Separation Anxiety

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Daddys shadow
Barked: Tue Oct 6, '09 2:29pm PST 
Hi all,

I'm looking for a bit of advise from 'old time' husky folk.

We're well experienced dog owners (some 30+ years) and now have our first husky who we rehomed about 1 month ago when he was 10 months old. We're not sure of his life before he came to us as there appears to be inconsistencies in what we've been told i.e we asked the previous owner who told us he had him from the breeder aged 4 months though couldnt tell us who the breeder was, we asked if he'd been innoculated and were told he would have to send away for the innoculation papers...seemed very strange and makes us think the poor mite has had more than one owner ! Anyway, whatever his past, he owns us now! My reason for posting is that Jai, our boy, appears to be suffering from separation anxiety rather than just naughty behaviour. When left he will trash usually the last couple of things we've touched like the radio, the bin, the tv, water bottles, tissues.....the list is endless. Its at the point now where we moved everything to keep him safe. He did use to howl a lot though this has calmed down now.

We have two other dogs so we don't think he's lonely and he gets loads of exercise

On a humourous note he's very very clever, he can open any screw top bottle without damaging it and it never fails to amaze us how he does it, he can open the bread bin and remove the bread and he opens the rubbish bin and empties all the contents without knocking the bin over.....needles to say, these have all been moved to another room now!!

When we return his reaction makes us think hes previously been beaten for trashing as he runs and cowers under the dining table.

We've followed all the dog behaviour advice on dealing with separation anxiety and though he does seem to be slightly improved we're left wondering if this is just a husky trait?

Ohh and a word of thanks to all the posts I've read on here about hukies being good escape artisits....he's superb at it!!!

Snow dogs love- the beach
Barked: Tue Oct 6, '09 3:32pm PST 
Jai, welcome to the wonderful world of owning a husky. I am in no way an expert on this breed but I can tell you what I've learned from research and experience with my own husky. Siberian huskies are pack oriented dogs. They love nothing more than to be with their pack. Huskies do not like being alone. When alone they tend to get bored very easily and there is a saying that "a bored husky is a destructive husky". A friend of mine who goes to the same dog park as I told me that one day when she came home from work she found her Husky in her couch. That's right, in it. All the stuffing was on the floor and the dog was in the couch. Cute right?! These dogs are adventurous and curious by nature and if left unsupervised can be destructive. Most husky owners I talk to including myself crate their dogs while they are away. There are a few that think crating is cruel but me personally, I believe it is a great resource in training your dog. They cant wreck the house if their in a crate. My pup is currently 15 months old and I hope one day I can give him the run of the house while I'm away. But right now he's not ready for it. For a while I tried leaving him out in baby steps. Stepping up the time he was alone daily. For a while it was working, then one day I came home to my curtains on the floor. I've tried a couple of times since then but no luck. Their are exceptions to every rule though. I'm sure there are husky owners out there who let their dogs run free while they are away with no problems and if there is I envy them. The best suggestion I can give continue to give Jai plenty of exercise and try crating your pup. It's hard at first hearing them cry as your walking out the door but in time they adjust. I'm now to the point where I can tell Achilles to go to his crate and he'll go in and lay down. I hope all works out. Good luck!

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
Barked: Wed Oct 7, '09 9:00am PST 
Separation anxiety is partly why I lost my last home. I would chew up and destroy things in the apartment. My owner retaliated by putting me on medication and locking me in a small plastic kennel for 12 to 14 hours a day.

I haven’t had medication for anxiety since I got my new home. When she took me in, my person didn’t know about the meds. Her vet got the information when talking to my previous vet on the phone. (number was on my rabies tag) The kennel was given away and in my case, my person feels that it would be cruel to put me back in a kennel but used correctly, they work for many people and dogs.

I got better by having a playmate and a safe yard I could stay in all day. (We live in the country and have really good fences. This isn’t safe everywhere) Exercise, a pack, and kindness made the difference. I even learned my name and will sometimes come when called.

Your boy probably doesn’t know he did something wrong, when he hides from you. He just knows that people beat dogs when they come home and he better hide. (I would bet that he was beaten for chewing things up and didn’t know why) He will eventually get over this if you always pet him and greet him as a good dog no matter what he did a few hours ago. Only correct him if you actually catch him in the act.

He may be interacting with things that have your scent on them because he misses you. Try a Kong stuffed with food as the last thing you touch before leaving. A nice Kong could be chewed and played with to his hearts content. Just be sure to handle the Kong before you go.

If the Kong doesn’t work, maybe a kennel, a dog proof room, or one of those inside dog pens. He would probably be happier in a dog proof room or a pen where he can have a friend to hang out with. Outside is good only if you are in a safe area and have a completely safe fence that you check daily. You can try medication, but I wouldn’t go there unless you have tried everything else 1st. If you end up using a kennel, teach him it is a good place by feeding him in it and putting toys in it with the door open. Make sure he knows he will get to come out later so he doesn’t feel trapped. (my kennel had frantic looking scratches where I had tried to dig my way out. It took me a long time to stop peeing on myself in my new home, I didn’t know I could ask to go out and would hold it as long as I could)

Good luck, whatever it takes, he is worth it.


Daddys shadow
Barked: Wed Oct 7, '09 12:50pm PST 
Thanks very much for taking time out to reply, its greatly appreciated.

We considered crating but are as guilty as the next person on here of treating our dogs like we do our children, we have 2 other dogs and they are never crated so feel it would be unfair to crate Jai as we think he would get even more distresed with the other two running free.

Fritz my heart goes out to you, what an awful life you had till now! I would never even consider giving Jai medication as you eventually have to deal with the cause rather than masking it with meds so the best time to do it is now.

We've never had a kennel, we're lucky enough to be able to always leave the back door open as it opens onto a very secure enclosure that even Jai can't escape from and we restrict the freedom in the house to the kitchen and dining room so the house becomes a big kennel lol

We've bought loads of chewy things for the dogs but Jai is food aggresive ( only with chews, never his dinner) with the two smaller dogs and I'm very fearful he would kill one of them to take the bones / chews off them so kongs are ruled out.

Today I came in and the only thing he had done was to take my Newfies ashes off the window sill she always used to lay under and put them in his bed, he hadnt marked or chewed the wooden cask which is amazing....like he knew....bless him.

I think it may just be we have to persevere, its only been about 4 weeks we've had him so he may just need time?

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
Barked: Wed Oct 7, '09 1:58pm PST 
Hi Jai,
You are lucky to have really nice people. I think time and understanding will take care of the problem. We don’t do crating either and don’t care for the practice, but it does seem to work for many people.

Too bad about the food aggression. How about leaving old personal property about, sacrificial property. Something with your person’s scent that she won’t be totally heart broken if it gets chewed. Don’t encourage him, but make sure to handle something that he can steal if he needs to.

4 weeks is a short time, especially if one has been knocked/passed around. It will take a while for him to bond with you.

It took me about 6 months to bond with my new people. I was friendly and loved everyone, but one day I realized that I really belonged with my people and knew that this is my real home. After that, I started sleeping on my person’s foot, howling when she comes home, I even came back one night when the door didn’t latch and I got out by myself. I know my name and will even recall when I feel like it is a good idea.

Good luck to all of you.

PS It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put really special things away for now. (make your pace Husky proof ) He wouldn’t destroy a treasure to hurt you, but it would hurt is something like the ashes were lost.

Edited by author Wed Oct 7, '09 2:03pm PST

Misty *RIP- Mommy's- Angel*

Is that food for- me???
Barked: Thu Oct 8, '09 6:39am PST 
When we went to pick up Misty at her foster home they told us that they had never used a crate for her even though she was crate trained by the rescue. We didn't mind letting her run loose in the house and I was going to be home with her for the first month so we tried it. She is great 99% of the time, she has gotten a loaf of bread or two from the counter, and killed a couple of throw pillows, one or two items of carelessly discarded clothing have not survived, and there was an incident with a brand new jar of treats (she was sick for two days), but nothing too horrible! laugh out loud
Nothing really important is left out, and we are pretty good about keeping everything tidy so she doesn't have any temptations. Our other guy only chews shoes so as long as the mud room door is shut he has nothing to destroy except his toys!
I feel like as long as they don't destroy anything big...like that couch story...they are fine running about. There aren't too many things in my house that are as important to me as the dogs, but I can't afford to buy them couches as chew toys!