Tag Archives: separation anxiety

DogDaz Zoo: When They Tell You Your Dog Is Mentally Ill

Sofie-01I wrote the first part of this post in 2016 and never published itWhen Sofie was a puppy (born November 2010), other than being a bit whiney and barky in her first few months, she seemed like every other puppy I ever had. Thinking back, maybe she was a bit more strong-willed than others. It was harder to get her to listen to commands, but I figured that was her Sheltie/herding dog lineage and a vet told me she just needed a flock of sheep, or pride of cats, to work with every day.

Being the pet Mom that I am, I did Clicker training;  I tried positive reinforcement with treats; I hired private trainers (twice); I even trained with an e-collar (before I knew it was not a good thing to train with). And, for a long time, she was great off leash and listened when I requested her attention. The only thing that I have never been able to get under control was her barking. She has super sonic hearing and barks at the slightest breeze.

When I look back at the list of things that I worked on with the first trainer when Sofie was about 6 months old, I see that the list hasn’t changed much in 6 years. (1) Barking at everything; (2) whining;  (3) chasing cats. I can say that I taught her many things: not to jump on people, and how to sit, stay, come, stop, down, paw, leave it, drop it, up (in the car or on a bed), ‘Don’t’ (‘No’ is Louise’s word, so I used ‘Don’t’ for Sofie, so they wouldn’t get confused), find me (it’s a game we play), and place. I am pretty sure that she understands ‘quiet,’ but that she just doesn’t obey the command when I say it.

I feel like a failure. I have had 6 dogs in my life, and I have never had a dog with as many issues as Sofie.

Sofie’s challenges

  • Thunder anxiety (always)

  • Separation anxiety (sometimes)

  • Hyper noise sensitivity (always)

  • General, everyday, life anxiety

  • Night terrors. Waking several times at night from sleep and starting to bark and go crazy as if something is attacking her.

  • Dislikes puppies and any dog that lick her face

  • Skin issues (mostly in warm weather)

  • Breathing issues (whizzing and asthma like)

  • Digestive issues

How things manifest

  • Comfort sucking: She sucks on fabric, on the bed blankets, on toys (her favorites are catnip toys), even sometimes on my pants while I am wearing them. Sometimes she will ‘flank suck’ on herself, but that is rare.

  • She pants, a lot, no matter the weather

  • She whines

  • She barks at everything

  • She barks at dogs, people, trucks, anything passing the house, even if she can’t see them.

  • She barks at deliveries leaving a package at the any door (and of course my daughter buys everything online).

3 different Veternarians over the years have told me she suffers from some form of mental instablity. At the end of the day, what does that mean?


Fast forward to 2019 – to be continued…..

After 8 years, Sofie continues to be a challenge in a multi-animal household.

Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤


Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Dogs


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Monday Mischief: Chewed Door Repair Video

When I am not home and there is a thunderstorm, Sofie tends to eat through the laundry room door. I have rebuilt the door 3X now. You would think I would just remember to leave it ajar when I go out so this doesn’t keep happening. But, No! I close the door because the cat litter is in there and I don’t want the dogs playing in it. That is why the laundry room door HAD a cat door; which is where I think this eating that particular door all started for Sofie. She first ate the cat door.

Anyway, I have gotten very expert at hollow core door repair, so I made you this video to share my fixing magic, including adding back a cat door. Hope it helps any of you that have to repair a similar chewed situation.

Turn on closed captions in video to read instructions. 

What kind of mischief did you get into today?

Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤


Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Dogs


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DogDaz Zoo: High Anxiety Help Needed

I need your help.  Sofie’s anxiety is off the charts.  I have had her to several Veterinarians, a Behaviorist, and now they are recommending a Neurologist and MRI. I am at my wits-end trying to figure out how to help her and I don’t get much sleep anymore (that video above is at 2:06 AM). She appears to be in an ongoing state of anxiety or pain.

MM 6.22.15 Thunder Storm

Months ago, with help from a holistic Vet, we tried lots of different Chinese herbs to calm her separation and thunder anxieties, Back in June, Sofie ate through a door. We tried Xanax which actually made her hyperactive,  None of the herbal remedies seemed to touched the surface for more than a few days. You may notice in the door vs thunder storm picture, she was wearing her Thunder Shirt while she ate the door.  Yes, I have had her in one for years.

Around October, Sofie started waking me multiple times during the night with whining and barking.  I likened the event to ‘night terrors’ (like when kids have nightmares).  When this first happened, I started taking her from the bedroom into the den where she and I would go to sleep on the couch.  No amount of Shen Calmer, Composure Pro, or Pheromone spray was helping to stop these events.  I needed to do something different.

In December, I decided to go back to the Vet that handled 2 of my previous dogs (Nikki with a brain tumor and dementia and Squash with insulin diabetes). I always felt he was a good diagnostician and the only reason I changed Vets originally was because I had moved about 30 minutes away and wanted someone closer to home.  After taking a bunch of tests, he put Sofie on Prozac for a few weeks (which did nothing) and then we moved to Phenobarbital.  He was thinking that maybe the night awakening was some kind of seizure.  She did sleep for a few nights when we first started but then her night problems broke through.  I adjusted the meds as directed, but still she had night terrors.  We keep doing blood work and tests and meds changes, but still she has this problem at night and during the day sometimes.

Last week I decided to try an Animal Behaviorist. Sofie and I traveled 2 hours to consult with this person.

MM 6.16.14The Behaviorist felt that Sofie was very stressed out and that it must be caused by the years of wrong training I have given her, both regular basic obedience and especially the e-collar training. She told me to stop talking to Sofie in any way (no commands, no reprimands, don’t look at her).  She asked me to remove Louise and the cats from the house to see if they were the problem. She recommended a bunch of changes: stop socializing with other dogs, don’t let her around children (which she never was anyway), stop letting her go to daycare, ignore her when coming and going, if I am not home have whomever is home leash her and give her treats when she is screaming for me, toss food at her to stop whining, stop all obedience commands, stop verbal or physical punishment (I assume she meant the ecollar since Sofie was never physically punished), interrupt all barking by using the head collar and pulling her toward me and feeding her, stop all cat chasing by blocking with a board, block all windows so she can’t look out, stop feeding her in a bowl and reward her 30 to 40 times a day for coming when called, stop talking to her, stop letting her go to the fence in the yard and bark, pen her at night and if she barks in pen throw treats, when watching TV pen her and give her a feeding toy to stop her from barking at me.  And begin a noise desensitization program with thunder sounds and barking,

All this made me feel like I am a terrible pet owner (I am publicly sorry to the 29 other pets I have had in my life) but I accepted that every dog is different and since I was paying her to help me find a way that worked for Sofie, I was going to listen to her advice.  Immediately last week we started implementing her suggestions.

To rule out medical issues, the Behaviorist suggested I have Sofie’s Thyroid checked.  She feels that Sofie is obese. (Which has me concerned because all her recommendations are food based.) I went and had blood taken the next day (T-4 test), which came back low. Today, I went and had more blood work done so we can see how low it really is.  Sofie was so anxious when we got to the Vet that she tried to eat the window blinds and jump out the office window.  I have never seen her do this stuff before.  It just keeps getting worse.

Since I went to the Behaviorist last week, Sofie’s behavior (especially the whining and night waking) has escalated to a new level of crazy that I have never seen before.  Is this a reaction formation to trying to change her behavior or progression of a fast moving disease?

Did I tell you that Sofie won’t go with the Dog Walker anymore if I am home. That started about a month ago.  She hides in my office and refuses to go. (Lucky Louise gets a walk all by herself).  I was able to trick Sofie at first, I would make like I was going to walk with them, but now she knows that I am not really going and won’t budge. She gladly goes if I am not home.  Separation anxiety?  Maybe Rachel walks too fast for Sofie and she doesn’t want to go because it hurts her joints?

A few nights ago I changed the room I sleep in to see if the night problem was environmental (and because she was disturbing everyone that was sleeping). The first night she slept, then she didn’t, then she did.  Clearly this is not separation anxiety, as she is lying right next to me on the couch and still waking multiple times with cries, whines, and ultimately barks.  She is not allowed on my bed in the bedroom, but I do allow her with me on my den couch, so I was thinking the closeness would help her.  But NO!!

By the way, Sofie hates this nose collar the Behaviorist recommended we use.  It is suppose to give me more control of her in the house (so I can turn her head gently when she is barking and give her treats). I get the concept but at this point, I don’t think it is making a lick of difference.   On a positive note, she is sucking on fabric things a little less; at least that is a step in the right direction.  You might remember that she always has to have a lovey or something to suck on.

After I reported that things are getting worse to the Behaviorist, she said maybe the problem isn’t behavior after all but medical.  She wants me to stop everything she told me to do (except for the cat chasing).  I am losing my mind with all of this (and going broke)!!

Just in case it is joint pain, I added Dasuquin to her meds. A few times last week I noticed her limping when she would get up from the dog bed in my office.  Is this a response to all the meds, the weather, something else?  

Today the Vet discussed having an MRI to see if she has a brain tumor, but if she does, there would be little that could be done to help her.  He changed her from the Phenobarbital to Clomicalm. Hopefully, if I give it to her shortly before bed, we might get through the night.

Does anyone have any thoughts?  Medical or behavior? This is starting to become a quality of life question, hers and mine.  – Lorian, desperate DogDaz Zookeeper.

NOT Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤


Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Dogs


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Monday Mischief: Door vs Thunder Storm

MM 6.22.15 Thunder Storm

I never go out through the laundry room into the garage, but Grammie, who will be 90 next month, was visiting and it was pouring down rain, so I wanted to keep her dry and not make her go down the front steps of the house.  I knew a thunder storm was coming (as they tend to every day this time of year) but we wanted to go to dinner and get Grammie back to her place.  So I put on Sofie’s thunder vest, added 3 composure tablets to her dinner, feed everyone, and we all proceeded to leave.  I knew that Sofie was screaming worse than usual when I left, but what can a Petmom do?  I made sure she was in the main part of the house, not in the laundry room, and went on my way.  Obviously, since she saw me leave through the laundry room, she thought she would find me if she got in there.  She probably started by trying to fit through the cat door.  Once that was dislodged, it appears she ate a big enough hole to fit through and get to the other side.

When Peanut got home from dinner (I had to take Grammie back to her place), she found Sofie locked in the laundry room with blood all over her face.  When I got home the above is what I found.  Thank goodness I have cheap press board doors and not wood.  It seems only her gums were irritated (though there was a lot of blood).

This has been a horrible week of storms and I have tried many herbal remedies (which only seem to make her worse).  Her separation and storm anxiety appears to be escalating by the day.  I am spraying a bandana around her neck with ADAPTIL every couple of hours.  She has been getting VetriScience Composure Pro for months (to no avail).  And this week we added Min-Chex, which made her go absolutely bonkers (it basically had an antithethical effect).

I fixed the door – but I don’t know how to fix the Sofie.




This is a blog hop. I hopped it from MYBrownNewfies. Check them out for more mischief.

Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo


Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Dogs


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