The purpose of this blog is to share some of the tools and resources that have worked for me and other followers of this blog to help us deal with our pet's anxiety -related problems, specially when left alone at home.

I want this to serve as a starting point for the many many people that may face similar issues and are desperately looking for a way to help their pets.

I also want to use this as a small database for tips for those of you that are in the process of adopting your first pet.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Invest time in a long Morning Walk. (Perhaps make the afternoon one shorter ...)

I don't want to start this blog on the wrong foot and make it appear like I only want to try "magic" solutions to help my dog. I started with the electronic devices because they were the ones that finally led my house to sanity, but there are many other things that are worth discussing that I tried out, and most likely serve as a big portion of the overall solution.

Today, I will talk about "The Walk", a topic that's been discussed by every trainer out there multiple times.  In general everyone talks about how long it should be but not too many people talk about how to make it fit into today's crazy working schedules. 

My dog was usually very anxious expecting the "after-work" afternoon walk. In general, most people find it hard to make extra time in the morning, wake up extra-early so that we can give our dog a long walk, so it's typically easier to have an extended walk in the afternoon. My morning walk used to be just around our block, so that Corbin could "discharge" his needs, and then back to our condo. I tried walking, running, doing a super early run, and then a quick walk just before leaving for work. No matter what I did, my dog will always express some sort of frustration, usually peeing under the TV or sometimes even going No.2. This was no accident, since my smart poodle knew it was wrong and saw how upset I got. He always did this in a visible place that I could see as soon as I walked in. Corbin has a doggy door ( I will review this item shortly) and a peeing garden outside, so what else did he want ? I never crate him, since I believe it's cruel to leave an active pup locked in a cage for our 8 hr daily work hours. 

After listening to our friend Cesar Millan in Cesar's Way, and listening to how much he emphasized the morning exercise, I decided to give it a shot at a longer morning walk. I decided to get to work a little later, and stay working a little later too. Currently, my morning walk is about 1/2 and hour, and Corbin ends up happy and tired, ready for his day of relaxing and sleeping at the house.  As I said, this together with the Sound Barrier previously discussed, worked out together, and now I don't have a smelly condo, or a bent hardwood floor by the time I get home. 

  • Problem: The Dog is super anxious, perhaps looking forward to the afternoon "long walk". He/She/It expresses his/her/its frustration in some destructive way.

  • Bad Solutions:
    • Crating all day. I know that dogs get used to this, but I don't believe a pup should be locked in a 15 sqft cage all day to avoid household destruction.
  • Good Solution: 
    • Make the morning walk the one he really looks 
    • The combination of many things: corrective electronic aids in conjunction with as much exercise as we can give them.
  • How does it work ?
    • Shift your schedule (or not) so that you can spend a few extra minutes in the morning with him
    • Cut your lunch break by 15 min, and invest that time with your pup
  • My Advice:
    • Never give up on your dog.
  • Gadget Usability Rating: 
    • N/A

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Peeing Inside / Get off the couch !

After about a year of being a wonderful dog, one day, all of a sudden, some accidents started happening daily. My dog had a couple of "favorite"spots where he would pee or poop. This happened only when he was alone. He would never do this when we were in the house since he has a doogy door that leads to the balcony. I frequently go to Home Depot (actually every couple of weeks ) and by a 4x2 ft rectangle of sod (take-home grass for the newbies) for $2.20 each. I made a little wooden frame that i cover with a garbage bag so that he has his own pee and poop place. so really not reason to go inside. ( I will comment on this on a separate post)
Anyway, I've read and read. I tried many things, that never worked. (I will also comment on all the failed approaches). I even though about giving him up, since I couldn't find a solution. I felt bad for him, bad for my ruined wooden floors, had fights with my wife about it, everything was falling apart, until .... a gadget saved us

  • Problem: The Dog pees inside to demand attention. My couch is used as a scratching pad.

  • Bad Solutions:
    - Too many. Cut too many hours from work to get home early. It came to a point that we couldn't leave him inside for an hour to go to the gym. He would pee all day. He also was completely aware of what he did. The days he peed, he would hide from me as soon as I got in.
    - Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. You can get this at Whole Foods. It's supposed to be a natural relaxant. I won't get into this but it was a complete failure
    - Skype: I created an account for my dog, set it to automatically accept my calls. I tried to monitor him from work, but I didn't get work done, and the minute I looked to the side, something would happen.
    - Cleaning it will fix it ! Nope, it did not. He had a favorite spot and would always hit it.
    - Getting home and punishing him. I tried forcing him to sniff the pee and then lock him in his crate, hitting with the newspaper in front of his nose to scare him (old school technique) but nothing worked. He was aware of his wrong-doing and still repeat it daily

  • Good Solution: Sound Barrier Indoor Sonic Fence by HiTecPet. Retails in for $46.95. Retails at Sam's Club for $30.77 . 05/17/2011

  • How does it work ?
    This device has two parts. A "receiver", which is basically a box that make a high pitch noise whenever the "activator" is within a programmable radio.
  • Attach the activator to the dog's ( or cat I guess ) collar. Put the receiver near the pet's favorite marking spot. Whenever your pooch gets close to the spot, the box senses the activator and beeps.
  • Receiver uses a 9V battery for power.

  • My Advice:
  • Enable it only when you leave your house
  • This box is very sensitive and may be activated by vacuum cleaners or other high pitch devices nearby.
  • You can also buy additional "receivers" so that you can mark the different areas in the house that are off limits

  • Gadget Usability Rating:
    This saved my relationship and my dog from having to leave with some old lady. 10/10

Barking when left alone

My first problem with Corbin curred the first day I left him alone at home. From the minute we left he would start barking for hours driving our neighbors crazy. One day, I found the magic and painless cure: Lentek's Bark Free Dog Training device

  • Problem: Continuous , non stop barking

  • Bad Solutions: Shocking Collars. There is a huge market for shocking dog collars. These device sense the vibrations on the dog's throat, and eventually discharge a static current. I tried it on myself (180 lbs guy) and really felt the shock. Nevertheless I dared to try it once on my dog when I left him at the car alone for a few minutes. When I returned, he was in shock, super scared, and yes not barking.
    Although this is a solution, I found it too extreme

  • Good Solution: Lentek's Bark Free Dog Training device. Retails in for ($43.73 05/17/2011).

  • How does it work ?
    This box has a microphone that senses dog barking, and emits a "corrective tone" when your dog goes out of control. Simple, but works like a charm for my little poodle.

    This box has two modes:
    - Audible Frequency: Everyone can hear it
    - Non-Audible: Only the dog will hear it

    You can also set it to:
    - Highly Sensible: Reacts at the smallest sign of barking
    - Low Sensitively: Only when the dog repeatedly barks

  • My Advice:
    - Set it to Audible Frequency and Low Sensitivity, so that you remember that is one when you get back home. Otherwise your pooch will get confused, when you make a high pitch noise and the box makes the correctable noise.
    - Your vacuum cleaner can trigger it, so be careful, specially in Non-Audible mode. However outside noise like car breaks, trash trucks, etc, will not trigger it.
    - This is a correction device. After a while, my dog didn't need it anymore, so I turned it off. I now only use it for special occasions, when I break the daily routine and situations that may confuse him

  • Gadget Usability Rating:
    My neighbors and I give it a 10/10.

Why this blog ?

A couple of years ago, I adopted a wonderful dog from a local shelter. This dog has giving me inmeasurable happy moments and it's one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Since I'm not a multi-millonare, yet, I still need to go to work daily and so does my wife. Therefore, Corbin needs to spend a great part of the day at home.

Corbin, is a beign, not a robot that I can turn on and off, but a natural beign with very complex feelings, like many of us, humans. Like many beigns, he's been expressing his frustration at being at home so it hasn't been a simple task to deal with this.

The idea of this blog is to share some of the tools and resources that have worked for me and other followers of this blog. I want this to serve as a starting point for the many many people that may face similar issues and are desperately looking for a way to help their pets.