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How to help a dog with Separation Anxiety.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by sue&harvey, Jul 17, 2010.


  1. advocate for animals

    advocate for animals PetForums Junior

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    Here's some information I hope will help - it is taken from an article I wrote.

    Don't leave the dog in the backyard and consider it exercise. Long walks and hikes, of at least 30 minutes, twice a day, training, tracking and agility are a few other ideas. Length, intensity, and frequency will depend on your dog’s age and physical condition.

    Tiring him out before you leave the house, can make him more relaxed about being left alone.

    Most of us have a routine we follow each time we’re ready to leave the house, and that can set your dog panicking, so change it. For example, he knows that when you put your coat on, you leave the house. Why not put your coat on randomly during the day, then open the mail. Grab your keys, and put them in a different place. After a few weeks with no discernible pattern, his separation anxiety may be less evident as you walk out the door.

    Never make a big deal out of coming or going, just leave and return that's it.
    You’ll be doing him a big favour if you don’t pay attention to him a few minutes before you leave, and for a few minutes after you get back.
    This shows him your absence is temporary, and nothing to be concerned about.

    Practice longer and longer absences by going side for a couple of minutes, than coming right back. Don’t make a big deal out of it. If your dog suffers from severe anxiety, you may only be able to step outside for a second, before having to coming back in. If that’s the case, than a second it will have to be. Once you’re inside, go about your business for a few minutes, giving your dog a chance to relax. When you next go out, stay away bit longer. That might mean only 2 seconds, than 3 the next. That’s fine, just keep increasing. You can also vary the length of time you stay out. For instance – say you’ve worked up to 7 minutes, the next time leave for 4 minutes, then 8, than 5. Within a few weeks, your dog’s anxiety should be significantly reduced.

    The above suggestions take time to work, so for something more immediate until the other tips take effect, have some take him out during the day, speak to your vet about anti anxiety medication in the meantime, try one of those plug ins that help reduce anxiety. I've never tried it on a dog, but the one for cats worked wonders.
     
  2. New territory

    New territory PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all. This is all very foreign to me, it's the first time I've used a forum, well it's the first time I've needed advice.
    I'll start with a brief history; we have a Westie named Zak. We have had him since he was just 6 weeks old, he is now 14. As Westie's go, we are reliably informed by vets, groomers, kennels etc that he is very well natured. Overall he has been a real star, enduring the arrival of our 2 children and 4 house moves within his lifetime. He really is a top chap!!
    Unfortunately over the last 12 months or so he has lost his hearing, but this generally doesn't seem to bother him at all - it's more of a challenge for us when we need his attention! He is also developing cataracts which are worsening rapidly and have rendered him unable to tackle stairs with any confidence.
    So that's Zak in a nutshell.
    Our problem lies in that with our 4th house move (only 2 months ago) he has developed terrible separation anxiety.
    This is very new territory for us, he's never had any issues being left, in fact since day 1 we have both worked so he's always been comfortable being left. He has a comfortable kennel in the garden and has his best friend with him, our cat! Now, however, it would appear that a number of our neighbours are very disgruntled, expressing their concern for his well-being.
    Largely he is fine with the 'normal routine', if we are at work and the children at school, the neighbours have said they didnt even know he was in the garden. BUT sometimes he is totally stressed by it, especially if we leave the house at any other time, for instance to go shopping or maybe go for a meal at the weekend, he barks, cries, howls and paces for the whole time we are gone. When we return he is completely overwhelmed to see us but totally exhausted. I'm thinking of trying the Adaptil collar alongside some basic training techniques, but he's a smart old chap and knows all the tricks.
    Any advice anyone can offer would be very much appreciated.
    Rather worried about the dog and anxious not to upset our neighbours further and in very new territory :(
     
  3. auxonian

    auxonian PetForums Junior

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    I can echo what 'advocate for animals' has written here. I wrote something similar in my book and it definitely seems to work (otherwise I wouldn't have put it in the book)!
     
  4. JessicaPenny

    JessicaPenny PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,

    I have read the thread and have got some good ideas but I thought I would tell write my situation down and see if any of you had any extra advice.

    I have a Jack Russell Crossed Whippet (we think she's part whippet we don't know that for sure) called Penny who is 10 years old. We rescued her when she was 8 months old.

    Penny is a lovely affectionate girl who plays nicely, comes back when she is off the lead and walks nicely on the lead. She is well behaved when we are home. She is walked 2 - 3 times a day for 20 mins to 1 hour on week day and a few hours at weekends when we go to the big park or down by the river which she loves.

    The problem we have is that since my brother left home and I started working full time she is left longer and is normally quite disruptive.
    We haven't had any reports of her barking or whining but my neighbors are often out in the day too so may not hear her.
    Each day however we are not sure what we will come home too. She more often that not wee's but a lot of the time now she has either crewed something, scratched the door or pulled up/ripped the carpet.

    My mum is getting a quite a bit upset about coming home to her now and I'm still trying to work out what to do to help Penny and my Mum.

    My mum and I have tried a number of different things including Calmex tablets, Bach Rescue Remedy in her water, DAP Adaptil Diffuser and collar and some other tablets the Vets have given as.We have also tried leaving the tv and radio on, putting tops with our sent on it in her bed, taking her for longer walks in the morning, giving her treats or something else to crew before we leave which she often doesn't touch.

    I am going to try the points about getting ourselves ready and then sitting on the sofa and leaving her for a short time and then coming back in building the time up and see if that help.

    My mum think we maybe too late to try and re-train her but I am willing to try anything as I'm not sure how much more my mum can take and I hate that Penny is getting herself in a stress whenever we leave.

    Any advice or help will be much appreciated thank you.

    Jess
     
  5. Sabrina LD

    Sabrina LD PetForums Newbie

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    We bought our JRT home at the beginning of the summer holidays and from day one he's been a very good little dog. All "naughty" behaviour manageable and understandable. He sleeps in his bed, can be left alone for a few hours at a time and is generally quite good in that time although he did lkke pulling my plant over and stealing coals from the fire (plant relocated, fire guard in place).
    We bought a dog crate before getting him but as we didn't have any real problems with him initially we decided not to use it. I now feel that this was a big mistake! Having now returned to work after the summer holidays I need to leave him for about 4-5 hrs a day which I do not feel is excessive. And I was confident that after a good walk, a feed and a toilet opportunity he would be fine! Imagine my horror when I came home to find the carpet in front of my bedroom door partially destroyed!
    I have two questions: first, when I left the house he was sound asleep and I left the tv on for him. Is it possible that he woke alone and thought I was in my room (like at nighttime) and was trying to get to me? He did this once, but with no real damage when we shut him out to get dressed once. Should I have made him aware that I was going so he knew not to look for me?
    Second: we live in a rented flat, so I can't really afford for him to do anymore damage and with this happening on the first day back to work, I'm now very worried about leaving him loose in the flat. Am I too late to crate train him? He is now 14 weeks.
    Any response greatly appreciated.
     
  6. Nanaka

    Nanaka PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,
    I've just discovered this forum and there is a lot more advice here than in the French ones. I'd like to tell you about my story because I can't take it anymore....
    I took Kurtis 18 months ago in a shelter. We discovered after one or two days that he had a high anxiety separation (peeing everywhere, barking, destroying furniture...). We tried a behavior therapy for 6 months (ignore him before we leave and come back, give him toys full of food when we are away but he is so stressed he won't eat, etc..). We really tried everything even homeopathy. He even managed to escape twice, and the last time he was almost hit by a car. After having seen the behaviorist, he said that Kurtis had such a high anxiety separation that we should now start considering medication even though he is usually highly against it. We gave him 20 mg of clomipramine twice a day at first (and we have always kept going with the behavior therapy). It did improve but after 4 months, things went bad again. We increased the dosage to 30mg but it didn't work. We stopped the medication for a week in order to wean him (and he became especially out of control during that week) and then we introduced a new molecule, fluoxetine 20 mg. Things really improve, more than with the clomipramine but we recently moved in in another flat and the neighbors are always complaining about his barking and wailing. I know that a new flat is a really big deal for a dog. We filmed him and he is indeed barking no matter how long we are away and he keeps staring at the entrance door (even if we are away for 4 hours). But no more peeing or destroying though. We think we should now start considering increase the dosage after the advice of the behaviorist.
    He is a mix between a beagle and a spaniel. He weights 19kg (42 pounds).
    He is two years old. We took him at the age of 5months where he stayed in a shelter for 3 months (he wasn't weaned for enough time, according to my vet and the behaviorist specialized in dog anxiety). We introduce clomipramine when he was 11months, stopped it when he was 16 and he is now under Prozac 20 mg for 6 months.
    Except this high anxiety, he is the best dog ever, we walk him every day in a big park for 2 hours where he can meet all his dog friends, he has never showed any kind of aggression towards humans or dogs.
    Can you please give me some advice to help me?
    I don't know what to do, we tried everything but we can't put him back in a shelter, I would feel sad for the rest of my life.

    Thank you in advance for reading me. And I'm sorry for my English as it is not my native language.

    Kinds regards,
    Catherine.
     
  7. Theandrewsfamily

    Theandrewsfamily PetForums Newbie

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    Hi

    I'm new to this forum, and have read the thread on Dogs with Separation Anxiety, the causes and how to perform this at an early stage.

    I/We have a GSD Boxer Cross puppy who is Seven Months old.
    We had him from a Dog Shelter (where we was with Two of his brother's).
    When he first arrived at our home, he explored his new place and felt at ease with his new setting.
    We (my wife, my daughter & I) toilet trained 'Busta' using newspapers firstly and then puppy pads. Busta eventually went out the garden's (where he always goes).
    Unfortunately, he has always suffered with SA. I always take him out for a walk (on/off the lead) but once we put our coats on he begins whining (once left the house he barks and howls). We have had complient's from neighbours and I feel we may have to get rid of him?
    Can anyone give me advise on how we can go about curbing this for our lovely puppy/dog before it's too late?

    Ps we always watch Ceaser Millan and Puppy SOS but our puppy has this serverly!

    Please help us.
     
  8. waltergibbs

    waltergibbs vegetables are delicious

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    I had tremendous luck with youtube videos for dogs on my smart telly. I set the sleep timer to an hour and he watches videos of cows (he has odd taste). When I watched my dognanny cam video, he watches for a bit, does a door circle and eats his dry food before watching another fifteen minutes of cows in a field before drooping off to sleep. I don't know what keeps the separation anxiety from triggering again, but it seems to settle the initial bit of nerves he gets that spirals into full blown anxious destruction and such. Every animal is different so it usually takes a bit of tests to find something that fits and then you knock wood it stays. Makes for a much better homecoming after work for both of us :)
     
  9. caz58

    caz58 PetForums Junior

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    Wow that`s great! How did you discover that he liked to watch that???
     
  10. waltergibbs

    waltergibbs vegetables are delicious

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    I went through the usual pet videos of dogs for dogs, fish for cats, birds for dogs and cats, etc (eww sounds like porn) and then tried relaxation videos for humans. He likes the rain on leaves one but it is a no go as a plane and a garbage truck enter the audio at some point. I think I chose "pleasant fields" originally, which yielded horses (just riled him up) and then there was one with piebald cows he just watched. Like most other things internet, the rabbit hole is small but the tunnel is long and winding :) Just glad he enjoys it. It also helps in the winter or when the rain is bad outside and we can't go out as easily. I would say just to start experimenting. I have a friend that ended up giving his cat his old smartphone to basically play video games while he was away. He also used it like a small telly, with a little stand in front of the cat's bed so it could watch birds eat seed iirc. Your results may vary but there are loads of vids on youtube to find the thing that they like. Try grilling steak or hamburger with cheese videos-if it doesn't excite them too much lol. Actually don't do that because I cannot to afford to buy you a new telly when they try to get the burger ;) Best of luck with your pet and its anxiety.
     
  11. Kristalmaze

    Kristalmaze PetForums Newbie

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    Hope someone can help! My 12 year old collie x Springer has developed possible separation anxiety which manifests itself mainly at night when he continually paces and pants, often for hours and nothing I can do will settle him! This doesn't happen every night and I have monitored for a pattern and there is none!

    He has always slept in the bedroom and has access still but I have also tried giving him the run of the house, shutting him in the bedroom, shutting him out the bedroom, shutting him in the small en suite where he goes when he's scared, you name it iv tried the combination and no change! He has a dog flap and when I'm out now he has started to spend time squeezed in a small gap at the top of the garden rather than indoors as he has always done before - nothing has changed at home for him at all.

    He has had a full vet check and all clear, although his eyes and hearing aren't as good as they used to be as I would expect. 98% of the time he is perfectly normal as he has been all his life but the no sleep factor is beginning to take its toll on me and I hate seeing him like that!!!

    I have seen many suggestions for training for separation anxiety but these appear to be for puppies and not managing the changes in an older dog - does anyone have any tips??????
     
  12. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

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    Did your vet mention canine cognitive dysfunction at all?

    Unsettled at night is a common symptom.
     
  13. Kristalmaze

    Kristalmaze PetForums Newbie

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    Hi yes he did but as he has no other symptoms of it at all they think it's unlikely to be that
     
  14. Dedi

    Dedi PetForums Newbie

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    Hi,
    I'm new to this site and I'm finding it very useful. .....we have just rescued a Siberian Husky of 8 months who has had no training and I mean NO training what so ever.....he definitely has separation anxiety especially from my hubby who he has attached himself to. Cooper also has developed a guarding issue over a bone we bought him today and he got very snappy with both of us which actually was quite scary! As we haven't seen him display this until today. We know that Huskies are a very strong breed of dog and this isn't our first dog I have had dogs all my life but have never experienced this behaviour in such a young dog before any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'm beginning to wonder if we have bitten off more than we can handle! ! Pardon the pun.
     
  15. Feyi

    Feyi PetForums Newbie

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    Hi there dedi,
    Sorry to hear your having trouble with your new husky, I'm also new to this site and I have just adopted an 18 month old male husky, he is very good and well trained at home , just not good with other dogs.
    Huskies are very strong breeds and need a lot of excersise. Have you thought of getting a dog trainer Or take him to a puppy class? I'm looking into this for my Nhylus . Where are you based?
     
  16. allyf

    allyf PetForums Newbie

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  17. ggrw104

    ggrw104 PetForums Newbie

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    I've been trying the tips outlined in this article and I've got my 8 week old pug used to about three minutes in her pen. However, she is starting to soil her pen when I do this. This morning she peed next to her crate and this afternoon she pooped in her crate (having been taken outside to use the toilet). Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this? i've been trying the '10 times a day minimum' of just leaving the room. We go back to work in two weeks so I just want to make it as smooth as possible for her.
     
  18. AlpineHeros

    AlpineHeros PetForums Newbie

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    This advice is golden, thanks so much!!!! I have 3 puppies who all have SA and two are brother and sister, and both used to have Tapeworm so there appetite is large. One is 4 months the other two are 3. If one starts whining or barking, it has a knock on affect with the other dogs so I either have to sit with them for an average of 10 minutes to calm them before leaving, or take them all out for a walk, sometimes at least 5 times a day or a couple of 2hr+ long walks, so almost all my time is dedicated to them and prempting there behaviour with attention, toilet walks or long walks.
     
  19. AceOfSpades113

    AceOfSpades113 PetForums Member

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    This thread is great! My Border Collie Ace has a nightmare case of Separation Anxiety, I would never even consider a shock collar or the likes for him. Sadly, he had a traumatic experience while at the vets getting neutered which included a blunt razor and a cut open stomach, and since that day he refuses to be without me. Say for example we walk to the shop as usual. I will tie him up outside where he will be able to see through the glass window to make sure I am there. He will make this howl/whining noise which the workers now call his song and just keep getting louder and louder until I return.
    Inside the house if left alone, Ace's bladder wouldn't hold whatsoever, even if left for an hour we would come home to pee everywhere, the door scratching became so bad I actually showed him how to open my bedroom door! I know some people are going to say 'bad idea' but believe me, when I had the option of him scratching the entire wood or knowing he could open the door in a more clean matter then that was what I chose in a hurry, since by this stage the dreaded 'He's going to the pound if he doesn't' was beginning at this stage. Although the front and back door are beyond repair by this stage, three years later and he is still a bad sufferer, although has learnt that not everyone is bad and will remain calm providing someone else who is part of the family unit is there with him. During the night if he is left downstairs, in the hall, or anywhere else he will pee/poo, although that was solved quickly and effectively by letting him sleep in the room with me, more so than that he is not even happy on the ground and insists on being up cuddled with his head on the pillow! His separation anxiety gets especially bad when people try to stop him from getting to me, he turns downright violent. We managed to get our CD Obedience Award with Kennel Club and were only a few points from our next level when I pulled him out- the task was a simple one, but not for us. It involved him sitting still while a stranger stroked him and I walked away. We tried for four weeks, and he only became more aggressive everytime to the point when he seen anyone coming near he would already press himself into me and snarl at them. I may have to try the calmatives and see do they help at all next time I am gone for a long time!
     
  20. Django987

    Django987 PetForums Newbie

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    I read the initial post with interest as having just moved home to live with my partner and his children, my dog is having to adapt to new surroundings as well as his seperation anxiety. What I am interested in knowing though is about who can be present when the training is taking place. If the children are around should they leave the house when I do (as I am the point of anxiety for him) or can they stay in the house? What do people think?
     
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