Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Hi , I need advice on helping my dog cope with an anxiety problem.

sweetums1967
February 26th, 2007, 06:46 PM
Hi, my name is Kim and need some advice. My dog ,Ashes is a 6yr. old husky-lab mix. He is a wonderful dog was always left home alone and not confined anywhere in the house without any incident until last summer. He was left alone for a few hours and when we got home we found that he had tried to chew the picture window. After that things just got worse. He has chewed the drywall by the patio door,tore blinds to shreds etc. I went to the vet got medication,still no use . They finially convinced me to crate him and suggested a plastic crate ,so about an hr. or so before we leave we medicate him and put him in the crate just before we leave. When we are gone he chews the crate. He has a long narrow hole along the floor and up to one side, eventually he will get out. We put toys ,kong(with peanutbutter),rawhide bones etc. in with him ,but he only has interest in them when we are home.We don`t put him in the crate any other time, only when we are leaving the house. His longest time in the crate might be 5hrs. and he isn`t in it day after day. Never tied him outside(afraid he`ll get loose and our road is very busy). Anybody out there have any ideas?Thanks...Kim

~michelle~
February 26th, 2007, 08:44 PM
is there an animal behaviourist you can contact in your area? maybe can help find the reason to new found anxiety

luckypenny
February 26th, 2007, 09:28 PM
I really empathize with your situation. It sounds like something must have happened last summer that triggered this anxiety in Ashes. What medication is he on? Is it just a calmant or anti-anxiety meds? Having him medicated will only work if you practice de-sensitization and re-conditioning to help your dog overcome this extreme anxiety. It would be ideal if you videotape him while you are out to give you a base-line to work with and to see if there is something that is triggering this behavior. You'll also be able to see how long he is capable of staying alone before he begins to panic. Keep a lookout for excessive panting, drooling, and yawning as these may be indications of increasing anxiety. I agree with michelle that you ought to seek help from a veterinary behaviorist (not just a trainer) so that he/she can help assess the situation and prescribe the appropriate medication if needed.

In the meantime, maybe Ashes should get used to the crate while you are at home with him beginning with only a few minutes at a time. Give him his favorite chew toy, Kong, etc but remove it once you have let him out of his crate. You'll want to re-condition him to associate the crate with good feelings. Once he's comfortable in his crate while you are at home, try leaving the house for 30 seconds or so. Don't make a big deal when you leave. Just say something matter-of-factly like "I'll be back." Don't linger around, just leave. When you enter the house, again, don't make a big deal of it. Leave him in his crate for a few extra minutes then let him out. Try to increase your exit time by an extra 20 seconds or so everyday. This is only the beginning and it can sometimes take months before a dog is comfortable being left alone once again. Is there someone you can leave Ashes with while you are away for longer periods of time? A neighbour, friend, or dog-sitter? This will help him a great deal while you work on this exercise.

You can find a qualified behaviorist if you contact a veterinary college in your area. Good luck, be patient, and please keep us informed.

coppperbelle
February 26th, 2007, 09:39 PM
The problem sounds like separation anxiety. I had the same problem with one of my dogs. I could not crate her because on top of the separation anxiety she was claustrophobic.
Dogs pick up on our routines so your guys probably knows you are going out long before you actually do. From that time on he will being building his anxiety so by the time you actually do leave he is frantic. It is important to not make a big deal of your comings and goings. Put him in his crate and just say something like "bye" and then leave. When you come home ignore him especially if he is jumping around excited to see you. Just let him out of his crate and go about doing a few things. You can give him attention when he calms down. Try doing practice exits from the house. Grab your keys put on your coat and then take it off and sit on the couch. Once he doesn't react to this and it could take a little while try leaving the house for a few seconds and then coming right back in. The idea is to gradually be able to increase the time you are out of the house without him reacting. If he begins to react, go back and start over again. It is a long process but it works.

sweetums1967
February 27th, 2007, 09:33 PM
Thanks to everyone for the advice. I will let you know how things are going. Thanks again...Kim