SEPARATION ANXIETY

Separation anxiety can lead to chewing, barking or even fouling of the house. In extreme cases, dogs become so insecure that they cannot function independently from their owners. This leads to all sorts of problems when you start obedience training, etc.

 

Although each dog will need a different approach, the following tips may be helpful:

 

Make sure it is not your return that the dog is anxious about

When you return home, make sure you greet your dog in a warm and friendly way, even if you have had a bad day. If your dog has messed-up don’t yell and swear at him because he will not know why you are cross. He does, however, learn that coming home makes you cross and this may be why he is anxious about you leaving.

 

Make your dog less dependant on your continued physical presence.
Slowly prevent your dog from following you everywhere. Casually shut the door behind you when you leave the room. Don’t make a big fuss about it and after a few seconds, open the door and return. If the dog has been good, praise him quietly. If your dog sleeps in your bedroom, gradually move his cushion out of the room, maybe 15 cm a week. Leave the bedroom door open at first, then gradually shut it.

 

Teach your dog to empty his bladder or bowels before you leave.
There are many articles on the internet that will give you tips on how to achieve this.

 

Withdraw your attention about 10-15 minutes before you leave.
Slowly start to withdraw your attention from him. You must do this very gradually so that he does not think he’s in trouble, but by the time you go, you should more or less be ignoring him. Don’t say, “Now be a good boy, don’t chew, etc”. There should be less of a contrast between when you are there and when you are not.

 

Distract him while you are out.
Keep an indestructible toy which he always gets when you go out. Give it when you go, and pick it up after you have greeted him on your return. Leave the radio or TV on. If he is only left for a short time, consider crating him or put him in a secure garden run.

FAECES-EATING (COPROPHAGIA)

Young and growing dogs have a high requirement for energy, and it has been shown that they can obtain useful additional nutrition from eating their own or other dogs’ faeces during this phase. However, after growth has been completed and with more attractive alternative food sources available, faeces eating usually stops. However, a few individuals may continue with this unpleasant habit.

 

Faeces-eating does not necessarily occur because the dog is ill or fed on an inappropriate or imbalanced diet. However, such conditions can, in a few individuals, be the reason that dogs eat their own faeces, and when corrected (i.e. the dog is wormed and put on a balanced diet) the habit ceases.

 

Research has shown that dogs eating their own faeces are not a health risk either to themselves or necessarily to humans whose faces and hands they lick. It is important however to wash your hands before you have something to eat or start preparing food. Dogs eating the faeces of herbivores such as cows, sheep or horses are more likely to benefit their digestions than harm it. Nevertheless, faeces-eating is a repulsive activity and is best curbed.

 

Faeces-eating is usually a passing phase in puppies but is made more likely if puppies are denied sufficient and access to food. Thus, a correct feeding regime, of an appropriate diet, should prevent the problem occurring.

 

Treatment

 

Meal Frequency

Since coprophagic dogs are usually hungry dogs, it is best to spread their food ration across 3-4 meals per day.

 

Fibre

A physically full stomach gives a feeling of satiety and high fibre diets are thus superior to refined food. Accordingly, bulk the fiber content of the diet, either by feeding an existing high-fibre complete diet, or alternatively adding fibre to the existing diet. Convenient sources of fibre are bran (scalded) or vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, etc.

 

Training to defecate on command

Simply take your dog regularly and especially at times associated with defecation (e.g. early morning, after meals, after naps) and wait until he defecates. Say a special word "busy" or "hurry" and then reward with a treat for successful defecation. Pick up the faeces and dispose of it. This will motivate him to defecate in your presence. If your dog is left at home alone, pick up the faeces as soon as you return home.

 

Lifestyle

There is ample evidence that bored dogs in kennels are more likely to be or to become, coprophagic. Accordingly, ensure there is plenty of action in your dog’s life, with access to toys, frequent walks, etc.

 

Punishment

No amount of scolding seems to break the habit. Punishment must be remote and seemingly related to the faeces rather than the owner (e.g. a rattle can be thrown close to where the dog is eating faeces. Your dog must not notice that it is you who is throwing the can.