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Should I Spend Time Over The Holidays To Redo Alone Training?

Guest Winnie2014

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Guest Winnie2014

I've had Winnie since November 1st. While Winnie hasn't shown a lot of Separation Anxiety, she does get up to watch me leave from behind the baby gate. Her bed is in line with the door so she can see me come and go. I recently put a bed in my bedroom, and I'm debating in getting her to settle in that bed with a Kong and redo Alone Training so she won't see me come/go.


Just as an idea:

  1. Sit with her while she eats Kong
  2. Step away and see if she's still interested in kong, if not go back to sitting, etc.
  3. Repeat until I can leave the room with success, and then open the baby gate, come back, wait until she is okay, walk out the door, etc.
  4. Repeat until I can leave the apartment for 1 minute/2/5/10/15 minutes with success putting down and picking up Kong each time
  5. Do this until she is okay with being alone for 45 minutes-1 hour

She knows my routine and knows that I'm leaving. She does alright when I leave randomly at night - but in the morning/afternoon she usually barks/whines once/twice before playing with her Kong and then leaving her usual bed until about 30 minutes after I leave. At that point she usually stays in the bed and sleeps/relaxes (I hope!)


Winnie does better with her routine and with the dog walker during the day, but that doesn't make it easier for me to leave. She does okay when I come home - she follows me around after I open the baby gate, but I only give her attention until she lays and settles down (5-10 minutes).


I'm able to do alone training from Friday afternoon to Sunday when I go back to work. Is this a good idea to reinforce the alone training? The change in schedule is what usually triggers her anxiety worse than before.


I've been working with her to desensitize items like my keys, my shoes, my jacket, my bags, etc in the evenings.


Thanks from Winnie and I. We're a work in progress - but I want to do the best for her that I can. :)


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I'm unclear what SA signs she is giving you and what behavior you want to decrease. Does she bark and/or whine excessively after you go? Is she destructive? Honestly, if she's just moving around like she normally would, even if she watches you leave, but is laying down and sleeping for most of the time I would think that she's doing fine. If you want her to completely ignore you as you get ready and exit the house, then desensitization is going to be the key.


The program you outlined is fine, as far as alone training goes. If you have the time to devote to it, it probably can't hurt. Many dogs need refresher courses in Alone Training as they go along and schedules in the household change.

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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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Guest Winnie2014

If I keep to the schedule of food, walk, leave around 6:45-7am each morning I get one whine/cry/bark and then she plays with her Kong. If I change it like I do every other Friday when we go on our "fun" day, it can escalate to barking/whining/howling on and off for up to 30 minutes after I leave. I think walks during the day helps her settle in for sure. The dog walker says they don't hear her make noise after they leave, so that's good.


In the past, if she ignored me when I left we had minimal noise. It's when she actively jumps up to watch me go is the issue. We did alone training with the crate, but not so much when she was allowed out with the baby gates. Always the same though...noise, moving around, looking out window for 30 or so minutes and then she settles in on her bed and sleeps/relaxes (I think).


She really is doing well, and I'd like to be able to be home on the weekends/leave at random times and her still be okay. This still may take time - but any advice would be appreciated. Or if I should just keep doing what I'm doing and she'll work it out that I'm coming home. That seems to be okay as she doesn't really seem to care when I walk in the door...only when I come through the baby gates.

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I'm not sure that changing the routine of a routine oriented dog is the best idea. And for many dogs with SA, being able to see their owners come and go can make a huge difference. Another thing to consider is that if you're dealing with a dog with true separation anxiety, a weekend isn't going to be sufficient to do alone training. Not discouraging you from doing some alone training exercises over the weekend, but I might not change the set up for when you leave (you could of course always try it and see how it goes, but I suspect that she will catch on and you'll end up with the same behavior).


It doesn't sound like your girl has full blown SA, or you've worked on it enough to get her to a point where she no longer feels that anxious. Before the weekend, why don't you set up a webcam and see what she does once you're gone. I use Ustream to live stream from my laptop's webcam (and I've also used a microsoft camera I got for about $20 that plugs into by USB port). Ustream lets you record, but I just let it broadcast and then check in periodically either from the app on my phone or my work computer. Then you can get an idea of whether she is showing signs of anxiety other than when you first leave, although it sounds like she isn't.


If it's just when you leave, I would try novel foods in her kongs. Not sure what you're using or if you change it up at all, but I'd suggest really high value food - layering soft and hard and then freezing the night before so she has something to really work on. Make sure the best stuff is at the bottom and the top of the kong, even if it's a small layer so that one, she's enticed enough to start workign on it as you're leaving and two, she's motivated to keep working on it until it's empty. Things that we use for this layer are usually canned dog food & baby food because we can change flavors routinely so they don't get bored and they don't tend to have stomach issues if we stick to grain free. I layer in meaty treats and PB and if I have scraps of something good like bits of steak or some hot dog I'll put a couple of those in as well. Sometimes I stick something long like a bigger biscuit or a jerky type stick in lengthwise with just the tip sticking out, which makes for hard work for the dog with all of that other stuff frozen around it.


You might also consider trying a DAP diffuser or a calming supplement like Composure to take the edge off. You could give the latter an hour or so before you leave. The diffuser you'd just keep plugged in all of the time, in the room where she tends to be when you're gone. You could actually try both and if they seem to be helping, remove one and see if her behavior changes so you aren't using one unnecessarily.


Also consider whether she's truly tired before you leave. A nice long walk or even better a good romp off lead (or a rough play session of tug or fetch if she'll do either) to really tire her out should help if you're not already doing that.


Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest Winnie2014

For the anxiety - does it make it worse that she can see me leave? Not really any way around this in my apartment if she is in the main room. I have filmed her (but not live) and she does disappear off camera for a bit after she attacks her Kong. I'm not sure if she is in my bedroom or the bathroom - but she isn't in her kennel (filmed that area too). She could just be laying in her new bed next to mine this week as well. I live in a 700 sqft studio apartment.


Her Kong is always filled with boiled Chicken. I've experimented with putting a crunchy cookie wedged in the opening as well with some success - I just need to get more of those cookies. I could try putting Peanut Butter on the bottom of it surely - but I've been careful with her food ever since the pumpkin "I've got to go now!" poo. I managed to get her outside before she got the runs. She did well when I left a dental chew with her (that I knew she would be okay with), but the grain free ones aren't cheap ($25 for 5! Eeesh) so that really isn't an option all the time.


This morning she pulled the "I'm cute I'm playing!" after I changed my clothes to go to work after our 35-40 minute walk (a little over 1 1/2 miles) to try to get me not to leave. The minute I get up from the couch she jumped up. I put down her Kong on her bed, walked through the baby gates, picked up my bag and went out the door, all while she stood and watched me at attention. I didn't hear her make any noise after I left - though she still could be anxious even though she doesn't make too much noise.


I knew Greyhounds were very much schedule oriented dogs - I'd just like to be able to sleep in sometimes on the weekend or at least to go back to sleep after our walk! Might be too much to ask and it always gives me new opportunities to explore the city. Can't change the every other Friday events - have to get my apartment cleaned and her nails trimmed so we'll deal with the aftermath of our fun day when it comes around.


I left her at home from 7am-2pm with success yesterday (though I was a nervous wreck!) and she was fine on the camera and when I got home. After the first ~30 minutes to an hour she lays down in her main bed and only gets up to scratch, look out the window, etc at various intervals. She doesn't look stressed, either. And while leaving her for 7-8 hours is not ideal, I'm hoping it's better than me leaving at normal time, coming home at lunch to walk her, and then leaving again after about an hour. Winnie seems to be okay with the dog walker leaving as she isn't me. Haha.

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I'd skip boiled chicken and use something more difficult to finish off. Like peanut butter--a very popular option!


If you have a studio apartment, I am not sure why you're bothering to baby gate her somewhere. She'd probably be more relaxed if you just give her the run of the place. For some dogs, confinement of any kind is a stress trigger. I know for my George, even having a HUGE bedroom to be in wasn't workable. He crawled under the gate on day 1, and jumped over the gate on day 2, and on day 3 I gave up and he never howled when I left again!


Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest Winnie2014

The baby gate is just to keep her out of the kitchen - she has full run of the house otherwise. She did bark after I left this morning and I heard a "thump!" so that could have either been her bouncing the Kong to get the chicken out or her laying on the floor next to the gate. Either way she usually goes after the Kong not long after her making a slight amount of noise.


She doesn't have issues with the gate or me being in the kitchen. When I came home yesterday, she was in my bedroom snoozing but came running when I came in.


I've even moved my keys, her leash, my bags all around the apartment and she just looks at me from her bed. The keys get the most reaction but even after a while they're no big deal. I think I need to stop over-thinking things and let her be. She's doing fine when she is alone it's just me that is the mess. Her making some noise is not the end of the world if it is just after I leave, plus no one has complained about her.


I found a baseball field that looks promising for us to go run at on the weekends - we just need to do a perimeter check with her on leash to make sure there aren't any holes in the fence. :)


Thanks for all your help!

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