Milly and Luna: Creating Calm with PupPod
Separation anxiety is one of the most common, yet challenging, behavioral issues that a dog parent can face. Dogs with separation anxiety can experience anything from mild anxiety to sheer panic when left alone. This can result in a variety of symptoms including excessive vocalization, destructive chewing, digging, pacing, escape attempts, and inappropriate elimination.
Kristy McDowell is all too familiar with many of these symptoms. Her 9-year-old rescued cattle dog mix, Milly, has separation anxiety. While there is no easy fix, Kristy is devoted to helping Milly cope with this condition so that she can live her best doggie life.
Kristy teaches college part-time, which allows her to be home more often with Milly. She has also incorporated Malena DeMartini-Price’s protocol for separation anxiety that can be found in her book, “Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs.”
DeMartini-Price is considered the expert in successfully treating separation anxiety. One of the key components in her protocol is providing dogs with toys and brain games to create a positive association with being left alone.
PupPod Gets Harder as Milly Gets Smarter
Because of this, “Milly has a cabinet full of puzzle toys and is an expert at solving them,” says Kristy. So when she heard about PupPod, she liked the fact that the game gets harder as dogs get smarter.
“I didn’t expect PupPod to solve Milly’s separation anxiety,” Kristy says, “but I hoped it would be something fun for her to do while my husband and I are away.”
It didn’t take long for Milly to get the hang of her new high tech puzzle toy. In just a couple of weeks, she has already progressed to level three of the game. But just as Kristy had hoped, the toy continues to offer new and interesting challenges.
“I appreciate that the app provides a score for each session so that you can track the dog's progress,” she says. “We've found that very useful to decide when it's time to increase the difficulty.”
It’s also teaching her highly intelligent dog some important new skills.
“Milly's greatest weakness is that she is very impatient, and she doesn't have a lot of frustration tolerance,” Kristy says. “I think the PupPod is potentially good for that, since she'll (hopefully) learn that she needs to wait for the right cue.”
Kristy is now slowly introducing PupPod to her other cattle dog mix, Luna, who has her own behavioral challenges. Because Luna was afraid of the auditory cues, Kristy has been using the game in lights-only mode. “It's nice to see that flexibility is there,” she says.
Although Milly and Luna have different behavioral needs, their stories are great examples of how access to interactive toys like PupPod is crucial for building confidence, decreasing anxiety, and creating happier, healthier lives.