Seperation Anxiety??? Help Im Desperate...

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by miss_bec, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. miss_bec Active Member

    OK so I currently have a 4 month old American staffy boy who is my world. I got him from the breeder at 12 weeks old. Whilst there he lived in a small little cage with mud as a base and had free roam of the yard with the other pups and parents when owner was home (he was what we call a bush bogan dog) When I got him on christmas eve he became an indoor/outdoor puppy. He seemed to love outside but also love inside and cuddling up to me and if my partner was around him also. 2 weeks later my parents came for a week from sydney and being who they are 1. have some weird hate for staffys and 2. hate indoor dogs-made me keep him outside...well thats when problems started...
    He would bark non stop, cry, howl and charge the glass sliding door to get in to the house, once inside... it didnt stop there...if he couldnt find me (as was at work) he would cry or bark continously still.

    Since theyve left I've tried working with him to get him ok with me not being around. Ive tried by enforcing im pack leader-no longer letting him on the couch unless asked, no on the bed, being made to move away and give space when eating food etc.
    Ive also invested in a crate-which he sleeps in perfectly of a night when placed near my bed and goes in for short periods with goodies without crying etc any longer he barks, cries and jumps at the sides, ive brought a citronella collar but regardless of how much he gets sprayed he continues.
    Ive given him ample toys from treat toys, balls, chew toys, ropes, tyres and squeaky toys (his favourties) still doesnt stop him.

    Ive given him 6 pigs ears at a time to keep him occupied whilst im out, kgs of chicken wings or legs dog biscuits and more...still no silencing him.

    THE ANNOYING THING TO THE SITUATION...when I'm home or my partner he has no problem or concern of staying near us..he happily plays outside in the garden for hours without concern or a sound but the second he realises youre leaving (regardless of how sneaky or different we make the routine) he starts to bark and howl and carry on!
    If we're both home then I walk out the front (where he cant go) to take the rubbish out he goes nuts squeling and barking until i return...even if my partner is in the same room and even standing right behind him... so weird! I have no idea what to do anymore I have seriously tried so many things...even the leaving room for short amount of time then coming back ...sometimes he's great with this and i can go do other stuff then come back and he hasnt moved...others he makes endless noises again...

    The neighbours have now complained multiple times and the body corp owners have issued 2 formal letters from the lawyer advising one more and the dog has to go...they say he howls and cries non stop from when I go however i dont know how to prove or sort this..its a huge inconvience and i feel horrible considering i leave for work some days at 4am and get back in the arvo or start at 2pm and get back at midnight :/

    Please help with ideas as its clearly not boredom...

    Thanks :)):):):

  2. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    First, being the "pack leader" or "alpha leader" won't help anything. It normally just makes things worse. I'd quit everything younhave learned involving this method. Positive Reinforcment works so much better, and you don't have to sacrifice your relationship with your dog.

    I would ignore him 15-30 minutes (depending on severity of the case) before you leave. Then slip away. This will help with most dogs. And then when you get home, ignore him for 15-30 minutes again. Most people make a big deal about coming and going, that the dog really doesn't want you to leave, and then really wants you back while your gone. Then by comparison, when your gone is so much worse, causing the problem.

    Hope this helps :)
    MaryK, southerngirl and DevonW like this.
  3. DevonW Well-Known Member

    My Jack Russell used to have really bad separation anxiety.

    I started by playing crate games with her and making her crate a positive place she wanted to be because I couldn't afford to have her rip up my house while I was gone. Once she was choosing to be in her crate by herself I started building distance very gradually I gave her giant biscuits sandwiched together with peanut butter so she was occupied long enough for me to leave the room and before she was finished I'd come back and praise her. Then I would do it again and I wouldn't come back until after she finished eating it and noticed I wasn't there as long as she was quiet if she wasn't I'd go back in the room and ignore her (or cover her crate) until she was. You have to go slow at first. Eventually I could make it out of the house without her caring because she was happy in her crate. Then I could be gone for half an hour -to one hour and so on.

    If you're going to be gone for a long period of time it's really good to exercise them before you leave so that way they'll be more likely to want to sleep than freak out over you not being there.
  4. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Wow, so sorry about all of this. You've really got a bad situation on your hands, esp since you've now got warnings. My bet is your pup may have been in a fear period when "thrown outside" (in his little mind and world - for no reason), and may have gotten scared while out there. Puppies pass thru many "fear periods" while growing up. What may have been fine yesterday, is terrifying today. And when something extra-scary happens during those "fear periods", they can be really hard to overcome.

    Do forget all that "alpha" stuff. It has nothing to do with what's going on. You have a puppy who's basically scared to be without you. And that "alpha" stuff is garbage anyway. Trust me when I tell you, your puppy has no designs on ruling you or your household, or future plans for world domination (despite what Cesar or some other old-fashioned trainers would lead you to believe).

    It's possible at this point that your pup may even need some meds to help calm him down while you do some behavioral work with him. Ordinarily that wouldn't be my first response, but since you've gotten warnings, I don't want to see him have to be rehomed immed - and this isn't something simple. If possible, I'd highly recommend you seek the help of a qualifed vet/behaviorist who can see you and him thru this. It's going to be a long and tedious process. it's not a matter of a few training steps. It's loads of patience and baby steps.

    Exercise can help. I'm wondering how much exercise he's getting before you leave, since you've indicated that some days you leave for work at 4am?? My bet is, none on those day. Certainly not criticizing here, as I can barely make it out the door a few hours later - but with an s/a dog, everything you do is critical. And exercise is going to play a critical part in his schedule. He's already on-guard when you leave, his stress-level rising while you're getting ready to go - so he's up and rarin' to go, he needs an hour walk. Read the links below and see what you can learn, and ask any questions. Hopefully Fickla will read this and chime in - her Vito is her s/a dog, and she's kind of the forum expert at this. She's been thru it big-time.

    Here are some links from within the forum for you to read that may help, and also search "separation anxiety" on the forum, there are several threads.
    Dogster, MaryK, 648117 and 2 others like this.
  5. fickla Experienced Member

    I sympathize with you greatly. SA is an awful thing to go through both on the dog's end and the human's. The good news is that many dogs with SA can be "cured" in about 8wks of hard (really, really hard) work.

    I notice that Jackie linked to my blog on my work with Vito, and that is about the gist of the program. I set up a video camera, got a variety of bones that I alternated using each session, and walked in and out of the house over and over and over again. I spent a lot of time at the 10sec departure mark because Vito wouldn't touch a bone even if he was just on the other side of a baby gate. In hindsight, I should have started there. The downside to SA work is that it is really easy to set yourself backwards every single time the dog feels anxious about being alone. For the 13wks I spent doing this program (most dogs take less time) I never ever left Vito alone for longer than we had built up to. This will likely mean you will need to find a friend or doggy daycare to watch your dog. Trust me, the extra time and money that takes is worth it.

    I also highly recommend crate games. While most dogs with SA are much worse in a crate, crate skills are still great to have and can help work on impulse control. While Vito still can't be left alone in a crate as he panics, he does love his crate and is able to be left in a crate if other people are around. Thus I can crate him at our agility/obedience trials or bring a crate if I go to a friend's house.

    Because you are on short time and are under pressure from the law, I would highly recommend talking to a vet and looking at anxiety medications. I did not start Vito on drugs until he was 2yrs old (started the SA program at around 4 months) but drugs will really help speed up the program. With Vito, he developed a lot of other anxieties as he hit 2yrs of age and his SA also became much worse. He still has issues being left alone but medication has helped a lot. Vito is NOT a normal case and I'm sure that you will have much better success with the SA program and in weaning off drugs if you choose to go that route.

    Check out the books
    I'll be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell and the newer book Don't Leave me by Nicole Wilde. both are available on Amazon.
    Dogster, MaryK, 648117 and 2 others like this.
  6. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Laura, SOOO glad you chimed in, I've checked back a couple times to see if you had. (y) I was going to send out an SOS on a new thread cuz I knew you could reply better than anyone else.
    MaryK likes this.
  7. miss_bec Active Member

    hey all, thanks so much for all the advice and positive outlooks. I shall be sure to check out the blog links when home tonight. Im willing to put in the work no problems at all i just had no idea where to start until reading all ths advice. Now i have some guidelines and can start the task. Lucky for me my sister is currently styudying to be a vet ad our family friend is one so theyve posetd me some doggy drugs to help calm him (what she used on her shwo dog) and have assured me its ok to use on him for the time being until better able to cope with the anxiety and work through it so i dont have to get rid of my precious baby :) will keep you updated thanks again,
    Bec and Rambo
    DevonW, MaryK and 2SpoiledAussies like this.

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