Behavior Modification for Dogs Success Stories
Breed: Shiba Inu
Issue: Separation Anxiety
Dogs close ancestors, wolves, are pack animals and it is not comfortable for them to be left alone. Many dogs have inherited this behavior and can react to the stress of being separated from their "pack member(s)" by becoming upset, destructive, barking continuously, or eliminating in the house.
Put simply, separation anxiety is anxiety that rises to unmanageable levels for the dog when he is left alone. The treatment, while requiring patience, is effective. Regular aerobic exercise increases the dog’s serotonin levels, which offset stress hormones such as cortisol. Once the dog is in a consistently relaxed and balanced state of mind, behavioral modification techniques—such as creating a ‘safe zone’ for the dog, learning when to ignoring the dog, and desensitizing the dog to distress triggers—can be applied.
After just one month of exercise and training, Bonsai’s parents reported a ‘great improvement’ in her behavior when he was left alone and after three months, Bonsai exhibited no signs of separation anxiety at all.
Breed: Mixed (Dalmatian and Poodle)
Issue: Inappropriate elimination
There are many reasons a dog might go to the bathroom inside your house. It is imperative that a dog first be examined by a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions as a cause of inappropriate elimination behavior.
Once the dog receives a clean bill of health, behavioral reasons for this conduct can be examined. Sergeant was already housebroken, but started having accidents once the family moved into a new house. In addition to the move, Sergeant’s family was separated through divorce. These stressors were the likely cause for Sergeant’s accidents.
Not only will regular and intense exercise relieve a dog’s anxiety, but balance ball exercises will build up muscles in the dog’s core, including the muscles that control the bladder and urethra, allowing the dog to ‘hold it’ longer.
Through a hefty dose of workouts and balance ball exercises, Sergeant was accident free after just three weeks of training.
Issue: Dog aggression (aggressive conduct toward other dogs)
Contrary to popular belief, the great majority of cases involving aggressive dogs are the result of the dog having anxiety and fearfulness, not dominance. Aggressive dogs need more exercise than any other. Regular aerobic exercise increases the dog’s serotonin levels, which offset anxiety and stress hormones such as cortisol. A dog that is exercised vigorously and consistently has less stress hormones and is therefore less anxious and will consequently display less anxious behaviors such as aggression.
Rocky is a six year old Boxer. Boxers are among the most athletically inclined dogs in the world. Their deep chest and muscular body is the perfect image of a dog that was born to exercise. However, Rocky was only getting 20-30 minutes of slow walks per day. His walks got shorter and shorter as his aggression toward other dogs got worse and worse. This was a downward spiral that needed to be broken.
We started Rocky on a robust one hour per day workout, and then increased that to a two hour per day workout, in addition to his regular walks. By the end of the second week his human’s noticed a difference to his behavior toward other dogs. We started concluding his workouts by walking with another dog, and then added another dog to exercise beside him for the entire workout.
In less than two month’s Rocky’s dog aggression was non-existent. By relieving his anxiety through exercise and then associating the joy of exercise with other dogs, Rocky related other dogs to happiness instead of fearfulness and his dog aggression was ‘cured’.
Next Steps: To learn more about how Pant & Wag can help your dog, sign-up for a consultation (or join the wait-list) today.