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PLEASE HELP New separation anxiety in 8 month old lab

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by JRH9099, Mar 1, 2017.


  1. JRH9099

    JRH9099 PetForums Newbie

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    This is going to be a long post but I really really really need help!

    I've had my puppy since she was 8 weeks old and this is a brief overview of how she's been on her own since then - when she was 8 weeks I had 2 weeks off work to spend with her, then when I went back to work my housemate was usually in if I wasn't, and gradually I started leaving her in her crate for short times. She hated it and I did EVERYTHING to get her to be happy in it but she just wouldn't, she would howl and howl and I'd get home and her chest would be soaked. So I started leaving her in my bedroom (where she slept at night) and she was absolutely fine. Until she was about 5 months this went well, then I moved to my parents house temporarily to save money and she stayed in their large kitchen/dining room when left alone and again was absolutely fine. At around 6-8 months she started chewing things, first a door mat and then a charger wire (luckily not plugged in), then she chewed off the corner of a soft dining chair, pulling all the material out of it.

    2 weeks ago I moved to a different part of the country and now aged 8 months she has not been doing well when left alone. When she's with me or my housemate she's fine, seems settled, loves walking in the local park and is her usual happy self. But she's been more destructive than ever when left alone. First I tried leaving her in the kitchen, thought this would be ideal as there is nothing for her to chew but it turns out the door doesn't close properly and no matter what we put in front of it (dining table included) she pushed it open. So I put her in my bedroom, thinking she might be ok with this as she sleeps in there and often goes up there by herself when I'm in the lounge and will just chill by herself under the bed. But she pulled up the carpet by the door, chewed a book up, chewed the underneath of my wooden bed, muddy pawprints on the door etc. so clearly not happy there either.

    So I got a lock for the kitchen door so she could stay in there, with her bed and lots of toys, a stuffed kong, a ball with treats in to get out. She scratched the door and door frame a lot. Thought this was the least bad option, the door can be repainted. Today I got home and she had pushed the door open so hard that the lock came off, must have jumped up and knocked the draining rack off, smashed a bowl and got all the other bits that were on it everywhere.

    This is with an adaptil diffuser plugged in, an adaptil collar on, the radio on (radio 4 so just people talking), all her toys and her roller ball with lots of food in it. I'm more worried about her being stressed and hurting herself than anything being ruined. I can't afford doggy daycare everytime I go to work, I don't know many people who could. I'm desperate for help! I just don't know what to do, the dog I grew up with and all my friends/families dogs are happy being on their own for a few hours a day. I feel like maybe she'd be happier if she had the run of the house but I can't risk this yet because I know she still might chew stuff and my housemate owns all the furniture!

    I have daycare for the whole day tomorrow as I have a long day, this is costing £16 it's a lady on dogbuddy.co.uk who looks after dogs in her home as she's home all day. This is ideal but obviously £16, times 5 days a week = £320 a month, which is more than my rent (shared house, cheap part of the country!) and I just can't afford that. I've used borrowmydoggy a couple of times since moving which has been great, but it;s mainly people who just want to walk my dog for an hour or so - which would be great if my dog was ok being alone for 3-4 hours but she can't even seem to do 1 without getting stressed!

    Can anyone give me some advice please? I love my dog so much, I'm never going to even think about rehoming her because of this issue I'll do anything to sort it out, I just feel like i've tried everything now so need some new ideas. I was thinking of maybe buying a crate and trying that again but I can't imagine that she'd be happy in it, considering she's not even happy in a kitchen! And she hated it so much when she was younger.. Help :(
     
  2. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    It sounds like the moving around has unsettled her. I personally would go back to basics with separation training (e.g. leaving for a short period and returning before she gets distressed, practising departure cues such as putting on coat and grabbing keys etc. without actually leaving and doing this repetitively). Basically you want her to feel comfortable and reassured that you will return.

    I would gradually build up the time being left over a period of time depending on what she is comfortable with. This may mean that in the short term you may have to fork out for daycare if you are going to be gone a while or have someone come in if they can. Also, before you go out, exercise her so that she has less energy to get anxious.

    There is a sticky on here about separation anxiety so you may find some useful tips on there.
     
  3. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn't try the crate again, it will likely stress her out even more.

    Some dogs hate being shut in - I wonder if a baby gate rather than a solid door would suit her better?

    Have a look at the Sticky on SA at the start of this section for tips.

    How much exercise does she get before you leave?

    Moving house won't have helped her stress levels. Can you take some time off to work on this and go back to basics build her up gradually to being left?
     
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  4. labradrk

    labradrk PetForums VIP

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    Can I ask what you did to acclimatise her to the crate, over what time frame, and at what point over that time frame you shut the crate door and left her alone? How did you transition her from you being around to you being out?

    I used to think that some dogs just hated the crate, I had one like that, but looking back it was my poor acclimatising the dog to the crate.....had I done it correctly the results would likely have been very different and saved me a lot of hassle ;)
     
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  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Does your insurance cover a behaviourist? Even if it doesn't it might be a good idea. I know you said money is tight but she is young so it would be a good investment. If you say which part of the country you are in we can tag a member who will probably know.
     
  6. JRH9099

    JRH9099 PetForums Newbie

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    I'm in Sheffield, does anyone know any behaviourists? Not sure about my insurance I'll look through my policy and see
     
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  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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  8. Canarie

    Canarie PetForums Member

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    How much exercise does your dog get before you leave?Not much fun getting up v.early,but,a tired dog will be less anxious?If she is not getting enough exercise she will get frustrated and bored.
    Do you have a elderley neighbour that could pop in perhaps 30 mins morning and afternoon to break the time up for your dog?
     
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  9. JRH9099

    JRH9099 PetForums Newbie

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    I've been getting up to take her for a 40 minute walk (10 minutes on lead to the park, 20 minute run in the park then 10 minutes back - is that enough or do you think I should do more?) before I go to work. The day that she broke the lock off the door and smashed the bowl I didn't take her for a walk before as I planned to be very quick dropping something off at my work but ended up being longer than expected, could this have had that much of an impact?
     
  10. Canarie

    Canarie PetForums Member

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    Would like to think not,but,dogs like/know routines and have always been told and seen from Victoria Stillwell "It's me or the dog" that the first approx 20 minutes of being left are the most important time.A dog needs to have had some energy spent,food,kongs etc.Some dogs seem to cope better than others.I only worked p/t and left my dog for one full day.I walked her for approx 45 minutes before I left and then dog walker came at lunch time.(And you have to be comfortable with dog walker as I had to get rid of one as turned out my dog was being short changed on her walks.I found out one day my dog only got 35 mins and was paying for an hour!And the dog walker was turning up ridiculously early.)
    Dog crèches aren't cheap,but,going to work worrying what you will be presented with when you return home isn't good for you or the dog.
     
  11. JRH9099

    JRH9099 PetForums Newbie

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    Update - I got an 'extra tall' baby gate to put in the kitchen/dining room doorway so maybe she wouldn't feel so closed in, left her at 10.30, dog sitter came at 1 and said that the gate was closed but dog was in the dining room/lounge. So she must have jumped it.. after she walked her she left her in the lounge and I got back about 5.30 (dog walker left at 3.30). Nothing in the lounge or dining room chewed, just a fair bit of hair on the sofa so she'd obviously sat up there! So I think I'm going to try just leaving her in the dining room and lounge with access to the kitchen, risking her chewing furniture but I'm quite confident that she won't? Not sure why but I feel like if she was going to then she would have done it today? My housemate isn't so sure but I've promised that if she doesn't destroy anything I will replace it!
     
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  12. JRH9099

    JRH9099 PetForums Newbie

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    Another update - day 1 of being left in the lounge/dining room - nothing has been chewed! So happy! Plus she wasn't as crazy over excited when I got home, not even waiting at the lounge door after she heard me come through the front door which makes me think she wasn't as stressed! Such a relief
     
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  13. pennyLokiMUM

    pennyLokiMUM PetForums Senior

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    as a Mum of 3 Labradors, I have heard this story before, my Murphy chewed a wall once, Labradors are pack animals and like being with people, but we have to work, the rule is no longer then 4/5 hours left, if not arrange for a dog walker or day care. My pack have the run of the front room and kitchen, I block off the stairs, we walk them before we leave for work, I also work from home a lot. Exercise is key to stop bored destructive behaviour in young labs, after 10 mth once fully grown they can tolerate lots of exercise, another thing they love is learning and agility, so at weekends do some training with the dog, impulse control or go find games, mine love it. I would follow the advice, practice leaving, I leave a radio on for the pack before we leave, they know we are going as they get a treat, then in beds, I always find them asleep when I get home. They have learnt the us going is positive, they associate it with a treat, the other thing I learnt, don't fuss before you leave, ignore, they pick up on our energy. Also try and get her to sleep away from you, in the kitchen or front room, its important that she is independent, if she can go a few nights apart, the days when your at work its easier.
     
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