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Separation Anxiety?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Tuff Enuff!
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 10:50pm PST 
I am pretty sure my room mate's dog Becca has been experiencing separation anxiety. This is the 2nd weekend in a row that he's spent most of the weekend away from the house, and the 2nd weekend I've lost sleep because of it. I told him last weekend that he either needed to work with Becca on this issue or take her with him wherever he goes to spend the weekend. Angel is completely crate trained & when it's time to go to bed that's where she sleeps. When my room mate isn't there and I'm trying to sleep, Becca goes into this anxiety mode where she barks, cries, howls, scratches the door/walls, chews on things, shreds things, knocks stuff off tables, etc.

I've talked to my room mate about crate training her but he said he quit when she was a puppy because it freaked her out. It used to freak Angel out when she was a puppy but I worked with her through it and now she's a pro at using her crate. I'm tempted to buy her a crate myself and train her...I've got to be able to sleep and I think crate training her would help with the separation anxiety.

Any thoughts/advice?

P.S. Falling asleep at work is not good so this issue NEEDS to be resolved!

Let's play tug!!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 1:19am PST 
Poor girl. What kind of relationship do you and Angel have with her?
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 6:51am PST 
Is she in the room with you or shut off totally by herself? Does she calm down if she's allowed where you are?

Maybe others can chime in who have more experience, but I would think it can take a long time to carefully crate train a dog with serious separation anxiety . . .

I had a friend who also gave up with her adult adopted dog on trying the crate because she was so bad she just tore up the crate in her desperation. Admittedly, she probably did not know how to acclimate her carefully, she may have just tried leaving her in it while she was at work way before her dog was ready.


When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 8:47am PST 
SA is something that needs to be approached carefully. I have seen dogs with severe SA hurt themseves badly.
It helps that he is leaving her with you, but you may end up doing most of the work yourself. First get her crate trained, understanding that this needs to progress slowly to avoid stressing her out. Do not work on crating when she is already stressing. It could push her right over the edge and do more harm then good. Address exercise needs, tired dogs are happy dogs. If he is leaving for the day, or the weekend, have him run her about an hour before he leaves. If you are finding that she is getting really edgy while he is gone, take her for a run or a walk and run her through some training exercises.
With SA I usually advise people to start ignoring the dog for 20 minutes before you leave and for 15-20 minutes after you return. Do short exercises where you leave the house for 5-10 minutes, then return. Gradually increase the time that your gone but stick to the ignoring times. Its going to help if you can distract her with a treat ball or frozen stuffed kong. I used to prepare Sabi's treat ball and leave it by the door until I left. As I was walking out the door I would toss it to her. I was anticipating SA issues when I first retired her, it never happened.
Your vet should be able to give you some diection as well.
I would be cautious about how you interact with her to avoid transferring her SA to you. In most cases I have seen the SA is caused or added to by the owners actions. Thats why in my house it's a rule that no one speaks to the dogs when we are coming or going and the dogs are required to spend a portion of their playtime/housetime amusing themselves and leaving me alone. Like most people I have a small house and not much yard but I believe it is important to make the dogs spend time entertaining themselves in an appropriate way. Feel free to p mail me anytime.
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 8:55am PST 
Is your roommate willing to try behavioral modification with her dog? The process does require effort on her part. Would giving the dog a Kong filled with something frozen help? Does she have problems the whole time your roommate is gone? Can she be distracted by anything?

Tuff Enuff!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 10:07pm PST 
Smokey- Becca is good with myself & Angel. They play together, but she's 6 years older than Angel and tires out much faster. So there's occasionally some "griping" but either myself or the room mate steps in. We don't leave them together when we both leave the house, either.

Augusta- I've tried allowing her out of his room so she can move around the house (with the exception of my room) and I've also tried having her be in the room with me. Nothing has worked thus far.

That's what my room mate did...gave up to quickly. I've talked to him about how he was training her and offered a little advice. The difference between our dogs is that as soon as Angel was mine she started going in the crate, whereas Becca was pretty much attached at the hip to him. Even when he worked he would have someone check on her several times a day so she's ALWAYS around someone. I don't know if that's beneficial or not...

Sabi- I agree with you 100%. I did mention SA to my room mate but he isn't sure (of course he isn't...he isn't the one that has to calm her down because she's completely calm when he's there!) I did have him do some research on the symptoms of SA and was able to point out everything she does when he's gone. As for coming & going I've gotten in the habit of doing the same thing you do with Angel...except she goes in her crate. I am hoping that crate training Becca will allow her to have that "happy place" that Angel has so she won't be stressed out. As for exercise, I do the majority of that in the morning when I get off work. They get roughly 2 hours of play time at the park, several walks in the field behind my house, plus yard time.

Dr. Watson- His dog has torn up all of Angel's toys. That got to be an issue when Angel couldn't play with her stuffed toy because Becca would chase her off of it. Any other toy was fine to share, but when Becca tried to take over that I put a stop to it. Apparently she hasn't met a Kong she can't break apart...but I'm starting to think about getting her a heavy duty Kong. She's fine when he leaves for work (or at least I am tired enough that I don't hear her) it's just when he's gone all day/night.

Tuff Enuff!
Barked: Thu Jan 31, '13 10:35pm PST 
Ugh this is getting really annoying for me. I don't know how to make it clear that he needs to do something about Becca's anxiety.

Barked: Thu Jan 31, '13 10:56pm PST 
If it's separation anxiety, I would say the anxiety itself needs to be addressed. Crate training with separation anxiety is more of a bandaid for destruction rather than a fix for the anxiousness that comes from the owner being away. Indeed, when we talked to a couple of behaviorists about Zim's separation anxiety and all the troubles we'd had with crate training him (still screamed unholy murder when the door closed after having been fed in it for a month, progressing to shutting the door causing him to refuse to go fully going into, never being in it without a Kong and treats but still screaming for 6-8 straight if tough love was tried, etc), we were told that was very common with separation anxiety dogs and that if we wanted to crate train our own dog, we'd have to use a sedative to get him to a place where he could be counter-conditioned. So maybe he gave up too soon and maybe it was another aspect of the separation anxiety.

Behavior modification, such as special toys/food she only gets when your roommate is away is the route we took and not letting him get over his threshold so he wasn't so anxious he couldn't learn from it, was the route we took. Between that and a Thundershirt, we've left Zim alone for up to six hours with no problems (although we generally use daycare to void leaving him alone more than 2-4 hours).

Barked: Fri Feb 1, '13 12:24pm PST 
Angel have you videotaped it for your roommate? He needs to take responsibility for his pet and that may be a good way to show him how serious it is.

Tuff Enuff!
Barked: Fri Feb 1, '13 8:11pm PST 
He admitted that he hindered her in having her attached to his hip all the time. It makes it difficult for those of us watching her when he is gone for a while. I tried getting him to really address the issue, he's choosing to try introducing Becca to Korah (my friend's dog) and see how that works out.

I haven't videotaped what she does but my neighbor has heard the barking & howling and talked to him about it (this was a surprise to me as I didn't realize my neighbors heard her). I also left his room how Becca messed with it - trash all over the floor, parts of his blanket shredded - instead of cleaning it up. He saw it and realized I wasn't kidding.

I'm glad he was around today as I have severe back pain, a sinus infection & upper respiratory infection and have pretty much been medicated all day :-(
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