Well it looks like we typed too soon about how mellow little Mr. Bunny-Ears is. Turns out our little pocket pittie has a bit of separation anxiety. Don’t get us wrong– it seems minor at this point– but it is something we will need to work on.
The first few days he was with us, he didn’t pay much mind to our comings and goings, but the other day it was like a switch flipped. All of a sudden little Gonzo was whining, crying, and scratching frantically at the floor in his room when I closed his door on my way out in the morning. It’s no wonder, really, considering that the little dearling was abandoned by his people at the animal shelter in November.
The next day, I discovered that the issue seems to be worst when he can hear us still in the house, but he is closed in his room. We do a lot of rotating of Gonzo Bunny-Ears and Chick so that each dog gets his own special time with the Humans Who Dole Out Treats, and Mr. Ears is not happy with the half of the arrangement where he is in his room with his toys, alone. He whines and scratches, and finally just lays with his face smooshed up against the door. Pardon the blur in this photo, I snapped it from outside on our deck through the window and mesh screen:
We did some serious training with our own loverboy Chick when he was younger on separation anxiety. It seems that when I first adopted him, I made the fatal mistake of taking him with me everywhere, so he was almost never alone. Together, we did my shifts at the wonderful little emergency shelter for immigrants in Austin where I worked at the time, ran my errands (back then Home Depot and REI both allowed dogs inside), and went swimming. Apparently constant togetherness is the best way to give a dog a separation anxiety issue. We learned this the hard way, but we overcame with glory.
Through intensive training which transitioned to a crazy routine of stuffed and frozen kongs upon leaving, we eliminated Chick’s separation issue. It is more challenging with Gonzo because he is a little bit less food-motivated than Chick, so if I hand him a yummy snack/puzzle and head for the door, he follows me rather than diving into his culinary challenge. Thankfully his coping mechanisms are not too destructive (he does not hurt himself or destroy things), but still.
We plan to dig out our old notes from Chick’s behaviorist, but in the meantime, this anxious-faced little nugget wants to know: anybody have suggestions for how to get back on the right track?
For more info on adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, click here or email us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com.