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Categories: Separation Anxiety

Q. My usually well behaved dog recently began chewing items from low tables and shelves. Should we go back to the basics and retrain? What do you suggest?
Dear Cindy,

My now almost 4 year-old GSD female, Pepper, whom my wife and brought home as a 6 week-old puppy (too young to be taken from the dam, I know, but there you have it), is crate trained, and has historically been an obedient and well behaved almost 80 pound dog with an energetic, pleasant demeanor and a lot of ?personality? (she is very vocally expressive when commanded to do something that for whatever reason displeases her, sounding remarkably like Chewbacca of Star Wars fame) -- in short, a very intelligent, active, affectionate, frequently exercised, fun companion. Recently, though, Pepper -- who has had the full run of our home for years now, without incident -- has begun to sneak small objects off of low tables and shelves, and chew them into oblivion (most recently, my wife?s iPod); interestingly, all of the objects destroyed so far are items handled or worn only by my wife. As Pepper is well aware that she is never to ?counter surf,? and that everything in our home belongs to us and not to her, we have now crated her, but are not sure what to do next. Should we go back to [the very] basics and begin retraining her as if she were still a puppy (i.e., never let her out of our site, and remand her to the crate every moment that we are not exercising her or allowing her to relieve herself outside)? Information to perhaps note: 1) Pepper was recently frightened in the middle of the night by a malfunctioning ceiling smoke alarm, the noise from which drove her from the second floor of our home downstairs to a closed door that she knows leads to our backyard and against which she pressed the entire length of her prone body for quite some time before I could coax her back to the safety and security of her crate (the behavior in question began a few days after this incident), and 2) for about the last 3 months, Pepper has been given 7.5 milligrams of Meloxicam once daily for hip discomfort (per her vet?s recommendation).

Thanks so much in advance for your time and attention; my wife and I find your website and products a wonderful resource.

Best,
Rick

A. This is classic separation anxiety. It seems that the incident with the smoke alarm has made her feel anxious in her own home.

I would go back to basics and give her increased structure and predictability in her routine.

We also have a Q&A section on separation anxiety that may help you.

Hopefully with time and increased structure she can get over her anxiety and go back to being trustworthy in the home. Give her freedom in increments as she improves, don’t just cut her loose in the house with full privileges.

You may also want to consider Calm Shen or Rescue Remedy for the short term.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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