Is your Morkie a fraidy cat?

Is your Morkie a fraidy cat?

maltese puppy and kitten

Do you have a nervous Morkie? Is your dog really afraid or just pulling your leg? Although many aspects of Small Dog Syndrome and Dog Separation Anxiety seem the same, they are a world apart.  Here’s the difference…

Small Dog Syndrome

small-dog-syndrome dog stroller

Really? Unless your dog’s disabled, he should be walking. He’s a DOG!

If your toy dog is a pain in the neck sometimes, or all the time, he’s probably suffering from small dog syndrome and the problem originates with — YOU!

That’s right, small dog syndrome, or the tendency for tiny dogs to be yappy, untrained, snappy and generally obnoxious, is not something that is natural or common to small breeds by nature.

It’s learned behavior that is brought about by the way we owners treat our toy dogs.

It seems that as humans, we’re programmed to coddle and take special care of creatures we perceive as ‘babies.’ No surprise, it’s a biological response and how our race has survived. The problem is, toy dogs, with their big eyes and tiny size, bring out that same “babying” tendency in us, even when they are adult dogs.

So we keep over-compensating for their small size (carrying them everywhere!) and overlooking bad behavior that we would never tolerate in a medium or large size dog.

The good news is, with some understanding of the roots of the problem and active steps to counteract it, you’ll have a happier, healthier and more centered small dog soon!

What are the symptoms of small dog syndrome?

Basically this syndrome defines the little dog who is spoiled and obnoxious. It is the caricature of some breeds, in fact, such as Chihuahuas.

Yet there’s no breed or biological reason for this set of actions by the dog (remember ALL dogs are canines); instead, they’re behaviors we’ve trained.

They include:

  • being territorial over areas of the house, toys, food or people
  • biting and yapping
  • growling
  • peeing or marking all over the house
  • ignoring house training or potty training already achieved
  • obsessions with certain toys, food bowl or people

What small dog syndrome is NOT

  • it’s not a high-spirited, outgoing dog
  • it’s not happy, sociable dog
  • it’s not a ‘high-personality’ dog

A dog with small dog syndrome is simply spoiled. And unhappy.  It’s something you need to reverse, slowly and gently, by remembering to treat your small dog like a DOG.

Separation Anxiety

dog_anxietySeparation anxiety is completely different from Small Dog Syndrome, and is a serious problem not a mere annoyance. If you feel guilty when you have to go out or even go to work, because of the way your dog reacts or if your Morkie seems to miss you too much, he may be suffering from a common problem, called separation anxiety.

The good news is, this syndrome is treatable – which we’re glad to hear, since it can be really wrenching for the owner, and very worrisome. Plus, it can put a large amount of psychological strain on your dog too.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

Before you go out

Do you feel like your dog is “velcro’d” to you sometimes? When you’re home, does your dog follow you from room to room, even insisting on coming in the bathroom with you? Experts call this “hyper-attachment” and it can be the first sign of separation anxiety.

Another warning sign is how sensitive your dog is to you getting ready to go out. Putting your shoes on, opening the hall closet, or grabbing your keys may signal you’re getting ready to leave and so the anxiety, anxious behavior and nervousness all begin.

While you’re out

Once you’re gone, even for a short time, your dog may demonstrate these signs of separation anxiety: barking, chewing, defecating, digging, excessive salivating, scratching, and urinating. Chewing, digging, and scratching are signs of your dog trying to “escape.” Barking, defecating, excessive salivating, and urinating are signs of anxiety and fear. Chewing items that smell like you is not only extremely annoying, it’s a sure sign that there’s a bigger problem than disobedience at work here.

When you’re back

A common symptom of an anxious dog is that they when they see you again, they are excessively overjoyed. It’s a frantic, out of control kind of greeting.

Causes of Separation Anxiety

sad-little-yorkieSuch causes of separation anxiety include genetics, lack of socialization, lack of training, lack of confidence, mistreatment by a previous owner, extensive confinement, and too much bonding with the owner. As you can see, most of these causes are on the people side.

Other contributing factors can include:

  • a traumatic event in a young dog’s life
  • too-early separation from the mother
  • time spent in a pet shop or an animal shelter
  • being a puppy mill dog
  • a major change in the family’s lifestyle (moving, baby, etc.)
  • any change in your life — like a new job, divorce or death — which takes time away from your Morkie

SATURDAY:  DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY. Some ways you can help your Morkie.

Your Morkie and Separation Anxiety

Your Morkie and Separation Anxiety

 

01_AKC_Maltese_Dog_Show_2013Do you feel guilty when you have to go out or even go to work, because of the way your Morkie reacts? If he seems to miss you too much, or has problems when you’re away, he may be suffering from a common problem, called separation anxiety.

The good news is, this syndrome is treatable – which we’re glad to hear, since it can be really wrenching for the owner, and very worrisome. Plus, it can put a large amount of psychological strain on your dog too.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

Before you go out

Do you feel like your Morkie is “velcro’d” to you sometimes? When you’re home, does your dog follow you from room to room, even insisting on coming in he bathroom with you? Experts call this “hyper-attachment” and it can be the first sign of separation anxiety.

Another warning sign is how sensitive your dog is to you getting ready to go out. Putting your shoes on, opening the hall closet, or grabbing your keys may signal you’re getting ready to leave and so the anxiety, anxious behavior and nervousness all begin.

While you’re out

Once you’re gone, even for a short time, your dog coconut_maltese3may demonstrate these signs of separation anxiety: barking, chewing, defecating, digging, excessive salivating, scratching, and urinating. Chewing, digging, and scratching are signs of your dog trying to “escape.” Barking, defecating, excessive salivating, and urinating are signs of anxiety and fear. Chewing items that smell like you is not only extremely annoying, it’s a sure sign that there’s a bigger problem than disobedience at work here.

When you’re back

A common symptom of an anxious dog is that they when they see you again, they are excessively overjoyed. It’s a frantic, out of control kind of greeting

Causes of Separation Anxiety

Such causes of separation anxiety include genetics, lack of socialization, lack of training, lack of confidence, mistreatment by a previous owner, extensive confinement, and too much bonding with the owner. As you can see, most of these are the owner’s responsibility.

Other contributing factors can include:

  • a traumatic event in a young dog’s life
  • too-early separation from the mother
  • time spent in a pet shop or an animal shelter
  • a major change in the family’s lifestyle
  • a sudden new environment such as moving to a new home
  • a change in your life — like a new job, divorce, death or a new baby — all of which can take time away from your pet

Treatment of Separation Anxiety

There are things that you can do to prevent separation anxiety. morkie-puppy-having-a-bathWhen you put your dog in his crate, don’t have a long, emotional good-bye. Simply, walk away. It is even a good idea to ignore your Morkie for the 5 minutes before you leave. If you draw attention to your departure, your dog will worry when the love and emotion is suddenly stopped.

Also try to teach your Morkie not to associate certain behaviors of yours with your leaving the house and being away for hours. Vary your own behavior; dogs are good at associating certain actions with certain outcomes.

Try changing your dog’s negative associations to your behaviors to positive ones. For example, on a weekend, go through the same motions you do during the week. Get dressed for work, pick up the car keys and go outside… BUT just for a few minutes, then come back inside and give your dog a treat. You dog will eventually begin to associate you getting ready for work as a positive association rather than a negative one.

Make sure you have plenty of treats and toys in your dog’s crate or closed-off area to keep him entertained while you are away. If your Morkie always knows that he’ll have treats when you leave, it won’t be as traumatic for him.

Before you leave, turn on a radio or television so your Morkie has some noise. A talk station is more effective than music, because the sound of human voices seems to be comforting.

Turn down the homecoming

When you return home, ignore your dog for a few minutes. Go quietly about your concerns, then calmly acknowledge his presence and let him outside to eliminate immediately.

What if these measures don’t work?

dog and vetIn extreme cases, you may need to consult with your veterinarian who may recommend a calming type medication and or behavior modification. Professional trainers may be of good help here, helping you with desensitization techniques.

Things that will NOT help separation anxiety

Punishment will not only fail, but it will generate more anxiety and nervousness in your dog. Obviously those are the last things you want to increase. Remember your Morkie is not bad or spiteful and is not destroying your house just to get revenge on you for leaving her, though it may seem that way. Instead, you are dealing with a very fearful and upset animal.

Crating your dog for long periods while you’re out can be a real mistake if he or she suffers from separation anxiety. While it keeps your own possessions and surroundings safe, your Morkie may hurt himself or get much more excited by trying to ‘escape’ the crate. The crate itself, a wonderful training tool, will come to mean you’re leaving and all that goes with that for the anxious dog.

When you pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, you are better able to identify his bad behaviors and correct them through training exercises. Your dog wants your attention and love, so when use this to your advantage when you are training. Keep in mind that good quality dog training resources can help with this issue.

Bad Dog or Separation Anxiety?

Bad Dog or Separation Anxiety?

Is your Morkie driving you crazy with bad behaviour? How do you figure out if it’s lack of training, a very stubborn animal or separation anxiety?

where-are-the-morkiesAnimal Professionals are reporting more and more cases of separation anxiety today, partly because owners are out of the home longer and longer days. In fact, dog separation anxiety is an enormous and critical problem to address because up to 10% of all puppies and dogs can suffer from this syndrome at some point in their lives. It’s not easy to cure, but if you can get to the root cause, fixing it is easier.

Here are the symptoms of this disorder and some ways you can address it in case your Morkie or Morkie puppy is showing signs of dog separation anxiety. 

What is dog separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is basically the result of your dog sad-little-yorkiebecoming too reliant and dependent on you.

Since dogs are social or pack animals, they seek your company as much as possible. Some dogs are a little more independent than others when you’re home, and will actually go and sit or sleep in another room, coming by to say ‘hello’ form time to time and then calmly seek out their favourite snooze spot. Others seem to want to be on your lap all the time. Neither means there’s a problem. Dog separation anxiety is the series of problems that happen when you come or go from the home.

If your dog starts behaving differently every time you come or go, then you’ve got a genuine problem on your hands.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

This is where the “bad dog” syndrome comes into play. A dog with this syndrome can act a lot like a bad dog:

  • biting and chewing furniture, clothing, shoes and more
  • losing all housebreaking training, peeing all over the house
  • whining, crying and barking excessively
  • vomiting, wheezing or choking
  • acting very anxious, upset and agitated

Dog-Separation-Anxiety-560x280The difference between bad dog behaviour and the genuine disorder is, these changed behaviours are connected to the dog’s owner coming or going.

Can dog separation anxiety be cured?

This is a difficult syndrome to cure and there’s no real reason why some dogs are more susceptible than others. That said, you can certainly reduce the symptoms a great deal, with a combination of:

  • changed behaviour on your part
  • exercise for your dog
  • canine medication

How can you take steps to help your Morkie?

A good walk before you go out every day will help your dog cope. Exercises like walking, running and playing will tire your dog out and she’ll be happier to rest quietly in her bed when you’re away. A tired dog is a happy dog.

Pick a safe room for your Morkie for when you’re out. If your dog is large enough, and sufficiently well trained to stay in a crate for several hours, then you might want to crate him when you’re out. (Small dogs like Morkies definitely don’t have the bladder size to stay in a crate for much more than 90 minutes at a time without extreme discomfort.) Put your dog in this room for short periods when you’re home.

Put one of your shirts in this room or crate for your scent, to reassure your Morkie of your presence. Put several of your dog’s favorite toys in the room. If your dog isn’t in the crate, be sure to put down some training pads, or “puppy pee pads” for his relief.

thumb_puppies_need_toys_1024Use a ‘treat toy’ like a Kong to keep your little Maltese mix busy when you go out — these toys are often filled with a small bit of food like peanut butter or a dog biscuit and your dog works away at getting the treat out.

When you leave the house, do so quietly and calmly – no dramatic or high-pitched goodbyes. One expert suggests changing your departure routine every few days; don’t automatically put on your shoes, get your coat, grab the keys and leave. Some mornings, put your shoes on before breakfast. Have the keys in your coat pocket the night before, and so on. All dogs are very sensitive – some say Morkies are even more sensitive.

Coming back home, ignore your Morkie for several minutes when you come it. Do not make eye contact with your dog; instead go about your regular routines. THEN, give your Morkie a friendly, warm greeting – but not over the top. Gradually reintroduce yourself into your little pet’s life. This would be a great time to take your Morkie for a nice long walk.

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