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Smokey's Dog Separation Anxiety

Smokey: Ten year old neutered Chow/Lab mix

Owners: Fred and Gale loved Smokey but were at their wits end. They were nearing the point of removing Smokey from their home, fully knowing that he would not stand a good chance of being adopted and what that would mean. They called Bark Busters as a last resort.

Indications: Destructive in house when owners were not home, marking in the house.

Investigation: Bark Busters Jeff and Cathy Drier scheduled an appointment to go to Fred and Gale’s home in the country. They conducted a thorough interview with Smokey’s owners Fred and Gale in order to find the cause of Smokey’s behavior. During the interview the following was discovered.

Years earlier Smokey and his companion, a dominant female, often went exploring together. One time they found their way to I-75 . The female was hit and killed by a truck. Smokey sat next to her along the highway for hours.

Since that time Smokey’s behavior, when left by himself, had deteriorated. He had become very destructive, even chewing metal door knobs into unrecognizable bits of scrap. He could not be trusted to be left in the house alone for even brief periods of time such as a quick trip to the nearby grocery store. As long as there was someone home Smokey appeared to be fine.

Bark Buster’s found this was not the case however. By observing Smokey while discussing a wide variety of issues involving canine behavior with Fred and Gale, Bark Busters also uncovered the following:

Smokey appeared lethargic, laying down near the owners and sleeping during the interview. It turned out that Smokey would stay up a good portion of the night patrolling the house, going from room to room to make sure his pack was safe. He slept fitfully in an open area between the kitchen and living room where he would be able to watch and protect the hallways leading to the bedrooms.

Smokey also was chewing on his paws and had worried the fur completely off them. He was not a happy dog.

Prognosis: Smokey was not receiving signals, that he could understand, from Fred and Gale that they were strong pack leaders. He had therefore tried to elevate himself to pack leader in order to insure survival of his mixed pack. It was a job that Smokey was not suited to and one that put him under a great deal of stress.

Treatment: Bark Busters explained the issues to Fred and Gale and offered suggestions as to how they could easily show Smokey the leadership he needed. They were to enter and exit the doors (den entries) first, ignore his attempts to passively dominate them, and reprimand him for his attempts to actively dominate them. Bark Busters also showed them how to practice separation room to room. Bark Busters suggested that Fred and Gale also use a diluted solution of lavender oil to rub on Smokey and to spray both on areas where he had been marking and on his bedding.

Results: Bark Busters received the client response form they had left with Fred and Gale with the following comments.

Smokey has presented no problems since our initial training. He will attempt to “test” Gale occasionally, but when brought back to the initial training reprimand and commands, he then behaves. When we left him alone in the house for several hours this week, there appeared to be no separation anxiety. He has not marked in the house since the use of lavender oil. (Hurray!)

Gale recently called very excited to tell us that Smokey had spent an entire day, alone, in the house, with no indications of separation anxiety.

Keep up the great work Fred and Gale! You’re well on the way to Happy Dogs = Happy Families

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