Ask Ashley – February 2023

Ask Ashley

Animal expert, Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA, is the Senior Director of Animal Behavior, Foster & Rescue. Ashley studied under the Council of Certified Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT), is CPDT-KA certified and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certified. She also earned certification for Behavior Pharmacology and Separation Anxiety through Heartland Positive Dog Training Alliance (HPDTA) Training. Email for a chance to have your pet question answered in KC Parent Magazine.

Puppy Mill Poodle With Separation Anxiety

I have a 14-year-old miniature poodle that came from a puppy mill and has separation anxiety. He follows me everywhere and when he can’t, he cries and howls loudly until I return. When I leave the house, he sits on a pillow in the upstairs hall and waits to see my car. When he does, he runs downstairs and goes crazy. I always walk him when I get home and sometimes I let him run because he has so much energy. I realize that I have created a monster. I’ve tried a thunder vest and that did nothing. Is there anything you recommend doing to stop or at least lessen this behavior? – John Glessner

It is good news that he can stay on the pillow and wait calmly for you without being destructive, so it sounds to me that he needs to build some confidence. Something that will help is to not talk to him or give him any attention when you come back home. Ignore his undesirable behavior and once he settles, give him attention and petting. This will teach him that leaving and coming back is no big deal at all. I recommend leaving your pup with some enrichment that he can play with while you’re gone and teaching him the “wait” and “settle” commands. It may take him longer than most to learn these behaviors since he is a puppy mill rescue, but these will help him get on the right path. – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA

My Border Collie Never Runs Out Of Energy!

We have a border collie, Josie, who is quite reactive! So much so that she makes it miserable to take her anywhere. She is so hyper (we didn’t do our homework when someone asked if we wanted her) that we take her to Cuddle Up Pup for daycare every weekday. If we didn’t, she would drive me nuts! Our goal is to be able to take Josie out and about without her going crazy and barking at every person and every dog she sees. Any ideas or help you can give would be appreciated! – Dana Bradley

Border collies have a lot of energy and need a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep their intelligent brains content. I recommend increasing Josie’s exercise and providing her with brain games and puzzle feeders to keep her busy. There are doggy treadmills or you could get a weighted backpack where you add weight to make her walks more work. You should add weight slowly and acclimate to the weight changes to not injure her. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Have you ever noticed that when you go on a long walk or exercise, you have more energy? Have you noticed that when you work all day on the computer or problem solving at work, you’re exhausted? That is because mental stimulation tires your brain which is what your border collie needs. You can tire Josie’s mind by providing environmental enrichment and puzzle feeders. Puzzle feeders are food dispensing toys that dogs must figure out how to maneuver to release the food. I recommend using a puzzle feeder for all of Josie’s meals. Have her work for her food and she will be happier in the end. There are tons of cheap enrichments you can make for your pet. Search online for DIY enrichments for your dog and you will get hundreds of results. Have fun! – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA

Email for a chance to have your pet question answered in KC Parent Magazine! For anyone interested in a Behavior Class or Consulation, our expert Behavior Team can work with you to help resolve any behavioral challenges you are experiencing with your pet. CLICK HERE for more information and registration.

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