Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by KibasMom, May 28, 2012.

  1. KibasMom Member

    Hey (: So I have a puppy (rat terrier) he is almost 7 months old and he is the light of my life, I absolutely adore him. Sad for me, I am inexperienced as this is my first puppy. He's actually pretty smart and obeys commands but I've noticed a behavior pattern that is starting to get me worried. Rat terriers are notorious for being loyal to their owners so I was wondering if maybe they are more prone to separation anxiety or if my puppy, Kiba is experiencing it. We keep him in a caged area (kind of like a mini fence) with a bed, food and water but he got so big that he was able to jump right out. We ended up having to stretch a sheet so it was taut across the top of his "room" so he wouldn't get out when we left. But back to the point, I notice that whenever no one is home and he happens to be houdini and escape, he is very destructive. The three times he has manages to escape he chewed up my phone charger, my head set to my computer, attempted to printer wire and today when I came home he had chewed up all my tuppawear and had even gotten ahold of the blinds. Also, when we are getting ready to leave and put him away, he starts crying really loudly and I can hear him in his room trying to get out and he wont eat anything if no one's home. How do I stop this destructive behavior? I also don't want him stressed out or feeling anxiety just because we stepped out for a couple hours. Any advice?

  2. Tâmara Vaz Experienced Member

    Get a look on the vid...
    Dogster and tigerlily46514 like this.
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    LOVED Tamara's advice above, is probably best advice you will get. Someone i know is experiencing a similar issue, and she is currently keeping her puppy in her bathroom full of kongs and toys, for now,
    after dog-proofing the bathroom. She used the video above, to train her dog to "like" being in the bathroom, step by step.
    she also gets up an hour earlier, and walks that dog a long long time prior to leaving for work, and comes home at lunch time to walk him again, for as long as she can. She is getting very very skinny from this routine, too.
    she is putting in new toys and pig ears, etc, regularly, as well.

    It's hard to keep an energetic puppy from being bored when they are home alone.
    How much exercise does this pup get every day?

    How long is this dog home alone?
    Is there anyway, someone can come let out the dog every few hours or so?
    Are there any doggie daycares around that you can afford?

    Have you also tried teaching this dog some tricks? (provides relief of mental boredom, increases bonding). Any trick will do, about one trick per week, in short, quickie 5 or 10 minute lessons twice a day.

    ONe trick that you might want to consider teaching, is "leave it". and AFTER your dog fully solidly undertand what "leave it" means, you can bring dog to object he chews up, and tell him to "leave it" and he probably will. That was how i got my dog to stop eating poop, anyway.
    I took him to the poops, daily, and told him to "leave it", and OVERTIME, with daily lessons, he was then able to generalize that to all poops and quit eating ANY of them.
    whew, right? ha ha.
    but, it did take some daily repetition, to help my dog understand what i was conveying to him, not just "once", but daily.
    and again, this was done AFTER my dog understood how to do "leave it" with a hot steak in a room all by himself.
    NOT on his first "leave it" lesson, see.

    so this method *might* also work with chewing up your blinds or whatever.
    GOOD LUCK, and do hang in there!!
    Dogster likes this.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Teaching "leave it" is only an attempt to solve the display, but isn't addressing the underlying problem. Almost always, when a dog is destructive, they are saying, "I'm BORED out of my mind".
    so solving boredom,
    would solve the destruction, most likely.

    A tired dog,
    is a good dog.

    but, if a dog is home alone for most of his week, it's pretty hard to prevent boredom.

    still, here is how to teach a dog "Leave It".

    Here is how i taught "Leave It"
    Reply #10:
    ^If you decide to try that to help your dog stop eating the blinds, etc,
    you'd just swap out the word "poop" for the word "blinds" i guess.

    and here is another way to teach "Leave It"
    Dogster likes this.
  5. fickla Experienced Member

    I highly recommend you get Patricia McConnell's book "I'll be home soon" or Nicole Wilde's book "Don't Leave Me." They will walk you through the standard SA protocol. You need to get on this right away as true SA will only get worse.

    Video tape your dog when you are gone so that you can really see what you are doing. Most dogs do not have separation anxiety, but are bored and frustrated. When you watch the video, note your dog's behaviors and keep records on whether the panic or destruction occurs just in the beginning of your absence and then calms down (with maybe another peak around the time you usually come home). If your dog is calm in the middle, I highly doubt he has separation anxiety and leaving stuffed kongs and bones to occupy your dog can help a lot. But if your dog is in a true panic the entire time, you need to do behavioral work now!

    I wrote a little bit about it on my blog when I finally let go of the idea that Vito's anxiety when left was not just frustration but panic attacks:

    Doing just the protocol helped him a ton, but it wasn't enough. We finally put Vito on prozac under the guide of a vet behaviorist and combined with the behavioral work Vito can now be left for up to 5hrs.
    sara, tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.
  6. KibasMom Member

    Thanks for all the information guys. My puppy gets regular exercise everyday unless it's raining and that is not by my choice but his. I've doned a rain coat a few times and tried to take him out but as soon as we leave the safety of our apartment and he feels the rain, he digs is paws into the ground and sits there. If I wanted to walk him when it rained it would be more like me dragging him. When it isn't raining out I walk him once or twice a day. Usually once in the morning and once in the evening for half an hour intervals. Or sometimes I opt to take him to the dog park and we spend a little over an hour there. I don't know what his behavior is like when we actually leave the house for the entire time and I can't really afford new gizmos to put up surveilance in my apartment. At this point we did put a top on his little space so he can't get out but it still worries me that he might be really upset when we are gone.
    He usually isn't left home for long periods of time. Usually just on saturdays when I have a full 9 hour shift and so does my boyfriend and my brother. Other than that we opt to take him with us wherever we go but there are times when hes left at home for up to 4 hours at a time but it isn't too often
    He doesnt have a problem with his little room. He's definitely not a morning dog so when we wake up in the morning he follows us around and every morning he always goes into his room by himself with the door open and will lay down and sleep in his bed until he is ready to get up.
    I know internet reading isn't always the best way to determine something but signs are there. They said you can tell by behavior and a lot of dogs with separation anxiety will become destructive when they are left home alone. Another thing is, no matter how short of a time we are gone, if we leave the apartment for a few minutes or a couple hours everytime we come back and see him he is SO excited to see us. Like seriously overly excited like he hasn't seen us in years. He trips over himself trying to jump on you, licking constantly, tail wagging. And this happens every time, no matter how long or short of a time you are gone.
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //My puppy gets regular exercise everyday unless it's raining and that is not by my choice but his..................When it isn't raining out I walk him once or twice a day.//

    see, thing is, for *my* dog anyway, he'd have fits and all manner of destructive problems if that is what i called "regular exercise". For some dogs, a daily walk *might* satisfy their need for something to do, but wowza, not for my dog, and there are lots of other dogs, who have a much higher exercise requirement than a daily walk.

    Your dog *might* be one of those dogs, too.

    Lots of ppl think if their dog is small, that the small dog needs "less exercise", but, some small dogs are chockful of energy :ROFLMAO: that they need to burn off.

    It'd be worth a try, just to check,
    to really amp up this dogs exercise per day, each and every day.
    and evaluate,
    after a week or two of daily vigorous exercise, and maybe some daily tricks training, ask yourself
    "Is my dog now a more content/less destructive dog?"O_o

    If your dog is STILL destructive, then, you can be pretty sure, the root of his destructive behavior is not boredom/unspent energy making him nutty. But really often, boredom and unspent energy building up, can be at the root of destructive behaviors. It's a pretty easy thing to rule out,:D really, just to see if your dog is one of those dogs who need more than a daily walk to stay sane.

    Just to rule that out, (and i could be wrong, this might not be it at all, but just as a trial thing, for two weeks)
    You might consider trying this:
    Every day, just for two weeks-----------
    ~take him for 3 walks, good long walks, not just around the block. On rainy days, try driving him to the park and walking him there. (you might be surprised to find out, he will walk in the rain at the park, who knows)
    ~Give this dog at least two 30-minute play sessions, where you are making the dog run around, stuff like fetch, chasing games, tuggie toy play, etc. Physical stuff, you know?
    ~Give him five- or ten-minute tricks training lessons, two times every day. Any trick, doesn't matter which trick. (positive only, of course, rewarding and praising correct moves and ignoring mistakes)

    Maybe just try it, for two weeks.????
    If this DOES help, it doesn't necessarily mean you would have to maintain that level of interaction with your dog for life, you could probably cut it back a bit.
    My dog is cool:cool: for one boring day now and then, mayybe even two,:( but wow, three boring days:mad: (boring days--days where he only gets walks)
    and wow, will he begin tearing up his toys!!!
    So who knows, if this trial DOES solve the destructive behaviors, overtime, you could probably cut it back some if it is a real struggle for your lifestyle to accommodate that routine,

    it *might* be worth a try??

    GOOD LUCK, and keep us posted!!!
    Ripleygirl likes this.
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //Like seriously overly excited like he hasn't seen us in years. He trips over himself trying to jump on you, licking constantly, tail wagging. And this happens every time, no matter how long or short of a time you are gone.//

    lol, my dog does a very similar thing, in his own way, and this is one of my favorite things about dogs!! I LOVE THAT welcome home that dogs give you!!:ROFLMAO: Even if you just ran back in the house to get your coat, lol, i love this about dogs!!:love: I once heard the funniest comedian skit about dogs doing this, acting like they haven't seen you, when you've been gone 10 minutes, wish i could find that skit.

    but i don't see that as a sign of SA, cuz lots of dogs do this to their owners coming home, but, i could be wrong.
  9. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //They said you can tell by behavior and a lot of dogs with separation anxiety will become destructive when they are left home alone.//

    did you try the exercises in the quickie video in "reply #2"????
  10. Anneke Honored Member

    Good advice from everyone!
    There is one thing that I would like to adress, though. And that is the excitement when you return.
    What do you do, when you come back? Do you go to his penn, let him out and join the excitement, by greeting him, petting him, high pitched voice?
    If so, DON'T!!! I know it is tempting, but what you are doing is telling him it is ok to be so excited/worried.
    What I would do, in a case like this, is come home and ignore my dog.(very hard to do!!!) Ignore and go about my business, taking off coat/shoes, putting away grocery(anything you normally would do, if you didn't have the dog there). And wait for him to calm down. Only when the dog is calm(not jumping around, whining/barking, pacing) go and let him out of his penn. When you do, just let him out, still no excited cuddling.
    If he manages to get out, before you wanted him to get out, simply take him back in. Don't get mad, don't say anything, just take him back and leave him, to go about your thing.

    Another thing I would do, is to put him in his room, while I am still at home. So he doesn't automaticaly think: she puts me in here, so I'm going to be alone!!! Leave him in there for a few minutes, then let him out. All this without any fuss, no excitement from your part. Give him a chewbone/kong while in there, when you are at home. Reward the moment he is calm(clicker/treat, or just treat) Try to look for a moment when he is lying down and calmly bring the treat to him.
    That way, hopefully, he will start to associate the penn with nice things, and not with you leaving.
    Good luck!
    Ripleygirl likes this.
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    aw, Anneke, do we have to? aw man, i love the "welcome home" craziness:ROFLMAO: ....darn.
  12. KibasMom Member

    I do not assume that my small dog has not as much energy as bigger dogs, he probably has a higher energy than most larger breeds which is why I walk him multiple times a day and take him out to play fetch in the front yard so he can run around. His behavior when we are home is no problem at all, he is very well behaved when we are home, I dont think it's an exercise issue. Yesterday I walked him for a total of over 4 miles and he stills keeps going and going all day long.
    //What do you do, when you come back? Do you go to his penn, let him out and join the excitement, by greeting him, petting him, high pitched voice? //
    No, I do not greet my dog like that. I used to when he was a baby but a friend of mine told me to do that. He only greets me like that when he's out of his pen (when someone else is home) and I come home. In that case I ignore him till he calms down. When he is in his pen and I come home he just looks at me and stays in his bed until I let him out which then when he comes out he gets really excited.
    //Another thing I would do, is to put him in his room, while I am still at home. So he doesn't automaticaly think: she puts me in here, so I'm going to be alone!!!//
    He does go into his room when we are home. Like when Im cleaning or sometimes when I'm studying and at night when it's time for him to go to bed.I know he isn't associating being in his room to when we are leaving all the time. The crying only starts when we put him in his pen and he hears the front door open.
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    OH Kibas, so so sorry, i misunderstood you :notworthy: when you said you walked him once or twice a day if it is not raining, SO SO SORRY!!
  14. running_dog Honored Member

    So could you start right there? Put him in his pen with lots of toys/food, open and close the front door (without going out) and then go straight back to him and let him out no fuss until that door trigger doesn't mean abandonment then gradually increase the time between opening and closing the front door and going back to him? After that you would be able to step outside the door and then back in and later run the car engine for a few seconds before you went back in, then drive round the block and go back to him... it isn't a quick fix but it could work.

    Another thought is that Zac is happier being left home alone now he knows there is another dog in the house (even though Gus is caged out of Zac's area). Zac is never totally freaked out though, just annoyed that we dare to go out without him!
  15. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    RunningDog's idea is in sync with kikopup's idea:D:D in video in Tamara's "reply#2" .
    The video exercises *might* be better to avoid accidentally teaching dog, "if you whine, i run back to you", not sure.

    What you see going on, in that video, is called "conditioning" a dog to like being alone, slowly, step by step. slowly. MIght be worth a try, too. NOte how briefly kikopup advances along, leaving pup alone in VERY brief increments, setting dog up for success. She also discusses door noise desensitization, and preventing whining in that video, too.

    Mind you, i get impression, that the ONE filmed session by kikopup is not meant to be seen as the cure, but, rather, something you'd work on daily maybe, AS AN EXERCISE, and slowly advancing along OVERTIME, and slowly increasing the time, etc, til dog is fine home alone.
    Not just one lesson, i mean.
  16. KibasMom Member

    Yea I understand that and I'll definitely try it. I think he cries for about 20 minutes after we've left before settling down and going to bed. I try to make him eat before we leave because his behavior is such that if I leave his food bowl in with him, he won't eat it but he will dig it all out and scatter it all over his room and the carpet. The only time I do leave it in there is if we are going to be gone for a few hours. Well I'll try the suggestions and keep it posted (:
  17. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Keep us posted as to your progress, or lack thereof!! probably best to set your mind up to think this will take TIME to solve,
    and then, if it gets solved earlier, you can be pleasantly surprised, :D (instead of let down it took longer than you wanted.)

    sometimes, an idea has to be tweaked a bit, and i know trying to change a dog's behavior can be frustrating and challenging, so, if you need an ear, or some tweaking of methods you are trying,
    or some "you can do it, hang in there":ROFLMAO:
    we are here for you.
    i truly believe you CAN solve this one. I really do.

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