Thursday, September 1, 2011

Follow-up with the behaviorist - Part 3

Jun is weird. She has always been a big barker, but there was a period of several months after I got her when she stopped. Previous to that, her barking was for attention. It was loud, annoying, and persistent, but it wasn't crazy. I distinctly remember when the behavior in the video started. In fact, I blogged about it here when it started happening, and have blogged at length about the things I've tried to get her to stop since. (Search "barking" if you care. It's half my blog content, I think!) All my strategies have worked temporarily, then stopped working.

The last thing I tried was keeping her in the bathroom when she needs to be confined, instead of in the crate. It also worked. Then stopped working. She started out just great and was totally quiet in the bathroom. It was awesome to be able to get a break from her and not have to put on her bark collar or listen to her barking, pacing, whining or spinning. I could sit down and watch a movie!! I actually started using this strategy intermittently before our first behaviorist appointment. Afterwards, Dr. Reichl wanted me to use the bathroom full time and not use the crate at all. I was hesitant but agreed, and the main reason I was hesistant was because I was pretty sure that after awhile the bathroom wouldn't cut it anymore and then my new-found peace and quiet would be ruined. Sure enough.

So what to do now? She barks in her crate, she barks in the bathroom, and she barks in the car when it's moving. Both Dr. Reichl and Dr. Duxbury believe it's related to separation anxiety and confinement anxiety, and it seems weird to me that it the behavior would be isolated to such specific situations, but I have no better explanation so, ok. Since Jun will chill (she usually sleeps by the door) if I just leave her loose in the house for a few hours, Dr. Duxbury thought maybe we should dispense with confinement altogether. And here is where I decided I really liked Dr. Duxbury---I agreed that may work, but expressed my concern that since every other strategy has worked and then failed I was worried that eventually she'd start to get nervous left alone loose in the house. And then I wouldn't be able to leave her ANYWHERE at all. And Dr. Duxbury listened to my concern, took it seriously and agreed!!!!!  So we are keeping that possibility in mind for the future, but right now we are looking to the drugs to provide some relief from the anxiety, and then hopefully the barking as a result.

So I am to do "crate games" with Jun and Relaxation Protocol in the crate and the bathroom and do things to associate those two places of confinement with good things and not always with me leaving.

The other comment Dr. Duxbury had was that she wonders if Jun is having limbic focal seizures brought on by stress--cause apparently the "staring at the wall" routine is not normal dog behavior. She wants more video to compare the episodes and wants to run it by a neurologist! Not sure if anything will come of that, but I thought it was an interesting idea.


  1. Have you tried using vari-crates (walled crates) instead of wire ones...or covering her wire crate so she can only see out one side? what about stuffed kongs, hooves, bully sticks, etc. while crated? Have you thought of just not crating her, especially if she's not destructive or a danger to herself or another dog? the staring to me seems to be an attempt to see movement out the window. Just tossing some ideas out there...I have a difficult to crate dog, but Crate Games helped tremendously. She used to get destructive and go bezerk in the attempt to get out after about 20 min. Crate Games taught her value for the crate, and she has learned to self-comfort herself while stuck in one...of course kongs and bully sticks help. In general, my dogs are free in the house, but they crate when we travel, during strange people/dogs situations in the house, during storms, or whenever I feel like it's good training. Good luck with it all!

  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! I have tried it ALL!! And yes, I've thought of not crating her, and I do leave her out for short periods of time, but don't want to make it a permanent solution right now for the reasons in the post. She is not really a "difficult to crate dog" as she is fine in the crate in a lot of situations. She's fine if I'm around. She's fine in the car (when not moving). She's fine at competitions. And we do a lot of training in the crate and a lot of positive associations. She also went through a long period of time being fine crated. This barking issue is part of a much larger issue. But I do appreciate the thoughts.

    The staring is not an attempt to see out the window. She does the same routine in the bathroom which is windowless.

  3. I am so glad Dr. Duxbury was willing to listen to your concerns! That's so important!! I'll be interested to see if there is anything to the idea that she might be having stress seizures...

  4. Oh our neurotic dogs! I really hope the med changes will make a difference for her.