Post # 1
Tomorrow Darling Husband and I are hosting Christmas dinner for my entire extended family at my house, and I am worried about how our mini dachshund, Lacey, is going to react. She has a little bit of separation anxiety and gets stressed out from strangers and loud noises.
She is the sweetest thing with people she knows, but when strangers enter our home she barks and growls nonstop. She is tiny but she is SO LOUD. Nothing ruins a relaxing dinner like a dog barking like crazy in the background :(.
I planned to set her up in the garage because that is the furthest point from where our guests will be. The garage is carpeted and it’s 65 degrees here, so she’d be nice and warm and comfy. Today I marked off an area with gates so she couldn’t access anything potentially dangerous, and put her crate, water, and some toys in it. I thought it would be good to let her get used to it a little today. However, she freaked out when I left her. Barked, scratched at the door, and cried…it broke my heart to hear her :(.
Tomorrow she is going to be able to hear people talking and moving inside and that is just going to upset her more. I hate for her to be so anxious and upset. Our vet has told us in the past that it would be fine to give her a small dose of Benadryl to calm her, but I never have. Would I be a terrible fur-mom to drug my dog?? It kind of scares me to think of, but our family dog growing up was given Benadryl many times for travel, etc., and he was just fine.
I think I will also leave a radio on in the garage to drown out the noise of chatter inside, but she will still be able to feel the vibrations of doors closing and such.
If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know! I don’t want this to be such a stressful situation for our pup. 🙁
Post # 3
Exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. When I am having company come to my house I take my dogs out for a couple of hours, we like to hike, and then when company comes I can put them in the other room and they just sleep and after a few minutes are pretty quiet.
Post # 4
@roxy821: That is a GREAT idea! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. When we go on hikes she’s always so tired when we come home and sleeps the day away. I can’t guarantee she won’t still want to bark, but that may work!
Post # 5
+1 for exercise, and also – do you have a kong? if not, head to the petstore and get one! whenever we crate our dog he gets a kong stuffed with treats and peanut butter. he loves it. you can freeze it to keep them occupied a bit longer.
Post # 6
My dachshund mix gets upset too when people she doesn’t know too well come in our house. What works for us is to either have her greet people outside (when they come inside she’s fine with them) or have guestdepth row her some carrots. She barks at first but then she gets distracted by the treat and stops.
If we were to shut our dog away from us where she could hear people but not get to them, she’d never stop barking and whining. I’d maybe try what we do and see if she settles down after everyone arrives. If not, then you could go the garage route.
Post # 7
You can’t stop the barking just because they are curious as to who is there but if they get exercise and attention and maybe a special bone they are usually good.
Post # 8
I definitely agree about the exercise, but sometimes my dog will still get a burst of energy when he sees new people (even if he’s exhausted)! Sometimes it helps for us to either have us greet them with him outside (so he gets that we are inviting them in and they’re not intruders) or to sequester him somewhere else and let him out once everyone’s in and calm–assuming all of our guests are okay with dogs!
If you need to keep her somewhere else and her barking is an issue, we’ve had success with a citronella spray collar. It’s totally harmless, it just sprays a burst of citronella at the dog if he barks. It worked like a charm for us.
Post # 9
Definitely exercise! Run that puppy until she’s wiped out, then set her up with a comfy bed/blankets, radio, and a kong full of peanut butter. She’ll think she’s in heaven!
Post # 10
do you have time to buy and get her adjusted to a thundershirt, http://www.thundershirt.com/lpc2/? the idea is like swadling a baby, the pressure of the tight “shirt” (really more like a coat) somehow reduces their anxiety. you can find them at most big pet stores. our dog is very similar and he get very anxious when people come over – the last few times we put the thundershirt on and while it isn’t a total cure, he is much less reactive. good luck!
Post # 11
It’s not something you can fix by the time this dinner happens, but you need to socialize your dog more.
Exercise, walking in busy active areas, keeping your dog on leash with you while you have company so you have control and force them to work through facing social issues. Walking your dog in busier areas (school area at beginning/end of school day, a downtown area, etc) and even just sitting on a park bench somewhere busy’ish. Your dog has those issues because of you (you likely didn’t mean for this to happen) and it can slowly be worked through for future.
You can’t put her in the garage if it’s not somewhere she regularly hangs out and expect her to not plea for attention no matter the distraction. Could you crate her where she can see you with exercise to the max done, a kong, etc? Is she regularly crated? That’s something else that could be a stressor too?
I have a well-socialized golden and my parents have a poorly socialized golden, so I know how both dogs can react in the same situation. We do give my parents dog gravol (as opposed to benadryl) in situations where his anxiety is high. Might be an “easier” solution for the short term, coupled with exercise that may help? Do you have a “nook” in your kitchen you can put her in the crate, so you’re close and within sight/ear’s reach to keep her stress level down? I guess the barking could still be an issue…..?
Post # 12
@ringpup, this seems a bit harsh — “Your dog has those issues because of you (you likely didn’t mean for this to happen).”
maybe i am just feeling very defensive here (and you may know more about OP’s dog than I do), but it’s really tough when people say to us “just socialize your dog more” – believe me, we’ve tried. he’s been to obedience class, he’s been exposed to any and all types of people, in and outside the house, he’s rewarded when he is relaxed, etc etc. it’s just his personality and the fact that he was raised — before we got him — without much human interaction. unfortunately, we missed most of his developmental window and he’s always going to be a hesitant, shy dog — his dog brother is exactly the same way, and i know his owners are very devoted and worked hard to socialize him.
Post # 13
Exercise, exercise, exercise. A car ride to a park, a hike, the ride home, and then a bath is about all my pup can handle in a day. 🙂 Also, I’ve given my dog benadryl for flights and long trips and it’s awesome. I actually had to give him double the dosage and he was still totally himself, just a little more mellow. Like, he could get up and be interested in things but all of his nervous energy was gone. You’re not a bad pup mom for using benadryl. When it’s used to make the dog more comfortable, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Post # 14
Thanks for the suggestions everyone! We will be taking her on a long walk tomorrow before guests arrive and the Kong is already in the freezer. I’m feeling confident 🙂
@RingPup: Your dog has those issues because of you …
Actually, no, she doesn’t. We haven’t had her all that long and she was already 2 years old when we got her. She spent the first 2 years of her life in her crate 24 hours a day. She wasn’t even trained to potty outside, her owner was hiding her in an apartment that didn’t allow pets.
So yes, I definitely know she need to be socialized more, but judging where her issues stem from was a little premature, IMO.
ETA: She is accustomed to the crate and LOVES/feels very safe in it.
Post # 15
I’m a pet sitter and last Sunday I took care of 2 dogs for six hours while the owner had her Christmas party.
PP’s gave good advice about exercise and a toy, but hiring a pet sitter could always be another option.
Also, I would work on OB training so that your future family events will be stress free for everybody! A trained dog is a happy dog and a free dog!
Post # 16
We keep a few extra toys in a (cloth) bag as well as what we call the “secret weapon” (chewies with chlorexedrine or whatever – i buy at the vet’s office) for when we need to either really reward our little guy or keep him busy. If we have people over, we warn them that we have a dog (some people have bad allergies!) and also try to make sure that he gets plenty of attention and exercise earlier. Once the initial excitement has worn off, he’s okay. My old dog (lives with my ex now) would be more excited at first, but then in 3 minutes was calm! I used to give her Benadryl (vet gave me the dosage info), but then realize she was over it so quick. I used to have to keep the bedroom door open a crack b/c once she was done socializing, she wanted to go hide. My little guy will just go fall asleep… anywhere!