Anxiety

Poor Dexter and his anxiety. It breaks my heart. It must be exhausting to be that stressed. 🙁

I have to let you know that since we brought him home a week ago his anxiety has gone from 11 to about a 4 so I’m happy to say we’ve made great inroads in a very short amount of time. I’m really proud of him. 🙂

I believe that exercise is a big part of why his anxiety has reduced so quickly. Besides a morning pee walk and a walk in the evening before bed; I also take him and Fergus to a fenced in area and throw the ball for 20-40 minutes. This is the part of the day where they can REALLY exert themselves and get rid of all that pent up energy and work-out every muscle in their body. I throw the ball back and forth until they lay down and beg me to stop. *laugh* With all that energy gone – Dexter doesn’t obsess, whine or have the energy to let his anxiety take over. It makes training him much easier and his capacity to learn is increased because his head isn’t filled with stress. Plus exercise makes for a strong healthy dog so it’s win/win all around.  🙂

We haven’t gone back into the car just yet because there hasn’t been a reason to drive but we’ve been working on other anxiety he has. One major one is getting ready to go for a walk; it triggers Dexter from a sweet dog into a whirling Tasmanian devil.

Spinning. Whining. Mouthing (lightly biting). Jumping. Shrieking and more spinning. In the beginning it was almost impossible to get a harness on him and as soon as you would crack the door open he would shoot through it in a panic. In the Kramer house you wait politely by the door and don’t come through it till someone says it’s ok… why? Cause there are cars on the other side of that door and we don’t want anyone to get squished. 🙁

So I started by giving him a little rescue remedy and then I s-l-o-w-l-y start getting ready to go outside. Just like the car we do it in stages. Put on my boots. Sit and wait till he calms down. Put on his harness but not until he sits calmly. Put on my jacket. Sit and wait until he’s calm. It takes a lot of patience (and time) to get ready like this but in only a few days he learned that going outside means he has to be calm and that all four paws have to be on the floor … Now I can stand by the door with the harness and it takes only about 15 seconds before he calms down and sits quietly for me waiting for the harness. YAY! 🙂

The door. That’s a hard one. As soon as it’s cracked just a little he tries to push his way through with the force of a pit-bull. We live in a condo complex and you have to go through 3 inside doors before you get to the outside door so that offers us LOTS of “door etiquette” practice.

We started with him by using the Gentle Leader but I noticed that it didn’t fit his long snout well so we switched to a Halti (we happened to have both from when Fergus was a pup) and it fits him a lot better.

When he charges for the door I would give him a small correction with the Halti and then I use my foot like a hand and I push him back and tell him to sit (he knows sit). Once he’s settled I open the door and tell him to STAY. If he tries to make a run for it; I block him with my foot again and push him back and tell him to sit and stay. Then I walk through the open door and wait … and wait … and wait…

Sometimes I’ll even dance around in the hallway and making “I’m having so much fun” noises to tempt him to walk through. It sounds a little mean but I want to teach him to be patient and calm when the door is open and that he is not to walk through until I say it’s ok. I’ve even had my neighbors help me by having conversations with me in the hall while he has to sit and wait patiently on the other side of the door-frame. Once he’s calm he can come through and then we do it allllll again at the next door.  🙂

He learned door etiquette very quickly but I still have to keep an eye on him because sometimes he’ll revert back … but now it only takes us about 5 minutes to get out the door instead of 30! PROGRESS!! 🙂

A big thanks again to everyone who donated to Dexters’ rehabilitation! We purchased a few more items (new bed, natures miracle, food, etc) because of your kindness. You rock!

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