Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Living with an anxious dog


Hailey had an anxiety problem. She is not our first dog to have one. Our Gemi suffered from anxiety. She chewed walls when she was young and we went out. When Loki was dying she developed obsessive drinking and peeing (by obsessive I mean my 15 lb pup was putting back 8 cups of water a day). Her hair fell out she was so stressed.  There was something about Gemi's anxiety that made it seem smaller, maybe because she was smaller.

Hailey is another story. Her anxiety causes me anxiety. Her destruction knows no bounds. [I do count myself lucky that she has left the furniture alone]. Part of the problem we have dealing with this is we don't always know what is going to set it off. We do know thunder is a big cause and change. However, she can go weeks without any incidents of destruction and then one day you come home and she has destroyed something. This makes it frustrating at times.

One thing that does set her off is having people in the house. But again it is not consistent. We can have guests she doesn't know and after her first few minutes of barking be fine. [We have friends and family she is not anxious with when they visit]. We can have others that even with her thunder shirt or leash she won't settle. It is worse with little kids who run around. She stands and barks and barks and barks, which can upset the kids and make it hard for the adults to visit. We end up feeling embarrassed because she won't stop barking and sorry for her, because she is stressed and everyone gives their attention to our calm Phod. 

 Here are some of the things we have tried that have not been as helpful as we would have liked:

One of the 2 crates she destroyed
- crate training. This had been my dream, but after she destroyed the second crate (the one no dog was suppose to be able to get out of), we realized that wasn't working. 
-medication. That experiment was taken on semi-reluctantly after she ate the wall and  failed big time as the drugs seemed to act as speed and made her crazy hyper (and made her pee all over the floor).  Our Vet said we could try other drugs, but since (knock on wood) her anxiety hasn't been as bad (meaning we still have all our walls), we aren't actively exploring this.

Things that may help:
-exercise, especially when she is going to be alone. I try and tire her out with a big walk/run before we go out.
-routine: Walks same time, feeding schedule the same, just consistency in our in and out. She gets the "guilt greenie" every time we both leave the house.
-Phod - I think except the week they ate all the tupperware, not being alone helps her.
-Free access to only part of the house. They have access to the upstairs hallway and kitchen/dining room (which is a HUGE space - probably about 1000 square feet) while we are out. So it is like being crated, without being crated.
-Thunder shirt, aka the hug. While she still appears anxious while wearing it, she is not as frantic. She tends to just sit (which reduces destruction).
-Mental challenges: working on new tricks/doing training more often.
-Cleaning the environment (making sure the counters are free of the things she may be tempted to destroy)

While her anxiety can be stressful for the whole pack (and has us all practice the virtue of patience), we truly love our challenging girl. We will continue to work to find ways to help her be more relaxed. Maybe one day our girl will overcome it. 

31 comments:

  1. Oh my... she really did destroy that crate! All of your ideas sound really good, hopefully they help. I have found Shiner is more anxious as she gets older and not really sure what has set that off... Luckily it's pretty mild. I once met a dog who jumped out of a glass window trying to get out to his owner. I think that was the most extreme thing I had ever heard of.

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    1. That was before she bent it to totally break out. I hope she doesn't get more anxious . . .. .I may need meds if she does!

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  2. WOW! We are so sorry to hear this! Sure hope you find ways to make her feel better.
    Lovies, Miss Mindy

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  3. Was just speaking to a friend about this. Sounds like you are taking a very good approach. I had forgotten about the Thundershirt. I have an extra one, and I'm going to give it to her to try. I have Thundershirts for Freedom and Casper for thunder.

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    Replies
    1. It does seem to help her. May she is just so angry we have put clothes on her:)

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  4. It is a difficult one. We feel for you all as we know it has not been easy and you have the patience of a saint. In time we are sure she will settle. Just keep the routine up I am sure that this will help. Onwards and upwards. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. Sometimes I don't feel patient enough with her. We keep on trying.

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  5. I know the anxiety thing very well. All though I never tore anything up. I just would work myself up to scary levels. Except the one time I broke right through the front door to find my MOM. Yep broke right through the door! The only thing that worked for me was going to day care. I hope you find the right thing for you.
    Blessings,
    Goose

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    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness Goose. In the summer when we were moving Lee went to day camp, and once she got use to it, it helped. We hope you don't break through any doors!

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  6. Monty can be the same way. They wanted to put him on meds and we said no. The one thing that works is lots of exercise. Power walks especially, quick, fast and several miles worth.

    Sam

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    Replies
    1. It is nice to know I am not alone.

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  7. Poor girl! What about food puzzles when you're gone?
    Nola

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    Replies
    1. We had thought of that, but we don't like to leave them with food when we are gone. We are worried about fights. Also, she solves them in 3 minutes or figures out how to destroy them to get the food out. She is a monkey this one!

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  8. Oh poor girl. She needs to learn to relax. We wish we had a tip for you but we don't.

    Murphy & Stanley
    Growed-Up-Doods

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    Replies
    1. She is trying to learn to relax . . . . .It is hard when there is so much to worry about.

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  9. Bella is our nervous one. She seems to be getting worse with age. Whenever we have strangers...that includes any person in or around the house, we have to put her in the bedroom usually with a treat. Then she settles down. We hope Hailey calms down. We wish Bella would, too.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

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    Replies
    1. We hope Bella does too. It is hard to have an anxious dog. We just want them to be happy!

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  10. We had a little dog, before Mollie, if we left it it would bark and poo everywhere. It was terrible, we hardly could go out on our own. I think a good run with a back pack, Mollie has one, they tire easier. It's hard because we don't always have the time to do a 6 mile walk. What about a herbal remedy to calm the anxiousness, I don't think they really work but anythings worth a try. xx0xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. My mom sent me a link about a backpack, this may be something to try. It can be hard having the time to run for 2-3 hours every day. Sometimes I do have to work!

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  11. HAILEY BLESS YOUR LITTLE HEART. Our first family pet was a mini Doxie named Toto. There were several things that upset him. Brooms, hats and deep voices. Any time my Dad came over w/o calling (deep voice and wore baseball caps) Toto would literally roll over on his back and pee in the air...which of course fell on him which of course required a bath....which he was not fond of.
    We finally figured out Toto's issues were like a game of Clue.
    He was afraid of A man wearing a hat, carrying a broom while talking in a deep voice.
    Finally G-pa started calling ahead, we took Toto out to potty and G-pa left his cap in the car.
    Hugs Madi and Mom

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    Replies
    1. Great problem solving. You don't want to be scared of G-pa! Great solution.

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  12. Im' so glad you're finding things which work for your sweet girl. I wish we'd been more proactive with our first Aussie. She was nervous and chewed everything. Her favorite was windowsills.

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    Replies
    1. You love them but you do get frustrated having to replace everything we have destroyed. Sigh!

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  13. Wow. My person says thanks for sharing, because I am anxious too... But only in the BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK kind of way at any little sound or noise or bang. (And really, how do I know for sure it's my people walking upstairs and not a big monster???)

    And I have the thing called "Thunder Shirt" (which kind of helps, sometimes, maybe), and I have my crate and I have lots of treats... But I still need to BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!

    Your post has reminded my person that it could be worse (and thank-you for that, because now I'm Good Dog again). We also want to say that Lee is very lucky to have people like you to take care of her and try to help her as best you can!

    Lots of licks and wags,
    Cobi + person

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Cobi. We like dog shaming for the same reason. we see dogs who are worse!

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  14. We understand so very well because we're living with an anxious pup too. I'm glad that the Thundershirt helps, and that all of your "management" has helped. I think that the two biggest ones are exercise and mental challenges (training or toys that have food hidden in them)... but it sounds like you already know that! I hope that your girl keeps improving...

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    1. We do try and give her lots of exercise (it was the reason I got her) and lots of mental challenges. She is so smart, she picks things up so quickly!

      We will keep at it.

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