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new dog - seperation anxiety!?

July 27th, 2005, 06:15 PM
Hi! This is my first posting. I've been avidly reading and now that we adopted our new doggy (last night!) I'm going to join the discussions!

Last night we adopted Zappa (name may change) a large (looks like) golden lab and maybe husky or Bernese mix. His previous owner said this dog never barks. I want to try the method of training where you don't give the dogs immediate access to the whole house, to establish with him that we are the bosses in the house, and he has to learn to mind his manners.

Well he barked up a storm and blew over a baby gate when, after breakfast and a morning walk, the kids and I were upstairs, and he was downstairs. He did the same thing (minus the gate crashing) when I kept him out of the kitchen when I was giving the kids lunch.

I did the "no bark!" and told him to sit, but then I wondered if I was giving him attention for barking. I ended up removing the kitchen gate and all was well. I left the upstairs gate on, to give the cat some refuge until the animals get to know each other. He minded the gate and was quiet as long as one person was on the same floor.

When I went outside to get something, I thought he would break through the window to get to me (not agressively, just to be with me.) I have time to spend with now, to get him confident in his surroundings, but I need to be able to get out once in a while, and I have to start part-time work in September.

Also: I have his crate, but the previous owner said he didn't like it, and instead tied him up in the house (never heard of that before!) I did a couple of minutes with him today, and fed him in the crate. If I have to go out for longer than 30 minutes before the end ogf the week, would you recommend just putting him in? How do you deal with incessant barking in a crate? I'm thinking of the neighbours acros the wall!

Lots of questions! Sorry! I want to do this right from the start. Thank you! [/FONT]

July 27th, 2005, 06:56 PM
How old is Zappa?
It is good to start him out with training TODAY! He will gain confidence knowing that his new family has great leaders in it.
Start things out slowly with the crate but increase the times in baby steps. *go to our web site and look under the article link for the crate training article. Try to not 'coo' at him to quiet him but either ignore his complaints or correct them.
He needs to know that you do leave and you do return. Do not say goodbye or hello. Leave frequently for different amounts of time - 10 seconds to 10 minutes and then increase those times as he is successful. Pretend You have a job to do outside but all of the tools are inside. Come in and out until you see that he doesn't even lift his head to notice.
Having him on a loose leash attached to you in the house is a great way to provide sublte leadership. Where ever you go he follows.
Besure that his food is down for only 10 minutes at a time - easier to predict his need to potty, and the leader owns the food so he also will look to you as a leader when he sees you in control of his dinner.
There are lots of good things to do to help him adjust to this new life. Love the heck out of him but balance that with great leadership and you should have few problems.

July 27th, 2005, 09:09 PM
Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming! Zappa is 15 months. IS crate training the way to go. Should that be my goal? Seeing as I will be leaving the house, as you suggested, without putting him in the crate, am I working toward leaving him loose, and crate training, or crate-habituating him at the same time?

He heels well when corrected, until he sees a squirrel, or a running dog, then he pulls like crazy, and I have a hard refoussing him. I guess carrying treats or toys (kong seems to be really special to him) helps to focus him.

What would you say to him when he is barking to be in the same room with me (and I'm trying to give our cat some safe space for now?)

July 27th, 2005, 09:57 PM
It wold be great if you could crate train him first and then think about trying him in the house for super short periods to test him. If all dogs were crate trained most of the shelters would be empty - it prevents soooo many problems. Just don't over use the crate and think it can replace good training.
Squirrels are college level for him and he isn't even through high school yet. You have to work towards college. So instead of taking him for a long walk to the park - work him with his manners and patience in the drive way and then down a block and then down two blocks... until you trust his responses and knows that he respects your word. I would rather that he work for you and focus on you - not for bribery.
Ignore the barking - he has learned it gets your attention. If the barking is incessant then correct it - but make sure he takes you seriously. Do not be mean or violent but just very intense and firm in your tone and attitude. Make sure he has toys/bones to keep him busy until you are ready to be with him.

July 27th, 2005, 10:01 PM
Any time your dog barks at you to get your attention/ respond as frustrating as it may be, the best thing to do is to ignore it. Turn away or leave the room. Don't look at, touch or say anything to them.The behaviour will usually get worse before it gets better. If your dog barks at you to get your attention and you respond to it, they will figure out very quickly that this is what works and you are now left with a bad habit.
A normal dog will usually settle down within a half hour after you leave. Standing outside listening for them is usually not very helpful as they can smell and hear you. You may also want to try putting on talk radio in the room before you leave.
Remember to praise and reward when you are getting the types of behaviours you want. We tend to focus all of our energy on them when they are being bad but do nothing for them when they are being good. It seems as if we usually have it backwards.

July 27th, 2005, 10:22 PM
I agree, crate training is a great idea. You want him to learn to view the crate as his bedroom, the place where he can go to relax and get away. It should never be used as punishment.
A dog with actual separation anxiety should be examined by a vet but many times the behaviours we see are just bad habits that can be fixed, good news.
A dog with separation anxiety usually can't be crated. In many cases they will end up harming themselves trying to get out of it.

July 27th, 2005, 10:59 PM
Thank you both for all your great advice. I'm soaking it up.

I just found an article on the internet that suggested, for barking when you leave the dog alone in the house, that you make a shaker out of coins in a can and leave and hide, then run in and throw the can of coins near the dog if he barks, gradually increasing your expected length of time. They also suggested an alternative is to burst in yell, "Quiet!" very loudly, and shake the can.

Another site says your yeling "No!" or "Quiet!" is like barking to a dog, and suggests instead holding them by the collar and closing their muzzle with your hand on top, and saying "Quiet." quietly.

I will try the ignoring first for in the house (unfortunately we' share walls with neighbours on both sides!) but what do you think of this bursting in thing, or the muzzle shutting for a correction if they are barking and you come back in?

July 27th, 2005, 11:24 PM
This dog is new to your home and adjusting, you don't want to scare it half to death. Speak to your neighbours about the issue. They may be very understanding and could possibly help you out. They can tell you how often the dog barks when you are not there, how long it continues etc.
For the attention getting bark, if you hold the mouth or say anything it is attention, exactly what he wants. The penny can is an option that is shaken by you w/o the dog knowing when they are barking at something besides you. Example, dog outside. Don't throw it towards them.
Yes yelling is like a bark so your dog with think that it is ok to bark. He barks, then you bark,...

If your dog barks when you leave and you return while he is barking he will also think that his barking caused you to return, especially if you say something or touch him when you return. This can be kind of tricky. If there is no way that the barking is going to stop before you enter the house, go inside but don't acknowledge him until he quiets. Then you can respond. You need him to learn that being quiet is the only way to get your attention.

July 27th, 2005, 11:35 PM
You have two different barking issues. Each will be dealt with differently.

Barking at you- ignore, turn around, walk away(Don't look, touch, talk)

Barking when you leave-When he figures out that when you leave the house you are actually going to come back. Don't respond to this one either. Wait til quiet. Start by leaving for short periods of time, even 30 sec. and gradually increase the time. Once you reach a 1/2 hour w/o barking all should be fine and you can leave for longer periods.

Barking at other things- This one you can correct w/ enough, quiet in firm voice, then get him to do something for 5-10 sec, reward for the quiet behaviour you created.