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A CASE of Mistaken Identity?

“He’s a different dog!!” Beautiful words spoken by a client I encountered at Central Dawgma and the Dog Wash. She was smiling and, honestly, I swear, her tiny dog was smiling, too! I met the pair months ago when a local veterinarian referred her due to a severe case of separation anxiety. Her dog was damaging himself and the house and there appeared to be no relief in sight for this anxiety ridden pup. The Doctor prescribed a short course of Prozac and, wisely, consultation with a professional dog trainer. When I met him, he was clearly anxious and had few coping mechanisms to deal with his “stressful” environment. We started training and positively reinforcing basic behaviors: sit, down, coupled with some fun tricks. All intended to build his confidence and give him alternative behaviors to his franctic barking and circling. His confidence grew, as did his Mom’s. He loved treats. Over our 6 weeks of training, we practiced “changing up” his Mom’s departure routine, duration of absences, all the while maintaining her necessary work and social schedule. Family pitched in with a mid-day walk. Multiple Kongs were prepared and frozen, introduced ONLY when the owner departed. Classical music was introduced (from the Through a Dog’s Ear series), as well as Comfort Zone, a wonderful product which replicates the scent of a nursing mother dog, in anticipation of one day weaning away from Prozac. His obsession with the hall light diminished . . . he used to stand under it and bark . . . a lifetime habit when he was stressed. He became more receptive to guests and showed off his tricks. The stress and anxiety were clearly diminishing . . . Mom’s, too. Today, his Mom reports he is “engaged” with his Kong when she leaves and scarcely looks up as she departs. What an improved life for this little guy and his Mom. It’s why I do this!!



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