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Worsening Separation Anxiety

September 11th, 2005, 11:04 AM
I have scoured the web for a comprehensive guide on how to deal with Separataion Anxiety. I have a 9 month old lab/springer spaniel mix who started off just whining in his crate a lot whenever we left the house. He now works himself into such a frenzy while we're gone that he pants and drools all over his crate. This morning when I got back from grocery shopping (less than an hour) he had drooled so much that the bottom of his crate, his tail, his ears, and his underside were all covered in drool. I really don't know what I can do to desensitize him to our departures. I have tried the method of leaving and coming back, but he doesn't even let us get out the door before he starts barking, and doesn't stop for a half hour after that. I'm getting frustrated because I know he's lonely when we leave, but I can't even go outside to get the mail without him starting to bark and whine. I appreciate any help and suggestions you may be able to offer.

September 12th, 2005, 05:30 AM
Most normal dogs will settle down within a half hour after you leave.

September 12th, 2005, 08:23 AM
You could ask your vet about BioCalm.. it's a natural alternative to ClomaCalm and it takes the edge off during stressful times. I use it on my Aussie X as she chews her paws when nervous.

September 12th, 2005, 03:18 PM
Most normal dogs will settle down within a half hour after you leave.

Well my dog is obviously not normal then, as he is still drooling away with a freaked out look on his face when I get home from work, after he's been in there for 4-5 hours.

September 12th, 2005, 03:37 PM
What do you do before you leave and when you come home. Do you fuss with him, say anything, etc. Does he ever get crated when you are home.

September 12th, 2005, 04:13 PM
No fussing, he's given a kong with some treats and peanut butter in it, and he typically ignores that until he stops barking. Sometimes he ignores it all day long, and as soon as he's released from the crate he runs back in and grabs it. I do put him in the crate sometimes when we are at home. He seems to do fine most times when I'm in the same room, but if I head to a different room he starts going ballistic.

September 12th, 2005, 04:48 PM
It is common for dogs with SA to not eat anything while you are gone and gobble it up when you get home. Has he ever harmed himself when in the crate. Is there any way you can record him when you leave. What type of home are you in. Is it possible that he hears others outside your door during the day.

September 13th, 2005, 07:34 AM
It is common for dogs with SA to not eat anything while you are gone and gobble it up when you get home. Has he ever harmed himself when in the crate. Is there any way you can record him when you leave. What type of home are you in. Is it possible that he hears others outside your door during the day.

He has never harmed himself, no. I have thought about recording him, but I have no video camera. The home that I'm in is a house, and there aren't really any kids around before I get home from work, as I get home before school is out. Most of my neighbors work regular hours, so he shouldn't be hearing too much.

Last night we had a bit of a breakthrough, he was quiet in his crate while I was cooking dinner, and I gave him some treats because I wanted to reinforce that good behavior. After dinner, he actually went back into his crate and layed down, which he hasn't done since he started having these problems.

September 13th, 2005, 07:45 AM
When you are going out place him in his crate 20 minutes or so before you go and when you come home don't let him out right away. It would be best to wait til he settles down and then let him out, take outside for washroom break and then say your hellos. When you are at home you can work on crating by placing him in the crate and start leaving the room, then go outside. As he gets better increase the time. Don't let him out if he is not settled. If you do he will never settle because he will think that this behaviour gets him out.
If seeing you get ready to leave gets him anxious then you can get ready occasionally but don't leave the house.

September 13th, 2005, 10:51 AM
StaceyB - I always stop when you say 'washroom' instead of bathroom and wonder why is she washing the dog? :p

September 13th, 2005, 04:28 PM
lol, quirks I guess. I was taught that washroom was more polite than bathroom so I always use washroom. Something silly your parents teach you. I would say you bath a dog.

September 13th, 2005, 08:53 PM
We'll give it a try. Thanks!

September 14th, 2005, 10:29 AM
My dog used to have horrible SA. I couldn't go anywhere away from him (he had to be able to see and touch me at all times) or he'd fuss, even in my own house. And he's a barker, which didn't help.

My best recommendation is to never let him out of his crate unless he is quiet. Do it once and he'll continue to think that barking is the magic button that lets him out. You want him to know that barking gets him nothing.

You can try to feed him special tidbits when he's quiet in his crate, but, in my case, all this did was make my dog bark when I left him again. He wanted to be with me more than he wanted food. Eventually he quit eating the food because he knew I'd leave once he did.

Try to get him all tired out before leaveing him in a crate for an extended period of time when you leave the house. It is unlikely he will entertain himself in the crate constructivly, so sleep is the best you can hope for.

When you come home, do not let him out immedietly. Go about your business until he has settled down somewhat. And ignore him for a few minutes after you have let him out.

Do not greet him when you arrive nor tell him goodbye when you leave.

This all communicates to him that you leaving is business as usual and there's no need to make a big fuss over it.

BTW StaceyB, I also say washroom rather than Bathroom when I'm in polite company :)

Forgot to add: If you really need him out of the crate (potty break, dinnertime, whatever) and he simply will not settle down. A quick shortcut is to sharply bang the top of the crate and yell "Quiet." This will likely cause him to pause in his barking from suprise. Then praise him and let him out. If he already knows the 'quiet' command, you can just use that. The fact that he's not barking when you open the door is what matters.

September 15th, 2005, 08:22 AM
I have a couple of suggestions, we do alot of crate training here at animatch:

Feed him in the crate (stay near without being too close).

Definetly put him in for short periods during your being home.

If he loves the vehicle, crate him in vehicle for short trips, just to show that the crate is not bad.

Is he getting alot of physical excersise & mental stimulation?

Don't let him have the Kong unless he is in his crate; alteernat your treats in it (cheezwhiz, kong stuffing, cream cheese, etc)**** Only if his tummy can handle it though****.

Alot of great advice here...nice to see.

September 20th, 2005, 09:50 AM
Im sorry your having such a hard time with your pup. We had an absolute dreadful time with our dog , he had very severe case of seperation anxiety so i know what a stressful time it can be . Couple of suggestions :

- Your dog should only get/see his kong when its time to go in his crate. The minute you let him out of his crate , take the kong away and put it somewhere he cant see. My dog knows now to go in his crate everytime he sees his kong.

- I know hes barking and panting a lot so you might not be able to do this right now but try putting his bed in his crate.

- Start using the same phrase EVERY time you leave the house. Something like "be right back" or "see you soon". Our dog has grown to associate us coming back with a phrase. If we forget to say it he becomes anxious because now its part of the routine.

- I think you should use some sort of herbal remedy or medication for him. We started Farley out on clomicalm and he improved in that the panting decreased significantly. There is also rescue remedy , they have drops and a cream that i used to rub on the inside of his ears.

We are doing SO much better now. Farley really is a different dog. Things will get better.

Btw, if you do a search under my member name you will find lots of posts from when i was intially dealing with Farley's seperation anxiety. I got lots of helpful advice that really made a huge difference.

Good luck!

September 25th, 2005, 08:37 AM
I'd like to share what I know about seperation anxiety. I will try and not be too long winded.

What is it: dogs who are so dependent on thier owners that they become anxious when the owner is not around.

Symptoms/Signs: defication, destruction of objects, vocalization, self mutalation.

Treatment: generally achieved by gradullay getting the dog used to being home alone starting with short seperations that do not cause anxiety and gradually increasing the time the dog is alone.

How to start: teach the dog to sit and stay at the door and praise a lot; start to step away from the door then back gradually increasing the distance and length of time you are away from the dog; do the things you normally would ie. picking up your keys, purse, turning off lights etc. The dog should remain sitting while you do this and be given lots of praise for doing it. When the dog is not reacting to the above start to move out of view with the door open and then reappear givning the dog tons of priase. Start to go outside close the door and then return - lots of praise. Increase the increments of time you are outside. It is important at this point that dogs that are really food oriented not be given treats, they may get excited/anxious anticipating they will get food. Several times a day do things like put on a coat and then take it off, pick up and rattle car keys etc. If the dog is less anxious before you leave, it is less likely to be as anxious when you leave.

From what I have read, most anxiety behaviours start within the first 30 minutes after the owner has left. So working on getting the dog to a 30 minute interval without reacting may help. Start by leaving the dog alone for periods of time shorter then it will take the dog to become anxious i.e. could be one or two sedonds initially. Use a "safety cue" when you leave, could be putting the raido on and saying be good. Gradually work up to leaving the dog for longer periods of time.

Basically what you are trying to do is to teach the dog that you're leaving is not a reason to become anxious. I would also limit the amount of attention the dog gets. A lot of times dogs who get tons of attention and follow the owner all over the place have trouble coping when alone.