Sunday, March 8, 2009

Long Week

The past week was a long week for a certain little red dog. It seems like Iris' anxiety was in overdrive all week. She's been better about me leaving for work (I think), if I'm pretty quiet about leaving. I came home on Wednesday and could hear her barking as soon as I got close to my apartment. I suspect it was in anticipation of me coming home? As much as I hated doing it, I left her in her crate for a little while after I walked in since I didn't want her thinking that the order of events is "bark bark bark, I walk in the apartment, she stops barking, and I immediately let her out." She needs to stay quiet. So far, the neighbors have been beyond tolerant. I know crating her while I'm at work is too long, but switching her to an x-pen didn't make any difference. Even on the nights that she was quiet when I walked in, I could tell that she'd just been in there panting. She's turning her front legs and mouth pink from panting and drooling.

I've thought about having someone come in to walk her or maybe leaving her at a doggie day care, but I don't think either is really a good option for us. She's been so reactive to other dogs and people lately around the apartment complex that I'm not sure I want someone else walking her. Plus, she'd have to go through the stress of someone leaving her all over again. She's not a great candidate for doggie day care because she's so picky about other dogs. I could board her during the day, but she'd just be sitting alone in a strange place instead of in her familiar crate. I don't see that as being less stressful, although it would probably be nicer for my neighbors.

At least the weather is getting warmer. Iris has gotten a TON of exercise this weekend. Hopefully more exercise will take some of the edge off. Right now it's looking possible that we'll be moving into a house in early summer instead of an apartment. No guarentees yet, but our lease is up the first week of June. If we end up renting in a house, I'll be able to set up a bigger space for Iris during the day instead of just the crate. So think positive thoughts for us! Also, I might try and get down to my dad's next weekend so she can have a "play date" with her Beagle. I know she misses Henry. Unfortunately, Beagles are one of the banned breeds in my apartment complex (that's right - pit bulls, Rotties, GSDs, and Beagles!)

So now it seems like we're still right back to where we started. For the next couple months, she has to stay in the crate. If I can get her relaxing more, I could try moving her to the x-pen again. I've been trying to research separation anixety via the internet and haven't really found anything useful. She doesn't really fit the typical sparation anxiety decription. When I'm home, she's pretty independent. She doesn't follow me around, doesn't need constant attention. I already do a loose version of NILIF with her and try to make my coming and going as low key as possible. Any other ideas? Someone did suggest getting a video camera and recording her for the day. Maybe there's something happening during the day that I don't know about (noise upstairs? A delievery truck outside?) that's setting her off. I'm not sure if I can get access to a camera that would record all day. Maybe a webcam? I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud right now.

Another thought - maybe I should look more into something like Flower Essences? Anyone had any luck? I've tried Rescue Remedy but without much result. Although maybe it just wasn't the right choice?

My poor little red dog. Sometimes I really wish dogs could understand English.


Katrin said...

Try a DAP diffuser. (Dog Appeasing Pheremones) With some dogs those work wonders to lessen anxiety. You can get the plug in that plugs into a wall outlet and that you just get refills for when it runs out.

Also are you giving her any mental toys to play with when you are gone? Stuffed kongs, flying disk toys, etc? That might help too.

Jules said...

re Flower Essences - you could try Aspen. That was recommended for Ike - it is for unfounded fears.
:-) He has a lot of those!

I have a book on Flower Essences for companion animals you can borrow. I will try to remember to bring it on Tuesday.

Blue said...

Katrin, I did try a DAP diffuser. I don't think it's made much of a difference for her, although I do still have it next to her crate. :(

I used to give her a kong when I'd leave for work but stopped because she wouldn't touch it until I got home from work anyway. Maybe I need to try again but get more creative with what I'm stuffing it with? I think you're right, she does need more mental stimulation during the day. I'm just not sure what will actually work since she's not usually very interested in toys.

Julie, that would be awesome if I could borrow that book.

Diana said...

How much exercise is she getting before you have to leave the house? I know its hard to exercise your dog early in the morning but it may help. I walk my dogs 50 minutes in the morning and have to be at work by 7am. Does she like to play ball. Maybe throw the ball down the hall for 20 minutes or so. Just a thought. Diana

"Ice Pony Girl" said...

What breed? Aussie? She may need more workouts, as they tend to get crazy with boredom.

I would for sure still use the crate when you are not home. Can you change the times you come home, one day on time...the next day a few minutes later, etc. this way she never knows when you are coming home and maybe she will not bark.


Good luck!

Ice Pony Girl
Happy Tails Beagle List

Blue said...

Thanks guys for all the advice! I think you have a very good point about how much exercise she's getting. She gets a short walk before I leave, but no where near as long as we used to walk before we moved. I've been using the lack of sidewalks combined with all the snow as an excuse (Iris really wants to chase cars). She is an Aussie, and she does have plenty of energy.

I did some exploring and there's a quiet neighborhood just up the street that actually has a a lot of space WITH sidewalks. We're going to try that in the morning.