Archive | September, 2017

Dog Boredom

 

Your Dog may Also Have The Back to School Blues

Back to school blues are not just for kids, dogs can experience it too! Summer is an active time for families. Kids are home for the summer and the days are longer, so you may spend more time outside active with your dog walking, hiking, and swimming. Once fall comes, kids go back to school and have after-school activities while the days get longer and colder. If you have an older dog, they may be used to the transition between summer and fall and look forward to the extra quiet time to relax, but if you have a younger dog or a new dog that you brought home this summer, the sudden decrease in activity and company could lead to boredom. Dogs who are bored are more likely to develop problem behaviors, such as chewing inappropriate items in the house, counter surfing, breaking into the fridge and cabinets, excessive barking, and digging.

 

To prevent boredom in your dog, here are some tips:

  • Daycare! Dog daycare is a great way to keep your busy during the day. Of course, not all dogs enjoy coming to daycare every single day of the week so keep reading for more tips to try at home.
  • Dog Walker – Having someone come in the middle of the day to bring your dog for a walk can help break up the workday for your dog. You can likely find a qualified person to walk your dog for an hour for less than $15 per day. Finding a person who has dog experience means they will probably also train your dog during the walk and help work on any problem behaviors (positive-reinforcement training experience preferred!).
  • Dog TV and music – Silence all day can lead to dogs that are hyper-sensitive to noises outside the house and excessive barking. Turning on the TV or music during the day can help drown out outside noises and provide them some stimulation. Some music and TV streaming services even have programming designed for dogs! But nothing fancy is required to entertain your dog during the day. Studies have shown that classical music and talk radio are the most relaxing to dogs, so simply turn a radio to NPR and you’re done!
  • Toys – Keep the toys in your house fun and exciting! This can mean bringing in new exciting toys every so often (maybe even trying BarkBox!) or rotating your dog’s existing toys. Provide them 3-4 toys at a time and hide the rest in a closet. Every week or so, pull out 3-4 hidden toys and hide the old ones away. This helps keep toys interesting and fun, giving your dog something to play with during the day. Puzzle feeders or treat balls are also great for providing your dog stimulation while you’re gone. There are even interactive dogs toys that allow you to play with your pets from your smart phone while you are at work (check out this article from the Wall Street Journal for a list https://www.wsj.com/articles/gadgets-for-playing-with-your-pet-remotely-1455223286).
  • Last and not least, make time for them in the evenings! Sometimes we get so caught up in all of our activities and obligations that we forget to spend quality, interactive time with our pets. Spend time playing with them or training them. Be sure to walk them at least once a day or incorporate them into your daily runs or other fitness routines. Sign up for a dog training class even if they are already well trained. There are plenty of fun classes out there that go beyond basic training, and spending the extra time interacting with your dog will help physically and mentally stimulate them, as well as deepen the bond you share with them.

 

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation Anxiety is a Common Problems for Dog Owners

 

Sudden changes in a dog’s life can trigger separation anxiety, such as a change in owners, change in owner’s schedule, moving to a different place, or changes in people living in the house. Separation anxiety can be common in adopted dogs, especially rescued greyhounds or research dogs, but can occur in any dog. Dogs with separation anxiety will exhibit some symptoms while their owners are preparing to leave the house, but most of the symptoms occur when the owner is gone. Many people think that their dog acting out because the dog is mad at them, when it is actually an anxiety issue.

The symptoms of separation anxiety include:

  • Chewing inappropriate items
  • House destruction
  • Excessive barking and whining
  • Going potty in the house when otherwise house-trained
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Pacing

If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, it is necessary to identify that separation anxiety is the cause. Medical conditions, boredom, and improper potty training are examples of other issues that can cause these behaviors. Setting up a video camera to see what your dog is doing while you are gone can help you figure out the problem. Consulting with your veterinarian or a dog trainer could also be beneficial to rule out other problems.

If your dog has separation anxiety, there are ways you can address it but depending on the severity of the anxiety you may want to consult a trainer or behaviorist. To address separation anxiety, you want to teach your dog that you leaving is exciting and that you will come back for them. Start by pretending to leave the house while throwing them yummy treats. Next, give them a Kong filled with treats and peanut butter and leave for 10-30 minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time you leave while continuing to give them their favorite treats to Giving lavish hugs and kisses before leaving or being extra excited when you come home only adds to the anxiety. Instead, casually leave the house while your dog is distracted with something they love, and then ignore your dog when you come home until they are calm. This will help show them that you leaving and entering the house is no big deal.

If you anticipate a sudden change in your schedule or your life, such as moving to a new house, a change in your work schedule, or someone new moving in, be proactive in helping your dog adjust to the change. Getting your dog used to attending dog daycare or a boarding facility is another good solution while you work to address their anxiety because your dog will get plenty of stimulation and attention while you are away. Hiring a dog walker or pet sitter can be a good way to give your dog consistency and give them something to look forward to other than you coming back home.  

As always, don’t be afraid to consult the staff at TGDS if you are concerned about your dog’s behavior and need recommendations.