Separation Anxiety and Your Dog

Originally published November 14th, 2014

separation anxietyYour dog adores you. She follows you around and wants to be near you all the time. And that’s wonderful – until you must go away. Then your dog howls or barks or chews on things until you return. This is called separation anxiety. Unless you can stay home 24/7 or take the dog with you everywhere you go, you must deal with this issue (or replace a lot of shoes and furniture and endure the wrath of neighbors). To make things worse, sometimes this condition is your fault. I know: I’m guilty too.

I was getting ready to go out in the yard and do some work. Marie was resting on the sofa. I informed Marie I was going outside and asked if she needed anything before I left. She said, “Just take Blondie with you: she goes spastic every time you leave the house.”

Blondie has a mild separation anxiety issue. When I leave, she paces through the house peering out all the windows to see where I’ve gone.

Blondie is needy. She spent most of her life in an extremely neglectful situation and was totally withdrawn when she was rescued. We fostered her and helped her come out of her shell. We fell in love with the affectionate, silly girl she became and adopted her. Gun fire and thunder make her very nervous and she comes to me for comforting. I stroke her head to ease her anxiety. That’s the wrong thing to do, but I’ve done it.

We spend all of almost every day together. Blondie follows me around like a golden shadow. Sometimes she comes and asks for skritchies, and I’ll give them for a short time. She is accustomed to my being here, when I leave she gets anxious. But she’s a good girl: never misbehaves, she just runs around looking for me. I’m lucky: many people have dogs that do bad things when they are left alone. If yours is one of them, here’s what this is and how to deal with it.

Dogs and Socialization: part 2

Originally published November 7, 2014

Is your dog gentlemanly in public?

In part 1, we discussed how to introduce your adult dog to a new dog. This time I want to discuss the importance of socialization between your dog and other people.

Socialization of Dogs and People

Dogs are social creatures. By their nature, they usually get along well with people: unless they have reason not to. Any animal that is abused by a person can learn to mistrust, avoid, and fear people. That’s a blanket statement, so it is true only in the most general terms. If a dog knows only its abuser, then she will most likely fear all people. If a dog is abused by a man, but his wife is kind to her, she may well fear only men. An abusive teenager with kind and gentle (though not very attentive) parents may instill a socialization age bias.


Socialization of a puppy is pretty simple: once he’s had all his shots and the vet gives you the OK, simply expose the puppy to other people in a positive way. Rarely will a puppy pick up a disease from a person, but if these people also have a dog, this is a danger to your puppy. Begin this socialization as early as you can, so the pup doesn’t become fixated on you. Normally, puppies are very friendly and gregarious; socializing with people should not be an issue. Making interaction with other people a regular part of their life will keep them that way.

New Dog Bed Pads

Last Thursday Marie completed a project she had begun some time ago: making some cushy pads for dog beds or dog houses for the outside dogs.  These are two sided with batting in between like a quilt, but not quilted.  She used normal fabric for the coverings, which may not last long.  But she said, if they get some enjoyment out of them for a while it will be worth the effort.

When I set up Faith’s dog house I put the blankets she had in there already on top of the new pad for extra cush, and to protect the thin fabric of the new pad.  I think she liked it.


Later, Marie went to visit with Fredia Haley, owner of Foothills of the Smoky’s Quilt Shop.  Marie and Fredia had been talking dog beds for a while and Fredia donated to Piney Mountain Foster a bolt of sturdy upholstery fabric that will make many, dog pads that will stand up to use better.  It’s even a great color for us!

Thank you Fredia!

Fredia saves fabric scraps for us to use as bed stuffing, but someone in her shop keeps throwing them out.  (pout)  But we appreciate Fredia just the same.

I put one in Rosco’s dog house too, but no sooner did I get his kennel door closed than he was in there shredding it.  So his lasted maybe 40 seconds.  Faith’s went several days before she started chewing the corners, and I suspect that was because she keeps her chew toys gathered in her dog house since I started putting blankets in there.  She was probably chewing a toy and the pad got in the way.  Once fiberfill peeks out dogs tend to find it great fun to pull that stuff out.  She unstuffed a handful of it.  I cleaned that up and wrapped the white blanket around the damaged end of the pad and she’s left it alone since.

Major’s pad has one small hole in because he plays with it a little, but he has not tried to unstuff it.  Major seems the most civilized of the whole lot:  keeping his kennel pristine and taking care of his comforts and toys. He was pleased to get it too (see the video above).

I’m sure Marie will be putting that bolt of fabric to good use, especially as the weather turns colder and having an insulated pad to sit on will feel great for them.

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Dogs and Socialization: part 1

Originally published October 21, 2014

Drake and Blondie successfull socialization
Drake and Blondie

Dogs are by nature, social creatures. Even in the wild, they exist in packs: social units that allow for sharing resources, mutual protection and companionship. For domesticated dogs there are two types of socialization: getting along with other dogs, and getting along with people.

There would be a third type if you want to include dogs getting along with other species of animals. However, taking a dog that has grown up thinking that cats, hamsters chickies, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, (whatever you have) are food and teaching it to see them as a friend is beyond my scope or ability.

The most common socialization problem we see here at Piney Mountain Foster Care is dogs who were neglected. Sometimes this is a dog that was chained in the yard, given enough food and water to survive, but that’s about it. No love, no personal care. Blondie was one such dog. When taken in by the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter, she was so withdrawn and depressed she acted as though she were autistic. More often the problem is a family that decided having a puppy would be fun, but they had no idea how to train it. So the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ball of fur turns into a bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and hasn’t got a clue how to behave any way other than what has always done: just being its happy-go-lucky self. This proves inconvenient for the family, so they take it to the shelter to be rid or it — or abandon it somewhere to become someone else’s problem.

Roscoe: A Pit Bull Among Pit Bulls

In October of 2017 we started working with a dog named Roscoe at Newport Animal Control. Roscoe is your stereotypical “pitbull”: big blocky build, bulging with muscles, square head, and a heart of gold. Roscoe lacked training of any kind, so he was enthusiastic in his bids for attention. This could be terrifying to the uninitiated, so it was doubtful that Roscoe would ever get adopted by a good home as he was.

Roscoe came to Piney Mountain Foster for day camp sessions so I could work with him for a new program NAC had become part of called Universal K9, which trained shelter dogs, specifically “pitbulls” to be police dogs. To qualify, the dog needed to perform a series of tasks on video. Universal K9 would review the video and decide if the dog qualifies for their training. Sadly, Roscoe did not qualify. But we could not let this big handsome boy languish at Animal Control, so we took him in for fostering and began searching for a breed specific rescue that might help him find a home. While we did that we taught him some manners, house broke him, and he became part of our pack.

Another dog rescuer, I’ll call her Grandma – she will not like that but I’ll do it anyway – had visited here and fell in love with Roscoe. She has several pits of her own and loves the breed. Her daughter and son-in law were looking for a dog, and Grandma thought Roscoe would be just what they need. These young people, I’ll call them Mommy and Daddy, were about to have a child: Little One. Daddy’s work kept him away from home a lot and he wanted a watch dog to look after Mommy. Mommy wanted a companion animal. Roscoe fit both bills. They came and met him several times, then took him home. He quickly became a family member and Mommy’s protector.

When Little One was born, Grandma took the blanket that the nurses had wrapped her in after birth home and gave it to Roscoe. He was fascinated with this new scent and kept it close. When Little One came home, Roscoe already knew her and was instantly bonded to this little pink people-puppy. He instinctively knew to be gentle with her, and he became her guardian too.

I have heard several touching stories about these two and how protective and attentive Roscoe is of Little One, but I want to relate to you their latest adventure. First, you must understand that these two are inseparable. Best Buds. Little One recently learned to walk. On this particular day, Little One scampered down the hall to her room and shoved the door closed before Roscoe came in. Realizing that they were separated, and she was trapped inside, Little One began to scream. Roscoe began battering the door with his head, causing a noise that resounded through the house. Mommy came running to see what was happening. When she opened the door, Roscoe rushed in, sniffed Little One thoroughly, then checked the room. Finding all in order, he left the room leaving Mommy to deal with Little One.

Later, Little One repeated her stunt, began screaming after the door slammed, but Roscoe stayed where he was, lifted his head to look at Mommy as though to say, “She’s your kid, you deal with it this time.”

He is a devoted protector of both Mommy and Little One, but no fool.

Roscoe is huge. He is a pitbull’s pitbull, and he looks formidable. But, as is typical of this breed, Roscoe is as devoted and loving of his family, and especially Little One, as can be.

9/22/20, 1:26 PM

Lori sent September 22, 2020
I wanted to tell you what Dozier”AKA Roscoe did.  Little one as you eloquently put it learned to open the front door and escaped while mom was in the kitchen.  Dozier started crying and banging his head on the glass which of course alerted Mommy.  He saved her yet again.  I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful boy.

2/23/21, 8:00 PM

Lori sent Today at 8:00 PM
I wanted to thank you for Roscoe aka Dozier on 2 occasion’s he has saved Little One. Mommy woke up this morning just before 7 to Dozier raising a ruckus.  My very smart and mischievous grand daughter had opened the gate to the kitchen and then the outside door.  Little One was standing in the front yard in her little gown and he couldn’t get to her.  This precious boy got Mommy up and let her know where Little One was.  I couldn’t ask for a better guardian for my 2 year old granddaughter. Thank you for saving this beautiful boy.

A Little History

In the mid to late 1800’s Staffordshire Bull Terriers (the proper name for what is typically known as a pitbull) were known as The Nanny Dog because of their devotion to their family and especially the children.  It is a true shame that greedy humans engaging in blood-sports for profit have ruined the reputation of this amazing breed of dog. Roscoe is a perfect example of what a Staffy is actually like.  And we are so grateful that he was adopted into a loving family who let him fill the roll he was created to fill.

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10 Tips For Crate Training Your Dog

Originally published November 21, 2014

crate training
This silly Snoozer is obviously comfortable with his crate.

When used properly, crate training provides you and your dog with multiple benefits. For you it provides a simple, effective means of restricting your dog when you cannot provide close supervision. If your dog is an explorer, he may get into things that will harm him. If she’s a chewer, your home may suffer from allowing her to roam unsupervised. Crating also helps with housebreaking because a dog has a natural aversion to soiling its own sleeping space.

For your dog crate training offers a safe haven, a room or space of his own. It is a familiar place. Whether you go on the road or just move around a large home, having a place of his own brings your dog a feeling of safety. If your dog is ill or just been spayed or neutered, a familiar crate is quite comforting. A crate is effective in combating separation anxiety or fear of a thunderstorm because of the snug, safe feeling an enclosed crate can provide.