Overcoming Separation Anxiety and Resource Guarding
You may have seen my other post about my sweet foster dog, Matilda Wormwood. Though she was sweet as sugar and wanted nothing more than love and affection, she definitely came with some baggage.
Her first major issue that we had to overcome before sending her off to her forever family was her separation anxiety. She became extremely attached to me after just the first day of having her. Anytime I was out of her sight, she immediately started to bark and scream and could not be consoled. Ziggy used to have anxiety when I first rescued him as well, but not nearly to this extent.
The first thing I started to do with her was get her comfortable with the crate. As much I loved cuddling with her, I knew it would only make matters worse, so I scheduled nap times for Matilda and Ziggy and they would both spend time in the crate. I covered her crate and played classical music very softly to distract her and hopefully lull her off to sleep.
This worked great!! There was a little fight from her at first, but she quickly learned that I wasn't going anywhere and she could relax even though I wasn't in her line of vision. Then, my next issue arose...
After a couple of days with her, I had to leave my apartment to do my laundry. Though I hoped she would continue to sleep while I was out for a few minutes, the second I walked out the door, she started to bark and scream again. After waiting outside the door to see if she would stop, I went in and out a few times to show her that I wasn't leaving her - I was simply stepping away.
She couldn't be consoled - the screaming grew worse and that's when it dawned on me that she had not bad, but severe, separation anxiety that was beyond my expertise. Another time, I had left her in the care of my co-worker in our office while I picked up lunch down the block and even with a whole office of friends to give her attention, she couldn't be away from me. Though I wish I was able to work with her more on these issues, I only had her for a week and half before she was adopted by a loving couple on the Upper West Side, so I told them she would definitely benefit from a proper trainer.
Her next issue that we worked on was resource guarding. The rescue had warned me that she showed some aggression when she was on the couch, but I never found her to have that issue luckily. But just to be safe, she was not allowed on the couch unless I was holding her and she was invited up.
Her resource guarding was a much, MUCH more manageable issue, and we quickly overcame that by limited the about of toys she got and didn't give her any high value treats. Whenever she played with a toy, I would try to take it from her every couple of minutes, and any time she showed her teeth or growled at me, toys went away for the rest of the night. This clicked in her head immediately and pretty soon, Matilda, Ziggy and I could all play with the same toy without any conflict.
Despite her behavorial issues, I loved Matilda and would take her back in a HEARTBEAT. Had I not been living in an apartment where barking would be an issue, she definitely would have been a foster fail. Hope you're having a great life, Matilda and thanks for teaching me and Ziggy so much about fostering!