Third in a series
Don’t lock him up
Bang, bang, ding, dong! Just as Diane walked into the house, finding more of Jasper’s daily carnage, somebody was outside! Fresh scratches on the door, pillows disemboweled, and a reeking fecal pile was no kind of welcome home, especially from this starving beagle they had rescued from the road side. Bang, bang. And who in @#%&* kept banging on the front door???!!!
Wishing hard that her husband Richard would arrive – like now – Diane squared her shoulders, stepped over the poop, and opened the door. With chin out, hands on hips, and wearing an imperious glare was Nellie from next door. And she was mad as @#%&*! Diane had already endured a few of her tirades. Jasper’s continual daytime barking and howling had provoked threats of a visit from Animal Welfare. Something had to be done.
Adding Jasper to their lives had made a difference in Diane’s depression. He was such a sweet dog – but his behavior when they were away was straining their patience. Even confining him to a crate hadn’t helped. He’d thrashed and trashed it, frantically biting the bars and cutting his lips and breaking a tooth in the process.
My first job when I met this committed but beleaguered couple, was to dispel their private logic. Was Jasper punishing them for leaving him? Maybe he didn’t want them to go. Or, he needed another dog. Passive/aggressive motives are human foibles. Dogs live in the moment; they do not scheme and plot the demise of their people. Retribution isn’t part of the canine behavioral repertoire.
Jasper’s history, and very likely his genetic programming, set his brain into a cascade of anxiety when he found himself stuck indoors. When alone and with no way of escaping the confines of a house he wigged out. Incarcerating him in a crate only closed the walls in more. This dog needed a new plan. Medication to reduce his anxiety would very likely help but serious management changes would also be essential. Next-door Nellie also needed a break. Come back next week: Redemption or relinquishment?
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 Facebook Live 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.