Separation Anxiety

Challenge Accepted

My intention was to write a foster friday blog featuring a dog we welcomed into the home last Tuesday, but between taking care of things at home, running around doing things for the rescue, and keeping my sanity, I had 0:00 time for my precious blogging. I’ll touch on the sweet little girl for a moment, but I have another dog to write about today.



**Yes…this is a nerdy Dr. Who? reference, but come on people…my foster dog’s name was River…I couldn’t help myself!**

River and her brother Rio were rescued from a hoarder in Eastern Washington, and it is obvious that neither dog has been socialized with people or other dogs. They are both nervous biters, but once trust is built with a human, these two are huge lovers.

When I first met River it took about half an hour before I even caught a glimpse of her. She darted around between hiding places, and would only approach Tyson for a sniff. Once I finally got a hold of her for what I like to call “forced love” she warmed right up, and refused to leave my side.

For the rest of the week I heard a constant pitter-patter behind me – only to turn around and find that there was no River in sight. She always stays just out of reach until she has made up her own mind that she wants a pet.

I absolutely LOVE this little girl, and though I’m sad that I had to leave her in the {highly capable} hands of our Fearless Leader, I’m so excited for her to find her new home where I know she will come bubbling out of her shell. I’ve already seen it a couple times!



8 Months Old

Shepherd x Beagle


Louie was returned during our adoption event Saturday by a young couple who had adopted him maybe two weeks ago. Thankfully – as the volunteer who completed the surrender, and as one of the volunteers who tagged along on Louie’s transport from Okanogan – I have the inside scoop on what brought Louie’s owners to give him up. We knew this dog was going to be a handful from the moment we unloaded him from transport. He is only 8 months old, was already displaying some pretty severe separation anxiety, and has obviously not had any training {attempting to walk this dog on a leash provides some damn good entertainment}.

What happens often in our adoption process is that we have young, just-married couples come in to adopt their first dog. They may have each grown up with a family dog, but you can easily guess that the kid’s parents were the ones who invested in the dog’s training and behavior. Our preference is always to have these couples take dogs that are completely mostly perfect {think Kaspen, Maverick, Tyson, Spot, etc} and can easily turn their energy level up or down. We like to set our adopters up for success, but every so often we get a pair that are set on adopting a dog the very same day they set out on their search. If they pass our thorough adoption application, and we’re still on the fence, we start explaining the nitty-gritty. Honestly, no matter who the adopter is it’s very rare that we adopt out a dog like this without making abundantly clear the details of their issues, and providing as much training advise as possible. For this dog our advise was “crate, crate, crate…kong, kong, kong…practice, practice, practice…hire a professional trainer! Now most of our advise was attempted, but it was obvious the couple should’ve started with a pet rock or a gold fish as their first companion.

What Louie’s adopters did right:

1: enroll him in a basic training class

2: potty training {completely house trained}

3: love, feed, and shelter him

What Louie’s adopters were missing:

1: allowed him to play outside on his own for hours at a time

2: no set routine or household structure

3: needed a trainer who could work with Louie’s specific needs

The reasons Louie was surrendered were several counts of aggressive behavior – most involved some form of biting or nipping when being corrected, lack of commitment/follow-through from his owners, and more specifically – Louie’s bad leash manners.

Now, I know there are some of you that will instantly be upset that this dog {who is obviously stuck in puppyhood} was returned for the all-too-familiar-reason: 

“We just didn’t feel we had enough time to give him the training he needs”

And honestly I’m trying to keep my eyes from rolling as I write, but – I would like you to ask yourself, if you really think that Louie’s adopters sound equipped for such a dog. If you had to choose between Louie staying with this ill-equipped couple forever, or yourself for just a short time {long enough to learn that biting hurts, and that the leash is not-in fact-a flirt pole}…which would you choose. If I had to pass judgement, it would be on their decision to adopt Louie in the first place. No matter how much you love a dog – before adopting – you have to consider whether you will be able to provide everything this specific dog needs.


Now Louie and I have already had our little go around about who is boss. The argument ended around 1am on his first night in my house with him laying so nicely on the ground, and myself with my hand laying gently on his side. This is not how the evening started, and skipping all the details, we’ve had several battles of the will over the last few days resulting in Louie-mouth-sized bruises up and down my arms and legs.

As I’m sure you all have read, I’m normally the volunteer who is offered the fear aggressive dogs-not the fully-grown, mouthy-puppy dogs. Louie {although completely adorable, and very sweet}, has been allowed to remain in his puppyish state WAY TOO LONG! At Louie’s age, if an alpha leader has not been established yet, he will decide that its HIM!

Hilarious, right? Wrong…

I did my research Sunday morning, and have been pouring over blogs and forums soaking up information on how to deal with adult-dog-puppy-hood {this is my own made up name for the behavior}. What I’ve come up with, is that Louie is not displaying dominance, but the behavior of a puppy {who has had zero training} testing the waters of adulthood.

Thanks to good old google, and some various training websites, my plan is to daily-structure the crap out of this dog. When he’s not on leash, tie-down, or right next to me, he’s in his crate. He eats in his crate, he sleeps in his crate {this is completely foreign to me! All my fosters have slept with me and Delilah}. When he comes out of his crate, we go straight to the door, and we only exit when the door is open, he is sitting, and I am ready. When he wants to poop, he has to sit first. When he wants water, he sits. When he wants food, he sits. He is not allowed on ANY furniture, and if he makes any attempts-he goes to his crate {also completely foreign to me! The logic here being the couch is my place to lay down-the crate is his place to lay down…not because he is in trouble.}. If he jumps up on people, he gets a good knee to the chest. If he bites, is put in time out. Being a hard-ass is a big job…


I would love to hear what you think about Louie! What would you do in this situation? Any tips for working with this kind of puppyish behavior? 


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