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Old 11-27-2012, 01:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help! I've created a monster!!

Russell turned 2 on the 5th of November. I am a stay at home fur-mom, and obviously this has not been the best thing for Russell. It seems he has huge issues with me leaving. Of course, I've been in denial because I don't see him when I'm gone
I dropped him off for 4 hours of daycare today, and the owner says he cried, barked and howled. This is with a few bigger dogs to play with! I am planning on dropping him off tomorrow for 2 hours and Thursday for 2 hours. My thoughts are this will help to ease the anxiety? Do you agree, or am I going too fast with this? My husband would like to travel, and nobody is gonna be willing to take him if he acts like this!
Any thoughts???
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like separation anxiety, and don't worry there is no shame in admitting it, I think it happens to a lot more pet owners than many care to admit.

I think the best thing you could do right now would be to go back to some basics. If the crate is no longer being used, start using it again for small amounts of time during the day, and perhaps even at night. Get him used to being able to hear you, know where you are, but not be able to get to you.

If you don't want to use a crate, make a special area for him, make sure he is super comfortable in the crate, or in a special area.

The idea is to have him have a special place where he still feels good when you're gone. Have this area have tasty stuffed kongs and safe toys that he loves, and a nice warm sleeping area and lots of fresh water.

You're going to probably also have to not give into some attention seeking behavior, too. If he is constantly glued to you at home, and asserts that he should be, find a way to teach him that it's okay not to be.

I think we already know he gets lots of exercise and mental stimulation, so good job there!

Remember all of your successes you've had, and that you are a good dog owner. You've given him a great home, and that's something to be proud of.

I do not believe you've created a monster, and I think you'll be surprised at how easy this will be to remedy.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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People who've successfully countered separation anxiety say they have to teach the dog that it's okay to be on his own, and that you'll always return. I've heard that people have success in crating the dog, giving him his comfort items (toys, blanket, something that smells like you etc.) and then getting their coat on and keys out, and leaving for 30 seconds. Then come back in, and if he's excited, ignore him until he calms down before giving him any attention. The trick is to teach him that it's no big deal and doesn't make you feel sympathetic to him. Some people repeat this leaving/coming back in multiple times per day, all the while ignoring him until he quits being upset before letting him out of the crate or paying any attention to him. My brother had enormous problems with his mastiffs that way, and Indy is kind of funny about it too. Indy is very attached to our family and she is okay with other people too, but not dogs. Maddy on the other hand loves EVERYONE, so she's much easier when it comes to doggy daycare etc.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Russell is crated at night. If we don't crate him he chooses to sleep in a different room, ie the living room couch. He seems to be fine if I leave him at home, he doesn't carry on and bark, and he is happy when I return, not over the moon excited, just happy. The problem seems to be when I leave him WITH someone else :(


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Old 11-27-2012, 02:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How does he do with an in home pet sitter? That might be a good experiment, perhaps you can get a friend or family member to house sit with him when you travel (I have done this before, it's not as bad as it seems).
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PoodlePowerBC View Post
Russell is crated at night. If we don't crate him he chooses to sleep in a different room, ie the living room couch. He seems to be fine if I leave him at home, he doesn't carry on and bark, and he is happy when I return, not over the moon excited, just happy. The problem seems to be when I leave him WITH someone else :(
Can you work out a way to leave Russell with someone he knows, at their home, for a brief period of time, even 30 minutes to start, to help accustom him to being with others? I did this when Chagall was a puppy, though it near ripped my heart out. I would drop him off at a friend's home for an hour or so, leaving him with familiar toys and my old sweatshirt (which I assure you earned the name 'sweatshirt'). He howled and carried on initially, but our friends are dog people so they were able to withstand his screeching. He even did a sleepover at their home, and apparently he slept that night though I didn't. I did these things because the breeder cautioned me not to have Chagall spend every minute with me, I'm retired and she readily saw there was a danger I would.

Do you bring Russell many places, like to the Home Depot or Pet Store, where he can experience being out in the world with others? I did that as well, and I think he often was so intrigued with the goings-on he nearly forgot I was still with him.

Does Russell enjoy playdates with other dogs and their owners? If so, maybe you could arrange a few of meet ups and slip away for a while, leaving him in someone else's care. He is still a young boy, and he's a poodle so he's a velcro dog, and maybe even a momma's boy (hehe), but it seems very doable to me to help wean him from you being his sun, moon and stars to the detriment of him enjoying time spent away from you. Did the Doggy Day Care offer you any suggestions? Leaving him for half the initial time you did sounds like a good approach to me. I know this must be hard on you, probably harder on you than him. Sorry for the stream of consciousness post, just pecking out ideas on the keyboard as they come to me. Please don't beret yourself for having a spoo who loves your company, you will get this sorted out.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The last time we left for 2 nights I left Russell at home with a pet-sitter/friend. I told him that if he preferred, he could take the dogs home with him at night. Apparently Russell wouldn't settle, and whined a lot to he just took him back to our place and stayed there. This lad lives a couple of minutes away, we spend most holiday dinners at his place and the dogs are always with us. The family has a doodle and a lab and they come at least 2 times a year to our cabin for a week at a time with their dogs. Not strangers!!!
Russell often goes with me to the bank, Revy (Our Home Depot is dog-adverse) and to the local hospital for visits. We walk every Sunday with a group of friends and at least 10 dogs.
This is why I'm leaning toward a doggy daycare situation. He is most definitely socialized. He LOVES all people, is not in the least bit shy. He is great with other dogs, large and small. He just freaks if I'm not with him in these situations.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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PoodlePowerBC: Maybe he just needs a few more tries at Doggy Day Care to get into the groove there and "forgettabout" you for a bit? Once the place is a bit more familiar to him, he may be tempted to play with all the other fun dogs and people there. He sounds like a delightfully social and happy boy. And he can't be the first dog to miss his owner, I'm sure the folks there will continue to work to bring him along. I'll be anxious to hear how "Day Two of Russell-Goes-Sans-Momma" works out. Got my fingers crossed he grows to like it a whole lot!!
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Patricia McConnell has written extensively about separation anxiety. One of her little short books is just on this topic. I forget the title, but maybe it would help. She is a certified behaviorist.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Patricia McConnell has written extensively about separation anxiety. One of her little short books is just on this topic. I forget the title, but maybe it would help. She is a certified behaviorist.
Maybe you're thinking of her book, "I'll Be home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety"? It is excellent!!
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