Hello! We adopted a dog about 18 months ago (a black lab mix, 10 years old) to be a playmate/companion for our younger dog (basenji mix). His name is Mike Jones. I love this dog, but in the last 5 months, he has become increasingly anxious when we leave him for even a short period of time (15 minutes or so). In addition, he is EXTREMELY territorial with humans and other animals. I have zero doubt that he would bite if challenged.
So far, he has chewed/scratched his way out of our front door, two windows and a crate. I wouldn't have believed that a dog can escape from a crate, but he did. He scratched and bent the bars until he could squeeze out. The damage to our house so far for this dog has totalled about $1600.
We took Mike Jones to the vet, who prescribed him Xanax and Prozac, which has helped slightly, but he still can't stand being apart from us. The vet recommended that we place him in our yard for the day, with covering and water, but he can climb fences. We installed climb guards at the top and dig guards at the bottom, and he just climbs right over the fence (despite the guards) or chews his way out of the fence. So, the vet suggested that we get him a trolley with a tether for our yard, which we did. He is only on the trolley when we leave the house. This has worked to this point.
Here's the issue: I am continually fearful that Mike Jones will somehow escape his trolley while we are not home. I think about it all the time, worried. I worry that if he escapes he will hurt someone and have to be put down.
He is a very sweet dog with our family and rehoming isn't an option. I think he might have been an outside dog for the majority of his life, which would account for his need to escape and be outside. I just don't know what to do to ease my fears and to help him better be able to handle being left.
Are Mike and the other dog together when you are away from home? Is that an option?
I would be reluctant to tie out a dog (even on a trolley) when I wasn't home. Not only is there a possibility that he could slip out of his collar, I would worry about him getting tangled, or another dog could come into the yard.
I have never had an outside dog, but in your case (where it sounds like you've tried everything), I might suggest an outside kennel, with a doghouse for protection from the weather, and a roof (either chain link or solid). A concrete or block foundation would prevent him from digging; leave a space at one end (but not right next to the fence) that you can fill with pea rock, so he has a place with drainage to use as his toilet.
When you are home, bring him in the house with you - it sounds like he is OK when you are home? The only down side to putting him outside is if he barks.
My only other suggesting is a stronger kennel - big enough for both dogs, so Mike Jones isn't alone. And lots of chew toys, to give him something to do when he's confined.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.
you need someone who can help you work through his seperation anxiety and resource guarding. It's a long road, and it take patience and dedication. I would highly recommend hiring a certified behaviourist (certified is key and you absolutely want someone who does not use aversives). these are good books:
How much exercise does he get? I would up the physical and mental exercise. I also would absolutely not leave the 2 dogs alone together, that is a recipe for disaster.
I echo your fears about the potential for entanglement with the trolley. I hate it. He's in the house with us all the time. The only time he's on the trolley is when I go places I can't take him. Otherwise he's with me 24-7; he even rides with me to pick up the boys from school.
Karen (our other dog) is crated. She prefers it to being out when we are gone. We have tried leaving them both out together, and MJ gets out, but Karen stays in. I haven't tried the extra large crate with both in there, but with the violent behavior he demonstrated to get out of the other crate, I am worried he might inadvertantly hurt her. I will try it, though, because that would be so amazing! Thanks!
Starrlamia, thanks for the book suggestions. He gets about 2 hours of walking and about 45 mins or so of romping, fetching, etc.
The vet intimated to us that this would be an extremely difficult thing to change and gave us suggestions to overcome his issues. So far, we have tried leaving him in the house for very brief periods and reassuring him verbally from outside our house and consistently acting nonchalant when we come back into the house.
We are desperate, so I will try everything!
the books should help and are from very well known, educated behaviourists. Do not put the dogs in a crate or in a room together when you cannot supervise! this is a recipe for disaster with the behaviours he is showing and you could potentially come home to a wounded or even dead dog. It is definately not worth it!
We bought a stronger, larger crate last night, and he was so relcutant to get in, even with treats or with me in the crate. He got so distressed that he urinated on the floor. The crate is just too distressing for him; it's not ok for him. So, any crating is out.
I ordered the books mentioned, and I'm hoping that we can glean some insight there. We also have another appointment with the Vet.
Duh, of course the two dogs shouldn't be left alone together. I honestly don't know what I was thinking.
Poor Mike Jones! At his age, I would expect any training/reconditioning to take a long time, not because an old dog can't learn new stuff, but because he has a lot to un-learn.
I don't think I'd give up on the crate completely, based on him not wanting to go in right away. Leave it in the house with the door off, so he can go in and out as he pleases. Encourage him to go in often - but come out right away. Give him treats in the crate. Put in his favorite blanket (or an old tshirt that you've worn all day). I think eventually he'd get to a point where he would be more comfortable with it - and then I'd start feeding him in there.
Good luck, and bless you for taking on this dog.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.