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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Renting an Apartment: Does your dog have separation anxiety issues?

The following information is from my book,

"Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and 

Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing."

Jackie Phillips
Feel free to contact me anytime at the above email address.

All text is copyrighted and protected. Any unauthorized use is prohibited.


Here are some topics that are covered:

1. Separation Anxiety
2. Self-Mutilation
3. Your dog's problem seems occur when left alone
4. Finding your dog his/her own space
5. Training your dog to use a crate
6. Making the area "dog-proof" and safe

Renting an Apartment and Having a Dog

Does your dog have separation anxiety issues?

Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety occurs when an animal is left alone, and the dog experiences anxiety and panic from the isolation. Many training techniques are available to help you help your dog deal with separation anxiety. There are also a number of different types of toys that can be used to help reduce separation anxiety in dogs.

Self Mutilation
Self mutilation is an extremely serious problem that, in many cases, requires the attention of an animal behaviorist. Dogs that self mutilate chew on themselves instead of an object or lick themselves until they develop bleeding or weeping sores. Self mutilation occurs in response to many different stressors. Your dog may have developed a sore or hot spot, started to clean it by licking it and then was not able to stop if the behavior becomes obsessive. Some dogs chew on their paws if they have allergies or sometimes out of boredom. Some dogs also self mutilate as part of separation anxiety. Once your dog develops the habit of chewing on themselves it can develop into an obsessive habit, which can be difficult to stop.

Your dog’s problem seems to occur when left alone.
Here are some basic steps to follow to begin to acclimate your dog to feeling secure when you leave.

1. Your dog might need a crate when left alone to help them feel more comfortable and secure and safe.

2. If you don’t need a crate, is there a room where the dog feels most comfortable like a bedroom, kitchen, hallway or bathroom?

3. Another helpful suggestion to ease your dog’s tension about being left alone would be to leave the TV or radio on with calming music, which could simulate your presence and comfort your dog. I have also heard of people recording a tape of the sounds when they are home, and playing this tape on a continuous loop player. This also can help to drown out outside noise from the street, which can cause your dog to bark or feel frustrated and reactive to all the new sounds.

4. Your dog’s anxiety may stem from a lack of having their own private space. I would recommend using this “private space” as part of the area where the dog is left when you are not at home. For example, if the dog’s safe place is in your bedroom or another bedroom, you have the ability to secure the room with a door or baby gate, and the ability to dog-proof the room, I would use this spot in the place to leave your dog when you are away

5. This area would need to be able to be “dog-proofed” easily and on a regular basis. Dog proofing would include removing all access to garbage cans, food, laundry, loose plastic bags, drapery or blind cords and the ability to open and close dresser drawers. I have heard of stories of dogs swallowing whole socks they pulled from the drawers.

6. It would be best if this room could be made to be dark, like closing any blinds or drapes, but still be able to have the ability to open and close windows for fresh air, without allowing the dog access to jump out. Also, if the windows could be high enough so the dog cannot see out, this would prevent him from being able to see traffic outside and barking.

7.  I would recommend that this area be as small as possible to offer the dog a sense of comfort and security. Many times if a dog has a larger area to wander around in, they tend to find more situations to get into trouble.

8. I would choose a spot that can be used consistently every time you are away. This would help  to create a routine and habit of being successful for the dog. It would also help when you are in a hurry to leave. You need to always be sure that the room is dog-proof without having to take the chance some food wrapper is left under the bed or on a piece of furniture, and the dog finds it later.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Renting an Apartment: Barking, Whining, Howling

The following information is from my book,

"Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and 

Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing."

Jackie Phillips
Feel free to contact me anytime at the above email address.

All text is copyrighted and protected. Any unauthorized use is prohibited.

Here are some topics that are covered:

1. Barking, Whining and Howling 
2. Chewing on Undesirable Objects

3. Types of Dog Toys Available
4. Chew Toys
5. Play Toys
6. Food Dispensing Toys 

Renting an Apartment and Having a Dog

Does your dog have chewing, barking or destructive tendencies?

Barking, whining, and howling
Barking, whining or howling are usually symptoms of another problem. Other than its effect in attracting neighbor complaints, these behaviors are not the problem. In reality, your dog is having another problem in another area, and is expressing this problem by vocalizing to express his or her need. A common problem the dog could be expressing is boredom. Another common problem to which your dog might alert you to is an excess of energy. Although they may be related problems and appear similar, they are not the same. Boredom stems from a lack of mental exercise, while an excess of energy arises from a lack of physical exercise. When your dog is left alone for long periods of time without the opportunity to play or to exercise, vocalization is one method of expressing the resulting frustration.

It is possible to resolve this problem in several ways. Prior to leaving your apartment for long stretches of time, take your dog out for a long walk. You may want to play with him or her by throwing a ball or a toy for a little while. Use caution when engaging in active play, however, and allow your dog a “cool down” period before leaving the house. Activity that releases energy is a positive thing. It will get your dog tired, so your dog will sleep, hopefully, for a few hours until you get home. You can also use this time to work on some obedience exercises to work your dog’s mind, which can also make them tired. However, too much activity immediately before your leaving will leave the dog in an excited state, potentially leading to an increase in anxiety.

Another option is to hire a dog walker to come in during the day to take your dog out for a walk. The dog walker can walk them in your neighborhood, or some will take the dog to a dog park for play or to a local park for a long walk.

Doggie daycare is becoming a popular option to bring your dog to during the day so your dog has the ability to play with other dogs and humans. Your dog should be relaxed at the end of the day, exhausted from a full day of running and playing (and an occasional nap). Doggie day care is best for highly social or highly active dogs who have no other pet at home with them.

Ongoing barking is also a symptom of being separated from their pack for long periods of time. If your dog is very social and thrives on the company of other pack members, then many times, having another pack member with him or her to spend the long hours with can help reduce frustration at being alone. Providing another pack member would mean bringing another dog into your home as a companion for your dog. Check your rental agreement and with your landlord prior to bringing a new pet home. Finding the right fit between your dog and a new companion for your dog requires some thought about your dog’s individual personality. Has your dog had experience socializing with other dogs? Are they generally friendly when they meet other dogs? Does your dog play rough or easy with other dogs? Although some households are successful in blending groups of dogs that are of completely different sizes, like a Chihuahua and a Great Dane, matching dogs that are compatible in age, size, personality and temperament is
usually best.

Chewing on Undesirable Objects
This habit usually starts when the dog is a puppy and needs to chew because they are teething or growing in new teeth. Once they develop the habit of chewing, then the chewing becomes self rewarding: they have a desire to chew, they chew on the leg of the chair, they relieve some tension and they feel good. The intention is to predict that the puppy will need to chew, have the proper chew toys when this need arises, rather than having the dog find the nearest object to chew on like a piece of furniture or your new $100 shoes. From the beginning, teach the dog the proper toys to chew on, don’t let the habit develop of chewing on the wrong things by leaving the dog unattended, and you will be on the way to raising a dog that knows the proper things to chew on when their need arises.

Types of Dog Toys Available
There are as many different toys for dogs as a person or dog could imagine. You will find a very large selection of toys if you go to your local pet store or look at a printed or online catalog, each with its own unique purpose. Dog toys are classified three different ways: chew toys, play toys or food dispensing toys. Some, such as hard rubber treat balls that are enticing for your dog to play with even when empty, fall into more than one category.

Chew Toys
These types of toys would include rawhides, Nylabones and Greenies. Toys in this category are first and foremost designed to be eventually edible. They also fulfill a secondary purpose of dental care, cleaning teeth or massaging gums and teeth. This secondary purpose makes them especially useful with a teething puppy. Chew toys usually come in a selection based upon the dog’s age and size. For example, a chew toy for a St. Bernard puppy would be a different size than a chew toy for a Dachshund puppy. It is imperative that you find the correct size of chew toy for your dog because a St. Bernard puppy could easily choke on a chew toy designed for a Dachshund. You should always supervise your dog with edible chew toys to avoid the dog breaking off and swallowing a piece. Some chew toys, made of hard rubber, are intended to entertain your dog when he or she is alone. Unless your dog is capable of tearing apart these durable toys, it is all right to leave him or her unattended with one or more of them. It is possible to find toys of this nature even for the strongest of chewers, when necessary.

Play Toys
The primary purpose of toys in this category would be for play and to be thrown and retrieved by the dog and the owner or tossed around by the dog by themselves. Examples would squeaky toys, tennis balls, flying discs and dumbbells for water retrieval. Generally these toys are durable and designed for different size mouths; however, they are not made to be chew toys, and, thus, should not be left alone with a dog. For example, I know that the skins of a tennis ball can be torn off and chewed and swallowed, and a squeaky toy can be de-squeaked by the dog pulling out the plug at the bottom of the toy or by chewing through the fabric of the toy itself to remove the plastic squeaker. Both these examples can be deadly to a dog if swallowed. Some hard rubber balls or ring-shaped toys would make appropriate play toys for when the dog is alone. Although rope bones are a popular form of play toy they may shred and cause a choking hazard or an impaction in your dog’s bowel if swallowed.

Food Dispensing Toys
This is a newest category of toys that has been developed within the last five to 10 years. Without the food in them, they can also fall into the chew or play toy category. With food stuffed or frozen inside, they fulfill a type of “babysitter” and “entertainer” role that goes beyond the chew or play toy. Examples of these types of toys would be Kongs, sterilized bones and Buster Cubes. These toys have openings where different types of food like peanut butter, kibble with canned food or just dry kibble are inserted. The object of the toy for the dog is to get the food, often frozen, out of the center of the toy. Depending on the dog, the type of toy and whether or not it is frozen, will determine how long the dog is entertained for. These toys are great for dogs with separation anxiety and can be given to the dog just as the owner leaves, thus changing the dog’s focus from, “Why are you leaving me again?” to “Hurry up and leave so I can have my Kong!”