Behavior Tip of the Month
My male dog is jumping the fence. The vet prescribed medication, but it's not helping. Thus, we have to chain him. Can you help us?
I'm so glad you want to solve your dog's Houdini-like behavior, but tying him up is not the answer. That can result in his hanging himself as well as biting, destructiveness, and frustration barking. As Dr. Suzanne Hetts points out in her book, Pet Behavior Protocols, we need to look at why your dog is escaping.
1. Does your dog get out only when you are away from home? Does he stay on your front porch waiting for you to come home? These are all signs of separation anxiety. Medication for this is effective only if you teach him new ways of feeling and acting when he's alone. A wonderful little book to help you with this is "I'll Be Coming Home" by Dr. Patricia McConnel.
2. Is your dog hesitant about going outside? Does he want to come back into the house immediately? He may have been frightened by a sound or scary event when he was in the backyard. Now he's fearful of staying there.
3. Is your male dog neutered? If not, he may be escaping to look for a girlfriend.
4. Does your dog lunge and bark at people passing by your yard? If so, he may be escaping to try to chase people and dogs away from his territory.
5. Is your dog alone in the backyard most of the time? He may be escaping to play and socialize with people and other dogs.
6. Is your dog's favorite activity trying to chase little animals? He may be escaping to catch squirrels, rabbits, and birds.
Once you play detective and narrow down why your canine wants out, you can devise an appropriate treatment plan.
1. For separation anxiety, try the suggestions in Patricia McConnel's book.
2. If your dog is fearful, put him somewhere where he doesn't hear the bad sounds. You could also help him conquer his fears. Information can be found in another book by Dr. Patricia McConnel, "The Cautious Canine. Dr. McConnel and Dr.Hetts books can be purchased at www.dogwise.com.
3. If your dog is looking for a girlfriend, neuter him. He'll be happier and healthier.
4. If your dog is trying to protect his territory, build a privacy fence or leave him inside.
5. If your pup is escaping because he needs to play and investigate the environment, don't keep him only in the back yard. Take him on walks, go to dog parks, and play with him in the house. Give him Buster cubes, kibble balls, and stuffed Kong toys to enrich his backyard environment.
6. If your dog wants to chase little animals, build a privacy fence so that he doesn't see them.
In addition to determining and addressing the cause of your dog's behavior, you also need to make your yard "escape-proof". Next month I will discuss ways to make your yard more secure. Hopefully, these suggestions will keep your "Hairy Houdini" happily within the confines of your property.
Good luck, Carole
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.