Extreme Squirrel Obsessive Disorder

by | Aug 8, 2019 | News

Let’s talk about dog behavior, anxiety, and how awesome Dr. Parsons is. But first we have to start at the beginning of our story.

My husband and I had put our old lab mix down the winter of 2017, Rooks and my husband had a very special bond so he did not want to get another dog right away. This past winter I was more than ready to adopt another dog. My husband was leery about it since we had a 9 mo old baby but especially did not want another lab mix… so we compromised and adopted another lab mix. Meet Hondo. Hondo is a 1.5-ish year old black lab mix. He is just as high energy as our old lab was but he also comes with some anxiety issues. During the winter he would focus on our poor cat Tank. Hondo would whine, pace, and get himself so worked up with anxiety he would be a drooling mess just waiting to see if Tank would move/run/continue sleeping/grooming/ANYTHING. Once it became nice outside Hondo’s focus moved from Tank to the squirrels. He watches out our kitchen window for any sign of movement, then starts whining/pacing/tripping you until you let him outside. He tears outside barking and whining and sprinting in circles to clear out anything that could possibly be trespassing in his yard. He then comes back inside and the cycle repeats.

So what did I do? I complained to Dr. Parsons of course. When we first adopted Hondo he had minimal training besides being potty trained and it didn’t seem like he had been inside a house at all. He was terrified to go down our basement stairs initially. So Dr. Parsons recommend we start with basic training commands like sit/stay and to make sure he had consistent exercise. He did well but it was difficult because he was so easily distracted by the CAT (you know, what if he MOVES?). We would exercise him as much as we could in North Dakota winter but no matter how long the walk or even if my husband would take him rollerblading he would come home and have just as much energy to focus on the cat or the squirrels.

After another couple months of effort I complained to Dr. Parsons again – anyone seeing a pattern here? With the degree of anxiety Hondo was exhibiting towards squirrels she had us start him on anti-anxiety medications. We still continue to exercise him daily, he does not get to go outside or get treats without first sitting calming, but we are finally seeing a few small pieces of the kind of dog he could be without that anxiety making him a nut! He actually hangs out with us on the couch at night, he follows my son around every time a cracker or teddy graham is involved, and SOMETIMES HE EVEN WALKS CALMLY ON A LEASH! He still chases Tank and the squirrels but we can divert his attention away from it now.

Anxiety and behavior issues in dogs and cats can be very tiring and frustrating. They take time, training, and effort. They also need Dr. Parsons because we would not be where we are now without her listening to me complaining! All three of us vets have things we enjoy within veterinary medicine; for Dr. Parsons its behavior and orthopedics. If any of my patients have behavior issues I send them to Dr. Parsons for a behavior consultation because I know from personal experience how well she does with those patients if a client is willing to put in the hard work. Sometimes pets just need specific ways to train them to decrease behavior issues and sometimes they need medications to help them focus enough to be able to do that training. If you’re wondering if your pet needs one or both of those, then I highly recommend seeing Dr. Parsons for a behavior consult. It will be worth your time.

Also, if you’re curious I love anything to do with cardiology and nutrition and Dr. Kubik is the internal medicine and dental guru.

Written by: Megan Visger, DVM