playingAs I was getting ready for work, Simba began to uncontrollably licking her lips.  It was as if she had peanut butter stuck on her nose.  She had done this a couple of times before and I was never able to figure out why.  I checked her nose to see if there was anything in it.  I checked her teeth and gums.  I checked the back of her tongue. Nothing!  Something was certainly bothering her.  She would gnaw on the carpet in between the non-stop flicking of her tongue as if she needed to dislodge something from her teeth.  Maybe, this is why she has eaten my carpet when I’m gone which is not a normal past time of hers.  I tried to give her some water and rubbed some water on her tongue in case she had maybe licked something that tasted gross.  I thought that maybe she was trying to get a yucky taste off her tongue.  The tongue flicking persisted.  I took her out to play ball hoping it would get her mind off her dilemma.  Instead, she went straight to the grass and frantically began to tear up and eat gobs of grass.  I knew this would end up making her vomit and it would happen on the carpet after I left to DSC_10020work.  Which meant it would be soaking in all day, augh!  I tried to distract her to no avail.  She couldn’t get enough of it.  I took her back in and sat on the deck with her for a while.  Now I’m real late to work.  She continued the tongue flickering.  The sad and frustrating part is that as she does this with being able to control it she gets real close to me and just stares into my eyes wanting me to help her.  I just don’t know what to do.  With a loud eerie sound coming out of her mouth she threw up the wheel barrel full of grass that she had eaten.  I stood there holding my breath as I rubbed her back, hoping that this would be the end of it.  It wasn’t.  The tongue began its snake-like behavior again.  We went inside and sat on the living room floor.  I cradled her in my arms, stroking her cheek with my face against hers, shushing in her ear.  Slowly, but surely, the tongue slowed down and finally stopped.  I did some reading on her symptoms and was surprised to find out that other dog owners have the same experience with their pups.  Professional opinion is that it may be due to oral discomfort, nausea, bloat, swallowed foxtail, focal partial seizures or maybe pica.  I know it wasn’t oral discomfort because I thoroughly checked.  Simba does suffer from an array of digestive issues including bloat but this is not one of her usual symptoms.  It happened first thing in the morning before she had gone out so it couldn’t be a foxtail.  I was puzzled.  Needless to say, it happened again the next morning and the next.  Each morning we went through the same ritual and each morning I was 2-3 hours late to work.  On Saturday, I was working and ran home to let her out and play ball with her for a while.  I went to the bathroom to get ready to head out again and guess what?  It’s behavioral!  She is having separation anxiety.  When I realized this is behavioral, my reaction was a stern “No, you need to stop!  Mommy loves you and will be back soon.”  I gave her a big hug and sternly told her to stop, once again.  She did!  I quickly did some research and yup one of the professionals mentioned this as maybe being behavioral.  I already know Simba has separation anxiety.  I have told you about my disappearing drywall and carpet.  Now I wonder if she ate the carpet and drywall because of the flicking tongue.  Anyhow, as I continued to read German Shorthaired Pointers are one of the breeds known to have separation anxiety along with the Siberian Huskie, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyranees, Border Collie among others.   I will be updating you on Simba’s progress on this issue and some of the professional’s tips on how to handle dog anxiety in future posts.


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About Simba's Mom

I was born and raised in California, lived in Pennsylvania for several years, and have recently moved to Delaware. I have gone from being a teacher for 20 years to a blogger and now back to teaching but still blogging. I have a great dog named Simba. Simba is a German Shorthaired Pointer. Life with Simba is an adventure every day. I have had dogs my entire life but I have learned most about dogs living with Simba. German Shorthaired Pointers really do become your best friend. They become extremely attached and that is why they say they have the Velcro phenomenon. Simba now has a sister 8 years younger and her name is Gypsy.
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  1. Naomi Heck says:

    If this is an attention seeking ploy, the consequence you are delivering (being stern, enforcing a down-stay) is not the punishment you think it is, and it might be enough of an interaction with you after a long day missing you to keep him doing it. Even if it is not an attention seeking behavior, jumping the gate to alleviate his barrier frustration and getting to tasty cat truffles as a bonus is a HUGE reinforcement that would be hard for you to compete with. I would look at this as an environmental management problem. Get a better barrier (e.g., a taller gate, stack another gate on top of the current one, install a cat door to a room or closet with the litter box, get a litter box designed to prevent intruders, put the cat food up high where he can’t reach it, etc.). A consequence does not have to be “positive” to be reinforcing (which means the behavior that immediately preceded the consequence is likely to reoccur again).


  2. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for the post and helpful comments! I have a follow up separation anxiety question. Our GSP has no problem when we leave the house if he’s in his crate. He might give a tiny squeal when we’re leaving the house at a time that isn’t routine for him (e.g., going out for dinner etc). But, he stops within a few seconds of us closing the door. When we are IN the house, but not paying attention to him, is another matter. There is a baby gate preventing him from getting in the basement (where the tasty, tasty cat poop is found). He respects this barrier unless he is left unattended on the main for. For example, I go upstairs to feed the cats or change when I get home from work and before we go for our walk. He will fly over the baby gate and go eat cat poop. If I am in the basement, he will cry at the stop of the stairs, but not cross the barrier. There is also a baby gate for one of the bedrooms upstairs (where the cat food is) and we have the same situation up there as well. When he crosses these barriers he is made to lay down on his mat for up to 10 minutes with no attention from us whatsoever. Is there anything else we can do?? We are VERY firm when we catch him doing these things so I can’t imagine it is a positive experience for him??

    Thank you so much for any advice!

  3. Shelli Castanos says:

    I have a Chinese Crested male, who is now 9 years old. I got him from a breeder when he was already 8 months old. He was going to be their next foundation stud, but was monorchid. They waited and waited for his other testicle to drop but it never did. That’s why they kept him for 8 months. When I first saw him, I fell in love, monorchid or not. His first 8 months were spent with his parents, aunts and 5 ‘zolos’. When he came home with me, I immediately knew I wanted to get him a buddy so he wouldn’t be so lonely. The next day I purchased a longhair dapple Doxie pup. They immediately became good friends. But, while I was away at work (8-10 hours a day), Simon, my CC somehow managed to chew the walls of my apartment. He chewed several 4-5″ areas out of 4 walls. How he could bite into the wall’s surface still puzzles me. BUT – he also managed to chew the wooden arms of my Queen Anne chairs, an antique settee, the legs of an antique armoir and the list continues. I sprinkled the furniture with chili powder in an attempt to stop his chewing, but I think he liked the added flavor… Even though he had his ‘brother’ Scheuster, I imagined he missed all the other dogs he was raised with. He finally outgrew this anxiety behavior when he was about 1 1/2 years old. (And yes, I had him neutered and the internal testicle removed due to the increased chances it would turn cancerous.) I think when getting an older pup, who’s used to living with many other dogs (especially his Mom and Dad), there is an increased chance for anxiety issues. He is a great dog and I would never have considered returning him to his breeder, like I know many people would. The memories of his puppy anxiety are still evident in my chewed antique furniture, but that damage is minimal to what he has given back to me with his constant smiles, kisses and love Thank you!.

    • Simba's Mom says:

      Like you, I have never seen a dog chew out the middle surface of drywall. The corners? Yes. The center? No! I don’t even know how Simba could even get the hole started. Anyhow, I would not trade her for anything. The wall have been fixed. The love she shares with me is huge and never ending. I can certainly relate.

  4. Naomi Heck says:

    You should have contacted me! LOL For anyone with a dog that shows any signs of stress with owner departures, I recommend this excellent article:

    Start with desensitizing your dog to the pre-departure signals that cause her to start worrying (like putting on work clothes, makeup, etc). Also make sure your dog is able to lie down and relax away from you when you are home. Those are the foundation skills that need to be worked on first. How long the whole program will take depends on the severity of the anxiety, how long it has been going on, and whether the dog is continuing to be placed in the anxious situation (1 step forward, 2 steps back) while trying to work on it.


    • Simba's Mom says:

      LOL! I know right. Simba is such a character. She is the first dog that I have owned, and I have owned dogs all my life, that is so anxious and attached. It takes patience, love and lots of attention but we get through it. Thanks Naomi for your great input which always works so well for us.

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