Philobiblon: A Champ 'separation anxiety' update

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Champ 'separation anxiety' update

If you are not a dog person, feel free to look away now ...

Well after my temper had cooled I sent Battersea an email explaining that I felt disappointed in them (two days of frantic phone calls to the behaviour hotline not having produced any result), and they were immediately helpful. The story is that they thought the answerphone was working, after a period when it hadn't been, but maybe it wasn't. That is these days a pretty simple piece of technology, but anyway, these things do happen.

So I had a good long chat with a behaviour guy, and he broadly agreed with what I'm doing in terms of using the crate most of the time when I'm home (for no more than four hours at a time), spending time in the bedroom when he's in the living room, and trying going out for short periods.

What worried him, as it is worrying me, is that Champ doesn't seem to be happy about this at all, and is looking more stressed than before. The Battersea guy, unlike other sources, agrees with my view that separation anxiety isn't always (despite what most of the books say) about a dog that has put itself too high in the status hierarchy and therefore feels it has to protect the rest of its pack.

Instead it can just be a dog that is unhappy alone, nervous and insecure, which to my mind is Champ to a T. When we're out walking if something frightens him - and it doesn't have to be much, a flapping bit of tape will do it - he cowers into me for protection.

Anyway, I got the feeling he is expecting to see Champ back at Battersea soon, and it may well come to that, but I am going to give it another two weeks, in the hope Champ might suddenly decide to grin and bear it ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Natalie, my brother and his family adopted a former racing greyhound a few years ago, and also had trouble with this kind of timidity. My brother said that taking behavior training classes worked wonders, because the dog learned to trust him as they worked together. Once that trust was established, the dog became less timid, and now thinks he's a lap dog. Encouraging him to curl up near you when you are home, so that he feels like he can count on you, might help, too. Good luck, and please DON'T take him back!

2/20/2006 06:56:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I don't want to take him back, but I'm not sure that he wouldn't be better in an entirely different sort of home. He seems very happy at the dog sitter's, where there are two other dogs, and lots of people of all ages coming and going all the time. As a single person, even one at home a lot of the time, I can't provide that sort of environment.

I know not all greyhounds are like this - I wouldn't want people to get this idea - I know several up at the park whose owners say leaving them is no problem at all.

2/20/2006 07:04:00 pm  
Blogger aeogae said...

I know how stressful it is when things go wrong with animals. I hope it gets resolved soon.

2/21/2006 02:55:00 am  
Anonymous cilla said...

firstly well done for giving a rescue dog a home! along with them comes the baggage tho! i have two rescue dogs - bull terriers, not greyhounds but in some ways a dog is a dog...but going through this is a distressing time for any dog. i dont want to put you off, just warn you that it probably takes a good 6 months for a dog to settle so you must be patient. the crate is a wonderful idea, i have always used them. ther is also a plug in device available from vets that emits pheromones that calmes the dog but takes 2 weeks to work. you could try homeopthic belladonna available from chemists too. time, patience and a routine and setting boundaries so you both know the 'rules' is all it takes, doesnt sound much does it, ha ha ha! he will come around once you get to know each other. have faith in yourself and dont think he might be better off elsewhere. spend time with him playing and cuddling and give him plenty of exercise and i mean plenty. does he have toys? is he interrested in food? a kong works well to occupy his time, stuffed with something delicious. sometimes food upsets them too but i wont get into that because i advocate a raw diet and thats a another story! good luck.

2/21/2006 08:03:00 am  
Blogger Ally said...

An aunt of mine had quite good results using bach flower remedies on a very nervous dog - particularly the 'rescue rememdy', which is supposed to be calming. Don't know if they're your thing, but it might be worth a try - they come as drops and you can put it on their food or in their water.

2/21/2006 11:50:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. He has two Kongs, but if I make them too hard he just gives up, and chews soaked with melted cheese (they work quite well), and I leave the radio on ... I was aware of that pheromone thing but it sounds dodgy, but I might give it a go. Thanks!

2/21/2006 04:12:00 pm  
Anonymous david ware said...

Your comment that Champ seems happy at the dog-sitter's affords an indication that Champ may want a "sibling." Not necessarily another greyhound, but an interactive smaller dog or (just possibly) a forward cat brave enough to face up to a tall canine.

This makes sense in light of our experience with rescued airedales: many (not all, but a significant number) are happiest with some canine company. Humans are all right in their way, but....

Good luck--may Champ be, as somebody or other puts it, your link to Paradise

2/21/2006 06:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a greyhound who is the best dog to have when i am at work, as he sleeps. My mum's however was very nervous when she got her, and had a lot of separation anxiety. Mum fusses her a lot, but started leaving her in the kitchen - firstly when she was quiet for 5 minutes, then 15, then 30, and finally she could leave her for longer. this seemed to work, and she has settled down now.

I second the idea of the vet plug in - it does seem to work quite well on stressed dogs.

2/22/2006 08:27:00 am  
Blogger Susoz said...

Sorry to hear of your ongoing problems. All the ideas sound potentially useful and I don't have anything different to add, except that I think more time could be the thing, although I recognise that you don't want to put him or yourself through this unnecessarily.

2/23/2006 01:35:00 am  

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