Condo Blues: Our Fearful Dog: Some Days I'm Not Sure How to Help Her

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Our Fearful Dog: Some Days I'm Not Sure How to Help Her

I am flattered when people complement Husband and I on the lengths we will go to rehabilitate a dog with behavioral issues. Sometimes they use nice words like Miracle Worker.

I feel weird about that because I do not think we perform miracles. I think it is more Husband and I being too stubborn to let a pup wallow in fear and act out because of it because we know they have an inner awesome they haven’t discovered yet.

 We read tons of dog behavior books. When we take classes, we pester dog experts with tons of questions. We put together a team of professionals who know more about dogs than we ever will to train us AND our dog. Husband and I aren’t afraid to be wrong and we often are.

The green collar is a calming dog collar. It has mother dog phermones, lavender, and chamomile essential oils to help Lacey stay calm in stressful situations. Our behaviorist recommended it because it goes where Lacey is when she is stressing unlike the phermone plug ins I used with Blitzkrieg. 
The collar lasts 30 days. I bought mine from Amazon here.

Besides teaching basic manners and obedience, our first task is for Lacey to learn it is her humans' job to be the leader and protect the pack, not hers. She does not have to bark and act like a tough girl because she is scared and thinks she should “get them before they get her." Once Lacey learns that, then and only then we will teach her jujitsu and allow her to eat any robbers that try to break into the house while we call the police but this is a long ways away.

Lacey's separation anxiety is worse than we thought. She needs both Husband and I at home to be calm(ish.) Lacey prefers both of us to be in the same room with her or we have a day like this:

8am Husband takes Lacey out for her morning potty and poo. Husband feeds Lacey. The three of us start working from home in the office. 

11am Clean up poo accident in living room because I refused to let Lacey in the bathroom with me.  

11:15 Pour a cup of coffee. Wonder if I will ever have alone time without Lacey having a stress related potty accident.

12:30pm Frantic call to the vet Lacey has not met yet. Lacey ate something I dropped. Conned Lacey into drinking something the vet said would make her vomit. (Do not use syrup of ipecac it is toxic to dogs)

12:35 Clean up dog puke.

12:40 Clean up dog puke

12:45 Clean up dog puke. Realize dog food expands greatly on the way back up.

12:46 Stressed and wish I had a cosmo. Make homegrown peppermint tea instead. (Learn how I dry mint and herbs without a dehydrator here.)

1:00 Lacey barks to go outside for a potty and a walk. I immediately drop what I am doing because we are trying to get Lacey to potty outside instead of in a litter box like her former home. I think we are getting this down!

Then I pass poo pile in the living room on the way to the front door.

In case you are counting, that is three poos instead of her normal one.

1:30 Back from our walk. I clean up poo accident. Make more peppermint tea. Still wish it were a cosmo.

2:00 Finally back at the computer to work.

2:05 Really want a cosmo.

2:06 Wonder if a calming dog collar works on humans too.

All of this happened because I left Lacey alone in the computer room with Husband for 15 minutes followed by Husband leaving our home office for his office office for the rest of the day.

Lacey is just as bad or worse when both Husband and I leave the house. Saturday Husband and I went spent about four hours at the Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes exhibit at COSI for a blogger event (you can check out what we did on Instagram here.) We took Lacey out to do all of the business she needed to do plus a couple of walks to drain her nervous energy.

We put Lacey behind a baby gate in the kitchen with regular and a treat dispensing toys as positive distractions while we were out.

Husband and I came home to a stress related potty accident. Lacey tried to remove the tablecloth from the dining room table and maybe climb onto the table itself. She was so upset she didn’t eat from her puzzle toy. She dove into it after Husband and I got home.

The following day, Lacey attacked the feather duster; removed and started to eat a child proof outlet cover. Apparently, they are not dog proof. More upsetting is Lacey doesn't care about saving energy by sealing off air leaks from the outlets. The only way to calm her down was to forget everything I planned to do and read on the sofa.  

I am both amazed and afraid to find out how Lacey got this out of a live outlet. 

Lacey plastered herself to my side for the rest of the day. On one hand, it is adorable. On the other, I totally screwed up being the pack leader. I let Lacey hold me hostage. 

I'm under the white throw. Lacey is touching both Husband and I as a sign of affection.

I know how to help a dog who is so stressed they won't eat. I'm not sure what to do about a dog who is so upset she sneaks off to have an accident in the house. It is sad and frustrating at the same time. Parent bloggers, I am you.

I don't know how to get through to Lacey that she is safe and if we leave, we will always come back. 

We are Lacey's forever home. She doesn't have to be a bossy pants out of fear and anxiety. We will not give up on Lacey.  I'm not sure how to communicate this to her.

All I know is today I am not the Miracle Worker. I don't even know what I'm talking about.

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Beth J said...

Keep up your incredible work. To have that much patience even when you want to tear out your hair is a miracle. Just remember that for her to trust you and love you that much means something.

Unknown said...

Wow Lisa, I think you and your husband ARE doing a good job, although it might not feel that way. It takes oodles of time to help a sweet pet unlearn their prior feelings of fear and anxiety.

I'm still working with our formerly feral cat Aliza, who languished in a pet shelter because nobody wanted a unsocialized cat. And like you, that was all my heart needed to hear to scoop her up and bring her home. That was almost 10 years ago. Has she improved? Yes, huge strides in trust and affection. Does she still revert back to her old feelings of being scared, lonely and pulling out her fur and anxious? Sadly, yes though not nearly as frequently.

It does take a huge heart to handle this, and I think Lacey is so very lucky to have two furrever parents who DO have huge hearts! Hang in there!

Stampin' VMG206 said...


Don't give up hope. In a former life, we owned a Doggie Daycare and handled over 100 dogs per day/7days a week.

Have you tried a Thunder Shirt? They don't always work - but when the do it's wonderful. They are available online or at most pet stores and are about $39.99. They are a thin "coat" like wrap that goes on the dog and when it works, the do instantly feels secure. You might also check into Tellington Touch. You can read about it online and we have found the many dogs have benefited from it.

I’m visiting from Sugar Bee. I hope you can stop by my blog and leave a comment and Link Up!
~ Megin of VMG206

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Have you ever checked into those weighted jackets? What about a play mate to give her something else to latch onto?

LadyCiani said...

Maybe you shouldn't be fighting the indoor potty so much - put one out, and progressively move it closer to the door until it's outside. This is what my friend said was supposed to happen with housebreaking a puppy - move the pee pads outside. So it makes sense to give her what she's familiar using, and moving it outside slowly.

Scrapin'Sue said...

I'm sending you a cosmo!
There are a few dogs at the dog park here that wear thunder shirts with great success.
All I can say is patience and you are doing a wonderful job in a difficult situation that you are dedicated to.

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