May 29th, 2006, 11:20 AM
Hi there, we are having some big problems with our puppy. We beleive he has seperation anxiety, we don't know what to do anymore, we've tried everything! Rex is a 10 and half month old boxer, he is absolutely awesome, good as gold when we're home with him. But soon as he's alone, he goes nuts! He is crated all day while we are at work, we have a neighbor that lets him out to pee half way through the day and to run around a bit. He constantly gets out of his crate, pee's in it everyday and we're told by our trainer its most likely b/c he has anxiety that he does that. He bends his metal crate, we don't even know how he does it as we can't even do it! At one point we tried him free in the house for a day b/c he is good as gold while we are there, but that was a mistake, he peed and pooed everywhere, which is something he never does when we're home with him. He chewed on lots of things which is something he never even tried even when we first brought him home he never chewed on anything but his toys.. so we didn't try that again. We have no rooms to really leave him in b/c he would destroy them also. So we bought him a super huge pen and put it in the basement for him, which is well lit up, so its not dark or anything down there. Well he kept getting out of this too, and this thing was garanteed dog proof and safe! Well we tied strap everything so he coudln't get out, but somehow he made a hole in the wire, god knows how, this is thick thick metal! and we came home and he had obviously been trying to stick his head through b/c he had marks all over his head, he could have seriously hurt himself! So we are taking that back today and getting our money back, thats crazy. But nothing we do works.. He's like another dog when he's alone. And I understand, but its so hard to treat seperation anxiety b/c it only happens when your not there! I've done reading, and I've tried leaving short periods and coming back and rewarding him for being quiet, ive tried all that, but can only do that on weekends, as on weekdays we HAVE to work, nothing we can do then. We've looked into doggy daycare and we just can't afford it! Plus we live out in the country so not many options to choose from, the cheapest is 20 bucks a day, and we can't afford that, thats more then I pay for my daughters day care, lol... We are even in the midst of trying to ignore him for a week or two, some say that will help, but that is sooo hard, we didn't want a dog so that we can ignore it, plus he's such a cuddle bum, and I love that about him, I don't know if ignoring works? But I don't like it, lol... And its hard on us too b/c we know he's obviously very stressed when we're not home and that can't be healthy for him! We took him to the vet too last week to run all tests to make sure he wasn't peeing b/c of an infection or diabetes and every single test came back fine. We also tried holistic pills to calm him down while we're not home and that made no difference at all. I don't know if anyone has any suggestions at all? But I think we're about to loose our minds, we're out of ideas! I thought the pen would help as he could run around and play, it was huge! But I think it almost made him worse, like he had more room to freak out in... Help? Anyone?
May 29th, 2006, 02:31 PM
I don't think my answer will make you happy but please consider it anyway.
First, 10 months is still a puppy. I don't know how old your daughter is but if you've been around children who are 3-4 years old, you know that they are not as mature as children at 6-7 years. They need more supervision and get into mischief more. They have problems with toilet training. Your puppy is the same way and he may be that way for awhile. You need to give him more supervision and options for exercise during the day.
Second, most of us have to work for a living and that makes it hard to handle a puppy, too. You can leave your puppy alone, ignore him, and teach him to get used to being alone all day. His personality will change if you do this. Dogs are companion animals and you will be teaching him to accept being alone. You can do that but I suspect you won't like him as much if that happens. You can't expect a dog to be loving and friendly when you want it and satisfied to be alone when you don't.
May 29th, 2006, 07:29 PM
My dog also has seperation anxiety, though I'll admit its a very mild case.
I found that having a routine in the morning helped on week days. That way, he'd know I was going to work and when I would be home. Every morning I did exactly the same thing in exactly the same order. Before leaving I would put him in his pen, give him his carrots, turn on the radio and give his safety cue of Cheerio.
This did two things, it made him much less anxious when I went to work, which was great, but it didn't help if I left any other time. :(
I also found that he was less anxious if he could sleep in my room and basically be around me at all time when I was home.
I'm sorry if that's not much help, but you've done all the reading, so you know what all your opitions are, and the cause for the anxiety so you'll be able to find something that works for your dog. You might have to hink outside the box and re-organize you life a bit, but you'll find something that works... Eventually
May 29th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Thanks for the replies, I will try that PetFriendly. I did read that a safety cue is good everytime you leave and I will try putting the radio on for him too.. As for a routine we do have one every morning with him. We get up an hour earlier so he's up with us atleast an hour, we run around the back yard with him and play fetch then we take him for a walk and then we put him in his crate with a stuffed kong every morning. But I will definitely try a safety cue and try leaving the radio on, see if that works. DRN I agree with what you say, although there isn't much I can do at this point. I would love him no matter what, he's a child to me so I love him unconditionally, however I do love that he's my companion... I love that he follows me everywhere and wants to be with me, so your right I don't want to change that, that is why I don't like this ignoring idea.. It didn't last a day anyway, I just can't do it.. Why get a dog to ignore him? However if it helps him to be less stressed when we're out then I want to try anything. He does sleep in our room at night, he has a bed that from day one he's slept on and doesn't move until we get up in the morning! Again he's amazing with us, since he was 8 weeks old he learned everything super fast, and was the best dog in his obedience school in both classes, its just when he's alone. I want to help him so he's not so stressed being alone. I'm currently talking to neighbors to see if anyone can pay more attention to him, we are new here so we're still trying to get a feel for things here, I don't want to ask a complete stranger as that would be a little rude. But I see a few neighbors that have puppies themselves so maybe they can give me some help. And when we walk him everybody just loves him, so hopefully we can find someone who will be interested in helping us out while we're at work! Thanks again though, the more advice the better, ya never know even just one little thing might help!
May 29th, 2006, 09:48 PM
What you are describing does sound like the true form serious SA. In the quote below is advice from one person to another about dealing with SA from another forum. I have only dealt with minor cases myself but the part about the answering machine in the quote is a factor with my current girl Nikki, hearing my voice on it drove her wild, I have it disconnected but the phone ringer now s the trigger as she has learned to expect the answering machine to come on. Talk to your vet about medications there are a couple of different types that can be used to help with SA, most take 6 weeks to work, so often valium are used intially, make sure your vet is aware of his escapes and injuries and bar bending of the crate so s/he knows the seriousness of the SA, some dogs have actually managed to break the wires and ended up with fatal or near fatal puncture injuries. Possibly in time your dog can be weaned off the meds
Sorry! I worked all weekend so am just getting around to checking the board. How long have you had Harry? It took a good 6-8 months for Demps to get to where I wasn't afraid to come home.
First, pick up that treat immediately when you get home, whether or not he has eaten it. Instead of it being something that calms Harry down, it is being linked with you coming home. Not good. It's probably a good idea to keep using it and hopefully he will eventually calm down enough to benefit from it.
Have you spoken to your vet? I am not big on medication, but Clomicalm was something I went for after 1 month. It didn't change Dempsey's personality and he never seemed "drugged". It was about $35/month- definitely worth it even if you have to eat ramen noodles the whole time. Seriously!
The Clomicalm just helps with that anxiety enough so that the behavior modification you are implementing will even be noticed. Harry is probably so worked up that he doesn't even notice what you are doing- other than leaving.
Can you get a new crate so he cannot escape? I know they are expensive, but it sounds like the crate is probably the best, safest place for him at the moment. Maybe your group has one you can borrow or check the classified ads, that is where I found mine.
Consistency is important in the sense of doing the same thing when you leave and get home. But, it's good to be inconsistent about the times you are leaving. I think it would be good if you could leave Harry home a bit each day. It is probably more harmful if he is rarely left alone because you aren't able to work on the problem.
Ignore him for about 15 minutes before you are going to leave. Put him in his crate, show no hesitancy or doubt on your part, give him his treat, and leave. Just go get the mail or take a walk around the block. Come back in, make him be quiet before you let him out of the crate, then ignore him for another 15 minutes. It is hard because they will do everything they can to get their attention, but do ignore him. Eventually, you probably won't have to ignore him, but that will be quite awhile. Increase the amount of time that you are gone.
Has Harry been through obedience class? I so strongly recommend this for dogs with SA. It helped improve D's confidence so much. We were at a M&G and one of his trainers came in and could not believe it was the same dog. It is also good for the dog to know commands like sit and down for when you come home and he is really excited.
Increase exercise. This helped us so much. I made those walks so much longer. If Harry is tired, he is much more likely to sleep.
Those are the big ones that really helped in our situation. Here's the list that I put together. Make sure you really examine your environment to see what could affect the anxiety- for Demps, one of the things turned out to be the answering machine.
Invest in a Kong or two (at pet stores), it will become your best friend. Fill the Kong with goodies- dog cookies, etc and seal with peanut butter, cream cheese, or plain yogurt. I found that Dempsey had fewer pooping accidents if we did not use kibble in the Kong. Give your dog the Kong every time you leave him/her alone and pick it up again as soon as you get home. You can even freeze the Kong so that it lasts longer. Your dog will learn to associate your departure with getting a yummy treat. It took some time, but Dempsey now gets excited when he is left alone- because he knows he's getting a treat!
If you crate your dog, do not crate only when you leave him/her alone. Crate your dog while you are in the room watching television, cleaning, or doing whatever. You may want to even consider feeding your dog in the crate. Give treats in the crate. If you only crate when leaving your dog home alone, she/he will learn to associate the crate with being home alone- not what you want! Make the crate a positive place to be.
Do not, do not, do not make a big deal out of coming and going. If you spend a lot of time loving on your dog before leaving or when you first arrive home, s/he will get excited and think it's a big deal. You want your dog to learn that you leaving or getting home is nothing to be excited about. Before you leave, ignore your dog for about 15 minutes. Do not give attention, pet, etc right before you leave. Also, when you get home, ignore your dog for about 10 - 15 minutes. I know this can seem really mean, but it is best for your dog in the long run. In addition, it is probably a good idea to act neutral as well when your dog is going along with you so s/he continue to think departures are no big deal.
Obedience class can help build confidence a lot. We took an 8 week class over the summer and the instructors were pretty surprised by how Dempsey really came out of his shell and quit cowering behind me. And hey, it can't hurt to have a dog who knows how to sit and stay! Make sure you practice at home as well. Practicing commands can be a nice way of bonding with your dog, increasing confidence, and tiring him/her out before you leave!
Does your dog try to be in constant proximity of you? It may seem cute and sweet but do not encourage it. Dempsey used to have to have some part of his body always touching mine. Made it pretty difficult to even go to the bathroom! Gradually work on putting some physical distance between you and your dog- scoot away on the couch or sit in a different chair. If your dog constantly has to be touching you, how will you make it to work? Dempsey used to follow me up and down the stairs constantly- he couldn't be alone in a room for even a few seconds! (This may not be unusual when your dog first arrives, but when it continues, it can be a problem). Work on this as well- go to the bathroom alone and shut the door all the way, go upstairs, etc. Work on being out of sight of your dog, increasing the amount of time you are in different rooms from each other.
Where does your dog sleep? If she/he sleeps in your bed, you might want to consider a doggie bed. Put your dog's bed next to yours or in the same room and encourage the dog to sleep there. (I know this is hard, especially during winter since greyhounds sure are warm!)
Does your dog have problems with defecating or urinating in the house or crate? This was the part of Dempsey's separation anxiety that stuck around the longest. Nothing seemed to work. I moved his bed to the area (right in front of the door) where he kept pooping. He would just go on top of his bed and finally ruined the bed. What helped the most was to feed him in this spot and keep his dishes there. It's a pain since it's right near the door, but it was SO worth it! Make sure you clean the area as best as you can so there is no remaining smell to encourage future peeing or pooping. Take the dog out of the room while you clean (and light some candles for your own benefit!). Also, make sure you have learned your dog's schedule and when he/she needs to actually go (usually about 20 minutes or so after eating, if you feed commercial kibble) and give him/her opportunity to go.
The window blinds or curtains can be important to consider. I used to always leave the blinds open, thinking it would reassure Dempsey to see outside. Although this does work for some dogs, it was not for Dempsey. As soon as I started leaving the blinds closed, he did better. Now, if he wants to see outside, he peaks around the edge of the blinds. I live in an apartment building and the windows face the parking lot. With people constantly coming and going, I think it was just too much excitement for him!
Do not be afraid to ask your vet about medication. Dempsey was on Clomicalm for about 5 months. One month's supply is about $35. After about 4 months, I cut the dose in half and after another month, he was completely off of it. He showed no side effects whatsoever from the Clomicalm. If you do decide to use this medication, expect up to a month or two to see effects. If Clomicalm doesn't work, there are other medications available. Rescue Remedy is another thing to consider and is safe as well (available at GNC). Our holistic vet gave us a combination of Bach remedies and this seemed to help as well. If you are not satisfied by the response from your vet, go on to another one!
Try leaving a piece of clothing that you have recently worn with your dog. Your scent may help to keep him/her calm. Favorite stuffed animals may also help calm your dog. Even an old shoe might help. Dempsey loves to carry shoes around and sleeps with his nose in them (gross, I know, but he doesn't chew!).
Exercise!! Increase your dog's amount of exercise- a tired dog is a sleeping dog! And exercise is good for you, too! I know that in the morning, it can be difficult to increase exercise and still allow the recommended 2 hours before/after feeding. Do the best you can. (Here is where obedience classes help, you can just practice commands as extra exercise!).
Are there cues that signal your departures? Mess with these. Carry your keys around and jingle them, carry your purse around, put your shoes on, put some make-up on (but don't leave!). I sometimes shower at night and sometimes in the morning- just to confuse Dempsey. I put my make-up on at work and don't blow dry my hair very often. Dog's pick up on these cues and try to predict when you'll be leaving. Dempsey used to sit on the couch with pure panic on his face when I got out of the shower in the mornings (and it wasn't from the towel on my head!)
Try leaving the TV or radio on when you leave your dog behind. The noise can help keep outside noises at a minimum and also be comforting to your dog. I quickly learned that Dempsey didn't like being alone in the dark (weird dog) so I leave a light or TV on when I go somewhere at night.
I make sure that the volume on my answering machine is off when I leave. When I am home and it goes off, Dempsey gets excited. It is probably confusing to dogs to hear their owner's voice, but not be able to find him/her!
Does your dog like toys? Leave several out each day, but vary them day to day so he/she gets different ones each day.
Do you need other people to talk to about this? There is now a mailing list at www.egroups.com called k9sepanx for humans who have dogs with separation anxiety. A great place to get new ideas from or just vent!
Keep a journal. Since Dempsey's main problem after his anxiety had decreased some, was pooping every time he was left alone, I had to vary his diet and when he ate. Keeping track of everything he ate, when, how much, etc and writing down messes/getting into things, etc really helped me pay attention to what I was doing.
Do you have access to a videocamera? Stick it out of reach of your dog and have it record while you are gone. Usually, if the dog is going to do something, it is within the first 30 minutes or so of departure. Actually being able to see what your dog is doing might give you some insight into what to try.
PS- I forgot, the journaling was a HUGE help in figuring out what was going on with Dempsey. And lots of wine!
May 30th, 2006, 08:37 AM
Wow OntarioGreys, thanks for all that! That is excellent advice and now we have so much to go on and to try! That's exactly what we needed! We will try it all starting today! I'm happy to say we have done most of the things! We took Rex to puppy school, and then he graduated to highschool, and in the summer he'll be in an agility class as we think he'll just love that, he loves to jump, lol... and he knows his commands very well, he can stay for up to an hour if we tell him to and won't budge. He won awards in his class for staying the longest even with distractions and being called by someone else, so he's real good at all that. He is an extremely quick learner. He seems to have pretty good confidence. He plays real well with other dogs and never shys away or anything. He never looks panicked or anything when we're leaving, infact he does get very excited b/c he knows he'll get a stuffed kong. We have video taped him before and he used to push his crate around for an hour when we first left. He would bark and jump up and down trying to push the door but would be pushing the actual crate. After we started giving him stuffed kongs, that replaced that first hour as he was busy with his kong for a good hour and then would go to sleep, unfortunately I can only tape for 2 hours so I don't know what happens after that. It almost looks like he just wants to get out, it doesn't look like he's freaking out, or panicking, he looks just determined to get out, does that make sense? But we have come home often and hear him howling or barking, which is sooo not like him, he never ever makes a peep when he's with us, doesn't bark at anything, even the doorbell.. I know that closing our curtains definitely helped, we left them open as we thought it would be nicer for him but soon realized he could probably see people and make him worse, so we keep them closed during the day. I think we will talk to our vet and see what our options are. It gives us hope to know that this stuff helped you and worked for your doggy:) Thanks for taking the time to write, we really appreciate it! I think the hardest parts are knowing that its stressing him out, and that he pee's everyday in his crate. So everytime we come home he's covered in it.. Thats real hard, and we can't always bath him b/c thats not good for him, so we're constantly cleaning him off with a cloth, but its just horrible to know he's sitting in it:( He never poo's so thats one thing to be thankful for right? lol...