|Photo by cbenjasuwan|
"Aww. That's so cute," people remark. It is, until I have to leave the house. Then Noodle's antics aren't so adorable. He'll bark from his kennel and howl like a miniature Hound of the Baskervilles until I turn the key to the front door. When I let him out of the kennel, you'd think I had been gone for weeks.
This behavior wouldn't be too big of a deal if we had a backyard for him to roam around in while we were away, but we live in a gated community. I don't want the dog waking the neighbors or worse, making someone call the Humane Society because they think he's being mistreated.
My husband and I tried nearly everything. Doggie toys such as the Kong, which is a rubber tube you can stuff with treats to keep the dog occupied while you're away. No deal. Noodle just barks and whines when he can't get to the treat immediately. Everyone wants instant gratification these days.
We tried a calming collar, which is supposed to contain pheromones similar to a lactating dog, so your pooch will think he's in the nurturing environment that he had as a nursing puppy. Not for Noodle. The collar is just a teal accessory for him that smells like lavender and chammomile. Maybe he should just have a cup of tea and a scone instead.
We asked the vet and a dog trainer for their advice. "The dog will have to take obedience classes," said the trainer. Of course. Pay $160 to teach him to sit. He already knows how to sit, stay, lay down, and roll over. He just howls when you leave him there to do it by himself.
"There's a pill you can give him each time you leave," said the vet. "It helps with his separation anxiety. Each bottle is $35."
You're kidding, right? Anti-anxiety medication? Xanax for dogs? Maybe I'm just not with the times, but when I was growing up, pets weren't diagnosed with psychological disorders. They either behaved or misbehaved. As the owner, it was your job to care for your pet and establish discipline in a kind and patient way, yet still be firm enough to let the animal know that you were the leader of the pack.
So what's the situation now? Have canines evolved mentally, or are veterinary pharmaceuticals trying to make a profit off of the concerned owners of Fido and Fluffy?
I'm viewing the meds as a last resort. Currently, Noodle sleeps outside the bedroom door. He has his own plush bed and toys to keep busy. When I go out, I put him in his kennel with a Kong and dog biscuits and hope for the best. For the past couple of weeks, he's been content not to bark 80% of the time. That's good enough for me. I hope the neighbors think so, too.
At least he falls asleep under my chair when I'm writing.
Do you have a pet? Does he or she have separation issues?
To those attending the ACFW conference, have a great time!