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puppy goes crazy when alone

peeboysowner
March 25th, 2011, 06:15 PM
Hi, I'm really going crazy with my new puppy. He is currently 4 months old and we got him 1 month ago. Ever since he came home, he freaks out when he's alone(he yips and cries and scratches his paws bloody). The breeder socialized him with people and pets but she admits that he had never spent a second alone previously.

This is what I've been doing since day one:
2 kongs with frozen peanut butter, treats, kibble, awesome stuff (he doesn't touch it when he's alone)
nylabone
blanket on the crate
soft classical music
never making a fuss when I come or go
a shirt with my smell on it
his favourite teddy bear
a clock
away from the door where there is less noise
Never acknowledging him until he's quiet (which is immediately after I open the door, he will not stop barking until I open the door. I have waited at my door for 6 hours once in frustration and he only stopped to catch his breath for 10 econds)

I have gotten him used to me putting my jacket on and getting my keys and leaving. I will leave for short periods of time and try to come back before he starts barking (or wait at the door until he's quiet for at least 1 minute) but he is quiet for 0-30 minutes (30 is his max), if he'll be quiet or not really varies for no apparent reason. He's attending 2 puppy classes at 2 different places, goes to the dog park every morning for an hour, gets walked/played with for 4 hours a day and isn't lacking anything as far I can tell.

I live in an appartment building and I left a note 1 week before getting the dog, telling them that he might whine for the first few nights and that I was apologizing in advance. Well, it's been a month and NO change. He's home alone 4 hours a day and I have recorded him, he barks the entire 4 hours! unfortunately, those 4 hours are 6-10pm so I'm sure he's disrupting neighbours. I really don't know what to do. Other than that though, he is the best behaved dog in both puppy classes and has had 1 accident since he came home. He has fabulous recall too! But all of this won't help if I get evicted. What can I do short of a shock collar?

akaJenT
March 25th, 2011, 06:33 PM
Hi, I'm really going crazy with my new puppy. He is currently 4 months old and we got him 1 month ago. Ever since he came home, he freaks out when he's alone(he yips and cries and scratches his paws bloody). The breeder socialized him with people and pets but she admits that he had never spent a second alone previously.

This is what I've been doing since day one:
2 kongs with frozen peanut butter, treats, kibble, awesome stuff (he doesn't touch it when he's alone)
nylabone
blanket on the crate
soft classical music
never making a fuss when I come or go
a shirt with my smell on it
his favourite teddy bear
a clock
away from the door where there is less noise
Never acknowledging him until he's quiet (which is immediately after I open the door, he will not stop barking until I open the door. I have waited at my door for 6 hours once in frustration and he only stopped to catch his breath for 10 econds)

I have gotten him used to me putting my jacket on and getting my keys and leaving. I will leave for short periods of time and try to come back before he starts barking (or wait at the door until he's quiet for at least 1 minute) but he is quiet for 0-30 minutes (30 is his max), if he'll be quiet or not really varies for no apparent reason. He's attending 2 puppy classes at 2 different places, goes to the dog park every morning for an hour, gets walked/played with for 4 hours a day and isn't lacking anything as far I can tell.

I live in an appartment building and I left a note 1 week before getting the dog, telling them that he might whine for the first few nights and that I was apologizing in advance. Well, it's been a month and NO change. He's home alone 4 hours a day and I have recorded him, he barks the entire 4 hours! unfortunately, those 4 hours are 6-10pm so I'm sure he's disrupting neighbours. I really don't know what to do. Other than that though, he is the best behaved dog in both puppy classes and has had 1 accident since he came home. He has fabulous recall too! But all of this won't help if I get evicted. What can I do short of a shock collar?

(biting lip) ever think about a second dog from a breed that might be more quiet?

Other than that, if it was me I would think about putting up flyers for a puppy co-op? I suggested that for my son when he only had the first puppy, instead he got a second pup. But you might look around for a local puppy with an owner with the same problem, not wanting to leave a pup home alone all day? Tag team. Anyone in the puppy classes or a post at the local vets, pet supply stores, etc?

SamIam
March 25th, 2011, 06:34 PM
A couple band-aid possibilities to start:
- Can you switch your blanket to a breathable foam comforter that will block out all light for him and a lot of the noise for your neighbours?
- Have you discussed medication with your vet, or researched homeopathic remedies for anxiety?
- Have you looked into daycare or puppy-sitting by any friends or relatives?

To start addressing the problem directly:
- Is he conditioned to a clicker?
- Can you create a situation where he barks while you are still home?

SamIam
March 25th, 2011, 06:38 PM
Also, what breed is he, what are you feeding him, and when are mealtimes and exercise times scheduled compared to your work hours?

Chris21711
March 25th, 2011, 06:47 PM
(biting lip) ever think about a second dog from a breed that might be more quiet?

That will really help the problem :laughing:

Other than that, if it was me I would think about putting up flyers for a puppy co-op? I suggested that for my son when he only had the first puppy, instead he got a second pup. But you might look around for a local puppy with an owner with the same problem, not wanting to leave a pup home alone all day? Tag team. Anyone in the puppy classes or a post at the local vets, pet supply stores, etc?

Puppy classes :thumbs up

Stinkycat
March 25th, 2011, 06:58 PM
It sounds like you're giving him a bit too much while could lead to a spoiled/demanding dog. Keep the rewards (walking, treats, praise, socializing ect) small and simple.

You're definitely on the right road though, but I honestly believe you're over thinking everything and need to take a step back and relax.

Day #1 - Take away everything but a blanket for 1 day (kinda like a vacation from all these things)

Day #2 - Dedicate a few hours of your time. Play with him and get him good and tired, put him in the crate with a small kong filled with a tiny bit of PB smushed at the back. Leave him in the crate for 30 mins, bring him out and have a 10 min play or obedience. Put him back in for 30 mins, bring him back out and have a 20 min play, do this a couple more times (max 5).

Day #3 - Same thing as day #2 but this time in the crate for 40 mins with you near by, then a 10 min play session. Another 40 mins in the crate, then 20 min play session.

Keep adding 10-15 mins on each day until you're up to 1 hour with him in the crate and you near by.

OWNER OUT OF SIGHT
Day #6 - Next play with him so he's good and tired and put the pup in the crate and have you out of sight for 20 mins, come back and play for 10 mins. Another 20 mins in the crate with you out of sight.

Day #7 - Same thing but this time 30 mins with you out of sight and coming back and playing for 10 mins and back in the crate

Day #8 - Same thing but you just keep adding 10 mins on crate time.

And everytime your raise the criteria (go out of sight, pick up keys, open door) you have to decrease crate time and work it back up.

This training takes time but does work for the more socially reliant dogs.

The music thing only works if your dog is conditioned to it. Example: playing classical music when you're home so when you play it when you're gone he feels the same.

cell
March 25th, 2011, 07:04 PM
I have had the same issue with my dog, he was abandoned due to barking at the SPCA, I had had him a year, he still barks and freaks out when I leave. He shakes when he knows he is going to go in the kennel and he barks off and on the entire time, won't relax, drooling/panting, etc.
He is a bit calmer when out of the kennel, but he seems to get confused the first few times we leaving him in a different way, and once he gets use to it he is just as bad. I have tried rescue remedy and rest-ez with no real improvement (maybe a bit) so now I just let him deal with, it I tried everything you have, and we behave the same way (no enthusiastic greeting etc.)
Short of getting a new dog I doubt my dog's behavior will improve. If you are lucky yours will grow out of it which most puppies do, unfortunately my dog was 8 months and it seems this is just the way he is.

You might want to try leaving him in a safe room like a kitchen, and see if he is better

BenMax
March 26th, 2011, 01:29 AM
Separation anxiety...I know all about that with a 5 year old GSD.
Firstly, getting another dog is NOT going to tackle this problem. Medicating a dog so young..umm I don't know about that..nor do I think it's necessary. And a shock collar..NOOOO.

It sounds like you are doing everything right and possible..but I agree with StinkyCat about removing some of the items. It could possibly be over stimulating the dog and the dog may associate all these 'things' with you leaving.

Do you crate the puppy during the day while you are home? If not, I would start with that..this way the crate is not associated with anyone leaving.

My GSD would follow me EVERYWHERE during the day or evening. I would put him in his crate while home with his bone, then take him out and point to his outside bed to have his own space as well. He gradually got alittle more independant. One weekend I dedicated the whole time to him..hopefully to relieve him of his separation anxiety. I would put him in the crate, not say one word, TV was on, left..to the mail box and returned after one minute. I then gradually extended my time away. Upon arrival, I did not look at him, address him..nothing. I removed my coat, put on the coffee machine or whatever and after a period of time I would let him out of the crate.

Initially he would go nuts when I got back. Again I ignored his excited state and would not open the crate door until he chilled.

I would remove all cues (toys, blankets, clock..and whatever else in the crate) associating with you leaving. I would also consider changing the location of the crate as well..a new beginning let's say.

Crating while you are home is very important. This may curb the behaviour but it is very important that if the pup protests, do not approach the crate..put on headphones and ignor it. Don't give in.

SamIam
March 26th, 2011, 01:42 AM
BenMax - my suggestion of medication or homeopathic anxiety remedy was because anxiety to this level:
he ... scratches his paws bloody
may be beyond where he is even able to respond to training, and any training method depends on him being responsive. Ignore does not work with all dogs - he goes 6 hours straight, which is not healthy or useful.

BenMax
March 26th, 2011, 01:54 AM
BenMax - my suggestion of medication or homeopathic anxiety remedy was because anxiety to this level:

may be beyond where he is even able to respond to training, and any training method depends on him being responsive. Ignore does not work with all dogs - he goes 6 hours straight, which is not healthy or useful.

Self mutilation is a form of anxiety or something medical can be going on. Medication will not remedy unless assessed by a vet. So I should add to my post that the dog should be seen by a vet first and formost to remove the possibility that there is a underlying medical condition. I would not jump to anything homeopathic again without consulting with a vet that specializes in it. Too many people google the internet and give whatever to a dog without consulting the vets first.

You cannot tell me that ignoring the dog is not going to work if you don't try it first. If you dedicate one weekend then the dog will hopefully respond. Maybe not immediately, but hopefully there will be improvement.

Listen, I am the LAST person to say that ignoring is the best thing...but when it comes to separation anxiety it usually does help. I have this experience over and over again within the 90+ foster dogs I have had in my home...if it does not work I would not even bother suggesting it. I rather pass on hands on experience and testimony than to simply suggest getting another dog or medicating it.

BenMax
March 26th, 2011, 01:59 AM
Also, one must try to determine the underlying issue for the anxiety. Is it the fact that the person is leaving? Is it the crate? Has there been any difference of the person's schedule? Has there been any significiant changes in this person's regime..or the dogs? Has this been happening since day one? When the pup first came to the home..was the dog all 'loved up' initially, and at what point did the person decide ..ok now is the time for a routine? Is the dog exercised or walked..when?

Finding out the cause is what is equally important. So many unanswered questions on why the puppy has SA.

SamIam
March 26th, 2011, 02:24 AM
Listen, I am the LAST person to say that ignoring is the best thing...but when it comes to separation anxiety it usually does help.
Yes, maybe 95% successful, but doesn't leaving home for 4 hours daily for a month count as having tried already?

Finding out the cause is what is equally important.
A vet check is always a good idea when dealing with a dog with behaviour problems. I think a discussion of medical anxiety relief should be a part of that check, regardless of what decision is made following the discussion. Because the puppy is enrolled in puppy class already I expect vet care is at this time up to date.

At this point I believe it has gone beyond reason and has become a habit. The initial cause, confined, alone, whatever it was, caused a fear reaction. Puppy responded by yelling for mom's help and trying to dig his way out. 95% of the time, puppy gets worn out and stops crying, learns, well, mom didn't rescue me so no reward for screaming, no point repeating that, falls asleep, has good dreams, and next night crying is quieter and shorter-lasting, problem soon solved. Why do the other 5% instead work themselves into a frenzy? I don't know. Partly temperament for sure. The exact same problem occurs with human babies. :shrug:

My experience includes a dog I own, had from 8 weeks, who IS one of the 5%.

peeboysowner
March 26th, 2011, 09:09 AM
Hi, thanks for the help. I will try taking away a lot of thing from his crate but when I just got him, I started with only the blanket and the clock and I gradually added more things, hoping it would calm him down. This has happened since day one. Like I said, the breeder didn't have this problem because either he was with her or his siblings. So he was never alone until with me. I know I should have introduced him to being alone gradually but I had to work the very next day... He is a Samoyed and is on Taste of the wild.

His routine is basically the same everyday, I even got an alarm clock to make sure I take him out and feed him at the same time. He is crated at night and sleeps until 6, which is when I wake up and do my stuff. So our schedule looks a bit like:
6:00 wake up
6:30 dog gets let out of the crate. we go to the dog park for an hour where he does his business and pees.
8:00 he eats
8:30-12 he naps in the crate while I work (he will nap with the crate door opened or closed)
12:00 he wakes up, goes for a 15 minute pee break then comes home and eats
1:00-5:00 we do some obedience and he sniffs around the apartment go for walks
5:00 he eats
5:30 he is put in his crate and he naps
6:00 I leave and he goes crazy(this week, we have started not feeding him his last meal until I leave hoping he will associate me leaving with supper food but he doesn't eat anything when he's home alone. I'm pretty sure I could leave a sizzling steak there and he'd ignore it.)
10: last pee break then we sleep

On wednesdays and saturdays he has puppy class in the morning.

He loves his crate. We have played millions of crate games and he is fine in there. We have tried leaving him out of the crate (I waited down the hall) and he barks anyways. He doesn't destroy anything but only because he stays at the door the entire time, scratching and pawing at it. He knows there is a difference between bathroom/bedroom door and the door to leave so even if I close him out of a room, he's fine as long as I'm in the apartment. He doesn't even follow me around while I'm in the apartment unless I'm making noise and then will come check out what I'm doing.

I've been to the vet and he has recommended some spray thing which leaves a the smell of his mother's pheromones(which I'm really considering) or thinking about medication but I think he's too young and I really want to fix this problem through training. I would never try a shock collar, that was said as a lame joke:P

edited to add: I've had a friend stay with him and he was fine. He just needs somewhere there, not necessarily me. I have taken him to a tester daycare day and he did fine so I'm considering sending him more often but can't afford 5 days a week...

cell
March 26th, 2011, 09:49 AM
Sounds exactly the same as my dog, if you find a remedy, please share it. I tried everything you have and have since been just going about my normal routine and just hoping he gets over it. I have been waiting over a year. My dog doesn't claw himself bloody though, because we have a plastic crate.

luckypenny
March 26th, 2011, 09:54 AM
Can you fit in some more exercise before you leave in the evening? A good 30 minutes or so of off-leash play (having him run, not just walk around) followed by 30 minutes of brisk leash walking would be ideal. We find that when we take our SA dog for runs (I use my bike but don't recommend longer than 5 minutes for a puppy as young as yours), he's much more relaxed when I have to leave him alone. We also use DAP plug-in diffusers but it can take up to several weeks before you may notice any changes.

My strongest suggestion is to manage as well as you can while you put in place a behavior modification plan. Daycare, or having a friend/neighbor come stay with him, can be an excellent investment and you would likely only need it short-term.

An excellent book that will give you step-by-step instructions on behavior modification for SA that I highly recommend is Don't Leave Me! by Nicole Wilde. I got my copy at dogwise.com .

SamIam
March 26th, 2011, 02:54 PM
I am glad you are involving your vet on this. It is important to consider all options, even those you don't like. As cell mentioned, medication alone does not usually solve the problem, but would only be a part of working through this. Things like pheromone sprays are also unlikely to fix the problem by themselves, but could be a part of the solution to help him feel more comfortable, and eventually rest comfortably. Shock collars (NOT for a puppy under 6 months), ultrasound collars and spray collars are possibilities for barkers, but they are expensive and don't always work. If you find a spray collar you can borrow/rent, you could try it, but I wouldn't send you out to buy one at this point. Even if you can't arrange it 5 days a week, puppy-sitting and daycare could still be an option to reduce the number of days per week he may be disturbing your neighbours.

Puppies have a short cycle between ready-to-run and exhaustion. Two things that can help them sleep are a full belly and just having physical and mental exercise. Because you have tried the full belly already, adding in exercise as close to immediately before leaving as possible. The type of exercise depends very much on your individual dog - some respond more to physical exercise such as a walk or playtime; others more to mental exercise such as a training session, but ideally your activity will involve lots of both. What have you been doing with your dog that is most likely to result in him collapsing afterwards for a nap? Book that in for just before you leave for work.

In order to teach him it's okay to be alone, you need to pretend to leave and fool him. Try to find out what exactly what sound triggers his "I'm alone" response, your door shutting, your footsteps in the hall, locking the door, etc. Your dog should be in his kennel, with a dark cover that won't let him see your shadow moving. The only way he should know whether you're gone is by sound. It is okay if he can smell you, because you can pile a load of dirty laundry ontop his kennel if you need to make him believe you always might be there. You may need to go through your entire routine, some people change their clothes, make a phone call, make a snack, put on their coat, jingle the keys, open the door, etc. You need to be convincing. Pretend to leave, then sneak back and sit next to his kennel. Read a book, perhaps, but careful not to crinkle the pages or make any other sound that gives away your presence. I want him to think you are gone, I want him to start shouting.

The good behaviours you will be marking will be subtle and only microseconds in length. This is why I would use a sharp quick marker sound like a clicker, rather than your voice. In the time it takes you to say "good dog" or "yes" he could be doing 10 things, only one of which was good. Many puppy classes teach you and your dog how to use a clicker, I'm not sure if you are using one already or need help with that.

Ideally we want 10 seconds of silence, at first it won't be anything near that. You may get a microsecond of silence, or you may just mark an instant of slightly lower volume. Mark is where you use your clicker to indicate the exact moment you were happy with, just click, don't make any other movements or sounds at the same time. Then count up to one. Reward by releasing your dog from the crate. You may be able to do this 4-6 times a day, one of which can be when you return from work and he KNOWS you are home, the other times when you have pretended to leave but are still there. I want him to learn he can never predict whether you are home or not, just because he thought you left, maybe you did, maybe you didn't.

Progress from an instant of slightly lower volume to a whole second of complete silence, 10 seconds, 10 minutes, will be frustratingly slow. Go at his pace, and on a bad day you may need to take a step backwards instead of forwards.

Do you have a neighbour who can help monitor your progress? To tell you whether they are noticing any change, such as not so loud one night, quit for a good 10 minutes, worse than usual, etc.?

peeboysowner
April 6th, 2011, 09:00 PM
Just wanted to let you guys know that he was quiet the entire 4 hours today minus some minor whining (I'm so pathetically happy!). I got the DAP diffuser and walked him right before leaving as suggested. I'm also taking him to daycare three times a week but hopefully will be able to stop soonish. I never even thought of tricking him into thinking we were gone (Thanks samIam!) because I just figured he would be able to smell me next to him. But I guess the dirty laundry did the trick and it worked! The first day I spent ages just waiting for him to be a quiet for a microsecond but he had to catch his breath eventually! I really hope today wasn't a fluke but I'm celebrating anyways. So I just wanted to say thanks!

Masha
April 6th, 2011, 09:34 PM
woohooo!! each small positive step like that just comes to show that it is doable and achievable!! good job!!

cell
April 6th, 2011, 10:13 PM
Glad to hear you have had some success! I was thinking of trying DAP but never made the investment, maybe I will look into it again. Dirty laundry doesn't seem to phase my guy.

peeboysowner
June 7th, 2011, 04:51 PM
I was definitely celebrating too soon. I started going out randomly for short periods of time or pretend going out to get him used to being alone and I'm able to get to maybe 30 minutes with no problem. However, he's now started peeing and pooing when I leave him for 4 hours. I have no clue why. He is let out soooo often and I thought he was fully potty trained. So now I come home to a yipping pee and poo fluffy ball of grossness! Oh, and he bent the wires of his crate and escaped one day and chewed up my entire doorframe.

Is it because I started going out for short periods of time? I take him out before I go and he should be empty when I leave him home. One of my neighbours called me to complain so that has really been stressing me out. I have to admit, I have written several emails to the breeder asking her to take him back but have not sent them. I've kept in contact with two of his siblings' owners and one of the dogs is ok at home and the other is having the same problem as me. Since one of the dogs is ok, I can't help but feel like it's me who's doing something wrong. I just can't figure out what I'm doing that's making him so stressed when I leave. I talked to one of the siblings' owner and she was shocked that I'd consider medication at such a young age and made me feel like a monster! I tried the spray collar and he just empties it and continues barking (also, I feel like an a** for punishing him for being afraid).

His recall which was perfect previously has turned horrible. Now, at the dog park, he just leaves my side to play with dogs and doesn't come back until I start calling his name and running away which is really embarrassing. So I've stopped taking him until I can improve his recall. His leash walking which was perfect is bad as well. He keeps the leash loose but eats things off the floor like pinecones, leaves and twigs( I swear he's getting enough food!). I'm working on these problems with some progress but they really aren't helping with my frayed patience. I didn't want it to get to this but I'm really starting to hate this dog. I'm sick and tired of his face now and I think he knows it. I feel like getting him was the biggest mistake of my life. I pay $35 three times a week, which was not an expected expense and I'm making all these sacrificing and I'm starting to feel this isn't worth it(please tell me this is a normal phase with puppies and one day I'll look back at this and laugh). I've read all the books and threads on separation anxiety but am still lost. This is my first dog and I'm scared it's my inexperience that is messing him up. My dog and I are both miserable and I don't know what to do...

Shaykeija
June 7th, 2011, 10:30 PM
Well. in my humble opinion, if you are that stressed and you think this is a huge mistake, then for the health and safety of the pup, return it to the breeder.

Masha
June 7th, 2011, 11:36 PM
I didn't want it to get to this but I'm really starting to hate this dog. I'm sick and tired of his face now and I think he knows it. I feel like getting him was the biggest mistake of my life. I pay $35 three times a week, which was not an expected expense and I'm making all these sacrificing and I'm starting to feel this isn't worth it...

if you are starting to hate the dog and are sick of his face, and if you feel that paying 35$ 3 times a week is too much, it is best to return the dog to the breeder as been suggested by Shaykeija.... no dog deserves to be in a home where he is hated. And dogs are very pricey, this expense is likely one of many to come .... be honest with yourself... if you cant put the effort into obtaining and consistently applying the necessary training, then you may not be a person suitable to this dog...

reanne
June 8th, 2011, 03:16 AM
I'm not 100% sure since I don't have a lot of puppy experience, but I don't think that at 6 months a puppy can have reliable recall or have any other part of his/her training be "perfect". They are just not mature. However, I may be wrong, as I said I mostly have experience with adolescent and older dogs.

I agree with the above posters that in the dog's best interest, he should maybe be returned to the breeder. He may not be the right dog for you/a puppy may not be right for you.

When you are so stressed and at your wit's end, things are not going to work out-you are not mentally or emotionally capable of it at that time. When I first adopted Whistler, things were VERY bad sometimes, and I also thought I had made a huge mistake, but I never felt so negatively about it that I thought I hated him, or hated his face, and I don't think I would have chosen a negative forum name regarding him, had I been on forums at that time. I am not saying this in judgement of you, just in light of the situation I am saying that maybe these are indications that you and this puppy are not well-matched.