Separation Anxiety and Hardwood Floors

When Ray came home with us in March 2013, and upon entering our house, it became very clear that smooth hardwood floors were an unknown commodity to him.

If his background was in fact in a farming environment (as suggested in the initial assessment of him by the Oakville & Milton Humane Society), and as we soon learned that he had no indoor behaviour training, it was quite possible that his previous home had been a barn or some other external farm structure. This could also explain the difficulty he had negotiating the four steps up to our front door!

(Welcome, Ray, to a world of central heating, enclosed spaces, regular meals, lots of loving attention and numerous comfortable places to sleep. Unfortunately you will have to manage slippery floors, steps, busy roads, lots of concrete and quite a lot of noise………………….. but it will be worth it!).

His initial reaction to the hardwood floors was uneventful as he wandered around the house just checking everywhere out. Once he had acclimatized himself to his new home, then his problems started. Any dog that gets excited and starts rushing around on hardwood floors is going to have traction problems, and a small dog will slide into tables, chairs, cabinets, potted plants etc. and come to an abrupt stop. Such an abrupt stop may well register on one or two brain cells and will minimize the chance of repeat performances. The logic could simply be “When I charge into the dining room and have to make a sharp turn, I slide into a chair and it hurts! Next time I must remember to slow down.”

When Ray gets excited, loses control, and slides into things, they tend to move so he does not have the same incentive to slow down. Our dining room table however is very solid but is protected by chairs (at least from Ray’s perspective). I have been very tempted to take away the chairs; take him into the kitchen and put him on “Wait”, and then go through to our living room and shout “Ray………….Treats!” and wait for the collision! I have a lovely relationship with him though and really don’t want to mess it up, so I refrained from following through with the table idea (although I must admit to having a few quiet laughs thinking of the inevitable outcome).

In order for me to convince Ray that if I leave him on his own, nothing will happen to either one of us i.e. work on his separation anxiety, I need some evidence of his behaviour while I am away. German Shepherds are apparently well known for madly running around and spinning when stressed, so hardwood floors become invaluable! If the dining room rug is turned around and partially in the living room; the living room rug partially under the sofa; his dining room bed is underneath a china cabinet, I know that he has been mobile!

When I recently left him on his own, I initially listened for any vocal objections from him. None! I left him for 10 minutes (that got me to the convenience store and back) and, as I became closer to home, I once again listened for any sounds. Nothing! When back inside, I simply checked the position of the furniture and various rugs! Nothing had moved so clearly he handled the time on his own well and I can try for 12 minutes next time! This will not only give me time to get to the convenience store, but will also allow me to buy something ……………………as long as I can get served right away!

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