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Cadicai
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:49 am

Hello!

Post by Cadicai » Sun Feb 07, 2016 6:01 am

Hello!

I have just rehomed a 7 year old Weimaraner dog; Alfie. He comes to live in a rural setting and joins Cadi, also a Weimaraner, who is to be 12 next month. He has only been with us for 2 weeks.

He is understandably very stressed as we are his third home in almost as many months. However each day we see improvements.

I have a couple of management problems which need to be addressed immediately and would welcome any suggestions. The first concerns his separation anxiety. When I close the kitchen door to go through to my office and that part of the house to which he has restricted access, he gets very stressed, paws the door like mad, and can open it by hooking the door handle with his lashing paws. I have to tie the door on my side to stop this. I am ignoring the behaviour, and when I return, a few minutes or an hour later, I walk in calmly and ignore him. The door is getting damaged though not badly. Should I continue with this, in the hope that as he continues to settle this behaviour will extinguish, or do you have any other suggestions. I should add, he is not on his own, as Cadi is with him, rather bemused as to what is happening.

Thank you

JudyN
Posts: 7016
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
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Re: Hello!

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:39 am

Welcome to the forum - I've moved your post to the training advice section as you'll get more response there :D

Ideally with separation anxiety you always work within your dog's comfort zone, so you start from (say) opening the door, stepping through it and coming back in straight away, and building up gradually. If he's OK for the first couple of minutes, then you'd return after one minute and build up the time. If he gets upset when you just move towards the door, you'd get up, take one step towards it and sit down again until it didn't worry him any more.....

This is likely to be wholly impractical for you, though possibly you could start on it over a weekend and see if you can make progress. Would you be able to bring your work in to where he is temporarily? Or would you be able to have him in your office, maybe in a crate if he's happy there?

It might be that when he's settled this problem will go away but it'll take longer for him to settle if in his mind he's being 'abandoned' regularly through the day.

Making sure he's tired when left will help, so it's important he gets enough walks and mental play/training.

There's more detail here: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20143 It's really a case of adjusting the method to what works for you and your routines.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Cadicai
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:49 am

Re: Hello!

Post by Cadicai » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:47 am

Thank you JudyN for your quick response and welcome, and also for moving my question to where it should be.

That is very helpful, and though I cannot have him with me when I work, and he is obviously not used to a cage, I can start the desensitisation at various times during the day (when I am not outside with him working on his recall!).

My next difficulty is taking him for a walk. I have decided for now to stick to the country lane, and not go to the forest or the beach (spoilt for choice). He pulls like a train. He came with a Haltie which I do not like, and I have purchased a Perfect Fit harness for him, but to be honest I just cannot hold him. We are getting somewhere with the old harness I have which does tighten and release, though I appreciate it is not part of the philosophy of positive reinforcement. When he pulls, I stop. I am also changing direction quite a bit and trying to get his focus more on me. There were times today when he was more of the dog I would like to have on a lead. My plan is to continue with this strategy, have faith it will get better, then start using the Perfect Fit harness. When I have more confidence in his recall I'll start to take him to the more interesting places and alternate being on the lead with being free. I am also want to starting clicker training with him, but I do not want to overload his brain for the time being.

Between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am he is a saint!! He sleeps very well. He is also very food orientated which is also helpful.

Thank you.

Shalista
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Re: Hello!

Post by Shalista » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:20 am

something that helped a lot while i taught Bax loose leash walking was It's Yer Choice training If his impulse control improves he might not be inclined to drag you to where ever he wants to go. Best of luck to you!
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

jacksdad
Posts: 4884
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Hello!

Post by jacksdad » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:48 pm

You can't reinforce emotional states, such as fear, anxiety etc. but you can change the associations with events that trigger them, see Judy's post for how to get started.

While you are working on changing his association with you leaving, you will need to manage his life so that he doesn't go into an anxious state. Because every time our dogs experience what causes them to be fearful or anxious, we set back any progress we might have made. That may mean relaxing your rules about where he can go in the house so that he can be near you to prevent going into an anxious state. this is NOT reinforcing the unwanted behavior OR avoiding the issue. this is management for when you aren't actively training (again, see Judy's initial reply). If your dog can be with you, then the anxiety doesn't kick in. if the anxiety doesn't kick in, then the unwanted behaviors don't kick in either.

when you do return to your dog, I strongly advise against ignoring him all together. go ahead and give a brief and calm greeting. then go about doing whatever you need to do and let your dog follow you around. until I abandoned the conventional advice of ignoring my dog when I came home, his greetings were getting more and more over the top. His almost manic behavior of barking, jumping, running around "like a mad man" would go on for better part of half an hour. giving him a brief and calm greeting, even redirecting some of his greeting to a toy turned that around. his greeting are now normal, brief, and significantly calmer.

If the SA kicks in not just when you go to another part of the house, but leave all together, you need to consider taking your dog with you when you leave if that is at all possible. again, this goes back to preventing him from going into an anxious state.

as to why this is happening since he isn't alone. Dogs that experience Separation Anxiety don't necessarily have an issue with being alone. Rather the issue is separation from someone. My dog didn't care that my wife or kids were home, he didn't mind being alone, he did mind being separated from me. dog are social animals and will sometimes form strong, very strong social bonds with a preferred human, particularly one that is safe to be around, provides their food, walks, play, bathroom breaks etc.

ScarletSci
Posts: 463
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Re: Hello!

Post by ScarletSci » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:47 pm

I'd recommend using a long line leash while you work on his recall. Not when teaching him to walk nicely of course, just when you go to those fun, off-lead places until his recall is rock solid.

Cadicai
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:49 am

Re: Hello!

Post by Cadicai » Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:58 am

Good morning!

More signs this morning that Alfie is less stressed and that was before 7.20. So great news. It is hard not knowing what the base line is. i.e. how he was before the need to re-home him became an issue.

Thank you for your responses. This is a very good site.

Shalista, I have checked out the site you have suggested and I will certainly start to work on that.

jacksdad - that is really helpful and will change something fundamental not only in my way of re-entering the room, but in how I shall now approach his management. As my work involves seeing clients, having him with me is impossible at those times, but as for the rest yes I can.

It is over 10 years since I was last doing any fundamental dog training, and it is interesting to note the changes. All for the better.

Thank you all once again.

Cadicai
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:49 am

Re: Hello!

Post by Cadicai » Fri Feb 12, 2016 6:59 pm

Hello!

Just a quick update of Alfie. Significant improvement in the last 3 days on the SA aspect. Thank you for your help.

ScarletSci
Posts: 463
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Re: Hello!

Post by ScarletSci » Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:31 am

That's great news! Always lovely to hear a positive update! :D

Photos are also fantastic :wink: Weims are one of my favourite breeds! :D

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