Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Separation anxiety

maggiemay
April 20th, 2007, 09:49 AM
HI,
My dog has separation anxiety, I doubt that its a really severe case but it is still a hassle. She shreds my things, goes poop, pants heavily, and sometimes chews off her fur (although she hasnt done that in a while thankfully). The funny thing is is that I live with my parents and even if they are both home and just I leave she still freaks out. Starts whining and what not. So its not just being alone its that she is so attached to me she just doenst know what to do when I am not there. So I want her time away from me to not be so stressful because it makes me so sad when I leave and shes giving me those eyes... ahhh
I was wondering if anyone knew of a site that had a great training schedule/technique that would help desensitize her and hopefulyl help her relax. I am willing to do whatever it takes. Except drugs her...I dont want a dog thats stoned all of the time. That should of course be a last resort.
I called my vet about it already and they gave me a few numbers to call, which I have tried but no one calls me back. they must be sooper busy so I thought this would be something to try until they get to me.

Thanks

JanM
April 20th, 2007, 10:59 AM
Given my success with, granted, only one of the Tenderfoot Training techniques, I suggest going to their website - Google Tenderfoot Training and you'll find them. Good luck - it's a very upsetting situation for you!

SuperWanda
April 20th, 2007, 03:05 PM
Our first dog has separation anxiety. We actually got our secong dog to keep her company but she is still the type of dog that just doesn't settle down while we are out - she basically is on high alert waiting for our return. She is now 8 and I find that she has somewhat calmed down with age.

When she was younger she would damage things, poo and pee in the house and bark and howl the entire time - we set up a video recorder to see what she was doing and it was really heartbreaking. She still cannot sleep while we are gone but she does not damage things or have accidents anymore. :)

Sometimes she still barks and howls - she does this more when we are out in the evening but not so much during the day - I think we are upsetting her bedtime routine. I find dogs like this to be extremely sensitive and very smart. They pick up on everything you do and say and that can sometimes lead to anxiety because they can sense when you are preparing to leave, etc.

We adopted her from the humane society and they believe in kennelling - a nice quiet, safe environment to be while you're out which can also work wonders for many dogs. We were an exception and our humane society actually recommended to not kennel her because of the abuse she suffered as a puppy. With her - a little more space was the comfort she needed so she had the kitchen and bedroom.

Some things to try that have really worked for us is preparing a really good treat when you leave. We have a kong that we stuff with canned food, peanut butter, cheese and freeze it solid so it keeps her busy for awhile. It also serves as a distraction to our leaving her.

You can also try leaving for shorter periods of time so she can see that you do return before she begins to panic. You might have to start with just a few min. and work the time up. I found my girl would panic even if I went to the bathroom - being separated from me just by the door was hard for her.

Another thing to try - and this one I found hard to do because often dogs with anxiety issues love attention! If you can ignore her a little while when you first come home that might help. If you make a big fuss over her that can actually increase anxiety because she feels so dependent on you.

Exercise has been my lifesaver - if you can get her out for some exercise before you go out it may help to reduce the anxiety.

I don't have a specific site but if you just goggle "dog separation anxiety" you can find a lot of tips.

It is a very difficult thing to deal with and can be very frustrationg - I still find it hard becasue she seems to demand so much more attention and preparation than my other dog. But she has really given us a lot and we love her so much! There is also a lot of guilt associated with this because you feel upset that the dog is upset!

Good luck and I hope you are able to find some more ideas that help!

SableCollie
April 20th, 2007, 10:09 PM
Separation anxiety can be tough. Patricia McConnell has a book called "I'll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety" that's pretty good. You may have to work with a behaviorist if this is a severe case, and you may want to look into anti-anxiety meds (not sedatives), these meds do not "drug" a dog, they are the same medications used for anxiety in humans. (I have taken anxiety meds, and I did not feel "drugged" or "stoned" in the least.)

Here's a general overview of separation anxiety, and the usual techniques used.
http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/our_pets_for_life_program/dog_behavior_tip_sheets/separation_anxiety.html

maggiemay
April 21st, 2007, 10:13 AM
Thanks for your replys. I have started doing the 30 sec to a min leaving thing and she is responding a little bit, the trainer I contacted returned my call and gave me a schedule to follow. Like I leave her in the kennel and sit in the room, she doesnt whine but she is panting. I put a kong with peanut butter in her kennel but she ignores it. I guess she is not really food motivated, maybe I will try a beefjerkey and cheese blend instead. I almost have to crate her because if she is closed off in a room I know that she will destroy anything she can reach. But hopefully this works. Its really hard, like you said I am distressed because she is sooo upset. I feel bad for leaving her. I take her where I can but there are a lot of places she can just not go. Also I am afraid shell tear up my car. I wouldnt be surprises if she did. I exercise her all of the time, we go running together at least every other day and go on walks everyday. so I dunno she is just an anxious dog. But we are working on it. I mean she is only a little over a year so hopefully age will also calm her down but I am not sure that I can wait until she is 8:)

SuperWanda
April 21st, 2007, 12:04 PM
Good luck - it sounds like you are on the right track!

Sorry, I should clarify that it didn't take our dog 8 years to stop destroying things or poo and pee in the house. She hasn't done that for a very long time! But she still waits and watches for us and will sometimes bark and howl in the evening when we are out late. It is not possible for her to just take it easy and have a sleep while we are out like our other dog.

Age has allowed her to overcome some of the anxiety but my vet thinks she will always have more anxiety than the average dog. But I can live with that as long as she is not hurting herself or destroying things.

I have a gate in my car that keeps the dogs in the back but when I stop and get out to grab something at the store - she barks and whines like crazy. My other dog just sits there calmly.

Your dog is still very young so hopefully she will outgrow some of this and feel more comfortable with her routine as time goes on!

tenderfoot
April 23rd, 2007, 03:52 PM
Awesome that you have your parents there to help!

She is over bonded to you. If your parents are up for it they need to get more involved. They need to start creating a relationship with her that goes beyond the occassional pat on the head. They would do well to feed her, groom her, play with her and do training with her. You would do well to stop giving quite so much attention to her. Right now you feel responsible for her every breath and she knows that. She feels that strong connection and it feeds her insecurities.

This is also about creating boundaries that she must stay outside of. Example - you are in the kitchen and she is out of the kitchen. You are on the couch and she is 2 feet away from you. She needs to get out of the habit of being a 'velcro' dog and learn to become independent. Right now she believes you are her only life line, and she needs to know she has her own life line.

It is going to feel like tough love to you at first but as you see her starting to relax, and be away from you - you will both reap the rewards.

Don't hesitate to call us if you want to chat about the little details. We take calls 7 days a week - 9am -9pm Colorado time.