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July Is Over, The Stress Is Not


Guest LikeJamaica

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Guest LikeJamaica

Our boy Kingston is a sensitive soul, and this 4th of July was more strenuous than usual. The big boomers are not legal in our area of Colorado, but they persisted nonetheless. Since the beginning of July (they seem to start earlier every year, like Christmas adverts), the pops and bangs have been throwing him off. The 4th was the worst, of course, and caused him some real anxiety. We knew the 4th week was going to be difficult (he joined our home in June 2016, and we handled our 1st July without too much trouble), and tried to be prepared (music, blankies, some all natural calming gels). We had our basement open to him, and he spent a good portion that week and weekend in there on his blanket, panting (not unexpected, same reactions to the bad thunderstorms).

But now, he's been having issues with messing in the house. We've gotten back to the same routine as far as evenings go, and our day-to-day hasn't changed at all (I work all day, 7:45-5:00, DW gone 8-12:30 or so, then from 1:30 to my getting home at 5:00), but he's been having issues holding his pees. Sometimes it's in the morning, sometimes after lunch before dinner. A few times it's been overnight, when he's refused to go out after dinner, and we haven't forced him outside. Not sure we have access to high-enough value treats to get him out on these nights when he just WON'T. We've had a heck of a time getting him outside in the evenings since then. We reward him when we do get out and he does his business, but have read about caution around baiting him to get outside. Right now it's just been a struggle with a month of cleaning supplies, pee stains, and less than adequate sleep (when trying to catch him getting up so we can get outside).

This change in behavior has been giving us a lot of grief, especially with the heat every day and DW being pregnant.

Does this increase in messing sound like a stress/behavioral issue that may resolve with time, or do we need to take some specific action to get everything back on track?

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Get him a vet check first. There are medical issues like UTI, bladder stones that could cause him to be reluctant to urinate and cause accidents so you need to rule that out first.

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Guest LikeJamaica

Get him a vet check first. There are medical issues like UTI, bladder stones that could cause him to be reluctant to urinate and cause accidents so you need to rule that out first.

We may have to do that. But to be honest, the biggest obstacle is getting him outside. He has not issues with actually eliminating when we do get outside. He's just hesitant to get outside after dark. Basically, he heads towards the door leading outside, then when it's open and we're encouraging him, he balks and goes to the bedroom or the couch.

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Put on his leash and go outside with him, don't just shove him out the door. Use treats if necessary to re-train him to going potty outside - good, yummy treats and lots of praise when he goes. Try and time your outs when it's quiet (I know that's the hardest thing!). Make sure he empties himself thoroughly before you leave for work and leave him in the crate. That might take a walk with him, or supervision outside during the day for a while.

 

Definitely do the vet check - it's always best to rule out any medical issue first - and while you're there, talk with your vet about a short course of anti anxiety meds like trazadone. He may need the chemical adjustment for a few weeks to get him over this hump of being anxious about going out. You'll still need to do behavior modification as described above as the meds only put his brain into a receptive, calm state, able to accept re-training.

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We may have to do that. But to be honest, the biggest obstacle is getting him outside. He has not issues with actually eliminating when we do get outside. He's just hesitant to get outside after dark. Basically, he heads towards the door leading outside, then when it's open and we're encouraging him, he balks and goes to the bedroom or the couch.

 

Leash, treats and happy party time when he potties outside. Getting him out by leashing him up will help and yet be easier on him and you than nudging, pushing, or bringing him by collar. And instead of luring (bribing) with treats, they only come out after his business is completed.

 

Also, can you light up the yard so it is brighter for him? Going from bright house into darkness has to be upsetting to a *sight* hound who has been made nervous by horrible, scary noises. (My sympathies for your firework problem. We have it too, only we start in May with the Cinco de Mayo 'festivities.')

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Your boy is probably terrified. In this case it's fine to use food, toys or whatever he loves to encourage him to 1. stand up (good reward) 2. walk outside (better reward) 3. eliminate (best reward and praise party). One of our hounds was frightened to go on leashed walks at night for three months following particularly bad July 4th booms. We have to make their experiences as positive, happy, and fun as possible for them to regain trust in us and in their environment. Plain cooked meat (no spices), dried liver, or cheese, etc. could be helpful treats.

 

If your boy loves his kibble meals, try holding back about 1/2 or 1/3 cup of his dinner to feed as a snack closer to bedtime (so he'll have a better reason to stand up and walk away from his bed on his own). While he's still standing up immediately after eating, calmly leash and escort him outside (before he has an opportunity to lie down on his bed). He'll likely feel more comfortable eliminating close to the brightly-lit house. No need to force him into a scary, dark walk until he begins to feel more comfortable again.

 

The most important thing is for humans to remain calm, including when finding and cleaning up potty accidents. Quietly ignore the dog. Greyhounds are deeply affected when feeling humans' moods of displeasure. This compounds their stress, fear and anxiety for a very, very long time (days/weeks/months+), and can result in the development of new problems.

 

Consider asking neighbors if any loud work is happening in the neighborhood during your work week. I'd agree with a urine test to ensure he's not struggling with a UTI.

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I appreciate you wanting to help him with his fear, but you can't let the dog make the schedule.

 

He needs to go outside before bedtime, fear or not.

 

Call me a mean spirited so-and-so if you must, but there is NO WAY I'm letting my dog skip his evening constitutional and then getting up in the middle of the night to clean up after him.

 

I agree he needs to see the vet first, but then get him back on a schedule and stick to it.


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Guest LikeJamaica

Thank you for all the thoughts on this! For the record, even before the big booms we would be outside with him for the #1s and #2s (even if the neighbors don't like my boxers ;) ), and we'll continue to do that for sure. We have thought of getting a stronger light on the corner of the house, so I appreciate that confirmation/suggestion Fruitycake! We've also taken to splitting up his dinner so he's alert and motivated towards bedtime to go out and do business. So far this week (Sunday and Monday, anyway), things have been almost back to normal! At this point, I think the schedule/routine was pivotal. DW and I both appreciate all of your support and suggestions; this is why we love this greyt community. :)

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