Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Preparing for change in schedules

Mgue
November 18th, 2008, 10:38 AM
My dog is Ozzy, he's 6 months old and he's a Lab/Cocker spaniel that we got from a rescue.

Currently my fiance works evenings and I work days, so someone is always home with Ozzy. We used to leave him alone for 2-3 hours a day a few days each week, but then we had an incident a few weeks ago where he barked & howled & cried the entire time we were gone (2 hours). We live in a condo and got a noise complaint - his anxiety level was extremely high and neighbours thought he was hurt from the high-pitched noises he was making.

Well since then, we haven't left him alone at home because 1) his anxiety was so high and 2) we can't do that to our neighbors. So we take him with us or drop him off at our parents. This, of course, isn't teaching him anything about being alone and is actually making the problem worse.

Come December 1, my fiance & I will both be working days and Ozzy will be left alone for about 9 hours. This will be about 3 days per week, since I can usually work from home 1-2 days a week. We could put him in a doggie daycare, but probably can only afford once per week.

Also we can't leave him alone in the condo in case he barks, so we are actually planning to crate him at my sister-in-law's house during the day. No one is home, but at least his barking won't be a disturbance. There is another dog there, a very calm & trained dog, and I'm not sure if that will make it better or worse. He can't really be trusted to be left out of the crate, and he can easily jump a standard baby gate so confining him to a space won't really work either.

I'm really concerned about this change and how he will take it. 1) he isn't used to being alone at all, 2) he won't be able to hold it for that long, 3) he isn't used to being in his crate that much (just at night & in the car).

I'd really love if we could leave him crated in the condo because most days I can come home early and then he wouldn't have to be crated for 9 hours. BUT, we can't have him barking while we are gone, especially starting at 7:30am. So I feel really stuck & at a loss, and I don't know what to do...

Any advice?

bendyfoot
November 18th, 2008, 10:42 AM
You need to look up some tips on managing separation anxiety, 'cause that's what you're dealing with here...not an area that I'm super-knowledgable about (in terms of desensitisation) others hopefully will chime in with some help...

Mgue
November 18th, 2008, 08:43 PM
Thanks, I know - I need to fix his separation anxiety...

I've started working on it today. I'm using some tips from a local shelter - here's the link if anyone is interested...

http://www.winnipeghumanesociety.ca/yelp_Line/dogs/separation_anxiety.php#what

I'd love to hear from others that have dealt with this issue about what worked best, didn't work, etc... Thanks!

Mgue
December 2nd, 2008, 12:46 PM
Well here it is - time to crate Ozzy all day, and his separation anxiety is at an all-time high. I thought it was just with me, but he's done it with my fiance and his parents' absences too. Ozzy spent a few days at my fiance's parents while we were out of town, and they left Ozzy inside the house when they were outside in the yard. Even though he could see them, he barked, whined, and soiled their house! So his attachment issues go beyond me.

Our biggest problem is that he barks, whines, howls, and cries - excessively and almost constantly the entire time we are gone.

This begins within 10 minutes of us leaving. It occurs despite a long walk, being fed & watered, having toys in the crate, and being given a treat, having the TV on, and not making a big deal of leaving.

We NEED to be able to leave this dog at home alone during the day. But right now, with the barking, that is not an option.

So we have to leave him at my sister-in-law's house in a crate. This is a huge inconvenience for us, to spend an extra hour per day transporting him to a strange house to be left alone. PLUS if he was at our home he'd only have to be crated for a maximum 8.5 hours til I got home, and at her house, it'll always be 9.5 hours.

We have tried SA techniques, like leaving for a few minutes & returning. He did well on it for up to 10 minutes, but only when he was out of his crate. If we put him in his crate, he eats the treat we leave him and then begins barking (within 10 minutes of leaving). As mentioned in a PP, he will be able to jump any standard barricades to block him in a room and could get into things & hurt himself.

PLUS the big issue here is his barking. Whether we leave him out of the crate or not, he cannot BARK like he is doing in our condo.

Obviously we can't live our whole lives carting our dog around from place to place so he is never alone. So, we're desperate and at a loss - this could mean having to give him back to the shelter because he can't be left alone and we are over-extending our family's graces in helping us.

We're going to the vet today to get anxiety medication (hopefully) even though he is only 6 months old. It kills me. And I don't know if it will work. I'm mostly needing to vent, but any advice is appreciated too!

diandpat
December 2nd, 2008, 12:54 PM
Oh my goodness, what a stressful situation for all involved. :grouphug:

What type of medicine is the vet prescribing? How old was Ozzy and what were the circumstances of his adoption? Was the shelter aware of his SA?

I really really wish I could help you because I know how much you love Ozzy and it would be awful to be facing such stress.

Hopefully someone else will be able to offer some guidance or advice. Perhaps even the shelter, if you were to call and tell them what was happening.

Good luck and keep us posted :goodvibes::goodvibes:

Mgue
December 2nd, 2008, 01:01 PM
I spoke to the receptionist at the vet, and she said the vet will likely prescribe clomicalm but first they will examine the dog & run bloodwork.

Ozzy was rescued as a puppy from an irresponsible breeder. He was 12 weeks when he went into a foster hom with his brother. We adopted him at 15 weeks, and weren't told anything about his SA. We used to leave him for short absences (1-3 hours). That is, until he had a 2-hour bark-fest and since then, someone has pretty much been with him always.

I'm feeling stressed because the situation is really alienating the dog from all of us people trying to take care of him.

I would really like to leave him at home, but I can't risk the barking so I have to put him at my SIL's house, which isn't solving the problem! It's a vicious cycle!

Mgue
December 3rd, 2008, 12:12 PM
So the vet prescribed an anti-anxiety as well as an anti-depressant (one is clomicalm, don't know the name of the other). We give the clomicalmn twice daily, and the other one an hour before leaving. He said it could take up to 3 weeks to notice a difference, and we'd gradually wean him off it as he gets better with being left alone, hopefully within a few months.

Today is Ozzy's first day being crated. My fiance is a driver and can stop in to let him out if he is in the area, but if not then Ozzy will be alone all day. Luckily, my fiance was able to stop in around 11:30am (since leaving him at 7:30am). No accidents, and he was let out to play & pee. But when he went back in the crate, he was barking up a storm! I hope the little guy settles down, and enjoys his afternoon treat (a bone stuffed with treats).

diandpat
December 3rd, 2008, 12:20 PM
Mgue, this must all be so difficult on you and your fiance. Hopefully the drugs will calm him down some. It must be difficult but you really need to act very "matter a fact" when you are leaving him so he can pick up on that energy.

Ancientgirl used some drugs to calm down a stray that she was trying to integrate into her pack. It seems to have worked as the cat can now roam in the house without killing anyone. :fingerscr that you have the same success with Ozzy.

A bit more patience and I am sure it will work out fine.
:grouphug:

Mgue
December 5th, 2008, 07:33 AM
Thanks for the support! Being able to talk about it on here and get advice & well wishes makes it much easier.

We aren't noticing too much of a change in Ozzy yet - they said it could take 2-3 weeks. But he is managing okay, and in the evenings we give him lots of play and a good walk. My fiance was able to let him out again yesterday mid-day so that is good - no accidents and it doesn't seem he is trying to escape his crate, so those are positives!

I think the medication is making him really thirsty though - he is drinking a lot more water!

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice!!

Longblades
December 5th, 2008, 07:43 AM
There are bark stopper things you can get. Here is a link to one: http://pestcontrol.netfirms.com/Q&A_SBS_SBF.htm I am not recommending them but have heard of them being used by not only the dog's owner but by neighbours of the offending dog. You will have to check for yourself if they might do damage to your dog's ears, are merely a stop gap measure, work etc. It's just something I've heard of and have no other knowledge of. Maybe someone else here has some practical knowledge of them?

Dog Dancer
December 5th, 2008, 02:50 PM
The drugs you are using are generally used in conjunction with some serious training to address the issue. Just by themselves you will probably not get the end results you are looking for. I have an 11 year old Akita X with extreme separation anxiety, and she's been that way for ten years now. We tried her out with the Chlomicalm when she was young, but she was like a zombie when she was on them and everybody thought she was sick so we stopped using it. She has been through all levels of obedience and we did all the come in go out exercises our behaviorist recommended to us, plus more obedience classes (a waste of time as she's got it). So for many years now she's gone to day care, had baby sitters when we went out, and now she camps out with me at my office (thanks boss). You may be fortunate that barking is your only issue, my girl is destructive to house and her own body in her efforts to get out of the house if she's left alone. I wish you huge success with Ozzy, but want you to be aware that the drugs alone may not get you the results you need. But maybe they will, I don't know. I only know from my experience they were to be part of an intensive training program as well. You truly do have my understanding and I appreciate that you're making such a huge effort to help Ozzy out by hauling him around to leave him at somebody's house. Keep up the good effort and hopefully it will all work out. Poor Ozzy, we know just how he feels.

Mgue
December 10th, 2008, 02:11 PM
Sorry, I should have mentioned - the vet did say that we must use behavior modification as well, that the drugs alone aren't enough. The goal is the medication will calm him down enough that he will be receptive to training him to being left alone. So, alone during the day throughout the week, and hopefully he will get used to it. Then in the evenings and weekends, put him in the crate and leave for a few minutes. Even when we are home, putting him in the crate and correcting him if he barks or whines.

The good news is the medication is not making him a zombie or anything. He seems pretty much the same. I've only noticed two things that I'm not sure are connected to the medication - his eyes have always been goopy, but lately the goop is thicker and more gooey. Before it was mostly dark in color, and now it is yellowy-white. His eyes are totally clear and no sign of any infection or other problems, so not sure what the increased goop means.

Another thing he's done a couple of times is had accidents. I was getting ready to take him outside and he was sitting patiently waiting, and all of a sudden he started to pee. Then twice when I was taking him outside (we live in a condo, so down the stairs and out the side), he went pee at the door to get outside. This time he crouched to pee, so I'm not sure why he did that instead of waiting a few more steps. And the other day when he was relaxing with my brother in law, he started to pee while laying down. Not sure why that happened either.

Dog Dancer
December 10th, 2008, 02:58 PM
I would call the vet and mention the goopy eyes and urinating issues. It can't hurt to ask them. The peeing sounds like it could be related, maybe the drugs make him more thirsty? Please be sure you don't scold him when he has an accident, just a sharp "No" if you see him starting then rush him outside. The sharp no should be enough to get his attention and generally that will stop the flow. Good luck to you with these issues though. I'm glad that the vet recommended the training with the drugs, I was worried they had not and I know they need to be combined. Is it going okay other than these issues?? And all the driving...