An interesting use for Skype

Published On: May 10, 2010

So over the past couple of months we have been adjusting to a new life with our dog. We both love her alot but one of the problems that we are having to deal with is the fact that she has some very serious issues with separation anxiety. While not as bad as some of the cases that I have read about on the internet, it has been a problem to the point where she has managed to destroy a couple of the items around the house.

  • a rug
  • several comforters
  • a multitude of caribeaners
  • a set of sheets
  • one medium dog kennel
  • one large dog kennel
  • finally, she took a bite out of our new bed.

Not one to be discouraged in handling the issue, We have managed to make some changes that I think have managed to get things a little more under control. First she goes for a thrity min walk every morning.  But a slightly more interesting partial solution to the problem is to be more near to her so I can calm her down.   It really seems to be working, but here's the idea.  I have two laptops with mic's and webcams.  One is my work laptop and the other is a really cheap netbook that I bought a couple of months back.  Since I am not using it while we are in town, I have set it up so that it sits on  a small nightstand next to my be pointed so that she can see the screen and so I can see her.  Part one done. The second part of the trick is setting up two different skype accounts one for the netbook and the second for my work computer,  This is simple enough. Then on the netbook I set up the account to only accept calls from the people that are on the friend list, set it to automatically accept calls and to do full screen video.  So as soon as I call in the video goes full screen, with that she can see and hear me.  So the only thing that is left is for her to draw a connection to the image that she sees on the screen and the real person. This one escaped me for a little while,  I noticed that I could eventually get her to listen to me after repeating 'lay down' several times, something that seems extremely strange in a work setting like I work in. Then I finally figured out how to make it happen when I was working from home.  For the first couple of times I would say it over the computer, then when she wasn't listening I would storm over to the bedroom where her crate was located and I would be assertive in my direction.  It only took a couple of times before she began to realize that if she didn't listen that there were negative consequences.  Luckily our dog is a people pleaser and responds very well to mild negative and positive reenforcement. Now while I am at work I can keep her on in the background and I hardly have to say anything more than once, and I have noticed that she is becoming more and more mellow, hopefully this will help in the long run.  But we will find out.