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Rascalmyshadow

Coping as an only dog

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Some may remember about 3 months ago we rehomed Hugo one of our dogs which has left Rascal an only dog for the first time in his life (he’s 9), we didn’t think he would have any issues since the two dogs barely interacted and had the odd altercation.

 

He has spent his entire life by my side (coming to work before I was a SAHM)but never showed any signs of separation anxiety even the times he had to be left at home, in the last couple of months that has changed and the bad weather we have been having has made it that much worse (he has storm phobia).

 

On Sunday we had to go out for a couple of hours, he climbed up a stack of bricks (have now been moved) and squeezed through the top rails of our gate (he has never even tried to get out before).

 

I noticed him missing as soon as we got home, we managed to find him out in the joining street but something had happened that spooked him and he behaved like he didn’t recognise anyone so just kept running, it took my husband, his dad, my oldest daughter and two random people out of a car to finally catch him, he nearly got run over twice and ended up collapsing from exhaustion in someone’s yard (he ran a few k’s up and down hills) he woke up quite sore yesterday so I gave him some Metacam and some this morning and he is much better and behaving like his normal self.

 

Now we are stressed about leaving him at all which is not good since we are having to visit my baby son in hospital every second day.

Today we left my older son at home to dogsit as he is on school holidays but we are going to have a lot of medical appointments to attend in coming months, once the kids go back to school I won’t have anyone to stay with him.

 

When we go out he is left in the house with full access to all rooms and yard, we leave the tv going and heater/air con on if necessary, he also has the four cats for company but he is still obviously stressed.

 

Its been well over 20 years since I’ve had only one dog so have not really had any of these issues, we can’t afford a behaviourist/trainer to help us so I’m looking for any advice which could help.

 

He has recently been checked over by the vet so we know there’s nothing medically wrong and we have tried daily anxiety meds but he reacted very badly so we decided not to risk trying any others except for the one off ones we use for bad storms.

 

He won’t chew bones or anything and he’s not food motivated at all so we can’t use anything like that to keep him busy, he hates wearing jumpers and harnesses so wouldn’t put a thunder shirt on him, i’ll get some dap spray to try but any other ideas would be great.

 

 

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I would try a Dap collar rather than spray. I would buy them in bulk online as its cheaper.

When my lil Teddy Shihtzu came to us he would fret & cry at the door when we went out. Adaptil collar on, he wouldn't even get out of bed when we headed off to school!

 

The behavior you describe is exactly that of my heart dog Archie :cry: even with a second dog, nothing helped. Meds, adaptil, thunder shirt, training. Nothing. It reached a point were I had to pay someone to sit on my lounge and watch TV, so I could go out. (Not even kidding! Unless I was going somewhere that he sit 5 mins in the car).

 

Good luck, hope you find something to help.

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52 minutes ago, Rascalmyshadow said:

has left Rascal an only dog for the first time in his life (he’s 9),

..and that is a VERY big change  :( 
poor lad. 
Even tho he & Hugo weren't best mates ..it was another dog ..smell, sound ....

That, plus the stress his humans all have at present, and it's no wonder he is upset. 
The DAP collars are definitely worth a shot ...and something like this, perhaps ? 

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1 hour ago, persephone said:

..and that is a VERY big change  :( 
poor lad. 
Even tho he & Hugo weren't best mates ..it was another dog ..smell, sound ....

That, plus the stress his humans all have at present, and it's no wonder he is upset. 
The DAP collars are definitely worth a shot ...and something like this, perhaps ? 

Yes his world has been turned upside down in the last month, we have tried our best to make sure he is either with us or he has someone home and between my husband and my father in law they did as much as they could to keep his routine normal while I was in hospital.

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1 hour ago, crazydoglady99 said:

I would try a Dap collar rather than spray. I would buy them in bulk online as its cheaper.

When my lil Teddy Shihtzu came to us he would fret & cry at the door when we went out. Adaptil collar on, he wouldn't even get out of bed when we headed off to school!

 

The behavior you describe is exactly that of my heart dog Archie :cry: even with a second dog, nothing helped. Meds, adaptil, thunder shirt, training. Nothing. It reached a point were I had to pay someone to sit on my lounge and watch TV, so I could go out. (Not even kidding! Unless I was going somewhere that he sit 5 mins in the car).

 

Good luck, hope you find something to help.

I’ll look for the collar on Friday and if it works I’ll buy a few online.

I really hope it helps normally we would only leave Rascal to go shopping otherwise he’s with us and he has been fine with that but the hospital is so far away we are gone for 4-5 hours.

 

This is one of the main reasons I never had just one dog (except when I was still living with my parents).

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Have you considered crating him while you are out with some of your clothes or bedding in his crate?

 

Another idea is maybe recording yourself reading a story and putting that on for him while he is in his crate with your scent.

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Not considered crating he has not been taught to be crated and I think it would add more stress, our property is dog proof he only managed to get out because my husband stacked bricks against the gate so not worried about him getting out again now they have been moved.

 

I could leave some of my clothes for him, not sure how I would record my voice and be able to play it back.

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Rascal my girl Stussy is now an only dog after 11 years of being in a 3 and 4 dog household. She is enjoying the extra attention but is a bit nervous when one of us leaves the house. I thought she would really struggle as an only dog as she is very social and interactive with other dogs (even strange dogs).

 

Besides Hugo going he has also had you out of the house unexpectedly and now you are home and your focus is elsewhere (totally understandable with new bub). It is possible he is reacting to more than just the loss of Hugo - dynamics in your house have changed considerably in a very short period of time and things could be fluid for some time to come. Is it worth checking out doggy day care options as that might give him socialisation and activity in his routine plus have him in a supervised environment at times when you wont be home for an extended period? Who is he closest to in your house - is it possible for that person to devote some focused one on one time to him every day to develop a new and enjoyable routine?

 

I know you don't need this worry on top of everything else. I hope it resolves.

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He has been enjoying the one on one without any competition but we did notice a few changes within a couple of weeks of Hugo leaving, me going into hospital has definitely not helped the situation but he didn’t react like this when I went into hospital to have my daughter which is what leads me to believe being an only dog has something to do with it.

 

My son hasn’t come home from the hospital and at this stage he’s not likely to until he has his heart surgery in January so except for us visiting him every second day everything else is back to normal, Rascal has been going with my husband to do the school run, we have taken him to visit the grandparents and we have been taking him to the oval where we would normally go for a walk.

 

While he is a friendly little dog I don’t think he would enjoy doggie day care, he doesn’t interact with dogs out in public except for a quick sniff or bark and he’s only really been interested in playing with two other dogs (both were fosters) in his life.

 

He is predominantly my dog, I make sure I have time for him every day no matter what else is going on and he will happily interact with everyone else, if I’m busy he’ll go and hang out in my sons room or play chasey and tug o war with my almost three year old or chill out on the couch with my older daughter or go and supervise my husband outside, although our lives have been turned a bit upside down he has still been a main priority.

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Running from thunderstorms is impossible to manage once they are out and away.  Neighbour's sheepdog got loose in those storms last week, went an extraordinary distance running frantic and was luckily found alive and well aside from exhaustion.

 

I'd have said crate training was the best option til you said why you prefer not to.  Most I can say is that it does give them a wonderful sense of safety and security.  We have lost two of our dogs at age 16, Piper the rottie to bone cancer and little Frodo to a cumulative overload of issues.  I was worried that Rheneas would not cope well, but after a very brief time of mild confusion I think he much prefers being the only dog and enjoys undivided attention.  He's also 16 and has finally given up chasing thunder and lightning (he'd always run to it in excitement, never away from it in fear).

 

I always leave the TV on for Rheneas, the constant change of light and sound I think reduces any 'home alone' feeling just a whisker when he wakes up from a snooze.   

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Marlena de Martini has an online separation anxiety course.

 

Agree with Adaptil but Zylkene may be more effective than tryptophan supplements.

 

Please talk to your vet if behaviour mod, management, enrichment, over the counter stuff aren’t enough.

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Apologies Rascal - I didn't mean to sound judgemental at all. You have been through something very significant and important and I would expect that was and should be your top priority. You can only pull yourself so many ways. I was just wondering whether there has been a different mood in the household over the last few weeks (particularly while you were in hospital) that he is picking up on without understanding what it means? Some dogs can be very sensitive to the little nuances.

 

I hope some of the supplements work and that he settles in again.:flower:

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asal   

Yes the tv might help, my sons dogs are petrified of storms and cracker night... so for new years I was dogsitting them,  tv was on a movie and they could hear the fireworks, so changed channels and when the   tv channel flipped to the fireworks display on the harbour bridge.... they curled up beside the tv and didnt notice a thing coming from all the racket going on out in the street.

 

yet to me the racket on the tv was the same but no, didn't bother them at all thanks to the tv.

 

sometimes you just never know what will work.

 

case of keep trying to see what works

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25 minutes ago, Little Gifts said:

Apologies Rascal - I didn't mean to sound judgemental at all. You have been through something very significant and important and I would expect that was and should be your top priority. You can only pull yourself so many ways. I was just wondering whether there has been a different mood in the household over the last few weeks (particularly while you were in hospital) that he is picking up on without understanding what it means? Some dogs can be very sensitive to the little nuances.

 

I hope some of the supplements work and that he settles in again.:flower:

No need for apologies I didn’t take it that way, just explaining the whole situation so I can get the best advice.

 

I think you could be right about the change of mood, Rascal is exremely sensitive if I’m not feeling good and if one of the kids aren’t well (especially my youngest) he will stay by their side so I guess even though we are trying to keep everything as normal as possible he will be sensing we are all a bit worried.

Edited by Rascalmyshadow
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I just saw this, how is he going? If hes still struggling you are welcome to bring him to meet my boys, we have someone home nearly all the time at the moment so can possibly help.

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