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I have a new boy we named Darwin. We adopted him in February, so we've had him less than a year, and he's five years old. We're not sure if he's a large toy or a small miniature, since he's only about 8 pounds and doesn't reach the height requirement for miniature standards, but he's also VERY solid and has a much larger head than our other poodle, Arno. Arno's VERY small though - 3.5 lbs - so I'm not sure if he'd be the best way to judge.

Darwin came to us with severe separation anxiety. I know this shouldn't be a huge surprise (I don't know how many owners he's had in the past), but I also know that I'm making it worse because it's my instinct to pick him up and coddle him when he displays certain behaviors. It's so hard not to, but I want to make him feel better and not worse and I know that's not the right way to do it.

- He's left alone with the other two dogs for maybe 2-3 hours at most during the day, but not every day. I work a completely different schedule than my spouse, so it's rare that he's by himself for too long. We crate train. I thought that would be easier and that he might come to view the crate as his safe space. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. Whenever he sees me getting ready for work, he immediately hides under the bed.

- He cries when I leave. I think he does stop relatively soon, but it's agonizing sounding. Thankfully he hasn't harmed himself or tried to bust out of the crate. I am wondering if he'd be better NOT in the crate, but I'm not sure.

- He steals all my socks. He doesn't eat them, he just holds them. He doesn't want toys and he'll occasionally take a bone, but he'll sniff out a sock and I never know where he gets them from. I think he has access to where all my socks go from the drier or something LOL. He brings them out of nowhere.

- TMI, but he also likes going in my garbage in the bathroom and he removes ALL THE USED TAMPONS. It's so gross. I've since kept my bathroom door CLOSED, because I'm afraid he might swallow one.

- Sometimes he shakes uncontrollably and paws at me until i hold him in my lap. He'll do this with a sock in his mouth and grunting, which sounds weird but is super cute and of course results in exactly what he wants.

- HE LICKS OBSESSIVELY.

- He follows me everywhere. I can't even get up in the middle of the night to get a drink without him following me. He's very attached to me, which doesn't bother me by itself, but I can tell he's suffering too and I don't want him to be so insecure.

I've tried various methods I've found online, like not greeting him too enthusiastically right away and testing coming home and leaving and such, but it doesn't seem to work. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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i used to give my dog his favorite treat whenever i left. it got to the point where he would run to my mother's room to check if she was getting dressed to go out because that really really meant he would be getting the best treats. i could practically feel him thinking don't let the door hit you as you leave. i think this only works well, though, if you have a food-motivated dog.
if your dog is not food-motivated, what would be a reward associated with your departure? maybe start there. it should be something he gets only when you leave.
 
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i used to give my dog his favorite treat whenever i left. it got to the point where he would run to my mother's room to check if she was getting dressed to go out because that really really meant he would be getting the best treats. i could practically feel him thinking don't let the door hit you as you leave. i think this only works well, though, if you have a food-motivated dog.
if your dog is not food-motivated, what would be a reward associated with your departure? maybe start there. it should be something he gets only when you leave.
That would probably be a sock! :laugh2:
 

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well since he seems to have a genius for finding socks whenever, maybe a furry toy you sleep with that he only gets when you leave? otherwise it goes into a drawer he can't open? it would be like linus' blanket, except he's only allowed to rely on it when you're gone.
 

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well since he seems to have a genius for finding socks whenever, maybe a furry toy you sleep with that he only gets when you leave? otherwise it goes into a drawer he can't open? it would be like linus' blanket, except he's only allowed to rely on it when you're gone.
That's a good idea. I have these two "cloud" pillows that I sleep with, maybe I could stick one in the crate with him. Like I said, he doesn't chew or eat the socks, so I wouldn't have to worry about him tearing it up.
 

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i'd be interested to hear if that works. let us know if you try it.
 

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i'd be interested to hear if that works. let us know if you try it.
Will do! Probably Friday. Tomorrow my spouse is off work so he won't be on his own.
 

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Have you tried feeding him with a kong rather than out of a bowl? This can really help with separation anxiety. Soak his food in water till it puffs up, then fill a kong with it. Smear a little peanut butter on the hole to seal it off and freeze it over night. Give it to him while he's locked in the crate alone every day. Start doing it while you're at home first, so he gets used to it while you are there and he isn't anxious. Then you can slowly start to leave him alone while he is occupied. This should work even for a dog that isn't food motivated. All dogs still get hungry and it's more about giving him the good stuff while you're gone. Many people will only give food out of a kong in this manner.
 

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I think with a dog this anxious I would consider medication, if only to get him into a state where he can learn other habits. Helpful information here: https://fearfuldogs.com/medications-for-fear-anxiety/ - if you have not already come across fearfuldogs.com it has lots of useful advice on management and training.
 

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I have an extremely anxious apricot toy poodle. He takes Anafranil twice a day, he can’t function without it. His separation anxiety is manageable, it’s far from the worse part of his anxiety.

I used to crate him when I left, most of the time with his sister who didn’t need it, just for company. But I don’t anymore. He and Beckie are loose in the house. He will pick up my shoes and move them, they are misplaced most of the time when I come back. He doesn’t whine when I go, but he whines for 5 minutes when I come back. I let him outside, it’s too annoying.

The first year I had him, he would pee in the house also when his routine was perturbed. Those anxious dogs really need to have a clear routine, that’s what reassures them the most.

My best advice is keep trying new things until you find what works. And consider anxiety medication. You should see your vet about that.

Best of luck !
 

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Separation anxiety is also a challenge that we face - it is getting better since we are managing it. Routine is very important. I would keep excursions short at first (if possible).
Here are a few things that have helped Louie.
Before I leave he gets to go outside with me - either we play ball or go for a short walk (this alone has reduced the anxiety a lot)
When I do leave him it is very routine like and try to keep your own anxiety over it in check.
Leave some music or a favorite TV show running so it is not too quiet.
Crating is very helpful in my opinion - to keep him safe.
Add a favorite toy or an item that smells like you (sock is actually very good for that). If you can get him interested in food for when you leave (special treat) that may also take the pressure off.
Rescue Remedy (calming drops) have tried it and does not really work for us - but some say it is very effective.
 

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First of all, thank you for rescuing your little guy. It is clear that you really care about him.

I have 2 dogs with separation anxiety; one is a rescue. They both show anxiety in different environments in different ways. I think the suggestions of a calming object and stuffed kong are great, but I also agree that it sounds like at this point medication or some sort of calming supplement is needed as well.

Definitely continue with crate training because it sounds like he gets into things, and that can be really unsafe.

Also, when coming and going, remain calm and don't make a big deal out of it. If your dog senses your hesitation, that can ramp up his anxiety. Routines also are great, but then dogs can struggle with a person leaving when the routine is different. So when I left for work, Miracle was fine, but then when I had to leave in the evening to take out the trash or go somewhere else, this was different to her and she whined when I left. In the end, it's important to be able to leave in different ways and at different times and have him still be okay, but you should start with one routine.
 

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I agree with fjm and Dechi about considering medication for your boy. His anxiety sounds so extreme that there is no point in training when he is full on in that mode. He can't think in that state. You can start with something very mild and OTC like Rescue Remedy or CBD oil. If that doesn't do the trick ask your vet for an Rx for something stronger.

I worked with a rescue dog who also was anxious and we used rescue remedy given about half an hour before I arrived to help her get to a relaxed enough state for training to great avail. She was very reactive to other dogs and even birds and squirrels. The method of giving her the RR got us (over the course of months) from having Lily across the street and no closer than four houses away as her threshold distance to having Lily walking towards her and on the same side of the street about a house away as threshold. That distance gave the family options for being able to walk her at quiet times of day and to continue training on their own. Eventually they were able to drop the RR.

Whether the anxiolytic agent is OTC or Rx and temporary or life long you will be doing your boy a big favor relieving that anxiety which is currently causing him to have chronic high cortisone levels which will damage his immune system and put him at risk for all sorts of chronic stress related diseases.
 

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I agree with the others recommending prescription medication. This dog needs medication, this is not a mild case of short duration. I don’t recommend Rescue Remedy, it won’t be effective in your dog at this time.

Ideally you would want a vet behavioralist, a vet with special psychiatric training, to evaluate and treat your dog, however they are in short supply so you may not have one in your area. If not, go to your vet and ask for help. There’s several drugs that can work to reduce anxiety. Once you get a hold on the anxiety you can work on training. It may be that this dog needs medication for life, but some dogs only need medication to assist with training and once they have learned new behaviors the medication can slowly be withdrawn.

It’s wonderful that you adopted Darwin and are giving him a wonderful home.
 

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I'm a reflexologist. Stroke the dog's ears. You might notice that when you rub a dog's ears they become your friend for life. You can watch them relaxing and digging it. For starters, begin at the base with your thumb on the inside and one or two fingers on the outside. Make soft little circles. Repeat until you have covered the base of the ear with finger kisses. Don't talk to him, just stay calm and rub the ear this way.

Next, begin at the base and center. Gently pull up to the tip. Repeat, then make little circles on the tip of the ear. Repeat to the left, then the right. Repeat the entire procedure with the other ear.

There are other things you can do, but start with that one and see what happens.

Get a strong refrigerator magnet. Begin at the top of his head and using the magnet, stroke down to past the base of the tail. Do this 3 times. Repeat later in the day.

Also, when he is showing anxiety, turn from him, step away. Run him through any basic commands he knows. This may distract him, and it also stops you from rewarding the anxiety.
 

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Did it work ?

Will do! Probably Friday. Tomorrow my spouse is off work so he won't be on his own.
Has your dog responded well,
When I go out, my dogs get on the bed & snuggle into my nightie or dressing gown, it seems calming for them both & their quite happy about it
 
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