Hide & Seek?

We have often played “Hide and Seek” in our back garden with Ray.

We have a very old and large Soft Maple tree and a couple of sheds there, so we have a few places where we can hide, and Ray would appear to have a lot of fun trying to find us and gets really excited when he does!

Carol and I will often “work together” in that she may hide down the side of the house, and while Ray is looking for her, I’ll be hiding in the opposite corner of the garden. As soon as he finds Carol, she will say “Where’s Colin? Go find him!” and off he goes with his nose to the ground.

He clearly has a lot of fun running around tracking us and is quite jubilant in his own way when he finds us!

Recently we have been working on his separation anxiety (believe me there is a connection)! Working with Ray to get him comfortable being on his own is very much a 3-steps forward and 2-steps back kind of arrangement. i.e. Progress is being made but it is painfully slow.

Leaving him with a frozen stuffed Kong was ineffective because he can clean out one of those very fast. He also became so distraught on couple of occasions that he even ignored the Kong! We also realized that whenever he saw it coming out of the freezer, he would make the association with us leaving and stress himself out before we had even touched a door to go out. The final blow for the Kong came when he decided, upon seeing it, that he really had to go outside…….. never to come in again!  No doubt, in his mind we could not leave while he was out there!

Without the Kong seemed to be a better approach, as did training him at various times of the day so he did not get set on a particular schedule, and we managed to get him up to 5 minutes some time ago. We are still at 5 minutes (or less) at this point in time. One of the problems we have now is that as soon as we leave, it would appear that he goes running around the house trying to find us. Doesn’t that sound a little like “Hide and Seek”?

We’re experimenting of course but it seems to us that playing “Hide and Seek” where he always finds us, is setting a bad precedent for when we leave …….. and he cannot find us. We are therefore going to stop the “Hide and Seek” games immediately!

We’ll have to see what he dreams up next in order to thwart the next round of separation anxiety training sessions!

21 thoughts on “Hide & Seek?

  1. The anxiety is obviously hard on Ray but must be a little stressful for you and Carol as well. It sure makes leaving the house for dinner or a night out a challenge. We’re lucky that Kali has always been ok for even several hours at a time. Having said that I am only basing that on the fact that when we arrive home she calmly greets us at the door with a wagging tail and not appearing stressed in any way. But she has never been away from us overnight. With a few exceptions when i was gone for the night Holly was home. But her first chance is coming up soon.

    We’ll be traveling out of state to see my son and his wife for Thanksgiving and we will probably have to kennel Kali. I have a lot of anxiety about kenneling and will probably have to ease her into to it with a few 1/2 day stays and then an overnight before we actually go. I’m nervous that being around so many other dogs and without us will be a lot for her. So while we don’t have the day to day concerns of leaving Kali alone I can certainly relate to your challenge with Ray as I contemplate 5 days away from Kali.

    You and Carol are so dedicated to Ray -it’s great to read about. I wish you all the best in getting that 5 minutes up to 10, then 30 and who knows a whole afternoon or evening. From what I know about you and Ray from following you for the past year I’ sure you’ll get there.

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  2. We played a similar game with both Barney and Maggie with the key words being ‘Where’s Mum/Daddy’, and would hide behind a tree just a little way away. Maggie doesn’t like us to separate though. It confuses her. We’ve been lucky that she doesn’t have separation issues, though to be honest we can’t be sure as we haven’t really left her very often. We did today though, leaving her with Buddy here, and both dogs seem to have settled in a chair each. Poor Ray.

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  3. I run when I know it is grooming time (Mom grooms me). She has tried all the nonchalant ways of coaxing or grabbing she can think of, but I always know. She won’t outright lie to me (let’s go get an ice cream! when she really means I am going to groom you now) but I still rely on body language. She has tried to change her body language at those times, too, but I always know. Although sometimes when she is thinking “let’s go get ice cream,” even though she doesn’t say it, it works. She doesn’t count this as lying. Don’t know if this helps, but wanted to share. Maybe something in this story will spark a new idea. 🙂

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  4. Separation is so hard for our beloved dogs:( We have work, family, friends, and all they have is us. Helping them can be a challenge because they are all so different, but you are making such a wonderful effort for Ray and he is getting better…day by day:)

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  5. I have tried many things with Maggie but, as you say, she gets used to the “routine” quickly and puts on the brakes. My vet did say this condition does not get better as the pet gets older, because said pet realizes how much s/he needs you, her person. At this time, we must crate Maggie when we leave because her anxiety is so bad she will hurt herself if left alone freely in the house. We have her on a mild dosage of Clomicalm (from the Vet) and it is helping her settle down some. Part of our issue is that Maggie had been abused at a young age and kenneled for a very long time at shelter. So the crate is a last resort. But if we have to go anywhere, we must find her a “sitter” as she cannot, will not, be kenneled. She just harms herself. good luck

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  6. It’s amazing how animals figure things out. I have an issue finding a cat, any cat, when I brring out the cat carrier. That meant someone was going to the vet. Now I bring it out days before. That helps but I still try to time the appointment around a meal time because once that carrier is out they are on red alert until it goes back in the closet!

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  7. Poor Ray! I feel for the poor dog. I take my friend’s daughter to school one day a week and being the first trip after the holidays, there were tears and I felt so inept. I’d been watching a series about dogs and humans and thought Lady might be a good therpy dog. Well, good in theory except Lady became over-friendly and too jumpy and scared the girl. Just goes to show that what they say about working with children and animals could well be true. Yet, of course, we still love them anyway!

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