Armed with the drugs I mentioned in the last post, we researched online and found recommended training techniques to pair with the drugs. Some were very different from our current way of training. For example, with my dogs I have always taken a moment to say some sweet things before I leave and give them some command: “I’ll be back soon. Watch the house for me and don’t let any strangers in, ok?” I realize it’s not what I am saying so much as that I am saying something and how I am saying it. It seemed to offer reassurance to them that I’d be back soon. Such was our routine.
I tried it with Tinny as well, thinking perhaps she just needed some reassurance before we left. It did not make any difference. The training online suggested we give her a treat or other distraction a few minutes before we leave and then simply walk out the door without saying a word, making it a non-event (in theory).
Perhaps that works for some dogs. I went out and bought a giant KONG Goodie Bone Dog Toy, Large, Red with paste and filled both ends and gave it to her. She loved it, but would drop it the minute she heard us leaving. Another note here – we’ve discovered that Ryan can leave and Tinny remain calm, but I cannot leave the house (whether Ryan is there or not) without a strong reaction from Tinny. It’s strange because she’s Ryan’s dog so I don’t know why she has developed this reaction to me. Oddly enough, Tinny has done this since she first met me. Ryan told me after the first time I visited his house (we had dinner and watched a movie) and then left, Tinny spent the rest of the evening crying. It’s bizarre.
The vet said it would take several weeks for the meds to kick in so we just tried to be patient. We moved during this time and that was traumatic enough. After getting into the new house we simply wouldn’t leave Tinny alone. We either didn’t leave or we made her ride along if we went anywhere.
Now it’s 8 weeks later, we still dog-proof to the fullest extent possible and she still manages to find something to destroy while we are gone (most recently it was a giant package of toilet paper from Sam’s – you know, the one with about 78 rolls). So we’re weaning her back off the drugs – no sense in continuing them if they don’t work.
Our next bright idea was to try a muzzle (she looks so innocent here, doesn’t she??). If she can’t open her mouth she can’t chew stuff up, right? We took her to the pet store and spent lots of time carefully selecting a proper fit of a muzzle that would still allow her to drink while it was worn. We set up cameras from all angles and performed a test by putting the muzzle on and leaving her for an hour.
Our first clue that something had gone awry was revealed the moment we walked up to the front door….