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What to do about incredible separation anxiety?

November 1st, 2007, 09:18 AM
I have a puppy who is approximately 7-8 months old. I also have 2 cats, aged 1 and 2 years.

When I first got the puppy, things were pretty good. We both work full time, so when were out of the house, we left her in our downstairs "mud room" area because the floors are linoleum and if she had an accident, it was easy to clean. On an average day, Im the last to leave the house at 9am and my wife is the first to return home around 4:30-5pm.

This was working well, and for the beginning potty training days, she slept in that room as well. Its a pretty large room, maybe 12' x 15', but has no windows so we always made sure to give her some food and water, toys and her bed. During the day we left the lights and radio on.

Things were going well.

Once we had her fleas and potty training under control, we moved her bed up to our bedroom. She slept on the floor on her bed every evening.
Things were still going well.

Pretty soon she decided to move up onto the bed with us. We have made sure that she knows shes not allowed on the bed without us being there first, and she is very good at waiting. She started sleeping at the edge, but has since moved closer and closer up to the top to where she is now practically like a third person.

Here is where the problem starts. She has gotten so "attached" to being around us, sleeping with us, playing with us, etc, that when we leave in the morning, she gets extremely depressed. She still stays in her room during the day because I dont want her to have access to electrical cords/furniture/etc. But when I put her in the room, she starts shaking very badly then starts almost hypervenilating. She starts whining horribly and this progresses eventually to howling.

I thought this was cute and made me feel very "loved" at first but now Im actually worried about her during the day. What can I do to help her with this separation anxiety she seems to be having?

November 1st, 2007, 11:55 AM
Maybe on a day you're off work, or after work in the evenings, you can begin to introduce a new way of thinking for your furry friend.

Do you have her in that room for anything else other than just keeping her there while you are out of the house? I may be wrong, and this is just an idea, but maybe she associates that room only with you leaving?

I think you might be able to try the sit/stay command, leave for a few minutes, then come back. Over and over and over again, gradually increasing time you are away. Just leave and make no additional fuss. After a while, she will begin to see that although you go away, you're going to come back, and then it will be no big deal. Do this is other places as well and not always in that room. Make it a family affair too, and have everyone practice the go away/come back scenario.

Bring in some new associations/memory with the room that are not negative. Are there toys in there? What about the thing called a kong, which looks like a giant hollow cow pile in different colors. If you do a web search for "kong" it will be near the top in results, can't miss it.

Also, there's the Cesar Millan, Dog Whisperer, method where he says dogs sense your emotions and energy. Now I'm not saying I agree with 100% of what he does, but the energy and emotions part I do, because it's the nature of our reality. Everything is energy. The human heart projects an electromagnetic field, as does the brain. This has been scientifically measured. If that is not the case, then there wouldn't be any need for medical EKGs and EEGs, which are designed to measure electrical energy emitting from the body to aid in medical diagnosis. All of nature is tied into sensing energy, including humans. But humans have this left-brained logical side which gets in the way and doubts feelings and instincts, leading to rationalizing every move.

So, are you feeling mega guilty about leaving your dog in this room when you go to work because of her reaction? She's most likely sensing this and feeding it back to you in the form of freaking out. Then you feel worse, feed that energy back to her, and she then brings the anxiety to a higher and higher level as this continues on back and forth.

Instead of feeling guilty, begin to emit a new kind of energy. The kind of energy that feels positive, intentional, yet calm. Pretend you're Superman or any kind of hero you admire that represents positive energy. Practice the body language of confidence. Make every action intentional and void of doubt. Cats do this a lot. They get into situations where something happens to them like falling off a shelf or bed after rolling around and then afterwards, they look at you like, "I meant to do that." lol

Another thing Cesar says, is don't give affection while the dog is in a frantic state, because then the dog will associate freaking out with affection which might cement the behavior.

I'm sure other people will also have an opinion. So by all means do some research, see what others have to say and then make up your own mind. I'm not an "expert," per se, but an avid reader of anything regarding the science and study of energy fields. Anything you try won't bring success overnight, but it can happen. I just wanted to share my point of view.

Post pics!!

November 1st, 2007, 01:12 PM
A puppy that age has so much energy. Is there any chance of getting someone to walk him in the middle of the day? I realize this doesn't address the separation anxiety but it may help.

November 1st, 2007, 03:17 PM
Thanks for the advice so far, I really appreciate it!

To answer soem of your questions:

We always leave a fully loaded kong with food + a little peanut butter in there when we leave. its the only thing that gets her excited about entering the room in the first place. It used to be empty when we camehome, but now it seems like she saves it until we get home.

We also always leave plenty of toys. She has a few stuffed animals, her bed, and some rawhides.

Walking during the day would be good, but i dont necessarily think its an energy issue. She gets a LOT of excercise (daily walks of at least 2-4 miles + open field off leash running on weekends) Unfortunately, we also dont have a lot of extra income as we are saving for rainy day type stuff at the moment (med expesnes, vet bills, etc)