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Update: Cleo has a new name and a new home! A wonderful retired couple have decided to give Cleo, now Jessie, a home with them. She has had some difficulty making the adjustment but we expected to see some regression with the anxiety of being in a new home. We hope to hear that everything is going smoothly and that this sweet beagle has become a cherished member of her new family. March, 2011

Update: Cleo has made great progress with her separation anxiety. She'd still prefer to always be with 'the pack' but she is able to be much calmer when we do have to leave her on her own. She is such a cooperative girl. When we brush the dogs' teeth she jumps up into the chair and puts herself as close to me as possible so I can easily reach her. The same is true when I clean the dogs' ears, she is such a good sport about it all. Last summer we discovered that Cleo is crazy for raw vegetables of all kinds. We had a big veggie garden so she enjoyed lots of fresh produce, even learning to pick peas and beans from the lower part of the plants. There have been some families interested in adopting Cleo but, unfortunately, they either didn't have a secure enough yard or spent too many hours away from home for us to feel that it would be a good, safe situation for her. When the right person or family comes along, they are going to have such a dear companion in this beagle girl. January 2011

Our second foster dog is a very sweet girl named Cleo. She is an 8-year old Beagle with a tri-colour, red tick coat. When Cleo arrived she had not been spayed, so that was the first order of business. We also treated her for an ear infection and she had her teeth cleaned and polished.

We think that Cleo's ear infections may have been caused by food allergies so, for the time being, she is eating a restricted diet of duck and potato and is doing fine with it. We're not seeing any sign of skin irritation at all.

Cleo gets along famously with our cats and all the dogs she has met during her stay with us. She loves the two long walks we take with her every day. Being a beagle and having a very keen sense of smell she is, of course, tempted to follow her nose when she gets the scent of something interesting. As with all beagles, it's best to have a yard with a secure fence if you want to let her spend time off leash outdoors. We found that as long as Dexter was with her she stayed in our yard but once he was adopted, Cleo has developed a tendency to want to roam. Our fence is not beagle-proof so we always have her on a leash or, if we're outside for any length of time we sometimes let her roam around the yard, but on a 50 ft. tether. We never leave her outside on her own.

We are working with Cleo to overcome her tendency to become agitated when left alone, either in the car or the house. This is sometimes referred to as 'separation anxiety'. It is our understanding that this behavior develops when a dog is allowed to perceive itself as the leader of its group or 'pack' (human or canine or both). The leader of a dog pack makes all the decisions and is responsible for all the other members of the pack. So, if a dog believes they are the pack leader, it is very upsetting for them to have members of the pack go off without permission from the leader. There are specific exercises that we will carry out to help Cleo understand that she is not 'in charge' of our group. One thing that may have contributed to Cleo's perception of leadership is that she was 'free fed' in her previous home. Having access to food at all times is something that only a pack leader would have in a normal group of dogs. The pack leader controls the food--who gets it, how much and when. The pack leader also eats before the other dogs. In our home, Cleo eats after we walk and then after we have eaten. She is asked to sit calmly before her food bowl until given permission to go to the food.

Other procedures we use to help establish the human as the pack leader are:

  • Asking the dog to sit calmly until invited to either go out or come in the house or through any other entry such as a gate or doorway.
  • Avoiding any acknowledgment of the dog when coming home after an absence until the dog is entirely calm. This is difficult for humans because, to us, it seems like the dog is overjoyed to see us but, in fact, the dog is displaying dominance if it jumps up on us or demands attention in any way.
  • Never allowing the dog to jump on furniture unless invited and, in Cleo's case, she is not allowed on the furniture at all because we believe that strict adherence to rules will be beneficial for her during this transitional period.
  • Never allowing the dog to demand anything, whether it is food, affection or attention because all of those actions are those of a dominant dog. Even if a dog leans against you or puts its foot on you it is behaving in a dominant fashion.

We use calm, assertive energy when working on these things with Cleo. If she displays any dominant behavior she is gently pushed away. We never use her name if we are correcting behavior as that may be perceived as a positive reward of affection to a dog. When she complies with what we ask of her we give her lots of praise and affection as positive reinforcement for wanted behavior.

If you keep in mind that the optimum state for a dog is that of a happy-go-lucky, relaxed, calm and submissive animal, it helps to be consistent with the rules, boundaries and limitations necessary to establish yourself as the leader of the pack with your dog. The great majority of dogs are born to be followers and their lives are happier and less stressful if you, the human, make it very clear and easy for them to understand that leadership is not required of them. If you don't, then your dog will naturally feel the need to take on that responsibility. If you have trouble accepting the necessity of being your dog's pack leader, ask yourself how many decisions regarding normal activities in the course of your day you are willing to allow your dog to make. Can your dog make the best decisions about food or nutrition? Can your dog choose the best and safest place for walking, playing and relieving himself? Does your dog know how to keep from being injured in traffic? Does your dog know your vet's phone number? Some of these are obviously ridiculous questions but if you can answer 'No' to even one of them then you must take the responsibility of being the pack leader seriously. For a dog there is only the option of being a leader or a follower. If you make him constantly move back and forth between the two roles, you are likely to cause your dog to become neurotic and he/she may develop all sorts of behavior 'issues'.


Cleo is a lovely, very affectionate companion and, with consistent, firm leadership from her human family, I know she will overcome her 'separation anxiety' issues. We think Cleo would be best suited to a retired couple or someone who works from home. She'd also do very well in a home where she would be joining other furry family members.

Grace and Noel at Pet Granny Boarding Pet Granny