Nicknames: Pi, Mags, Bag, Hag, Stinky, Pumba, just about anything that comes to mind.
Gotcha Date: October 31st 2006
Birthday: April 8th 2006
Pet-Peeves: not getting food
Favorite Toy: this annoying hedgehog thing (not the normal plushie hedgies though)
Favorite Food: meat
Favorite Walk: to the beach
Best Tricks: bear (aka beg)
Arrival Story: Maggie came from up in Forks - the breeder didn't want her and couldn't sell her...and luckily a person was kind enough to take both her and her brother. They came to Montesano where a gal down the road picked Maggie up. Then my neighbors ended up with her and were actually planning on keeping her...but after some tragic family incidents, they gave her to me. Maggie officially became mine in January of 2008 (granted I took care of her a lot from Halloween).
Bio: Maggie is my first dog and has taught me so much about nutrition, health, behavior, and the love a dog can bring to your life. Even through the tough times - I still loved her.
We began training classes almost immediately and she loved them! After about a year of classes we took a foray into Rally-O and boy did she love that! She did very well and loved the game - she currently has 6 Q's towards her RAE and I hope to finish that with her. Maggie also plays agility. She started out with classes, but never really had fun with it...but after a year or so of a break and doing other things, she found a love in it. We compete mostly in CPE and she has done quite well. Wizzing through the levels and she is now level 3 & level 4. We also play NADAC when there are nearby trials as it really is fun!
Maggie has had separation anxiety since the day I got her (or close enough to it). I didn't know what it was at first - she was a perfect dog when I was home, only chewed on her toys, never nibbled on a single item of mine, never ate the door to get out, never bathroomed in the house (except for when I was a bad pet owner & forgot), and never did a thing wrong when I was around.
But as soon as I walked out of the house everything broke loose. She tore the couch/futon to shreds, ate the door frame, ate all the blinds, ate any books that were in reach, ate all dog bedding, ate the cupboard, broke 2 crates, barked the entire time I was gone, chewed baby gates, jumped baby gates that were 4 feet high, urinated all over the living room, and the list goes on.
I had no idea what was wrong with her, people kept saying that she was bored, she needed more toys (she had a basket full of them), she needed more exercise (she got 2-3 hours a day), she was punishing me, she had to go to the bathroom, and some other crazy theories. I had never heard about separation anxiety until one day at a pet store someone said that she may just have separation anxiety.
I began to do some research and then asked my dog trainer (who also happens to be a dog behaviorist) and she said that Maggie has classic separation anxiety. This was after about 6 months of owning her before I found someone who could help me.
I began immediately with the desensitizing and counter conditioning phase - I am still working on this after 4 months, well the counter conditioning part mostly. I did a little bit of independence training, but Maggie didn't mind being by herself when I was home, so I skipped that for the most part. I did begin to ignore Maggie before and after I left for 15-20 minutes. All of this got Maggie up to about 1.5 hours on her own, I just couldn't get by that bench mark, we were stuck.
Then I got a little bit smaller crate (a very durable crate that is actually brand name) & made a cd with my voice talking to Maggie at 2 minute intervals, it was just short little sayings with her name and words she knew. I hit 2 hours without any major eating of the bedding in the crate, no attempts to break out. I also went to the vet today and have gotten some anti-anxiety medication for her as well - have not tried it yet and will have it on hand for longer stays by herself.
I have been working with her for months now and there is no quick fix for separation anxiety. It will take time and work, but when you've left your dog for 2 hours without any tearing things to shreds and your dog taking a nap when you walk in the door - everything will be worth it!
Some good resources!
A good website with step by step ideas for desensitizing.
http://www.wagntrain.com/SeparationAnx.htm - Wagn' Train
A good book that had a lot of information.
The Dog Who Loved Too Much
My dog trainer/behaviorist. Definitely look into one!
A webpage about medications. (thank you Emma!)
And check out your local veterinary office! Ask for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.
This is what I am using as a general SA post for all the "My dog has bad separation anxiety" threads...kinda general...
Try a good long play before leaving the dog alone (it rules out boredom).
Some SA dogs don't mind being alone with you around - it is more of a separation from people completely (which is what my dog has). SA dogs have a tendency to try to get out of the house when you are gone, not just tear stuff up - Maggie ate a few sets of blinds along with a door frame, a few door knobs, and a futon in front of a window. I wish that all my dog did when I was gone was chew on some stuff - life would've been so much easier.
Also find a behaviorist!!! (I say this all the time - I don't think there have been many who actually even done this though - it really is the only way to go with real SA).
You must desensitize your dog to departures and arrivals. It takes time and energy - but you can get there. Also be sure to take the desensitizing steps very slowly - if you move too fast you will have to take 5 steps back instead of one step forward at a time. When I say slowly...do exactly as the following link says - don't move onto putting on pants if your dog still is uncomfortable with you taking a shower.
Check out this website with step by step ideas for desensitizing.
Wagn' Train - http://www.wagntrain.com/SeparationAnx.htm
Some dogs won't tolerate a crate - some absolutely need one (my Maggie had to have one).
Some people practice NILIF (nothing in life is free - Google it)...I didn't because my behaviorist said I would just be wasting my time (that was why I got one - she helped me in more ways than I can count - even gave me ideas on ways to make things better).
If you cannot get past an hour or so with the desensitizing, talk to you vet/behaviorist about medication. SA is a form of depression - Acepromazine (a sedative) will not work - you must get a real anti-depressant to help with this - you need a behavior change, not sedation. There are many different drugs - amitrityline (also known as the 'go to' drug for behavior problems, what I eventually got for Maggie) & Clomicalm are some.
A few things to not even bother trying...
I know many of these things because I tried them.
*Getting another doggy pal - it will not work if it really is SA.
*Muzzles are a big NO-NO!! This can create other problems that include aggression and making the SA worse.
*Punishing the dog for the destruction.
*Leaving music/tv/talk radio on - the dog doesn't know these voices therefore you're just wasting power. Try making a cd of YOUR voice and playing it.
*Just thinking the dog will outgrow it - it won't if it truly is SA.
*Just using drugs to make things better - drugs only work with desensitizing and counter-conditioning.
If you still have any questions feel free to pawmail me!