|Tucker, CGC,- TDI|
|Barked: Sat Sep 19, '09 10:25pm PST |
|First, congratulations on your new family member. I'm sorry to hear about Teddy.
Now, about Molly. What is her history, as much of it as you know? Not sure what, if anything, it could tell us about why Molly is exhibiting this behavior, but I still think the more we know about her past, the better able we will all be to offer suggestions that may help.
I must agree with Jessica - shock or citronella collars are NOT the answer, and while I have seen psychotropic drugs work wonders in a couple of different dogs over the years, I don't think it should be something that should be done immediately - more as a last resort, or at the very least used in conjunction with behavioral modifcation, not as a stand-alone therapy.
I could be off base here, but I see this obsessive circling as possibly a self-soothing behavior that Molly learned during what was probably a less than ideal past. It is now up to you to show Molly that she no longer needs to engage in such behavior to soothe herself. Try to engage her in interactive play, get her interested in Kongs or stuffed marrow bones or Buster Cubes or bullysticks - something that is either really tasty and high value and/or will stimulate not just her appetite but also her mind.
I would also intervene if she starts to do the circling behavior. If she starts to circle, divert her attention to something else. Praise her for engaging in those other activities. If she seems unable to stop herself from the circling behavior when she is at liberty, try having her on a tether instead.
And, although you clearly have a nice big yard, focused exercise is going to be important for her. She shouldn't just be running around willy-nilly all the time, although opportunity to get the ya-yas out is important for any dog. However, I believe that for a dog like Molly, focused training walks are vitally important. Bring treats and "work" her during the course of the walk. Teach her to do an automatic sit at a curb, practice sit and down. Alternate jogs and fast walks where you change direction frequently with slower ones where you encourage and reward her for staying beside you. You want to burn energy but do it in a focused manner so that she learns that there is more to life than racing around in a circle.
If she does not have a crate already, get one, and turn it into a cozy, comfy haven for Molly. Then encourage her to spend time there without locking her inside of it at first . In another recent thread, Asher posted what I thought was a brilliant suggestion to teach a dog that the crate is a place that they want to be, which was to take something of really high value - such as cooked hamburger - and put it in the crate, but lock the dog out instead of in! I'd never heard of this approach before, and I thought it was brilliant!
Also, although I agree with you that ten hours is too long for Molly to be expected to "hold it", I also don't think that at this point a doggie door is the answer, either. Molly is new to your home, and although I know nothing of her history, I would venture to say it was not ideal. She doesn't need to be on her own for that many hours a day, especially not in this situation where she is working herself up into a frenzy as well as disturbing your neighbors.
Is it possible for you and your spouse to take turns coming home mid-day to let Molly out and play with her a bit? Do either of you have a dog-friendly work place where Molly could accompany you some of the time? Would it be possible to get a dog sitter to come in?
My feeling is that if Molly is given enough exercise, some training (agility might be great for her, as it is a wonderful way to build a dog's confidence - all those yummy treats and positive reinforcement can't help but make a dog feel good about life and about him/herself!), some enforced down time when she knows it is ok to just switch off and relax, plus just some additional time in your family to feel comfortable and know that this is her home, all will be well.
Meanwhile, please be especially mindful of your probably stressed-out felines. Perhaps set up a sanctuary room for them with a big cat tree next to a sunny window, a litter box, and their food and water bowls, that you can gate off from Molly,so that they have a place to feel secure.
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