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Dr. Barbara
Dr. Barbara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1614
Experience:  Over 30 years experience in veterinary medicine and surgery.
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just over a week ago my dog managed to shut herself in the

Customer Question

just over a week ago my dog managed to shut herself in the spare bedroom a room she doesn,t go in unless having a nose now and then. the next day I noticed in the corner of that room the carpet had been scratched up I presumed this had happened while she was shut in. then the mat in the sitting room was scratched up for a couple of days luckily no damage was done. I did not tell her off but stopped her from doing it by putting a table on it. then everything calmed down and then we were at home for easter. went back to work on Tuesday came home and she has ripped the hallway carpet up. she is about 10 years old and is a rescue dog I've owned her for 7 years she has been left while I work four days a week part time since owning her and had nothing like this before. I know she may have scared herself but I don't know what to do
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Barbara :

Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm a licensed veterinarian and I'll be happy to help. Many dogs do scratch to make a nest for sleeping (even bare floors!) but since this is a change for Tanzy, it is appropriate to look for the cause of her behavioral change.

Dr. Barbara :

The first thing to do when there is such a change in behavior is to rule out medical causes. In Tanzy's case I'd first look for urinary problems. . .like a urinary tract infection (or UTI ).

Customer:

tanzy is in good health I can't see how uti would make her destructive now unless you think she is in pain could blocked anal glands cause this behaviour although they are checked and are ok she is prone to this complaint again she has only started doing this since shutting herself in the spare room

Customer:

and if not a medical condition[she will be checked by a vet] how do I stop her

Dr. Barbara :

Thanks for your response. . .You are very correct as this could be totally a behavioral change, but if there is something going on for her physically, it would be really important to find that. I could understand her scratching as she was when she was shut in the room, but to continue this behavior if she isn't acting nervous or fearful really doesn't make sense. I think she is trying to tell you something.

Dr. Barbara :

There are psychological problems that dogs can get as they get older. . .canine cognitive disorder or dementia is the most common. Is she acting confused or less responsive to you?

Dr. Barbara :

I don't thing that this is separation anxiety, since she is used to being alone while you are at work.

Dr. Barbara :

One thing that owners don't often notice about their dogs is a change in the amount of water consumed or a change in frequency of urination or the amount of urine produced.

Dr. Barbara :

Does Tanzy seem normal also in these areas?

Dr. Barbara :

Other changes in her environment (both in your home and outside) might also lead to this new behavior. Are there any new people or animals in your home or immediate neighborhood? Is there any construction near you. Have you moved furniture, bought new furniture or remodeled? These changes might also cause Tanzy's changed behavior.

Customer:

apart from the physical she sees the vets every 6 months anyway for a check up I thought of separation anxiety but I also do not believe it is that she has plenty of toys to play with and a radio on and she can sleep where she likes and has her own bed in our bedroom at night not on our bed she gets 2 walks a day and fresh water every day which seems to be consumed no more than usual and she does not ask to go out to the toilet any more than usual and pees are normal while out and no accidents indoors and not desperate to go when I come in

Dr. Barbara :

Sorry that I have just been going

Dr. Barbara :

on here!

Customer:

nothing new at home we live in a quiet area no roads pass my house and shes never worried when we have made changes in the house although outside she notices if things are different but I stay calm with her and she then accepts things

Customer:

I did not think you were going on and you gave me something to look at but I feel like you just slammed the door in my face as I also asked if there were steps to stop it like only allowing her in the hallway area with a bed while I am out

Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
You do sound like a great owner for Tanzy. . .very calm and peaceful!
Concerning her possible physical problem, is Tanzy drinking more water than she used to? Does she have to urinate more frequently than she used to?
A common hormonal change in older dogs is called Cushing's disease. This is a pituitary adrenal axis change.
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Sorry, I didn't mean to slam the door in your face. Please forgive me!
To avoid her digging at the carpet and rugs would be to confine her when you are gone to areas of your home where she can't destroy or dig at any rugs or furniture. You could also leave a radio playing softly, as dogs do find this soothing. . .country western or classical music has been shown to be their preference.
There is also a calming dog pheromone called DAP. It comes as a spray or embedded in a collar Tanzy could wear.
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
If these ideas don't help, your vet will be able to prescibe an antianxiety drug or a serotonin
promoting drug. Of course before resorting to these, you'd want to have your vet examine Tanzy fully for any physical problems. . .
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thankyou for getting back to me I am worried about my tanzy and I will try some calming treatments and she will get to see the vet but going to the vets is extremely stressful for her it takes 4 of us holding her for a check up and boosters even with tranquilisers and 2 muzzles and I must admit that if tanzy has to have serious treatment (even putting eardrops in her ears is an ordeal) that I have to carry out at home on a regular basis doesn't bode well for her although she seems quite well in herself eating well chasing her ball etc.

Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Wow! I haven't been able to get into the UK site again until now! I apologize for the delay.
I understand how anxious she gets...poor girl. You could ask your vet if you could just submit a urine sample for a urinalysis. The best way to collect this from a female dog is with a pie pan. Just casually(!) slip it under her urine stream and take it to your vet in a jar or Tupperware.
Dr. Barbara and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I took tanzy to the vets on Saturday with a urine sample. the vet checked for infection and was clear, I had her anal glands expressed but they also were found to be clear heart and lungs were good. I explained what had happened and spoke of your advise, he said the 'calming medications' he didn't feel would work for tanzy and that confining her to a smaller area and gradually extending it would be a good start and then said if the problem persisted then they would recommend an animal behaviourist to advise me. this is what I originally requested from this site and apart from advising medical checks I feel I never got behavioural advise

Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Hi,
Thanks so much for getting back to me, and for sharing your thoughts. . .I really appreciate that!
It's terrifc that Tanzy has a clean bill of health! Now we can move on to behavioral modification suggestions without worrying about missing a physical problem. When we want to change a dog's behavior we have to consider desensitization, counterconditioning, positive or negative reinforcement, and environmental modification.

You are already doing two of these well I think. You are remaining calm when Tanzy does dig up the rugs so you are not reinforcing this behavior. Even reprimands can reinforce the unwanted behavior as the dog is getting attention. . .even negative attention is better than no attention (remember these are general principals as I do not think you are ignoring Tanzy). You are also already modifiying her environment by confining her when you are gone to areas that don't offer her rugs or furniture to dig. I do like what your vet has recommended as far as steering Tanzy away from the digging behavior. However, this doesn't really address the underlying cause of Tanzy's behavior I feel.

Desenitization does more directly address Tanzy's digging of the rugs. I don't think that this digging behavior is because the rugs are available, but the underlying cause is fear (probably specifically separation anxiety). Her digging of the rugs is really just a symptom I think. This is really why I thought that your vet prescribing something like Clomicalm would be helpful for Tanzy. You're already leaving a radio on softly when you are gone, and she has her toys. One other thing you could do is to leave her with a kong type toy with peanut butter inside (actually freezing the kong and peanut butter causes it to last much longer and to divert her attention longer).

Counter conditioning can occur when you are present. If she starts to dig at the rugs or furniture when you are present, you remain calm as you have, but involve Tanzy in a behavior that is desired and then praise her for that. For example have her sit and stay for about 30 seconds and then praise her and give her a treat.

These behavioral modification suggestions are supplemented by giving enough exercise (longer walks perhaps?), a healthy diet, clear communication between you and Tanzy (sounds to me like this is happening. . .you aren't quick to anger!), and plenty of your attention.

I do hope you find these helpful. Again, I very much appreciate your discourse with me, and I certainly desire to help you solve this situation with Tanzy. Let me know please if you have further concerns or questions. . .
Thank you,
Dr. Barbara
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Hi,
In reading a veterinary news magazine today, I came across this device from the article about the best at the Global Pet Expo. This is the Motorola Scout 1 Wi-Fi Pet Monitor Camera (Motorola Mobility LLC).
"Via an app, you can pan, tilt and zoom the camera, have two-way communication with your pet, monitor the room temperatre, capture video or snapshots of your pet's routine, and even play soothing pet music of your choice."
Just thought this might be interesting and possibly of some help with Tanzy.
Dr. Barbara
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thankyou for your reply I do have a rubber ball type toy that you put food into and they spend time getting it out I had forgotten about that so I will start using it. tanzy does get 2 walks a day both with places she can run free when she gets to chase after her ball the 1st walk is for about 20 mins chasing her ball the 2nd when I get in is about 30 mins lead walk and 30 mins chasing her ball I know when she's had enough. because of her nature i'me continually training her and encouraging good behaviour and though she may never be perfect she improves a little all the time I affirm good behaviour and only steer her away from negative behaviour with a firm verbal no and then quickly focus her attention elsewhere but if on the word no she changes her reaction in a positive manner on her own she gets extra praise. I also only use her name for positive communication never to tell her off. her diet is a sensitive gluten free food with no e numbers

Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Hi Linda,
Sounds like Tanzy is definitely getting the exercise she needs as well as your attention and a great diet. I do think that as you patiently continue with these and let her know which behavior is displeasing and countercondition, that she will eventually turn away from the digging at the rugs.
Thanks so much for responding!
I wish you luck, persistence, and continued patience!
Dr. Barbara

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