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How to stop a Houdini?

Discussion in 'Woof Memorial Critter's Corner' started by DennisP, May 14, 2007.

  1. DennisP

    DennisP

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    Friends,
    My dog Hershey (Choc Lab) is a rescue dog that we got about 3.5 years ago. He is great when we are home but if we leave him at home it can be a nightmare. Now, when we got him the doctor said he was clausterphobic and could not be crate trained. Well he had been doing well till right before Easter. Around Easter he figured out how to open the refridgerater door. Before that he would counter surf and had gotten into eathing the cat's food (on top of the fridge) but nothing too bad. Well the other day we go to visit family and leave Hershey in his crate with bungee cords to make sure he would not get out. Well he did get out and the door to the crate was ruined. So we got him a new "wire" type crate and I hooked his lease to the door as an extra mesure. well guess what he rolled the crate over on it's side and was able to get the top free enough to get out. Now I think if I get some slip ties I can get latch it down so he can't get out that way but I am hopeing there is some better advice on GLOCKTALK. And yes, I excersise the dog and gave him a KONG treat with Peanut butter before leaving. I left him twice before in the new crate but he always seems to know that I am just outside or gone to the mailbox. This is very frustrating. Our GSD goes in her crate and goes straight to sleep. Hershey will sleep in his crate or Liberty's all day long (as long as the door is open)
    Thanks in advance
    Dennis P.
     
  2. mjb1

    mjb1 femineity CLM

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    Hi Dennis,
    I hope I don't get completely laughed out of here by my reply, but it's obvious that Hershey has anxiety issues. First, the doctor said he's claustrophobic. That's an anxiety response to a specific stimulous. Second, his activities left on his own at home (alone) suggest separation anxiety activities, if he's fine when you're there with him. Labs are prone to this, because they're high energy dogs (without a job) to begin with. Since he's a rescue, perhaps his past made this worse.

    Here's my suggestion. Ask your vet for anti-anxiety medication for him. For example, Xanax is quite cheap (if generic) and can be given as needed - i.e. right before the whole family is leaving for a while and he'll be left alone. Second, prozac (cheap, generic) is a daily medication that also helps quite a bit with dogs' anxiety. Both of the above meds have good research behind them for dogs, and won't break your bank account, very few side effects noted with dogs (if not the ones I've suggested, whatever meds your vet is comfortable working with).

    It sounds like you're doing good things behaviorally, like giving him something to do when you're gone (the pb-filled kong) and exercising him before you leave. You might also do an internet search on dog separation anxiety for plenty of behavioral and environmental suggestions.

    Crating him is probably making his overall level of anxiety worse right now. However, you CAN break a dog of crate anxiety behaviorally as well - with a TON of positve reinforcement, in the crate for even seconds at a time gets praise and rewards.

    IN the meantime, how about a garage or or larger room that is a bit more dog-proof until you have the separation anxiety under control? I'd really ask for meds if I were you. They can be a HUGE help in getting a dog over the hump while you're working on behavioral methods; some need them for lifetime, however.

    Good for you, for rescuing him. Of course, he needs extra TLC and management - he's lucky to have found you!



     

  3. DennisP

    DennisP

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    MJB,
    I just saw your response, for some reason I didn't get an e-mail notification. We have started leaving him in the bed room with the door closed but not in his crate and it is working well so far. Tuesday morning I went to a doctor's appointment and he apparently slept through my whole abscence. Again later in the day, I had to go to another Doctor's appoinment (wife's) and again no problems. I am still going to get meds though because I just feel terrible leaving him at home now. He is a wonderful dog and one of the most loving animals ever but his past has really effected him.

    Thanks again for the response.

    Dennis P.