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Thread: A bit confused from here

  1. #1

    Default A bit confused from here

    Hi I have been lurking for a while on here but received some very helpful advice in the past.

    I have four little rescue dogs (foxie crosses) who are generally well behaved - they hardly ever bark when I am home and are obedient around 70% of the time.

    However - I have had complaints about them barking and decided to set up a video camera. Two of the dogs hardly bark all day and just sleep (Kratos and Pandora). There is a strange dynamic going on between the other two (Brutus and Belle).

    Brutus clearly is anxious - he runs around the area barking and howling and attacking the door on and off. He is generally a very reactive dog and gets over excited when somebody comes or goes, when the postman goes past and sometimes when a car passes on walks. His 'excited' behaviour involves fixating on the source of excitement (to the point where I can break his concentration with a treat sometimes), with his ears and tail up twitching, and finally barking. I am trying to work on his excitable behaviour in situations when I'm around by making him sit/ stay and focus on me holding a treat. This does seem to be helping. He is also generally very pushy and will try and push through doors excetera so I have to be very firm with him all the time.

    Belle is Brutus' older sister. She did have many of the same traits Brutus has but has improved a lot with training whereas he hasn't. She also barks alot in the day however she doesn't really cry or show the same nervous pacing. I noticed that she barks at Brutus when he's going crazy - she does the same thing with over excited puppies in the dog park. It's like she tries to tell them off. She also seems to bark because she is bored.

    I have done alot to try and solve this problem including providing food and treats - these work well for all dogs except Brutus doesn't touch them because of his anxiety.

    Separating the dogs in different rooms - this makes them bark and cry to get to each other.

    Going outside and tapping the wall when they bark - this helped with Belle's barking only - presumably because she is an excessive barker rather than anxious.

    Crating Brutus - he couldn't run around pacing and start Belle off - but he sat there huffing and puffing in there (which progressed to barking and crying) so he was still very unhappy. I am worried about leaving him as it could be even more traumatic confined.

    DAP - no difference.

    Clomicalm - maybe reduced the barking a bit but it wasn't worth it as it also caused nausea

    Valerian and rescue remedy - seems to be reducing Brutus' nervousness a bit with my departure rituals - no real change in when I am actually absent - maybe a little less door jumping and barking.

    Behavioural modification - I have trained the dogs to sit and stay in their beds - they can lie in a separate room quite happily for up to an hour or so. However when I shut the door to that room they run to the door and stand there/ sniff under it. It helped a bit when I tied them up so they knew they couldn't physically run to the door, but I can't do that when I go out. I am also giving them general obedience training throughout the day.

    Anxiety Wrap/ T touch - has helped Brutus a bit

    I have come to a few conclusions.

    If I just had Kratos and Pandora, I wouldn't have to do anything.

    Belle and Brutus act up for different reasons - Brutus because he is anxious and Belle because she is bored/ attention seeking.

    Mental stimulation (food) and punishment (noise) work well to control Belle's behaviour.

    Brutus needs continued training to control his excitable behaviour when I am around. Anxiety wraps, Rescue Remedy and Valerian take the edge off a bit. Crating prevents some of his behavioural problems but not the anxiety. Reached a block with desensitisation training when shutting the door.

    The issue is the difficulty of putting the dogs together - not because they squabble and fight but because they need different things. Kratos and Pandora are fine.

    Belle barks but I can give her food, and I am considering a citronella collar so she can get corrected without causing anxiety to Brutus.

    When I put out food, this is different to the calm desensitation routine with training. If I put food out they all get up and start running around to get it. So it's counter to what I want to achieve really, but:

    If I leave without putting down food (brisket bones), they all get up anyway and Belle barks more. If I put out food this decreases Belle's barking - and after around 2 hours or so I notice them all sleeping off and on.

    Brutus (and Kratos) won't eat if I'm not there (unless it's a bone for Kratos). Kratos is a little anxious but he doesn't bark and cry that I've noticed. I have started feeding both dogs Kongs at dinner to encourage them to interact. They do to an extent, but won't do it when I'm out.

    The heart of Brutus' problem is anxiety and reducing it. I have ordered an anxiety wrap (the original) given that wraps with bandages help a bit. I have also seen many good reports for this so I have high hopes. I will continue with his training and work on getting that door closed. I'll keep up the rescue remedy and valerian for a couple of months to see if I get anywhere with this too. As much as I would like to get him a citronella collar I don't know that it would be good for his anxiety.

    BTW they are shut inside with air conditioning to minimise disruption to others. It's a large open plan room about 100sqm or so. I go out 2-3 days a week for around 8 hours and sometimes at night.

    So - I guess I am asking if you have a different way you would go about handling Brutus and Belle or whether you agree.

    Thank you for listening.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Southern NSW


    Wow............You seem to have sorted out exactly what is happening and tried lots of things that might be suggested.........The only thing is have you done it all gor long enough and not just run from one to the other.

    Otherwise I would now go the vet behaviourist way for the separation anxiety.

    I am not sure if you have tried crate training and doing this whilst you are home, sotaht the dog knows you are home. You said you had tried to get them used to being separated, but was it done slowly and in increments.

    Sort of reading all you say I think there is only the vet option left for Brutus..Good luck
    Pets are forever

  3. #3


    I just got that book "Don't Leave Me" to see if I can get a better organised plan. I think Brutus and Belle have more "Isolation Issues" as they are fine when somebody is around - they miss us a little but they are happy to eat if there is somebody else around (like my brother). They get a bit upset when one of us goes but settle down quickly if someone else is looking after them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    I also wondered how long you had tried each option. The crate training can be a good thing, however with a dog with high anxiety it requires a LOT of patience and constant reward for going in the crate, staying relaxed in the crate, even just sniffing the crate in the beginning, etc. And that's before you even attempt to close the door.

    Regarding the door, teach them to stay on their beds, and tie them up (only to help them succeed, of course). Walk toward the door two steps. If they get up stop and make them lie down again. If they stay, reward and try again. Each time you are successful, walk to that same point again about 5 times, each time coming back to reward them. Eventually you will get to the doorway. This part is particularly important. Just step out the doorway and straight back in. If they stayed you can reward them, then step out for one second, then two etc. Get them used to you being out of the room with the door open first. Once they have mastered this you can try moving the door around to gauge their reactions. If they aren't too bad, you can try half closing the door, then opening again and so forth until you get the door closed. Immediately open in again to come back in. You can also do this several times without acknowledging them. This will make it easier for them to understand that they don't always get rewarded when you come back. If they get into this frame of mind they will always be over-excited when you return from anywhere, which could increase the barking. If Brutus is over-excited, ignore him. As hard as that may be, he needs to learn he gets attention from you ONLY when he's calm, same as the other three.

    There is more to tell and that all may have come out a bit confusing, but I would also suggest getting a behaviourist to help.

    Training will help Brutus, but the vet may also suggest something to help speed up the learning, by giving his body a rest from the anxiety so he can focus on learning how to relax.

    Let me know if any of this was confusing or you want more detail.

  5. #5


    Thanks - I only tried crating for a few days. He is happy to go in there and lies down when I am in the room, but sits up when I am out of the room. He seems alert but not immediately anxious. However after I've been out of the room (especially if I shut the door) he starts sniffing, turning around, digging at the bottom etc so he's restless in there. This morning I also tried taking him for a walk on his own (Brutus that is) and filmed the remaining dogs. Belle happily ate for a while but still started barking after about 15 minutes, so she also has a problem but it is not as bad.

    Also I tried what you suggested and it is working. I think I was just rushing it. They are ok if I leave the room, shut the door and immediately come back in but I can see I will have to wait right outside the door and build up time before I can walk away.

    On the upside, Brutus has learned things quite quickly on his own. I managed to get him sitting for food and looking at me while cars went past which would be unheard of with the rest of the gang. He has also enjoyed things like searching for food under a cup, 'playing' on little kids play equipment etc. Of course I make time for the others too but I still feel a bit bad for them.

    Thanks - I'll keep you all up to date with progress!

  6. #6

    Default This calls for a serious approach

    OK, this calls for a combined approach.
    1. Desensetisation/Counterconditioning - leave the dog alone in sit/stay for increased intervals monitoring for anxiety levels. Takes a while and needs to be done gradually but really helps.
    2. Go to your Vet, get complete physical and ask for 'Reconsile' (Prozac for dogs) - in my experience works better then Clomicalm.
    3. Use Rescue Remedy+ Camomile scent+ T touch.
    4. food rewards + 'distraction' toys
    5. Do all this for a total of 6 weeks!!! Medication especially will take a long time to start working properly.
    If this doesn't work - call in a behaviourist.

  7. #7

    Default The dogs are getting better

    I have made a few changes around the place with my dogs and in just over a week I am seeing some improvements.

    Brutus and Belle went from not being able to sit/ stay in one spot with the door shut to being able to do so for 5 minutes with reasonable consistency. I have been using valerian (0.5g/ d) and rescue remedy (when being left alone).

    I purchased some Nina Ottosson toys (casino and dog finder) and Brutus and Belle absolutely love them. I was especially happy for Brutus because he doesn't like dog toys.

    When I do go out I feel like I am setting up for a kindergarten class. I freeze little cubes of food with string in them and hang them from an indoor clothes airer so the dogs have to wait for them to melt. I stuff kongs with food and put dog puzzles out (I know they are supposed to be used with supervision but my dogs have thankfully grown out of chewing things).

    This seems to be enough for Belle who barks alot less however Brutus (and Kratos) need more counterconditioning. They are very shy and nervous about eating and interacting with toys when alone.

    All in all I would have said their anxiety levels were mild-moderate for Belle and moderate-severe for Brutus but now I would say mild for Belle and moderate for Brutus. It's so nice they are not winding each other up as much as they used to.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    That's great to hear I'm glad our tips are helping you. And it's great to see an owner dedicated to helping their pet overcome these issues.

    Just in regards to the food, I love all your ideas. Just be careful, as sometimes all these toys CAN (not always) cause fights between dogs, hence why kratos and Brutus may not be so keen to get involved. Are you still using the cameras to check on them?
    I love the idea of hanging the ice cubes from te clothes airer

    Patience and consistency are the key

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    Great to hear you notice some improvement! I admire the way you handled this.

  10. #10


    I got an anxiety wrap for Belle's barking and have ordered another one for Brutus. Last Tuesday - the dogs barked for 2 1/2 hours when I went out for about 6-7 hrs... When I left them with the wrap on Belle, that barking was only 20 minutes all day. I would recommend to anybody with a nervous/ excitable/ anxious dog to try an anxiety wrap because they worked well for me on a problem that we have all suffered with for 3+ years!!!

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