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Separation anxiety? Update: One step forward, one step back.

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  • Separation anxiety? Update: One step forward, one step back.

    So I've googled the heck out of this, but thought that the wise folks of COTH may have suggestions in addition to what we've been trying...

    The story continues with Jack the rescue dog. He's doing great, and even making friends with DH! On Sunday, though, while we were at Church for two hours, he got out of his crate (got the latch open on the door) and jumped on the windows, taking down the blinds. No poop or pee in the house, nothing chewed or destroyed but the blinds.

    Got a snap for the crate door. Chalked it up to "these things happen." He'd been fine left for 90 minutes on Saturday, no problems.

    Monday we were home all day. Tuesday he was alone in his crate for 30 minutes in the morning and he pooped in his crate. Tuesday afternoon he was alone for 45 minutes and he broke through the side of the crate and pooped and peed in the house.

    Zip ties installed on weak points in cate... plan in place. Wednesday we were home all day. He was great... no anxiety about the crate at all, he hops in all on his own for a nap, eats his meals in there, happy to be crated off and on when we're home.

    This morning Jack was alone for 30 minutes again, with a yummy dental chew (his favorite!) to keep him occupied and the radio on to a talk station. He'd eaten breakfast an hour before and had been out twice since then, but no poop. When DH got home - poop in the crate. DH crated Jack for a short while while he and kids went downstairs to do some work and he said the dog was barking and trembling...

    Any ideas for dealing with separation anxiety? He's a super dog and very easygoing except for being left alone! He only needs to be crated alone for two hours or so; that's the longest we're ever routinely gone. TIA!
    Last edited by MommaMare; Apr. 12, 2012, 11:44 AM.

  • #2
    Well, it's funny you should say all of that because I have a beagle/lab mix that I adopted 2 years ago as an adult dog who did THE EXACT SAME THING. Honestly, it was very very odd, she would escape her crate (which she managed to do through zip ties, etc.) and then would go just for the blinds. I never really figured out what the issue was with that but it did get pretty annoying and expensive.

    Now I will say, she has only defecated in her crate once and she was ill. As to that I have to say my parents with their dogs, who tend to like to play senile and say they no longer understand house training, take them on walks as long as it takes for everyone to have done their business.

    The traditional advice is a long road where you leave for a few minutes, come back, rinse and repeat for longer periods of time. I tried this to little effect BUT I will say I probably was not patient enough. As to the blinds, can you leave them up or these window treatments? My dog I started leaving out of her crate for short periods of time and worked up to longer periods of time. She's now fine and hasn't eaten any sort of window covering in 6 months (I'm very proud). So I guess, in short, you are not alone and in my case it just kind of stopped happening once she really got into a routine.


    • #3
      I'm useless about the separation anxiety but as for poop, he needs to go out after eating and if no poop, back in the house, 5 mins or so later out again, rinse and repeat until he poops.
      What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks, everyone. He had another bad episode later today, despite a stuffed kong toy... we have an appointment with the vet tomorrow to talk about anxiety meds to help him through this period while he learns to be alone.


        • #5
          Is there any chance you could adopt a companion for him so he's not all alone when you are not at home?

          We adopted a pit bull mix last summer who suffered from seperation anxiety for her entire life...she's now 10. She had jumped out of windows, chewed her way through crates and even chewed through a wall....she swallowed so much wallboard that she had to have surgery to remove it. We had to have 9 of her teeth removed because they were either cracked, broken or worn down to nubs from all the chewing she had done over the years.

          Here she has a companion.....a very friendly and well adjusted Airedale girlfriend and the two of them can be left alone all day if need be, with no issues. Ours are not crated but if yours need to be, perhaps if they are crated side by side or facing each other just knowing he's not alone could make all the difference in the world. maybe?


          • #6
            Originally posted by JustJumpIt! View Post
            Thanks, everyone. He had another bad episode later today, despite a stuffed kong toy... we have an appointment with the vet tomorrow to talk about anxiety meds to help him through this period while he learns to be alone.
            remember that sometimes the dosage or the drug need to be changed if it isn't working. You need a behavioral plan in place as well.


            • #7
              I have a terrible separation anxiety dog and I have been through many ideas, trials, training, drugs...you name it. Bottom line is she cannot be crated at all. We do have another dog and cats and we confine her to one level. She will eat through doors, woodwork, destroys doorknobs to get where she wants...if she has a meltdown and something sets her off. (Surprisingly, she doesn't car about thunderstorms.) She is on Chlomiprimine (generic Cholmicalm). She wears a thundershirt when we leave, gets peanut butter stuffed kongs when we leave, and I sprays things she likes to go after with no chew. Routine is important to her and she does well now, but if something goes terribly wrong with the routine, she goes insane. I also leave the TV on and have tried the DAP plug ins. There also Composure treats that help, but I noticed they wore off and are pricey. Honestly, a little Lorazepam on a bad day to calm her sympathetic nervous system helps. Once they get so worked up, you have to get her calmed back down. One of the dr's I work with does healing touch and natural remedies and this dogs blows right through them. There is also calming music, Through A Dogs Ear that that they highly recommend. I also make sure she gets a ton of exercise. Ironically, she is a couch potato when you are home. She has made some improvements after 4 years, but you always have to be aware because she can have a bad day. Hope this gives you ideas to look into that may help you.


              • #8
                There's a very good pamphlet called "I'll be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell. It has a pretty good step-by-step training plan. The Clomicalm is probably a good idea to use while you are doing the training.

                We had a dog with SA and having 2 other dogs in his vicinity did nothing, but it does help some dogs. He would pee in the crate, pee while uncrated. He peed when I would go outside for ten minutes. He got much better over the kids' summer break, I think partly because we worked with him and partly because he settled in a little.


                • Original Poster

                  Well, we are making progress. Maybe. We saw the vet last Friday and she prescribed Reconcile along with a behavior management plan. DS is off school this week so all comings-and-goings can be carefully scripted. I've been taking the kiddos for a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood at least once, and two or three times if I can manage it, each day without the dog, and so far he's stayed in his crate and not pooped himself. He's still whining and trembling when we get home, but he's not at the level of crazy-fear that he was before.

                  He's getting worse about being separated from *me* though. I'm in the office three days a week and the dog is home with the kids and DH. DH is doing his best, but the dog tows him around and he's just not very intuitive about animals. Jack whines and trembles much of the time while I'm gone, and doesn't finish breakfast if I'm not there. This morning he was in his crate after breakfast and DH went downstairs to check his e-mail (for maybe five minutes?) and Jack pooped in his crate - first time in several days.

                  I've ordered a Thundershirt that should come tomorrow... I start obedience classes with him the first week in May... just so frustrating! The rescue said he was a "happy bouncy" dog and he was, for the first couple of days in our house, and since then he's become anxious and jumpy if he's not right. with. me. He wasn't in a home at the rescue (more of a shelter environment) so he wasn't around people as much and didn't bond to anyone. Is he overcompensating now? Anyone have some good success stories to share?


                  • #10
                    what is the behavior plan?


                    • #11
                      What (mostly) cured our dog of separation anxiety was one of those femur bones that we stuff with peanut butter. She hated the Kong toy and the food came out too soon. The peanut butter keeps her busy for a lot longer.

                      The very last thing we do when we leave the house is give her the bone (we used to give her the bone in her crate but now she's not crated). We don't say goodbye. We don't make a big deal about it. When we come home we don't say hello or get all excited. I just walk to the back door and take her outside. Then when we come back in, that's when we say "hi" and gush over her.

                      Also, try to exercise him before you go anywhere. It used to take a 5-mile walk to tire our dog out, so while a walk around the block is better than nothing, a run around the block is better.


                      • #12
                        I do a lot of what xQHDQ said, expcept with a Kong. She no longer poops and pees in the house...she will go weeks/months with no issues then I will come home to a complete meltdown. She goes crazy on the doors and chews and destroys woodwork. I can't wear her down as much now as she has a partial ACL rupture. I spoke with the vet about getting a dog walker, but we figured over time, she would get anxious about that person coming too or not being on time, etc.

                        Said dog is a very sweet dog and everyone who meets her loves her. When I take her to the vet, she climbs on the table herself and rolls over...while I am trying to tell her all of the awful things this dog can do. I am sure they think i am crazy. It is just always a work in progress and you have to be on top of training, exercise, etc.


                        • Original Poster

                          Well, we're getting somewhere. The Reconcile is kicking in, all of the practice comings-and-goings are getting him used to things, and his Thundershirt is helping. He runs several miles with me daily and he's best when he gets his run in before anyone has to leave, but that isn't always possible...

                          In any case, things are looking up, and hopefully with a few months of work we'll get him to find his "happy place."


                          • #14
                            We've had very similar problems with our Wheaton terrier, and I'm pretty sure we went through every anti-anxiety out there (we have a very... special dog with many different problems that just exacerbate each other). She became very attached my my mom early on, and if she was not with mom, she would have major anxiety. We figured out that the reason she got anxious when mom wasn't around was because she thought mom was the only alpha, and so dad and I did training with her. Once we established that mom was not the only boss, she became much more comfortable without mom around, and eventually without anyone alone, because she wasn't dependent on just one person.
                            I like mares. They remind me of myself: stubborn know-it-alls who only acknowledge you if you have food.
                            Titania: 50% horse, 50% hippo
                            Unforgetable: torn between jumping and nap time, bad speller


                            • #15
                              I am so happy to read that I am not the only one with an anxiety prone dog.
                              Mine is a 3 y.o. pit x. He was a foster fail, no way anyone would want this boy now so he is here with me for life.
                              He is a freak in the car. I take my dogs everywhere with me. He loves car rides but goes insane when I get out of the car. Tried crating in the car but he went a little crazy, ate his way through the crate than started in on my steering wheel and front seat. I was gone 15 minutes. Came back to what might have been a steering wheel and front seat at one point in time but now was totally unrecognizable.
                              He wears a thundershirt, a calming collar and we have tried different medications. Tried a muzzle. So far not much success.
                              www.learntolikepink.com my journey with breast cancer


                              • #16
                                It is such a long road of behavior modification, training, meds...finding out what sets them off and what doesn't. We seem to cruise along with everything going well for a while, then BAM, major meltdown. Last weekend it was someone shooting a gun while we weren't in the house and she did some pretty major damage to the door. Today my dad and uncle wanted to do some shooting...at first we were outside when they started and she freaked. We went inside and I went about my normal business and she could have cared less. They got done, I fed them as usual, then gave them Kongs to go ride, and she has been perfectly fine. One thing I have noticed is that if something gets her worked up, it is imparative I get her nervous system back down before I leave or it is a disaster. The Integrative Medicine vet at work recommends "Through a Dog's Ear"...it is calming music and apparently is great. You can get it through ITunes. I may try it.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Beckham03 View Post
                                  It is such a long road of behavior modification, training, meds...finding out what sets them off and what doesn't.
                                  did you actually get him on meds? And did you get a behavioral plan in place?

                                  The Integrative Medicine vet at work recommends "Through a Dog's Ear"...it is calming music and apparently is great. You can get it through ITunes. I may try it.
                                  you have a dog with severe SA and the vet is recommending music?! You need a new vet.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Ah, just noticed that this had been revived!

                                    Jack is on meds - he's on Reconcile (Prozac). It doesn't seem to make much of a difference, but we're going to finish off the bottle. He was also prescribed Xanax but had a paradoxical reaction and just bounced off the walls until it wore off. We spoke with a behaviorist and worked through her plan... not much difference.

                                    We were at wit's end and out of ideas and the good pup just seemed to take a deep breath, settle down, and he's probably 75% better. We've put the crate away, since he was getting so violent that he was injuring himself (in a plastic crate and a wire one) - although he was fine and happy in his crate when we were home. He can now be left for up to a few hours out loose in our family room and while he whines a bit and won't drink, eat, or work on his favorite yummy chews while we're gone, he also no longer pees and has diarrhea, or breaks his own teeth or nails on the door to the house or his crate. He's usually laying down calmly when we get home. We're *beyond thrilled* at this! We've still got a ways to go, but we've now got a dog we can live with - which we really weren't sure would happen when he was at his worst.

                                    He's my daily running buddy and has been a little star in his obedience class - we'll be doing the CGC class this fall. Happy ending!