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A new take on separation anxiety, etc.


sanford
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Someone was describing canine behavior to me today in a way I'd never heard of before; why some dogs continually bark or howl when left alone, and the extreme show of joy and elation when the owner returns...

In their natural state, dogs become separated from their packs only if the pack has encountered a mishap resulting in death or injury. As their pack leader, when you leave, their barking or howling is not only because you are gone, but is actually due to the stress of their believing that you are probably gone for good, unable to return.Therefore, the extreme overjoyed reaction when you come back, as if from the dead.

It disturbs me to think that any of our cairns should have to endure such hopeless stress, and for their sakes I would like to believe that this is not the case. But who is to say? Canine behavior hasn't been studied for very long. There is so much more to know and understand about the canine psyche.

Has anyone else heard of this "theory"? I'd be interested to know what others here think.

Edited by sanford

FEAR THE CAIRN!

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though i don't think cairn traits change very much, i think it is possible to affect their view of the world. the company of another dog must help, but i think also training them from puppyhood to understand that sometimes you go away, but you always come back, can also help. when i have had puppies i have trained them to be able to tolerate my absence, and in most cases i have to also train them to accept that going to a kennel overnight is not the end of the world. i don't think it makes them casual about it. i'm sure there is still huge stress, but at least they have the mental constructs to try to reassure themselves and hang on. actually redmon seemed to like going to the kennel, even though he was always overjoyed to see me. the kennel atmosphere may be slightly comforting, since there are plenty of dogs around. but there is also something about it that must suggest to a dog a hospital, a pound, a puppy mill (that is where redmon came from), so seeing the human guardian return, against all hope, must inspire a lot of joy. life with humans must be stressful for all dogs, and there are probably particular ways in which it stresses cairns. but in general they try to adapt and soldier on. i am always sorry that i can't assure my dogs absolutely that i will return --but then, nobody can really guarantee that i will return. maybe they are onto something. 

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Thanks for these thoughtful replies... I hesitated to post this topic, thinking it might be too obvious on the one hand, or too far out, on the other. With my 2 cairns, this hasn't been an issue so it wasn't really on my radar. My personal experience with Carrington, and now with Ruffy, has been confined to the the tense, piercing, stunned looks of disbelief when they've seen me preparing to leave the apartment without them, but no howling or barking (according to my close neighbors) when I'm gone. However, each of them has practically turned inside out with excitement upon my return!

Edited by sanford

FEAR THE CAIRN!

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With Angus I trained him from a puppy like previous dogs to get used to being left. At first for a few minutes and then gradually longer.

I crate them when I leave. At first Angus whimpered a little but he gradually got to understand I'd be back.

When young I don't trust them not to tear up the place and as they get older I still do it because they expect it and because their crate is their safe place.

I rarely have to leave Angus as he usually rides with me wherever I go. When I do leave him he runs in his crate, gets his treat and goes to sleep till I get back. He greets me happily but not excessively. I tell him hello quietly and pet him a little and we go on with our day.

When he is boarded he's been fine. He knows and loves the place I take him which is to his groomers. She never boards more than four or five dogs at a time. He loves his walks with other boarders or with her dogs.She has not reported howling barking or other distress signs. 

That said all dogs are different and what stresses one might not bother another. 

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Interesting theory about separation anxiety.  Buffy and Ziggy don't seem to suffer from this affliction however.  If we're gone more than 10 minutes they usually fall asleep.  Many times we have returned home only to stand by the door and wait for the two sleepyheads to wake up and greet us.  Once they realize we have snuck in under the radar they compensate by giving us an overly enthusiastic greeting. 

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Jock never seemed overly upset when we went out, because I think he trusted us without question, knowing full well he was surrounded with all the smells of us. But he was always there at the top of the stairs waiting when we opened the door. Ears back, slowly wagging tail,a smile on his sweet face and the occasional whoo whoo that they make when very happy.

Rosie greats us in a similar manner, usually with bed head and a goofy look on her face. But then we can go out in the garage for ten minutes and we get the same greeting. Lol

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Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie

 

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Very interesting theory. I am sure none of you remember my endless posts about Callie's separation anxiety. We tried the thunder shirt and Rescue Remedy. We tried day camp 3x a week so she'd be exhausted for two days and sleep. Very expensive. She is 100% better now that we got Finn. Funny thing is that when I come home, they aren't even together. She's on our bed and he's in his bed on the floor since he can't jump that high. I guess just the knowledge that she's not alone is helpful. I would hate to think she thinks I'm dead every time I leave. Would break my heart if that were true. I like the hunting theory better. lol

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I would hate to think she thinks I'm dead every time I leave. Would break my heart if that were true. I like the hunting theory better. lol

I agree! It's wonderful to know that Callie is OK now!

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FEAR THE CAIRN!

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   Kelly and Prissy is like Buffy and Ziggy. They don't seem to suffer from this affliction either. lol   They both greet us at the door with bedhead. haha   Even before Prissy came to live with us and Kelly was alone, it was the same thing. She would greet us with bedhead.

 

It is an interesting theory though. I have heard a few dogs that are afflicted

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Nikki barks, screams, and even howls when he's left alone in the car or house. He used to bark angrily When I went outside to get the mail without him. Now he waits for a few minutes before he starts whining and pacing. He still barks and screeches when he's left in the car. :/

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Maisie doesn't like being left alone in the car or the house either, but if Tess is with her, they're both fine.  Maisie also hates being left at the groomers, she'll hide behind me as long as she can and then when the groomer tries to take her in back, she'll practically glue her little butt to the floor and make the lady drag her a little bit.  She'll keep looking back at me as if to say, how could you?  I feel terrible.  Maisie can be so dramatic at times, it's hard for me to keep a straight face.

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