Renee Van Vuuren Of Bellville, Cape Town, Asks
I recently adopted a rescued dog from the SPCA, but she’s very nervous and when I visit the neighbours I can hear her howl. How can I help her overcome her anxiety?
Lindsay Norman, Dog Behavioural Expert, Answers
When bringing a rescued dog into the home it’s easy to make too much of a fuss over it when, in fact, the dog needs to adjust to its new ‘pack’ quietly and in its own time. Too much cuddling and attention can actually be very stressful for the dog, so it’s best to let a new adult dog investigate his or her new environment with a minimal amount of interaction for the first couple of days.
Previously neglected dogs are also more likely to display signs of separation anxiety, as they bond so deeply with their new owners. Counteract this by leaving your dog by herself for short periods of time with a juicy chew. Don’t say anything when you leave the house and don’t tiptoe out! Act confident and close the door firmly behind you. Behave in the same way when you return, but now give her a treat. Remember that if you are anxious, your dog will be anxious too. Gradually extend the periods of time apart and always make your return home a happy, positive experience – even if she’s dug a hole!