Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do You Know A Dog Whisperer?

The last year has been extremely frustrating in dealing with my daughter's dog, Shady.  In August of 2011, Hayley moved to Kentucky to attend nursing school and although, she took one of her dogs, Rocco, she left me with Shady, a nine year old mutt of unknown origins who has lived with me for most of her entire life.  While Hayley was living at home prior to moving, Shady behaved reasonably well.  There were a few accidents but for the most part life with Shady was uneventful. Of course someone was at home the majority of the time.  However once Hayley departed taking one dog with her, Shady's behavior deteriorated.  At first she seemed okay but then gradually, she became more and more destructive when I am gone from home.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you've seen the evidence.  Trashed kitchens, bathrooms, siding torn off the house.  Here's some of the destruction I'm talking about:

The only thing that I can say is common about each incident, is that I am gone.  Sometimes it happens when it is stormy, sometimes it is a perfectly normal day weather wise.  Sometimes Shady seems nervous as I am leaving and I can tell it is coming and other times she seems perfectly normal when I leave.  Many times she is destructive even though she has a chew bone and lots of toys available to her.  Sometimes she has just been to run in the field before I leave, sometimes it's been days without exercise due to weather.   Generally if given a bone to chew on she will save it until I return.  Typically she will have shredded the siding off the house even though there is a chew bone laying nearby.  Exercise does not seem to make any difference.  She is taken out regularly before I leave for work or other activities and she is taken to run (weather permitting) about 2-3 times a week.  She is not at all a hyperactive or even slightly active dog.  When I am home she rarely gets up off her bed unless someone walks their dog by the house.  She then feels compelled to get up and bark like a maniac until they pass by, at which time she returns to her bed.  Like I say there is no pattern to the destructive behavior.  Just when I think it's a passing phase and relax, I come home to a trashed house.

In the distant past she had a long episode of destructiveness and I tried doggie Prozac.  It made her zombie like to the point that she would not even climb stairs, eat or get up off her bed.  I discontinued it. I have increasingly restricted her environment.  Initially, she was left free in the house with all available doors closed. However, there is no way to close off the kitchen and she has routinely pulled everything off the countertops and trashed it on the floor, torn the skirt off a chair in the living room and ripped the cable connection out of the wall.  When left in her dog pen, which is adjacent to the house, she has ripped the siding off the house.  When she has had access to the basement, she has chewed through doors and roamed the garage ripping up bags of potting soil.  I could go on and on.  When she recently tore the aluminum siding off the house in Blairsville, I returned home determined she would have to get used to being crated, something she has never liked.  I left her for 2 hours in a crate and when I returned it looked like this:

I spent the evening researching the problem and based on the dog whisperer's video, I surmised she needed training in how to act while I was gone.  So we spent considerable time learning to sit in her dog house ...
and lay quietly in her now rather dented and twisted crate....

She cooperated as long as I was around.  So today, I took her for a brisk walk this morning so that she would have exercise.  Then after lunch put her in her dog pen with her favorite Kong toy loaded with peanut butter and a basket of toys.  I returned about 2 hours later to find this:

Yes, she chewed right through siding and insulation and met me in the house.  I'm out of ideas.  What about you?
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  1. Oh, Lynne, this is such a travesty! She is, indeed, psychotic, and I'm afraid I don't have any viable suggestions for you except trying to find her a new home or getting another pet to keep her company.
    Good luck with all of this.

  2. she looks part chow and chows choose their people. It sounds like her person left and so did her canine companion. She is very upset...basically her world is rocked.
    I'd be tempted to try the doggy prozac again...half or even quarter dose at least for a while. Also, have you changed her food? Some food is high protein and can be like giving a sugar free kid a candy bar. As old as she is and as fairly sedate as her lifestyle sounds, see if you can find a food that is not so high in protein or feed her at night when you are home.
    This is really hard and my hat's off to you for keeping her through all this. Most people wouldn't.
    Two more things that can help calm dogs is the T method of petting...I usually go down the back and then down both sides at the same time, and/or a doggy shirt. Good luck! Victoria Jenkins

  3. @Martha and Victoria:
    Thanks for the ideas. She is definitely part chow. I have ordered a thundershirt and have someone repairing the wall by making it into rock. So far that has been successful but we are only one day into the newer environment.

  4. Lynne, I'm sharing a friend's suggestion:
    Bless the puppy's heart! How about pheromone room "fresheners"? You can get them as a spray or as a plug in like a room fresher and they deliver a pheromone that is supposed to calm animals.
    Never heard of this before, but anything to help.