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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #31
June 25, 2012
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow....
When I first get Bella she was always underfoot. I would go to the living room and there she was. Head to the kitchen and there she was. Sit down and she would sit too. It got to the point that I had to buy her a color with a jingly tag so that I wouldn't accidentally step on her! Plus, anytime I would leave the house she would fall to pieces. While all that attention was flattering I knew that my Jack was becoming a little too dependent on me.
Separation anxiety is very common because dogs are social creatures and thrive on companionship. They travel in packs and when their pack is away from them they wonder if they will be reunited with them. Puppies and dogs who have been in shelters are at particular risk. Also, dogs who have experienced a traumatic event in your absence (like a thunderstorm) or a moving to a new house or a big change in their daily routine, can be affected.
So what are some signs of separation anxiety? Your Jack gets really worked up just as you are about to leave the house, even hearing the keys might set him off. Or, your Jack follows you all over the place and is quickly distressed if you are out of sight. Or, excessive barking when you are away (the neighbors might have clued you in to this!). Or, destruction of your house only when you are away.
Here are some tips to help ease some of the stress. These techniques can work for both puppies and adult dogs, however adult dogs may take a longer period of time to see the benefits of your hard work. The secondary signs of separation anxiety like barking and destruction are some of the main reasons why our Jacks wind up in shelters, so patience is a virtue.
*Keep your Jack busy and socialized right from the start. Make sure your Jack has a long walk every day and preferably some time to do a little running. A tired Jack is a happy non destructive Jack. If you are running short on time, consider hiring a dog walking service to come and give your pup a mid day break. Or using the services of a doggy day care a few times a week to give your Jack some time to socialize and make friends. Mental exercises such as Agility or Treibball (where dogs "herd sheep" by pushing big balls with their noses) or even just a game of fetch will keep your dog occupied and worn out for the next morning.
*Obedience classes and obedience exercises are a great way to boost your Jack's confidence and your bond together. Learning tricks such as "sit", "stay", "down", "leave it" will also help you with some other behaviors around the house. Plus, making your Jack work for special treats will give him a sense of purpose. Remember to consistently practice these skills for even just a few minutes daily.
*When you are inside the house and he is underfoot, take small steps to work on separation. Put him in his crate with you in sight for a few seconds and if he is calm then go over, let him out and give him a treat. Do this a few times a day as you gradually increase the distance between you. Or give him a bone or toy and then walk away. If you have a fenced in area, you can put him outside for a little bit and when/if he is calm then allow him back in and give him praise.
*Consider using a crate for when you are out of the house or limiting their access to the full house. A crate can some seems cruel because you are confining your dog to a small space. However, most dogs really enjoy the crate because it gives them a safe place to go. Make sure the crate has a soft resting spot and fresh water. A bonus to a crate is that most dogs won't pee where they sleep. And it's hard for them to really destroy anything when they are confined. Keeping a clothing item of yours in the crate that has your scent on it can be comforting for your Jack. And a radio or TV can provide some background noise. Animal Planet, anyone?
*Don't make coming and going a big deal. If you work your Jack up and get him super pumped up when you get home, he will have to find an outlet for the built up energy, which can mean trouble for you and your house. Instead, when you are getting ready to leave, calmly put him in his cage, give him a treat, then quietly sneak out. When you arrive, don't greet your Jack right away. Put your keys down, your mail away, etc. And when he is calm, then go over to his cage and quietly let him out of the crate. Don't build up any excitement with high pitched noises or sequels. Let him sniff you and if he is quiet then you may pet him. Don't inadvertently reward his behavior by petting him when he is jumping up on you!! Ignoring him until he is calm will help dispute the belief that his barking brought you home.
*Give your dog something to preoccupy him when you leave. My favorite is a Kong filled with peanut butter and treats that has been frozen. Freezing means that it will take your dog longer to get all the goodness out which also means he will too busy to miss you.
Remember, you are the Alpha in your relationship with your dog. Be mindful that destruction, barking, and following are signs that your Jack is wanting that pack companionship. However, be strong about not greeting your Jack if he is jumping up or barking, and make sure you are leaving without a fuss. Examine whether your Jack is physically and mentally stimulated and well socialized. Practice separation techniques and obedience within your house. Rome wasn't built in a day but with a little bit of time and proper technique your Jack will be better able to cope when you are gone.
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'Til Next Time...
Take care - and take care of your JRT!
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