Monday, February 16, 2015

Client Chronicles: Lady's Story - A Tale of Canine Separation Anxiety Disorder, Part 1

Lady's Story
A Tale of Canine Separation Anxiety Disorder
Part 1

One of the most common issues I treat is Separation Anxiety Disorder. What does Zen Dog Training do that’s different from other trainers? To help explain, I invited one family to share their story. 

"This is Lady. 

Lady came to Brooklyn from suburban Michigan. She had never walked on a leash -- at least not regularly -- before moving east. Her previous owners had her on some drugs for anxiety, but they reported turning her over to a Weimaraner rescue group due to a family health problem. Lady lived with an experienced foster family for six weeks before she was adopted out, and seemed fine.

But she hadn't really been left alone at the foster family's house. 

Michael, her new owner, drove 16 hours one way to Michigan to fetch Lady, who would be the 15th Weimaraner in his family (his father has two). 

Left alone in a Park Slope walkup, Lady would howl. She managed to open the front door and run down three flights of stairs to the landlord's basement in her panic. She cried and carved a two-inch chunk of wood out of the front door another time, so desperate was she to escape and find her people. You could hear her cries through closed windows on the third floor all the way down on the street. 

Maybe Lady cried and howled at her first home too, but maybe it didn't matter, because maybe the neighbors couldn't hear (or didn't care). Urban environments have benefits -- socialization, access to dog walkers and other services, and proximity to areas like Prospect Park. Many city dogs get more exercise then suburban ones. But shared apartment walls and cramped quarters can sometimes exacerbate problems that weren't an issue in the suburbs -- you just can't predict. 

From their previous dog, Lady's new family had a relationship with dog walkers  Rachel and Francesca at Brooklyn DogTime. Rachel quickly referred Lady to Alexis at Zen Dog Training. 

Rachel experienced Lady's panic first-hand. When they first met, Lady barked frantically and howled at the stranger for several minutes, much longer than expected. Her eyes dilated and stayed that way for the better part of a half hour, despite Rachel's best attempts to calm her. 

While Rachel knows her dogs, she also knows that separation anxiety like Lady's often needs a specialist to truly fix. This isn't just learning to sit, heel and not eat a child's toys. Anxiety training is about helping the dog reach a calm state of mind -- a much harder task."

Stay tuned for more posts from Lady's owners sharing their story as they work with Zen Dog Training on Lady's severe separation anxiety.

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