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I have a dog who is about 6 or 7 years old maybe older who we adopted from the shelter about well, 6 or 7 years ago. She never use to really get into trouble maybe occasionally get in the garbage or have an accident in the house but after losing her best friend (our other dog) to cancer two years ago she has all of the sudden been acting up. She gets in the trash when ever she can. She pees in the house almost every night and we let her outside frequently but when we do let her outside she comes right back to the door and doesn't stay out very long. It's like she's afraid we are going to leave her too. She barks at every little noise she hears. She never really use to bark *that* much. She eats the cat food all the time and when we tell her no she gets the very last bite she can then walks away with her head down like she knows she's doing something wrong. She is overweight and I think it's because she eats the cat food. She use to be a very slender dog until she picked up the cat food eating habit. I understand we can put the cat food some where else where she can't get it but this isn't my house and I have to live by my parents rules so I can't put the food up high or on counters.

Do you think my dog became depressed after losing her friend? How long does depression in dogs last? How can I fix it?
 

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You say her behavior has changed "all of a sudden," but your other dog died two years ago. Does this mean her behavior has changed in the last few weeks, or it changed two years ago? I ask because if it has changed recently, it could be a medical issue.

If her behavior changed two years ago, I don't think she's depressed. She may have initially missed her friend or been "depressed", but after two years, the unwanted behavior she displayed initially is now habit.

She also may be bored, and getting yelled at a lot makes her scared of her humans (dogs don't differentiate right or wrong, so she doesn't think she's done something wrong; she acts that way because her humans are correcting her).

Since you can't move the cat food away from her, I would work on "leave it".

If she's overweight, you could also start taking her for walks or do other fun things with her to not only help with the weight but also for her boredom.

For the pottying inside, I would start from the beginning and treat her like she isn't potty trained. Don't just let her outside alone and expect her to go. Take her out on a leash hourly and praise her when she does go where you want her to.

I may be totally off base here (I'm not the most knowledgeable member), but it seems like she was initially depressed or sad, had some unwanted behavioral issues because of it, but after two years, the "bad" habits have become...well, habit. She needs more positive reinforcement training and less corrections, and she would probably benefit from something to help with boredom (walks, playing, games, another pal, etc.). :)
 

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Yes, dogs can suffer depression. The length and depth of that depression can vary. However, I do not think writing off the issues you are having as depression is going to be beneficial to your dog. To me, this is not sounding like a depressed dog - it sounds like a bored dog. I think you need to address each issue as a separate problem.

The elimination issues - when she is to go outside to do her business, don't just open the door and turn her out -- someone needs to take her out (on lead, at least at first) and let her know it is potty time, not play time. That person will have to stay out with her until she does her thing, praise praise praise, and THEN go inside. It is not at all uncommon for a dog to play outside and then come in and eliminate - they were too busy playing to do any business.
When you say she pees almost every night - is this when you/your family are sleeping? If so, crating at night will keep her out of trouble. If it is before you are sleeping someone needs to be keeping an eye on her - prevention is the key and it means supervising the dog.
Free feeding is not necessary for the dog or cat(s). Feed at "meal" times, give them 20 minutes to eat and then the dishes go up -- or partition off the area where the cats are to eat (ie a baby gate in the doorway of one room) -- either will eliminate the issue of her eating cat food. While you do have to abide your parent's rules, you can advocate for change. Her reaction is not one of knowing that eating the cat food is wrong but more a reaction to being scolded.
The trash issue - again, restriction of access and increasing supervision will eliminate that issue.

What, if any, formal training has been done with the dog? What training is ongoing? What is her daily life like - amount of exercise (with a human - not just being turned out into the yard by herself), interaction with her family, etc?
A dog who is bored will find things to do - and that is exactly what she has done. The job of the human is to help her find the RIGHT things to do so that she doesn't find the wrong things for herself.
 

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Thanks for the responses. I don't really know much about dog behavior but I am open to learn! I just thought it may have still been depression because I didn't know what else it could be. I guess now that you mention it she must be really bored. She doesn't like to play with toys or anything, what should I do to play with her? She doesn't get taken on walks often. I take her rarely but I plan to take her more often. With the cat food, right when the cat is done eating she'll go for it! I guess we have to stand and wait for the cats to be done eating. I'll have to tell my family not to feed the cats. I feed them and my mom feeds them. They eat in my moms room all the time but there are two cat food bowls one in my moms room and one in the dining room. The one in the dining room is the one my dog eats. So I'll have to figure something out with that. I will definitely start taking Brandi out in the back on a leash and when she does her business praise her.

She's had no formal training. I just crate trained her so she sleeps in the crate in my room at night. That lowered the amount of "mischief" she gets into. Her daily life consists of, eating, drinking and sleeping...I hope that joining this forum I can learn more and do whats best for my dog. Family interaction, well she gets very little interaction. My brothers pay no attention to her. My dad is very mean to her but he doesn't see it as being mean. My mom holds a grudge against her for all the "mischief" she's gotten into. My little sister could care less about her, even though she *was* her dog but got passed on to me. I pay the most attention to her. I try to do good things for her and pet her, bathe her, train her when I know what im doing. She's a good dog and deserves better that's why I'm asking for advice.
 

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I'm so glad that you're taking it upon yourself to train her! :) After everything you wrote, it definitely sounds like boredom to me. I know she's a grown dog, but if you following everything in the puppy housetraining sticky, you should be able to get her re-potty trained in no time.

The big thing to remember that really helped me in understanding how dogs learn is that dogs do not understand right or wrong. Here is an explanation:

How a dog actually learns is: Behavior X makes my owner yell at me, so when I do behavior X, I will be yelled at.

That's why dogs "cower" (or hide, or run away) after they tear up the room - because they've been yelled at in the past for tearing up the room, not because they think they've done anything wrong. Behavior is changed when the dog gets positive reinforcement for a behavior. So now, they are more apt to do Y because they expect good things from it (treats, praise, pets, etc.), which eventually translates into doing Y behavior because they feel good for doing Y behavior:

I will offer my owner a "sit" - because in the past I got treats from sitting without being prompted, so now I feel good doing a sit. My behavior and emotional associations for a specific behavior has changed.

Tearing up a room is typically self-rewarding for a dog (feels good on its own, like barking). That's why your dog will tear up a room without considering what the second part might be: that she will get yelled at afterward. This is why positive reinforcement works so much better than corrections - you're actually changing the dog's emotional state for specific behaviors. :)

Yelling at a dog (or doing other correction-type training) only makes a dog fear you and teaches the dog nothing. Regularly rewarding a dog for the behavior you do want (typically the behavior opposite of what you don't want) will ultimately change the dog's behavior permanently.
For the boredom, along with daily walks, I would also suggest any of the following: clicker training, 101 things to do with a box, a flirt pole (a giant homemade cat teaser, but for dogs), food puzzles, and playing in the backyard with her (fetch, ball, etc.). :) Not only will physical exercise wear your dog out, but mental games (clicker training, food puzzles, 101 things) will as well.

Here's a great video explaining clicker training.

Here is how to train "leave it".

101 things to do with a box:

Let us know if you have any more questions! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow! That was very, very helpful! Thank you! Unfortunately, my dad is hard headed and thinks scolding and even hitting my dog is how you train a dog. I have told him you can't train a dog that way and you have to use positive reinforcement but he thinks he knows all. I will print your post out and show it to him. Maybe it will click in his head to stop what he's doing to my dog.

Thanks for all the help! If I have any more questions I will definitely ask.
 

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Hello, so I adopted a terrier mix from a shelter and she is 1-2 years old. J believe she is suffering from depression and I don't know how to help her. She is disinterested in toys and even snacks. I put a smudge of peanut butter on one toy to get her attention and she just walked away. When outside she gets very anxious when we walk away from apt. door and basically drag me back to apartment. I took her to the dog park so she can run outside without a leash and she was entertained for a bit but then sprinted towards the gate and squeezed herself out. I was able to catch her, thank God. Inside, she lays under my couch most of the time. She will cuddle with me when I call her.

I don't know what to do. I just want her to be happy or at least know what to do to make her feel better.
 
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