Tag Archives: dogs

Thought for the Day

No explanation needed for tonight’s post. I found this on-line and think it says it all really . . .

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Separation Anxiety Diary Part 2 – implementing changes.

So our lovely animal behaviour expert Dr David Sands visited last week with a wealth of information about how to implement his behaviour programme – a programme that will hopefully help with Annabel’s constant soiling in the house.

There was a lot to take in, but everything discussed was handed to us in written form to go over again in our own time, and were left feeling re-assured and enthused to start. Some things about the programme we were able to implement straight away, such as re-locating the dog beds and clicker training. Some things would need to be gradually introduced over the coming weeks and days. A large part of re-programming our Annabel’s pattern of behaviour, means a big lack of attention for her around the house. Let me tell you: it is EXTREMELY difficult to ignore this face:

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Attention is given at specific times and in specific ways in order to break the cycle, and not just when madam demands it.

(NB – I do realise I am being vague in my description of what exactly we are implementing, but this is with good reason. Dr Sands has spent literally decades studying animal behaviour and modyfying his techniques. Each programme is adapted specifically for individual dog – and indeed family – situations. Our programme is specific to Annabel, but feel free to look at the information on his website , here.)

SO – two/three days in and although it was tricky to remember everything, there was no denying that we definately had fewer accidents. We were doing really well.

Or so I thought.

Four/five days in and we seem to have total regression. Not only with an increase in accidents, but now with the added pleasure of her whining – something she didn’t previously do in the house when she could see us.

Our new regime means that – for now – we spend less time with her at home, partitioning them off at certain times. This is not proving a popular decision, and although she can see us . . . she cries. And cries. And cries. I guess I can understand it – it’s a big change for her. But it’s not much fun right now, and I can’t help but worry if her anxiety level has simply gone up.

I know it is key that I have to stick to my guns. Essential in fact. But because we’ve had a bad few days it makes me question all of my actions. I read and re-read the instructions, and had a lengthy discussion with David over the phone (he is so very generous with his time and keeps the lines of communication open 100% – very reassuring), but for some reason I’m not yet feeling confindant that I’m implementing everything correctly. Mostly because Annabel never responds how we expect and keeps changing the goal posts.

This is hard.

I am anxious myself about getting home from work and what might be waiting for me on the floor when I do. I guess I’ll be re-reading the notes again and hoping I’m on the right track. . . . (and putting Dr Sands on my friends and family list for cheaper phonecalls!)

Got to keep on keeping on . . . I soooo want to crack this. Come on Annabel . . .

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Separation Anxiety – We Get Help.

So my last (and first) blog post introduced the gang, and the newest addition was Annabel, the beautiful blonde lurcher we’d just rescued. Under her list of dislikes, I put thunder and lightning. That was probably the only dislike we’d sussed out at that point. Well, let me add a WHOPPER to that list: being left alone.

For a few hours.
For a few minutes.
Overnight.
Whenever any of us leave the house, or even the room.

annabel x

We knew there’d be toileting accidents when we first took her on. With rescues especially, you have to expect a degree of mess when you first start out on your journey together. Gradually, things improve, they respond to your consistency and your patience, and they learn what is expected of them. Or so you hope . . .

This has not been the case with our new little lady.

Accidents have become more and more (and more and more) frequent. It seems to makes no difference when we feed her or how often we let her out. She gets plenty of exercise with long daily walks. She is a quick learner in other respects (remember I said her recall was terrible? Well it took very little training to totally turn that around) but this obviously runs much deeper than basic training slip ups. This is separation anxiety in all its stressful glory, and it . . . is . . . tough.

Since getting her, we worked on a philosophy of “ignore the bad, reward the good.” Mishaps were completely ignored, or on the rare occasion she was caught in the act, a firm “no” and put outside. When she did “go” outside, we reinforced a toileting command, and short of letting off party poppers and doing a conga around the back garden, gave plenty of praise.

But it didn’t help. Every morning there are accidents. Every day there are accidents, sometimes even if we have just nipped upstairs to get something. Every time I come home from work there are accidents, and the baby gate has gone back up on the stairs as my daughters room has on occasion been a hot spot – particularly upsetting.

“Ignoring the bad” has become increasingly hard.

We have tried distractions, indifference on leaving and entering the house, diffusers and all sorts of other methods to no avail, and as anyone who has had to deal with this will know, it’s extremely frustrating.

And so I thank my lucky stars that we insure our animals, and our policy with Petplan covers behavioural issues. The vets have referred us and we are getting the help we need in the form of Dr David Sands, a registered Petplan practitioner, expert in animal behaviour -particularly separation issues- and all round thoroughly good egg. If he can improve the situation at all, then my dog, my family, and my carpets will be eternally grateful!

I can’t wait to start helping Annabel. As unpleasant as it is for us, I think back to the skinny, sorry creature I fell in love with at the shelter and wonder just what she must have gone through to make her so anxious. Hang on there wee girl, help’s coming . . .

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