the vet performs it in the living room, bedroom or wherever the family feels comfortable.

That’s a big part of the job, the vets say, relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet’s death, and letting them grieve at home — rather than in a clinic or animal shelter. The intimacy carries a premium, sometimes costing 25 percent or more than euthanasia in a clinic. Vets, and their customers, say it can be worth it.

“They’re in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, co-founder of Lap of Love, a Florida-based company that is one of the leaders in a small but growing market. “They’re allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children,” added Dr. Gardner, who refers to a pet’s owner as its “mom” or “dad,” and has since relocated her own practice to Los Angeles. “I’ve been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour.”

Lap of Love’s business has blossomed since 2010 from two providers to more than 68 vet partners in 18 states. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group started in 2009, now has 200 members, mostly vets, but also several family therapists, lawyers and an animal sanctuary in Northern California that takes in and provides holistic healing and hospice for terminally ill and elderly pets.

“There is a formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement,” said Dr. Eden Myers, a veterinarian in Kentucky who runs JustVetData.com, which tracks industry trends. Of the providers who do this, she said: “They’re everywhere.”

Dr. Amir Shanan, a vet in Chicago who started the International Association for Animal Hospice, described the movement as growing, but still not mainstream; veterinary schools are only now embracing the idea. “There are skeptics out there,” he said. “But 20 years ago, there was almost no one other than skeptics, and that’s changing rapidly.”

There are no formal standards for this hospice care, and Dr. Shanan said there was a debate about what those standards should look like. “The core of the debate is who is to decide when is the right time to euthanize, if at all,” he said, noting that some hospice supporters advocate giving pets palliative care until they die naturally, as in human hospice.

Hospice and in-home euthanasia are different things. Their growth is owing to similar factors, says Dr. Myers, including a growing acceptance of hospice for humans, as well as cellphones, laptops and online marketing that make mobile vet services easier to operate. Plus, she said, more vets offer the services as a business alternative to the high cost of starting and maintaining a traditional clinic.

“And,” she added, “you’ve got people willing to spend scads of money on their pets.”

For pet owners, the financial implications of this end-of-life movement cut two ways. In one light, hospice can be seen as reducing the cost of aggressive medical care, or it can be seen as its own version of aggressive comfort care, at least when compared to euthanizing a pet sooner.

A hospice or euthanasia visit from Lap of Love generally costs $200 or $250, including drugs. Euthanasia at a clinic typically runs less, though prices vary widely, and is even less at a nonprofit shelter, like a local animal shelter. Some pet owners say costs are irrelevant given the peace of mind — their own.

“It was more for me than him,” said Jan Dorr, a bookkeeper in Boca Raton, Fla., who was an early Lap of Love customer in 2010. She’d spent $5,000 on chemotherapy for her chocolate lab, Darby, but the dog’s health continued to fail. When she heard about the idea of pet hospice, her reaction was positive; a year earlier, her own father died after a positive hospice experience. She called Dr. Gardner, who helped make Darby comfortable by increasing his pain medications, and giving Ms. Dorr a checklist of ways to recognize when it was time to let go, such as when Darby stopped eating, walking or interacting.

When Darby’s condition worsened just days later, the vet returned to perform euthanasia. Ms. Dorr lay down on her bed with Darby, hugging him. “She let me say when,” Ms. Dorr said, referring to the vet’s final injection. It was far preferable, she said, to the alternative: “I just couldn’t get it into my head to put him on a steel table in a cold room and let him go.”

Kathryn D. Marocchino, a professor of death and dying at California State University in Vallejo, who in 1996 founded the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, said the end-of-life movement for pets addressed what she described as a “sense of coercion” faced by owners of sick pets forced to decide between aggressive treatment or euthanasia. She said that her group got calls from people thanking them, and saying things like: “Where were you 30 years ago? They made me kill my dog.”

Dr. Michele Price, a veterinarian in Northern Virginia whose in-home end-of-care business has doubled since 2009 to 20 percent of her practice, got a call recently about an ailing Labrador named Champ. She’d first seen the dog in August when his owners thought it was time to euthanize. But when Dr. Price got to the house, Champ was doing O.K., and she and the family decided on hospice treatment and pain meds. Later, Champ took a sharp downward turn and couldn’t walk. Dr. Price returned and they set up for the euthanasia.

Champ was on a quilt next to the fireplace when Dr. Price administered the initial sedation. “They hugged him, and told him what a good dog he was. They said, ‘We love you’ and ‘We’ll miss you,’ ” Ms. Price said of the dog’s owners. As for Champ, “He fell asleep. That’s the last thing he remembered.”

Dr. Mary Gardner, a veterinarian, co-founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love.

A version of this article appears in print on December 1, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice..

Challenging Breeds for Dog Owners

Most Challenging Breeds for New Pet Owners

BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR | AUGUST 26, 2013
Posted by: Randi Case, D.C.
Many dog lovers believe there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad training. And while we don’t disagree that a good owner along with proper training and socialization can make a world of difference, we have to admit that some dog breeds are best suited to experienced owners.

Those very traits that make certain breeds so good at the jobs they were bred to do, like hunting big game and guarding their owners and property, can make them a challenge for someone who’s never trained a dog before.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 1: Akita

The Akita was bred to hunt big game such as bear, boar and elk. He can also weigh upwards of 115 pounds (or even more), and requires a 20-30 minute walk every day, always on leash due to a strong prey drive. He’s a beautiful dog, but sheds heavily and can be a challenge to train, making him best suited to experienced dog owners.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 2: Chow Chow

Not known for being particularly lovey-dovey, the Chow Chow isn’t the teddy bear he appears to be. He’s intelligent but stubborn, and may require a lot of training before you get the results you’re looking for. This breed is wary of strangers and may be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 3: Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei requires an assertive, experienced owner to train him and keep him from getting bored. This highly territorial dog tends to bond with one person, and can be quite distrustful of those he doesn’t know — humans and canines alike. And all those dramatic skin folds can increase the tendency for chronic skin and eye conditions that a naïve pet owner may find daunting.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 4: Alaskan Malamute

He’s friendly, joyful and exuberant, which may make him attractive to someone seeking a first dog, but be warned: The Alaskan Malamute sheds like crazy, pulls on leash with all of his 65-100 pounds and is a talented escape artist. This breed is made to travel far on his own four feet and he needs a family committed to a lot of exercise when it’s best for him. That thick fur coat also leaves him vulnerable to heat injury.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 5: Rottweiler

Although he can be a gentle giant, the wrong Rottweiler with the wrong owner can truly be a scary dog. A Rottweiler wants someone to be the boss, and if you’re not taking the job, he will. He’s powerful and protective, and known for being extremely loyal when it comes to his people and his property. Considering he can weigh as much as 135 pounds (and most of it muscle), he can generally back up his threatening growl.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

No. 6: Weimaraner

The “Gray Ghost” earned his nickname for his beautiful gray coat and habit of following his owner closely, but the highly intelligent Weimaraner isn’t the right dog for everyone. He’s extremely energetic with no “off” switch, and he’s not happy being left alone — separation anxiety can be a real issue with this breed. He can be difficult to housetrain and a hazard to cats and other small pets, but if you plan to spend many days hunting, hiking or doing obedience and agility with him by your side, you might have found your perfect companion.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 7: Dalmatian

The spotted Dalmatian isn’t just a Disney darling — he was bred to work as a coach dog, running alongside carriages or horses, alerting coachmen to approaching highwaymen and warding off stray dogs. That’s how he became the traditional firehouse dog — he kept the streets clear for horse-drawn fire engines. However, the traits that made him perfect for this work can make him a challenge in the home. He has an endless capacity for exercise and can be destructive when bored. Also, he’s a notorious shedder with stiff fur that weaves its way into fabric (but not out).

Ron Willbie, Animal Photography

No. 8: Australian Cattle Dog

Sometimes known as a Blue Heeler or Australian Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized dog with serious endurance. Originally made up of several breeds, including the Collie, Dingo, Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, and Black and Tan Kelpie, he has a reputation for being stubborn and having energy to spare — not to mention a truly adventurous spirit and belief in his own invincibility that will leave you wondering how he’ll injure himself next.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

No. 9: German Shepherd

Highly intelligent and a natural protector, the German Shepherd Dog is well-suited to a wide variety of jobs: He’s worked as a guide dog, a drug sniffer, and, of course, a police and military dog. There’s little he can’t do with the right training, but that’s exactly why he’s not ideal for newbies — it takes quite a bit of training, exercise and dedication  to stay “smarter” than he is. And all those smarts come with higher-than-average tendencies toward some pretty serious health problems including hip dysplasia and neurologic issues.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 10: Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is incredibly lovable, but this gentle giant is also a lot of work. He drools (and drools and drools) and is known to ingest items like socks and dishtowels. Because of his enormous size (130-180 pounds or more), you might think he’d like to hang out in your big backyard, but you’d be wrong — he’s prone to heatstroke and loves being around his people, so he’s very much an indoor dog.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 11: Siberian Husky

The happy and affectionate Siberian Husky is a working dog that thrives in cold, snowy climates. He was bred to pull sleds over long distances, and his liveliness reflects that — a short walk around the block won’t do for this breed. He sheds heavily, is a capable escape artist and has a strong predatory drive, so he’s not a great choice for homes with cats or small pets.

Barbara O’Brien, Animal Photography

No. 12: Bulldog

The Bulldog is generally good-natured and his goofy, wrinkled mug certainly makes him lovable, but the breed’s heavy build and flat face make him particularly sensitive to heat, exercise and stress. He can’t swim, so if you have a pool, pond or spa, his access should be restricted. He is prone to a variety of health issues and some may say he’s challenging to train, but his fans don’t mind — his entertaining antics and laid-back attitude make up for it in the right home.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 13: Bullmastiff

Devoted and protective to the point that he’d lay down his life for his family, the Bullmastiff has a mind of his own — and considering that he weighs in at 100-130 pounds, he can easily overwhelm an owner who isn’t ready to stand up to him. He needs good, consistent, positive training and firm boundaries from a young age. He also needs someone to follow him with a mop, because this dog can drool. His high prey drive means he should always be kept on leash, and he doesn’t generally love other dogs, so he’s best as an only pet.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 14: Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is quite a character. Independent, intelligent and stubborn, he’ll keep you laughing — and on your toes, as he’s a notorious digger and counter-surfer. He’ll bring the same exuberance and joy to playing games as he brings to excavating your garden and eating your drywall. He’s not great with other dogs or animals and needs plenty of stimulation (both physical and mental). It should be noted, too, that this “King of the Terriers” was the inspiration for Margaret Marshall Saunders’ novel Beautiful Joe, the story of an abused dog, which sparked the creation of the modern humane movement.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Honorable Mention: American Pit Bull Terrier

Although the American Pit Bull Terrier received enough votes for this category to land a place at the bottom of this list, he also earned a significant number of votes as the best breed for new owners, which canceled out enough of the negative votes to knock him out of the running.

He looks formidable and has historically been used in dog fighting rings, giving him a frightening reputation, but over the last few decades, he’s been bred to love and accept people. In the right home, he’s a devoted and loyal companion (although he can have conflicts with other dogs or with cats). But as with many dogs bred for strength, a mistreated Pit can be a problem.

For instance, a dog bred for hunting, birding, working, or running long distances will work until his job is done, regardless of weather or distractions. When that same breed is kept as a family pet, his circumstances change, but his drive and instinct to go, go, go? Not so much. Therefore, he needs an owner who’s prepared to work with that level of vitality to keep him from engaging in destructive behaviors.

And consider the traditional guard dog, bred to be on the alert for anything that’s out of the ordinary. In his original job, that might mean keeping an eye out for dangers and predators, but as a member of the family, it means he needs firm and entirely consistent training. While some dogs might understand a good deal of nuance — that it’s OK to get on the couch with the kids, but not with Mom and Dad — a dog bred for guarding duties thrives on a dependable environment since knowing what is regular and routine is absolutely necessary to determine what’s not.

One other item to keep in mind: Some of these breeds may not be allowed in certain homes due torestrictions on the lease or insurance policy.

We’ve already shared what dogs veterinary professionals deemed best for new owners, and now we’re sharing which breeds those same 218 experts thought were the worst choices for first-time dog owners.

Please note: We don’t mean to imply these are “bad” breeds, and in no case is any breed friendly or aggressive clear across the board. However, if you’re a first-time, inexperienced dog owner, these are dogs you might want to wait to bring home until you have a few years of training under your belt.

 

Why do Wolves Howl?

Wolves Howl Because They Care: Social Relationship Can Explain Variation in vocal Production

Posted by Randi Case, DC

When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn’t a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. (Credit: Mazzini et al.)

Aug. 22, 2013 — When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn’t a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria’s Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 22.

The findings shed important light on the degree to which animal vocal production can be considered as voluntary, the researchers say.

“Our results suggest the social relationship can explain more of the variation we see in howling behavior than the emotional state of the wolf,” says Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. “This suggests that wolves, to a certain extent, may be able to use their vocalizations in a flexible way.”

Scientists have known very little about why animals make the sounds that they do. Are they uncontrollable emotional responses? Or do animals have the ability to change those vocalizations based on their own understanding of the social context?

At the Wolf Science Center, human handlers typically take individual wolves out for walks on a leash, one at a time. On those occasions, they knew, the remaining pack mates always howl.

To better understand why, Range and her colleagues measured the wolves’ stress hormone levels. They also collected information on the wolves’ dominance status in the pack and their preferred partners. As they took individual wolves out for long walks, they recorded the reactions of each of their pack mates.

Those observations show that wolves howl more when a wolf they have a better relationship with leaves the group and when that individual is of high social rank. The amount of howling did not correspond to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

“Our data suggest that howling is not a simple stress response to being separated from close associates but instead may be used more flexibly to maintain contact and perhaps to aid in reuniting with allies,” Range says.

As always, We at TheWagSheet welcome your comments and questions..WOOF!

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press.