Harvey stopped eating rocks, but his fear of storms attacking the dryer continued

Third in a series.

Harvey’s stone sampling quickly diminished with medication for his bowel troubles. His father, Don, the designated domestic poo-catcher, rarely found landscaping rocks in his spaniel’s saddle. Harvey’s intense fear of storms and intermittent wild jumping in the dryer continued.

There is strong evidence that our brain is often influenced by issues elsewhere in the body. When Harvey’s gut improved, his barking, stepping, and destruction when home alone improved somewhat, but he had additional reasons for his separation anxiety. In most cases, it is the dog’s genetic programming that triggers this disorder. The brain, with its complex network of neurons and neurotransmitters, is considered the most complex organ in the body. It forces my brain to sort out and improve the misery of some of my patients. Do not worry. It will be fine; a challenged mind works better longer. So they say.

Poor Harvey lost his mind during the northern New Mexico summer thunderstorms. Noise phobia, another genetically influenced behavior, is an added bonus in 30% of dogs with separation anxiety. Harvey needed to feel safe no matter what change was coming his way. Confining him was not the solution.

To avoid damaging their furniture, Diane and Don had already tried putting their dog in a crate when they left the house. To gather details on this pup’s adaptive abilities, I suggested he purchase a $7-$10 tabletop tripod (local retailers or Amazon.com) for his smart phone. It was a revelation. Harvey’s restlessness was evident in calm weather. But when the storms hit, he threw himself inside his cage.

I recommended leaving the crate open and adding a dog door to allow Harvey to easily dive into a dark closet during storms. On sunny days, he could retrieve food-dispensing toys buried in his outdoor digging box. These methods only work well when the overwhelming anxiety is controlled. Safe prescription medications are essential to the well-being of dogs like Harvey.

Next week: Rain or shine, shine or shine, Harvey sometimes assaulted the dryer. Why not the oven?

⋄ For help with behavioral issues, you can join a Zoom group conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.


Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He offers in-person and group consultations via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Register for free at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions about pets at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail at 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109

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