Nov 1, 2011 Issue #23 Published by Sue Skiff
A NOTE FROM SUE
It is just before 8:00 am Tuesday morning, and I am on a plane, climbing up out of San Francisco. I am sitting next to a young man who recently was able to go from 600 pounds down to 230 pounds. He has been on vacation in San Francisco since Thursday, but drove down to San Diego and back, over the weekend. He is an emergency dispatcher for Dallas / Fort Worth airport, and has put in over 530 hours of overtime so far this year. I am quite impressed with all of this. Of course, we had a nice discussion about his year-old husky, who is chewing up everything in his house. I gave him some advice on how to deal with this.
Our entire conversation took place before the plane took off. But, now that we are in the air, we are both on our computers. He borrowed his from the airline at the gate. I didn’t know that you could do that, until I got to the gate. He is on the internet. My computer is connected to the airplane’s Wi-Fi, but I can’t get on the internet, despite the fact that the signal strength is excellent. I don’t really understand how I can be connected to the internet, but have no access to it. Of course, this is not the first time that this has happened to me, but I have been able to get my computer to solve the issue in the past.
So, here I go to Dallas to connect with other women business owners. It will be an adventure, I am sure. My cats barely paid attention, as I prepared to leave, this morning. Emma, however, was glued to my immediate vicinity the whole time. She is not used to being left behind for more than a few hours. I told her that it was all going to be okay, that I love her, and that I will see her in a few days. She is with our landlady, whom she adores, so she will be fine.
Oh, looks like we are crossing over the Sierra Nevada mountains, now, and still climbing. I am, of course, writing all of this, because I have no idea what I am going to write about in the rest of my newsletter and because I have never been comfortable with flying, and need to stay distracted. We are having turbulence now that we are over the mountains, which doesn’t help my nervousness.
Okay, so the clock on my computer now reads 9:47 am. I have written my two main articles for the e-zine, but I still have no internet access. However, I am still connected to the server, and the signal strength is still excellent. I do not know if we have crossed into another time zone, or not. I suspect that we are over Arizona, which is in a different time zone. However, Arizona, of course does not have daylight savings time, so until daylight savings time ends in California, the time in Arizona is the same as the time in California. I’m sure that you’re fascinated by this.
Oh, no I am wrong. I assumed that my computer would keep up with the time zone changes, and so therefore it would show the current time of whatever area we are flying over. However, I have just pulled up the map on the little screen on the back of the seat in front of me. It says that we are already over Texas, somewhere just SE of Amarillo.
So, what can you find in this week’s e-zine? First, it seems apropos to write about separation anxiety, so there are some tips on how to deal with it. Emma actually had some separation anxiety issues when I first got her. I suspect that it was the result of her having been abandoned by her first family. She was never destructive, but she was somewhat vocal when left, at first (oh, we’re descending, my own anxieties just went up a notch). I worked with her on it, and she adjusted to being left in her crate pretty quickly, although she was terrified of the crate at first. It was many months, however, before she was comfortable being left in a car. Now, 3 ½ years later, she loves traveling around with me, and handles being left alone in the car (jn the shade, with the windows down, of course), by sleeping, for the most part.
The second article is about a pet bird that I had when I was a teenager. This also seems apropos, as I am currently flying, and she flew quite well all of her life, once she had the flight feathers for it.
I look forward to being able to send this out to y'all (I’m in Texas, have to speak the lingo). I hope that you enjoy the articles, and that you forgive my rambling as I took my mind off of the fact that I am on a plane. Okay, so this descent thing is not sitting well with me.
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See you next week!.
FIVE TIPS FOR CURING SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS
When a dog cannot handle being left alone, it presents serious problems for the household, which can include; incessant barking/whining while you’re away, destruction of your house and your possessions, and inappropriate elimination on the part of your dog. Dogs need to be able to trust their guardians to leave them for periods of time; and to know that those guardians will return to care for them. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you may be able to help it by yourself, depending on the severity of the anxiety, and on whether or not your schedule will allow you to do the work needed. However, be prepared to seek professional help if need be.
TIP 1: SET ASIDE A LONG WEEKEND
The problem with separation anxiety is that, every time that you leave your dog, it will practice being anxious until you return. Therefore, when you begin helping your dog to get over its separation anxiety, you will want to have a big block of time, like a whole three-day weekend, during which you do not need to leave your dog, to work with your dog, so that there will be no backsliding on your dog’s part, as it starts to learn to trust you when you leave it.
TIP 2: WORK GRADUALLY
You are going to be working on building trust with your dog. This requires working consistently, in a step-by-step manner, so that your dog only builds trust in you, rather than slipping into anxiety. So, be prepared to go slowly. This means that you will start by leaving your dog in a confined space, just going out of its sight for a second or two; before returning to it, and reinforcing it for being calm. From there, gradually work up to leaving it for longer and longer periods of time, and then starting to go outside when you leave it.
TIP 3: DON’T GO TOO FAR AWAY
You want to be able to know whether or not your dog is staying calm, while you are away from it, because, if it is getting anxious when you are leaving it, then it is practicing the wrong behavior. If you do find that your dog is getting anxious at any point in this training, then you will need to return to leaving it for an amount of time where it is comfortable being left, and work up from there, even more gradually.
TIP 4: SET UP A LEAVING ROUTINE
Get your dog comfortable being in a crate, or other confined space, where it can’t do any damage to your property. Then set up a routine for when you leave it. This should go something like this: send your dog calmly to its space, give it something that it likes to chew on (or something like a Kong toy stuffed with goodies), calmly tell it that you are leaving for however long you will be leaving it, tell it that everything is okay, and that you will see it when you return, then calmly leave. It is vital that everything be done in a calm, this is no big deal, manner. Any anxiety on your part will be picked up by your dog, and will ruin what you are trying to do. Your dog should be made to feel that it doesn’t really matter that you are leaving. Go through this routine every time that you practice leaving your dog, and continue going through this routine once your dog gets comfortable with the idea of your leaving.
TIP 5: SET UP A RETURNING ROUTINE
It is important that your dog understand that your leaving is no big deal, therefore your returning can’t be a big deal, either. If you act too happy or excited when you return to your dog, it can misinterpret your message to mean that your prior separation from it was actually something to be concerned about. So, when you return to your dog, you need to be calm. As your dog gets more comfortable with you being away from it, begin doing routine things that you would do upon your return home, before reinforcing your dog for being calm. That is, get something to drink, check your mail or your phone messages, go to the bathroom, act like you’re putting groceries away, anything that you might do when you first get home after leaving your dog. The more your dog gets used to this, and the less fuss you make over your dog upon your return, the more your dog will feel that your being gone is nothing to be concerned about.
Separation anxiety can be a serious issue, so if your dog is showing signs of having this problem and you can’t find the time to work on it ASAP, or you are trying the above and it is not working, then you need to get professional help. It is not fair to your dog to let it get anxious on a regular basis.
When I was 15, I, along with my mom and dad, spent a few weeks staying with my dad’s sister and her family. At the time, they had several pet birds. In particular, I remember that my cousin Cheryl had a small parrot named Kippy, who liked to hang out with people, and who could say his name. At that point, I decided that I wanted a pet bird. So, I talked my mom into getting me a budgie for my 16th birthday. Now, generally I don't recommend giving kids pets or presents, but I didn't see any problem with getting pets or presents when I was a kid.
From the moment I got that bird, we were bonded. She was still a baby when I first got her, and we did not know yet whether she was a boy or a girl. It is easy to tell adult male and female budgies apart, but not so with young birds. I, however decided that she was a male, and named her “Max,” a name that I had always loved. Soon, however, it became evident that she was a she, and not wanting to call her “Maxine,” I searched for a new name. There is a love story that takes place in the Far East about a princess and a common man whose names are Layla and Mahjnoon (I am not really sure of the spelling of the latter name, so I have basically spelled it the way that it is pronounced. We had a family friend with a male parakeet named Mahjnoon, so my parakeet became Leila, although the two birds never actually met.
Leila was given freedom from her cage from the moment that I got up in the morning, until I went to bed (although sometimes she put herself to bed earlier). She fearlessly flew around the house getting into mischief, not at all concerned about walking around on the floor near our two family dogs, Cinni and Solo. This was long before I had any understanding of positive reinforcement training, which means that Leila basically was given no boundaries. Oh sure, she would step up on an offered finger, and did not generally complain when being returned to her cage, but that was pretty much the extent of her training.
As I said, Leila and I had a strong bond with each other. I provided all of her care, and spent much time holding her on my finger, close to my face, talking to her and sharing kisses with her. So, Leila always stayed close to me in the house. She literally followed me around the house like a dog does, except that she usually flew, instead of walking.
Leila had several interesting habits. One, which was not particularly appreciated by the humans of the household, had to do with her love of books, or I should say book covers and book pages. We had a large set of bookshelves in our living room, and Leila loved sitting on an upper shelf, chewing off small pieces of book covers, and if they were paperback books, sometimes the pages as well. She left the chewed-off pieces of paper in little piles on top of the shelf.
Leila also liked to bathe. She would bathe with me, sometimes, but what she really liked to do was bathe in the water that was being used to wash lettuce for salads. If we weren’t watchful, she’d jump right in with the lettuce, and splash around; a green bird lost amongst the green leaves. This, of course, did not do much to get the lettuce any cleaner.
And, of course, Leila liked to share my food with me. She would happily walk up to my plate, and sample whatever it was that I was eating. I did not mind this. I had been sharing my food with Cinni and Solo for many years, after all, although not off my plate while I was eating, of course. However, I did have to be on guard lest Leila decided to climb up on the plate to get more intimate with my food. That was a no-no.
The one thing that always fascinated me about Leila was that she always knew when I was almost home from school or work. According to my mom, as soon as I turned the corner onto our street, as I walked, or rode my bike, home, Leila would start whistling out her little contact call to me. I could hear it when I got close enough to the house. There is no way that she could have seen me turn that corner, and I can’t imagine that she could have heard me, but she always knew. She would call and call to me, until I walked in the door, and she would fly over, land on my shoulder, and give me a kiss.
Yes, Leila was a wonderful companion, and I have never stopped missing her. One day, maybe I’ll get another bird.
It’s part of life in the 21st century. You get the kids off to school, work all day, pick the kids up at daycare, make dinner, and collapse. But, what about the dog? How do you find the time to train it to be a good citizen? Maybe, you managed to get your dog into a puppy kindergarten class, and then a basic obedience class. But, you really didn’t have time to practice the way the instructor wanted you to, and now, well now, it’s all kind of fallen by the wayside.
You know that your dog can do better. Perhaps, your dog has some behavior issues. Whether or not they’re serious issues, they make your life harder, don’t they?
So, what do you do when you’re already stretched, and you know your dog needs more? The answer is “day training.” Day training starts with a meeting with me where you describe your dog training needs, and your dog’s behavior issues. I then come to your house for an hour or so, on agreed upon days, to train your dog. You get to get on with your life, while your dog gets training and attention from a professional. And, that training and attention is customized to your and your dog’s exact needs.
Maintaining what your dog learned is also built into the day training program. At the end of each week of training, I meet with you to go over what your dog has learned, as well as what you need to do to maintain the learning. After the agreed upon number of weeks has elapsed, I return for a follow-up or two, to make sure that you and your dog are on the same page, and everyone’s happy. For more information on day training, visit
my dog training website
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Silver Linings is a publication of Silver Linings Pet Services, and is published for the purpose of marketing services. The current address of Silver Linings Pet Services is:
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