Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 13, 2011

What Does Your Dog Do When He’s Neglected?

Posted at 09:06AM - Comments: (11)

This past week, I’ve been working around the clock to get the July issue done. In the process Otto has been seriously neglected in the areas of exercise and focused attention. I skipped our Thursday night agility class. I took him for only one short walk, from our home to my office (about two blocks!) and back. (This only made matters worse, because I didn’t let him stay with me at the office for long; he’s so obsessed with wanting to kitten-watch that he whines and paces when I close the door between him and the foster kittens. So instead of it being a “treat” to come with me to the office, it was nearly a punishment, it was so fraught with frustration for him.)

My husband works at home, and Otto does enjoy hanging out with him while I’m working at our “away” home office. He also tosses treats to Otto every time he makes any sort of food for himself, which Otto thoroughly enjoys. So he’s not being completely neglected; like I said, he’s just not getting as much training and hard exercise as usual.

He’ll be four years old this year, so the lack of exercise no longer results in all the chewing- and digging-related puppy/adolescent naughty behaviors that it used to, thank goodness.

It has, however, resulted in a big upswing in boredom-related alarm barking, especially at night. When he’s well-exercised, it takes something out of the ordinary, such as the frightful YOWL of a feral cat fight down the block, to spur him into an episode of nighttime barking.  This week, however, he’s been set to hair-trigger. I know this because I automatically roll out of bed for every fit of barking that persists more than a couple seconds. I go to the screen door and look out to see what he’s barking at, in case it’s something justifiable – teenagers checking for unlocked cars on the street or the like. Then I say, “Otto, please! I really need to sleep! Pleeeese be quiet!”

(Don’t say, “Why don’t you keep him in the house at night?”  We live in an area that is hot and dry – and we don’t have air-conditioning. At night we open all the windows and doors that have screens, and use fans to push the hot air out of the house and draw cooler air inside. With all those windows and doors open, Otto can hear everything going on outside, and believe me, if his big booming bark can wake me up instantly when he’s outside, it practically propels me onto the ceiling when he does it indoors.  Plus, he likes being out at night, especially in the summer. He doesn’t tolerate the heat during the day very well, sleeping through most of it in his shady, damp sandbox. He stays awake and busy most of the night – chewing, patrolling, pacing, and playing with his toys. He can’t do those things indoors at night without getting yelled at by sleep-deprived humans.)

I can’t blame Otto for his outbursts; it’s totally my fault. But sometimes our other responsibilities take precedence over our dogs’ best interests. And I’ll do my best to make it up to him this week with long off-leash trail walks, some swimming (well, he wades) in the river, and maybe a mountain bike ride.  In the meantime, for just one more night, Otto? Pleeeease let me get a little more sleep?

Comments (11)

I have been lucky with all my rescue dogs because I work full time and I'm usually gone for between 10 - 11 hours a day. My latest, Babette, came as a real puppy and I forgot what that was like - she is also still skittish at 2 years old and she still seems to like the corners of any cloth item (rug, towel, dish towel). When I'm just too tired to walk her we play throw the ball up the stairs, and down the hall until my arm just about falls off - its good because up and down the 5 stairs is (I think) at least some exercise for her. If I exercise I let her sit in my chair till I'm done and then we "talk" for a while while I massage all her joints and I get to watch some TV. I've found any contact and inside game seems to work just as well, even if it is hide and seek. I think all our pets want is what we all want, to feel like someone loves us and wants to spend time with us.

Posted by: keller1312 | June 16, 2011 11:48 AM    Report this comment

My 13-1/2 year old Golden Retriever doesn't get bored anymore, however, his young friend Shadow, a 2 year-old-Lab mix, does. He resorts to demand barking, especially when I'm on the phone or talking with a neighbor. I currently need a knee replacement, so my walking is limited. But he gets at least an hour of play time on a daily basis, chasing his ball (acre property and logging roads), swimming in the neighbor's pond with his brother, racing the waves at the beach, and playing "find it" with his toys. Fortunately, he's happy to spend hours retrieving his ball, or looking for it in the woods, which keeps him on an even keel. When he's bored, he will find one of his toys and shake it, squeak it, or throw it in the air. He also likes to drop his ball in the horse's water tub, jump in after it, and follow the ball around with his mouth open before grabbing it. When he employed demand barking in the car, I'd ask if he had to go pee, then pull off the road, let him out, tell him to go pee, then put him back in the car. That was definitely not what he wanted (What? No toy? No playing? Nuts!). Nowadays, if he barks when we're traveling, he lies down and stops barking when I ask if he has to pee. If he actually does, he lets out two short barks and does a little dance.

Posted by: LUCY B | June 15, 2011 2:02 AM    Report this comment

when I don't have time to take the Fox and the Hound for a long walk I try to make the short walk especially interesting and take them on errands w/ me...sometimes gettin them out of the car to run around the grocery store or to explore an alley -- it takes less time than a long walk but I suspect the novelty makes up for some of the lack of exercise...also I will play Tug w/ the Fox as he LOVES to play

Posted by: MuttLover | June 14, 2011 10:23 PM    Report this comment

My 3/4 pug is so agreeable! If I have been out for 5 or 6 hours, my rescue dog greets me happily and there is never anything amiss in the house. I am truly blessed~~Buster will look depressed and lie around if he knows I cannot spend time with him (and am home), but quickly forgets as soon as we are back on schedule again. Sometimes, because of my disabilities, our walks are just short "get it done" ones, but usually we get 1-2 30 minute to 45 minute ones in. Our relationship is a close one. Being single, I can spend time petting him before we go to bed and after we wake up. Sometimes when I cannot sleep we cuddle all night! (He sleeps with me, my Buster Brown!)
I fell in love with him when I walked into the dog area of the humane society and he was the only dog not barking as if he was being tortured! He is a lively dog, when it is time to be lively and a quiet dog when it is time to be quiet and he loves all animals and people. I have had him over 2 years and could not have made a better choice.

Posted by: Jenny S | June 14, 2011 6:15 PM    Report this comment

My 3/4 pug is so agreeable! If I have been out for 5 or 6 hours, my rescue dog greets me happily and there is never anything amiss in the house. I am truly blessed~~Buster will look depressed and lie around if he knows I cannot spend time with him (and am home), but quickly forgets as soon as we are back on schedule again. Sometimes, because of my disabilities, our walks are just short "get it done" ones, but usually we get 1-2 30 minute to 45 minute ones in. Our relationship is a close one. Being single, I can spend time petting him before we go to bed and after we wake up. Sometimes when I cannot sleep we cuddle all night! (He sleeps with me, my Buster Brown!)
I fell in love with him when I walked into the dog area of the humane society and he was the only dog not barking as if he was being tortured! He is a lively dog, when it is time to be lively and a quiet dog when it is time to be quiet and he loves all animals and people. I have had him over 2 years and could not have made a better choice.

Posted by: Jenny S | June 14, 2011 6:15 PM    Report this comment

My 3/4 pug is so agreeable! If I have been out for 5 or 6 hours, my rescue dog greets me happily and there is never anything amiss in the house. I am truly blessed~~Buster will look depressed and lie around if he knows I cannot spend time with him (and am home), but quickly forgets as soon as we are back on schedule again. Sometimes, because of my disabilities, our walks are just short "get it done" ones, but usually we get 1-2 30 minute to 45 minute ones in. Our relationship is a close one. Being single, I can spend time petting him before we go to bed and after we wake up. Sometimes when I cannot sleep we cuddle all night! (He sleeps with me, my Buster Brown!)
I fell in love with him when I walked into the dog area of the humane society and he was the only dog not barking as if he was being tortured! He is a lively dog, when it is time to be lively and a quiet dog when it is time to be quiet and he loves all animals and people. I have had him over 2 years and could not have made a better choice.

Posted by: Jenny S | June 14, 2011 6:14 PM    Report this comment

I had been taking my dauchie and Pom to Mom's but at one point she asked me not to bring them. Her eyes were poor. I left them home and they got even thinking they were neglected. KoKo had separation anxiety and got meds from the vet but it didn't help much except to slow him down. Once I started taking them again. Walla. nothing much happened except for his love of the garbage can. I caught him one day holding the side ready to pull it down. I empted it out and put him inside the tall can and left him there for a while.
I had hoped it was a cure. but it wasn't. He still goes after it if left alone for any length of time. That's all he goes after now.

Posted by: Daizie59 | June 14, 2011 2:34 PM    Report this comment

When my first dog was neglected, she expressed her displeasure by peeing on the carpet. Unfortunately, I was too uninformed back then and punished her for it--yes, after the fact too--and then ignored her more. Needless to say, the peeing continued until I gave up and went back to normal activity. I learned a lot from that poor dog!

Posted by: Unknown | June 14, 2011 1:36 PM    Report this comment

I have nine and 11 yr old Aussies and a 5 yr old Great Pyr. The problem with being a good dog parent most of the time (lots of training, off leash walks at the beach and in the woods, agility, K9 nose work, tricks...)means when they DON'T get any of that, the barking increases for sure (esp with the nocturnal Great Pyr) Just putting them all outside doesn't help - they decide to landscape (in my mulch beds) and herd the neighbors dog. Three furry dogs following me from room to room giving me sad, bored, hopeful looks is enough to make me log off the computer and squeeze SOME sort of activity into the day! Like right now, the 11 yr old is whining at me, so, time to pull out the clicker! Makes me feel bad for all the dog pets who are loved, but don't get much more than treats, hugs, and an invisible fenced yard to patrol alone.

Posted by: PAMELA B | June 14, 2011 1:12 PM    Report this comment

Another resource I've found to calm down my dogs when they're bored and restless is the Thundershirt. It's a great product. It relaxes them and makes them feel "hugged," like wrapping. When they see the shirts come out, they come to me and plant themselves in position to get suited up.

Posted by: muriel33 | June 14, 2011 12:14 PM    Report this comment

I am in a 4 dog, same breed household and experience the same tensions with lack of activity. In addition, they get testier amongst themselves. One will find a leather shoe (chew) of mine, one will pee on things not normally peed on. I do find that the will be satisfied even with a short walk, just something outside being around the yard. With 4 dogs, I have to take 3 walks as two cannot walk together without "starting something"

Posted by: JUDY B | June 14, 2011 10:40 AM    Report this comment

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