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Old 09-29-2013, 10:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Separation Anxiety

Hi. I was reading the forum about separation anxiety. We adopted a miniature poodle from a shelter. He's about 3, and he has a terrible case of it. They think he's 3, and he was found as a stray in another town. He clearly knows nothing of obedience, toys, anything. A clean slate, except for this problem. The groomer said definitely more poodle than Bichon because of the coat, feet, shape of skull, and ears. He really is adorable.
If we crated him, I'm positive he'd go crazy. He eats his dinner that I put in the back of the crate, but he's never just relaxed in it. He uses his bed next to it or follows us around. Typical Velcro dog.
We have such a nice yard that he'd enjoy, but he barks constantly. He goes through a collar of citronella spray and keeps on barking. We now have to keep him inside the master bedroom with the big, calm dog when we are gone. He's on Xanax and Clomicalm. It hasn't helped, yet, but the Clomicalm takes 4-6 wks, and we're on week 4.
We give him frozen Kongs with treats, a pig ear (his favorite), a chew stick when we leave. I've done a month and a half of the normal opening and closing the front door, ignoring him when we arrive unless he's calm and then only a small hello, good boy. I had a toy rat terrier that had to use a citronella collar when alone with the big dog in the yard. She was very controlled by the collar. This dog not at all.
Our vet is wonderful and has a lot of experience with this, but her meds and suggestions aren't working.
This dog is wonderful when we're with him. Somewhat stubborn, but that means he's smart. He is very smart.
I'd really love to hear if anyone has had an extreme case like this and what they did that worked. Thanks.
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Old 09-29-2013, 02:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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here's a video with victoria stilwell that offers an approach. notice that, like you, she started first with medication so that the dog is at least calmed down enough to be "reachable." clearly this is not a one size fits all solution, but i do think it provides a valuable insight that is not often articulated by other trainers/behaviorists as to patterns that may affect anxiety.

It's Me or the Dog: Animal Planet
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You are so right. I was a bit unsure as to wether to put Billy on meds when he had separation anxiety,but I felt that his baseline anxiety needed addressing before we could do other things to help him. The meds did work,we were very lucky because they worked quickly and he was on them for 2 months,then I weaned him off them. The biggest thing we did which I know helped but is not suitable for everyone I know,was get another dog.
Billy was on Zylkene and herbal skullcap and valerian tablets. I also got 2 relaxation for dogs CDs and played them a lot at the beginning,not just when I went out but during the day at random times. People say to leave stuffed kongs and things but if a dog is really anxious it won't eat while you are out,Billy wouldn't so that doesn't always help.
Just a suggestion,have you looked at TTouch. I do keep banging on about it,but it's really helped Billy chill out when he gets stressed or over excited. Pop it in the search engine and have a read,see what you think.
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My pup had bad separation anxiety for quite a while, she is still not fine with me coming in and out so if I come home and need to leave again I need to allow some time for her to calm down, do some walking, relax some more and then coax her with treats so I can leave. If someone is in the house with me I will ask them to be quiet for a few minutes before we leave, so she is not excited or hears excitement and then give her treats in my bedroom while I am locking the door. Many people advice against this, but I do make a big deal out of coming back home, she is not an excitement peer, and she's too small for jumping to be a big deal to me, so I make a very small deal out of leaving and a big one out of coming back and this works for us (I understand this would not work for every dog, especially really big ones), I think it helped her understand that leaving is ok and coming back is even better, hehe

I do not have much advice, more so a story of encouragement. It took a VERY long time to get her accustomed to being by herself, she was first crated, then confined to a room and then she graduated to having the run of the house. This was not even for potty purposes but for her own comfort. She will never be one of those dogs you can take for potty and leave again and I am ok with that. I like being able to leave knowing that she feels secure and happy knowing that I will come back. Your little one came from an unsafe environment and it will take him a while to understand you are not going anywhere, he is lucky to have you! I hope the meds and lots of love and treats will help. This may be a long very gradual process and I hope it will pay off for you guys, thanks for rescuing him!
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Old 09-30-2013, 04:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We adopted our five year old poodle from a shelter several months ago. The separation anxiety problem was heartbreaking. I tried many different things to try and help my poor boy adjust to being alone sometimes. I was, in fact, with him most always but was soon to be starting nursing school and I was very afraid of what might happen if we could not help him get over this problem. He would bark, howl and cry like a baby bird when I left, even for short periods of time. He seemed to fall apart.

I can't really give you any suggestions because what worked for us ultimately was...time. I won't tell you that my Joe Joe loves being alone, but he is so much better now and even goes to his crate quietly when I leave. (When he hears me come home he goes bananas, jumping for joy and giving all kinds of kisses and snuggles—but this is fine with us.) He is still a velcro dog, following me everywhere in the house. It's just that he has adjusted to being alone when I have to go to class. A lot of it had to do with me adjusting my own approach and boosting his confidence instead of nurturing his neediness...but that is another story that has nothing to do with your situation. Point of all this is to give encouragement to you that it can change but it just might take a long while. Lots of patience and love can go a long way. (Or in my case a little toughening up on myself). When we got Joe Joe it was clear he hadn't ben cared for well and he was ill. It's so hard to see a baby boy that has been through that suffer with anxiety. But hopefully, with time, your boy will learn that you will come back to him and he will begin to settle down.

I wish you the best and please keep us posted. I know all the little things you are doing might seem like they are not working, but sometimes it just has to be repeated many, many, many times.
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