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Adjustment Period Or Seperation Anxiety


Guest cnewby2
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Guest cnewby2

Hello All!


 

New poster here, been reading a lot of good information here for quite some time, and I thank everyone's helpful posts as they have answered a lot of questions I have had along the process of adopting these wonderful dogs!


 

Let me apologize for the length of this post to begin with. I want to provide as much information as possible and see what y'all think.


 

Our situation is a little different than many others I talk to, as this will be our only dog. Seems almost everyone with greyhounds has more than 1! Especially all the fosters, who always have several dogs in their homes at any given time.


 

We had an adoption go wrong a couple month ago, we fell in love with this retired racer who unknown to pretty much anyone, had extreme separation anxiety. He was perfect while we were home, but the minute we left, despite everything we tried, he would go crazy in fear. Actually got to the point we were afraid he was going to hurt himself trying to chew out of the crate, then the baby gate, then the door. We were using a camera that we can watch on our phones while we are gone to monitor him. We tried getting a trainer in our home who recommended we not leave him alone at all for 4-6 weeks and extremely slowly work on alone training, then if that didn't work, it would take close to 6 months of the same treatment to "probably" get him over his fear. We had him almost 2 weeks trying to work something out, but it was just getting worse. So, the adoption agency took him back since we could not eliminate the stressor (we had to go to work the next day again). Was a very, very sad thing...


 

We have read several books and went off recommendations to work slowly up being gone for extended times (probably longest we would need to leave him alone would be 6 hours). We spent several days starting at just minutes, to half an hour, to an hour, etc. over the course of 4 days (sounds fast, but we work and can't set any more time aside for the adjustment/training).


 

Well, fast forward to today, we recently chose to foster a dog in hopes of determining if he would be a good single dog and okay while we are away for work. We're going on a week now, and I am seeing signs of the same behavior as our previous dog, and it concerns me and I want to get some opinions on what y'alls experience has been... And also how to tell the difference between separation anxiety and just the "normal" adjustment they go through.


 

A little information to cover some bases. He is huge! 95lbs. Too tall and long for our crate, which was the largest we could find locally. He could fit, but be extremely cramped and probably couldn't even turn around or lay down comfortably. I don't want to leave him cooped up like that. If he would fit, I would try to use the crate, but he is just too big. It would also have to be in a separate room, not enough space for that crate in our room. So we are using a baby gate to keep him in the bedroom while we are away. Also, he also only has his front teeth (k-9's and fronts, that's it), all of his back teeth had to be removed. He isn't interested in rawhides, and I can understand why, he really can't do anything with them. I could only imagine licking a burger instead of being able to chew it... Would be torture! We leave a frozen kong filled with peanut butter, but he looses interest pretty quick, about 15 minutes, even with peanut butter still inside. He also has a couple toys available to him in the room.


 

After we leave, in about 15 minutes, he starts barking at the gate. The first few times, he would bark frantically and run around the room barking, then play with the toys a little (30 seconds maybe), then back at the gate barking. On our longer training (4 hours), I would say total was probably 3 hours barking and whining, with at max an hour of actually laying down. He chose to jump on the bed to rest (we didn't want to let him on the bed in the first place, but if it makes him more comfortable while we are gone, we can adjust, as long as he doesn't try to hop up there while we're in bed). The past couple days, he has started chewing at the baby gate a little and jumping on the door. The only reason I think he hasn't hopped over the baby gate is because there is tile on the other side, and I think he is scared of jumping onto it. The baby gate is actually about 6" lower than the bed, so I know he can make it, just doesn't try. He will bark at the gate, then run around the room barking, then up on the bed barking, back at the gate barking, then finally jump back up on the bed and lay down for a couple minutes. One of the things that is the most concerning is the chewing the gate though, especially because he can only use his front teeth.


 

Does this sound like things you would expect with adjustment, or the beginning signs of separation anxiety. He already won't let us out the front door, and will whine and scratch the door if one of goes out front, even when one of us stays inside with him. He pretty much won't leave our side, which I know is part of the adjusting, but freaking out when we're gone is what I'm worried about.


 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my extremely long post! I hope some here have experience with similar issues and can help us through this and offer suggestions as to what we can do to help his adjustment. Advice for activities to keep him occupied would be great, and also any treat ideas that we give him to occupy him while we are gone (similar to how effective a rawhide is) since he doesn't have most of his teeth.


 

Thanks again, and I look forward to talking to you all in the forums!


 

Chris

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It's unclear from your post if you did actual "alone training" with either dog. This should be done. A search here will provide many threads with excellent instructions.

 

You also don't say what exercise he is getting. Ideally, the dog should be both empty and tired before you leave. Most greyhounds do better with a set schedule every day, so see if you can get him into a routine.

 

Leave the TV or a radio on that he can listen to while you're gone.

 

Get a DAP diffuser and/or collar to help calm him down.

 

If you have given all these things a real, consistent try, then you can move on to talking with your vet about medication help. It doesn't mean you're drugging your dog. But anti-anxiety medication can help put his brain into a receptive state so all your continuing de-sensitization training can get through.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Guest Lillypad

I am sorry that I can not give any advice, there are folks here much more experienced and knowledgeable than me, so I am sure you will get the proper advice. What I would like to say is that I commend you for all of the efforts you are doing. It is wonderful that you welcomed a second hound into your home and are willing to go through the adjustment stage again. I can say that adjustment period can take up to a year. My girl settled in nicely (but I was home 24/7) but looking back It is clear that she really only fully blossomed after at least 9-12 months with us. I will keep you in my thoughts and pray that things go well and that you will have an easier time with this hound. Thank you personally and from all other greyhound lovers for opening your home, heart and patience to this guy and we wish you all the very best. Keep strong I believe things will work out for you all.

 

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Guest cnewby2

Lillypad, thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging words, I really appreciate it!

 

Greysmom, we do morning exercise, either a nice 20-30 minute walk, or playing in the back yard for as long as he can/will (normally only 10 minutes or so). We have worked with both of them on alone training in the way of leaving for a few minutes, then coming back, and working up to longer and longer times. I will definitely do a search here and get some more recommendations on the alone training. Thank you for your advice!

 

Thanks again for your help and supportive replies, both of you!

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Welcome to GreyTalk! :) What you've described could be transitional. Great if you're able to give him a little more time, especially through additional days off with brief alone training sessions. Many Greyhounds are fine as an "only" but it often takes an adjustment period.


- A Greyhound turnout muzzle would prevent him from chewing the baby gate.


- Please seriously consider raising the baby-gate about 6" above floor level for that big boy. He could seriously injure himself by jumping over the gate onto tile, and he would not know any better.


- I strongly recommend cheap area rugs or runner rugs on hard surface floors. Very important that rugs are either rubber-backed or have separate rubber rug-gripper mats underneath all rugs on hard surface floors. (This is for all Greyhounds' general safety. Too many hounds sustain serious injuries (even death) from a slip/fall on hard surface floors inside their own home.)


- Considering his size, probably okay to skip the crate, but he might feel more comfortable with access to an open door crate. Agree that he needs more space to move around during your work hours.


- Barking is a distress response. It could be his call for your return and/or it may coincide with him feeling a desperate need to eliminate outside. Even though his work day alone time is 6 hours, it would help if you can arrange for someone to provide him one mid-day elimination break during this transition period. Many new dogs need to eliminate more frequently while adjusting to a new environment. Be sure he's getting at least 3 opportunities to eliminate before humans leave for work (last one within 5-10 minutes before departure). Wake up outing, after breakfast outing, and before departure outing.


- An alternative busy activity (without muzzle) during your days off, while continuing brief alone training, is to feed his full meals from a food cube or Kong. (Assuming you soak kibble since all his cheek teeth were removed.) That said, I'd watch him on camera very closely to ensure he's okay (doesn't choke on food). Then return before he will need to eliminate outside.


- Please do share dog care duties with your girlfriend (including walks) so he's less apt to attach to one person. If you leave a room, ask your girlfriend to distract your hound by playing a game (hide treats under cups or in small boxes) or engage him with a toy or whatever.


- Assuming he has a thick cushy dog bed (Costco bed or similar); if you don't want him on your bed, consider blocking it off now before that habit becomes ingrained. (I agree that new dogs on humans' beds are not a good idea for many reasons.) Great if you can borrow a large desk chair mat to place pointy side up on your bed during the day. (I'd be afraid he might knock over a chair or other furniture if placed as a block on top of a bed.)


- Is there a full length mirror within his floor level view in your bedroom? If not, carefully securing a mirror to a wall helps some Greyhounds feel less alone after spending their life in racing kennels and on Greyhound farms. Please be careful to not place a mirror where it will reflect direct sun anytime during the day.


- Assuming you have two cushy dog beds (one for bedroom, one for family room). If possible in the family room, position the dog's bed at least 10'+ away from the sofa but still inside the same room (so hound still feels as part of the family, yet has his own space). Reward his calm behavior, meaning offer him occasional treats for lying down quietly on his own dog bed.


- Try a test of doing more exercise in the morning to tire him out before you leave for work.

A 30 minute sniff-fest stroll is much different than a 30 minute speed walk (with periodic stopping points for mind stimulating sniffing and eliminating). Please check his paw pads daily to ensure they're not wearing down too much from increased exercise on hard sidewalks.


Very important to continue brief sessions of alone training during your days off.

Our first (middle-aged) hound was fine as an "only" but needed transition time. Greyhounds are fabulous, so I hope all works out well for you.

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