Calming Cooper’s Quirks: Separation Anxiety

Cooper taught us early on that he does not appreciate being left alone.  We’ve used a lot of trial and error in dealing with this issue, including varying the amount of time he is alone, leaving him in a crate or out of the crate, exercising before he is left alone, leaving him with a Veggie Kong – you name it, we’ve tried it. Time after time, no matter what we did, we’d come home to…well, this:

                   

We had about reached the end of our rope.  As much as we adored Coop, we felt that we were failing him in some way – what was causing his anxiety?  How could we help him? We sought the wise counsel of one of the Agape staff, Gayle.  Gayle has helped us out many times in the past dealing with different behavioral issues in our foster dogs, including learning how to bring a nervous Tucker out of his shell, and mediating some tension between Oscar and Kaylee.  She knows her stuff, and she’s always willing to help.  In short, she’s a lifesaver – and we trust her guidance.

After talking with Gayle about everything we had tried so far, she suggested we try a supplement called Quiet Moments.  She had used it with several of her nervous foster dogs in the past with great success.  These chewable tablets includes natural ingredients like passion flower, chamomile and ginger, with the aim of reducing stress and tension in your dog.  Plus, as I said – we had tried everything else, so what the heck?  Cooper gobbles them right down. 

***Important: We are not medical professionals.  Please consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on any medication or supplement.***

Along with the Quiet Moments, we’ve been leaving instrumental music on the radio when we’re gone.  We continue to leave Oscar, Cooper and Molly Tamale all out in the living room together, closed off from the rest of the house.  We’ve puppy proofed the stinkin’ heck out of that room, and we’ve decided that we’ll shed no tears over anything that may fall victim to any vicious puppy chompers – especially since Cooper apparently isn’t the only one we have to worry about!  

We also make sure that all the dogs go outside to conduct their business right before we leave the house, and we never make a never “big deal” out of our good-bye routine.  No big pets and hugs and drawn out good-bye’s with “I-love-you-I’ll-see-you-soon-you’re-such- a-good-dog-please-don’t-eat-the-house,” we simply look at the dogs, say cheerfully “We’ll be back!” and shut the door behind us.  When we first implemented this tactic over the course of a weekend, we used “We’ll be back!” for first a quick trip around the block, then a run to the store, and increasingly longer periods of time.  The idea is to build trust in Cooper that we will, in fact, return!

We’ve been following this routine now for several weeks, and we’ve been doing pretty well.  Destruction has gone way down, and we’ve all but alleviated the potty accidents.  It’s gotten to the point recently to where I can start closing doors to separate off the living room, and Cooper will hop up on the couch, ready for his daily snooze, instead of following me to the door bouncing around like a dog possessed.

It’s taken us three and a half months with Cooper to get to this point.  His growth has been exceptional, and I could not be more proud of him.  I do think that when he does get adopted, his furever family can expect a bit of backsliding – that’s only natural.  This is where that patience and love comes in, and willingness to stick with Cooper while he works through it…. 

…because eventually, he will!

If you’d like to add Cooper to your family, please contact Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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3 Comments

Filed under Our Foster Journey

3 responses to “Calming Cooper’s Quirks: Separation Anxiety

  1. Pingback: Introducing the Agili-Coop! | A Heartbeat at My Feet

  2. Pingback: When the time comes… | A Heartbeat at My Feet

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