People – Can’t live with them; can’t live without them
Second in a series
Our dogs are not little people in furry suits. We love them that way but their upstairs wiring is somewhat different. With his significant anxiety disorder, Newt the Bichon Frise, struggled mightily with life in a human world. He was strongly bonded to his people, Anna and Tom, but his mind overflowed with angst. Contrary to what they had come to assume, urine marking was not his favorite pastime.
Newt was often on the edge of losing impulse control; almost anything could set him off. If Anna reached for him while they sat on the couch together he might curl his lip and spew nasty epithets at the woman in his life. He’d urinate on his water bowl and his people but then suddenly abandon these targets in favor of the walls and furniture. He’d even jumped onto the dining room table and, well, you know. This dog was only fully relaxed 10-15% of the time.
Newt was more connected to Anna. He followed her around the house, sticking to her like Velcro. When his beloved was gone he camped-out at the door, fully ignoring poor Tom’s attempts to engage him in play or even bedtime stories. Always a glass half-full person, this good man felt like a potted plant when his wife was away although, thankfully, not like a fire hydrant.
Newt’s reactive snapping also needed to change. When Anna and Tom had visitors the little devil followed them around the house, barking and nipping at them. A kind-hearted guest tried to pick him up and scared the poop out of the kid. During his evaluation for doggie day care, he nipped the interviewer. Newt desperately needed a peaceful life. He wasn’t the only one.
Prescription Reconcile is a chewable tablet that does a good job of safely reducing anxiety, impulse control issues, and aggression. And it’s FDA approved for separation anxiety. After a few weeks Newt improved somewhat. Now he urine soiled only when his people were both away from home.
Next week: Reinforcement was part of the plan; punishment was not.
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.