Help me please my Dog is howling when i go out

(11 Posts)

My neighbor has told me she knows when i go gout as my dogs howl, I just dont know what to do. I work at home and they (we have 2 toy poodles) get walked as often as i can most days a long walk around a huge field but when i cant i throw the ball in the garden to try to wear them out. I'm sure the problem is anxiety but i just don't know what to do, i have tried separating them from me in the day so they spend time away from me but they know I'm there don't they. This is not the only problem, when we do go out and they meet another dog the one in particular goes nuts then of course the other one start, i have tried taking them both out at separate times but to be honest time is really not available to do this every day, i have tried training and using treats to defuse them from the situation and if i see another dog 1st tying to remove them from the situation where and when i can, they just dont seem to like other dogs or me going out.. Please help me i dont want them to be so unhappy.

Booboostoo Thu 08-May-14 10:54:15

Well I think you need to address the problems one at a time:

- howling: are the dogs crate trained? If yes maybe it's time to get their crate out again and see if they settle. Also try leaving the radio on for them for company and leaving them with really nice chews that will take a long time to work through. Also worth trying Adaptil collars and if they work Zylkene tablets, they do wonders with stressy dogs. Finally you need to gradually habituate them again to you leaving. Leave them for very short periods of time, then gradually increase, randomnly throwing in a few short ones again.

- walks: to be honest it sounds like your dogs need more walks. They need two walks a day, ideally in different places where they can explore different smells and be mentally as well as physically stimulated. Throwing a ball in the garden should be an extra on top of their two walks and not acceptable as a substitute for a walk unless you have a one off emergency. It could be that the dogs are howling out of pent up energy and things will improve a lot with more exercise.

- aggression towards other dogs: best to ask your trainer for specific advice on this. Someone needs to show you how to distract the dogs, work on their sit/stay, use BAT techniques, etc.

moosemama Thu 08-May-14 11:23:10

I would advise seeking advice from a professional, qualified, behaviourist. Have a look on the APBC to see if there's one near you and if you have insurance, check, because some companies will cover a certain amount of behavioural consultations.

In the meantime, buy yourself a clicker and have a go at some fun clicker training exercises with them. Kikopup (who also has a YouTube channel) has lots of really useful, short, clicker training videos. Clicker training makes the dogs think for themselves and is therefore often more exhausting than exercise. That said, your dogs still need plenty of exercise as well, as Booboostoo explained above.

I'd agree with the trying adaptil DAP diffuser and you might want to give a Thundershirt a try as well, as they are 100% returnable if they don't work. (Pets at Home sell them and honour the money back guarantee.)

I can recommend this book by Nicole Wilde for helping you understand the causes and treatments for Separation Anxiety.

You will need to gradually desensitise your dogs to signs that you are about to go out, as their anxiety will start building as soon as you give so much as a hint that you are leaving. This entails doing things like randomly picking up your keys and putting on your coat then sitting down and having a coffee, before taking it off again and putting your keys away. Desensitising them to you touching, then going through your usual exit etc. You will need to do lots of this over several weeks for it to be effective.

I would also leave them with stuffed, frozen, kongs (I use a mix of my dogs' usual kibble and tinned sardines) and/or treat dispensing toys like a treat ball or kong wobbler.

I have recently come across Pet Remedy which is a relaxing/calming aromatherapy spray for dogs. I bought the small 15ml bottle to try it out on my highly strung Lurcher pup and it really seemed to help, so I have now bough the larger spray.

I struggle to fit in all the walks they need, i would love nothing more than to be able to take them out 3 / 4 times a day as i also enjoy the walks ( things were different when i had them but due to circumstances i take them out as often as possible, which i am aware is not ideal but it is the situation) I do use training Technics every day and every time i go out. AS I cannot afford a dog trainer, i use u tube and try to do as much as possible myself, does medication really work?? the one is defiantly far worse than the other, she crys when i go to the toilet if she thinks im going out, They also sleep in the bedroom because they were howling so much and keeping everyone awake,
I guess this was a bad move blush

moosemama Thu 08-May-14 12:05:56

Believe it or not, sleeping in the bedroom has been proven to have no bearing on whether or not dogs suffer from Separation Anxiety. It used to be thought that you had to be cool and aloof from your dogs most of the time if they had SA tendencies, but this is no longer believed to be the case. They just need to be taught to relax and develop the coping strategies they need for being left at home when you go out.

Walks, I would say two decent length walks a day is enough, you don't need to be going out 3-4 times a day unless you have the time and want to, but ideally they need a combination of plenty of off-lead exercise, plus walking different routes and in different places to keep them mentally stimulated. I know this can be hard to manage - my two don't always get to be walked in different places every day, but I do try to mix it up and we always take them somewhere further afield and much more interesting at the weekends.

There have been some very interesting studies done on Zylkene that Booboostoo mentioned upthread and yes, in some cases it really does work. It's not a medication per se, it's actually a derivative of milk. It is expensive though, although you can shop around online and works better for some dogs than others, but definitely worth a try.

I do understand how hard it is. I have dealt with SA in a couple of my rescue dogs over the years and it's a major commitment, but I'm lucky enough to be at home all the time, with no restrictions other than the school runs and my health to consider.

Do read Nicole Wilde's book if you can. It has been the single most helpful thing I've done while helping my dogs through their SA.

I will read the book , thank you for your advice, i shall be getting the crate back out of the garage and try all over again, since this thread has started i have sat with my jacket on and got their leads out and put them on the counter. I stopped taking them further afield due to the noise they made in the car squealing with delight for going out in the car, then the over anxious one being sick it made a nice morning out such a ordeal then growling at other dogs just made me come home and want to cry..

I would love to sort this to make it work for all of us but i do not have spare money to buy expensive jackets unfortunately at the moment

moosemama Thu 08-May-14 13:35:19

I do understand. These things can be expensive, at least while you're trying to work out what works for your dogs. I also know how it feels to want to cry after a stressful dog-walk. Lots of us have been there, but I promise you can improve things with small changes and incremental desensitisation as long as you are consistent and stick with it. There will be times when it's three steps forwards, two steps back and those days can make you feel like giving up, but things will improve if you keep plugging away.

I would really focus on wearing them out mentally by upping the complexity of the training you do with them, go for kongs as a cheap option to keep them busy while you get them used to being in a different room to you/not following you to the toilet etc and rather than going further afield by car, do your usual off-lead route, then add in a decent lead walk, talking a different route to your usual one so they get to experience lots of different sights, sounds, smells etc. The more you vary your route the better - and keep them guessing which route you're going to take as well.

If you really can't afford a behaviourist, google BAT training (Ahimsa Dog Training) and have a go at that from a distance. Also use your training times to teach your dogs 'watch me' and build up the level of distraction, as combined with the BAT your dog will eventually develop the tools of either choosing to turn away or look at you for a treat the instant they see another dog and this will reprogramme them to relax more around other dogs.

A cheaper option than a behaviourist would be to join your local dog-training club, but make sure they only use positive, hands-off training methods, no choke or check chains etc. It would also help your reactive dog to learn to relax around other dogs if they are all under control and on-lead. Perhaps give a couple of clubs a call and chat to them about whether they have a suitable class?

Booboostoo Thu 08-May-14 16:37:17

Your local dog training club (carefully selected as moosemama suggests) should not be expensive at all. I had a look at my old club the other day for another poster and they charged 40 pounds for 7 sessions of no more than 8 dogs with one trainer and two assistant trainers. I think that is good value for money and you get a lot of individual attention to ensure you apply the techniques correctly. To an extent they wil be able to help with the problems you are experiencing until you can afford more specialist advice.

Again I agree with moosemama that the more you work with the dogs on general training the more they will focus on you and it may help them with their stress in general.

Adaptil reproduces the pheromones given out by the mum to calm the pups. When it works it works and when it doesn't it doesn't but you should see a fairly quick improvement when it does work. Zylkene tends to work when Adaptil does.

For more challenging behavioural problems there is a whole gamut of medications from Prozac onwards but from what you say I don't think your dogs need something so drastic.

Just to give you a update i have started walking my dogs on different routes and when i see other dogs i recall and pick up the over reactive one, i cannot believe the difference in the walking, ( the howling on going out is still a issue but one thing at a time ay!!!) What do you put in the kongs??? I normally feed them Pedigree chum and mixer biscuits twice a day.

Thanks you for all your great helpful tips flowers

Excitedforxmas Sun 11-May-14 10:03:16

I put yoghurt in our kong and freeze it. Lasts ages

moosemama Sun 11-May-14 19:09:57

Well done for making a good start.

Kongs - I use my dogs' usual kibble, mixed with a tin of sardines in tomato sauce. I really squish it into the kong, then put a layer of dry kibble on the top and plug the hole with something like Fish4Dogs Salmon Mousse and freeze, but you could use your dogs' usual wet food. A mix of the mixer and chum would work, but you need to remember to take it off their daily feed allowance.

Frozen kongs are great in the summer, you can use low salt stocks and broths and they help keep the dog cool and hydrated, as well as busy.

Lots of people use peanut butter, but my two don't seem to tolerate it well.

Some people wedge a large biscuit inside the kong so that the dog really has to work to get it out.

Some more kong recipes here, here and here.

Good luck.

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