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Newly Developed Separation Anxiety


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I say 'newly developed' separation anxiety since we have had Marvin almost exactly 3 years, and it is only over the past 2-3 months that he has started acting out when we leave. Is it common for a dog who never had any problem with his humans leaving for any length of time to just start being distressed, even after a few years? Until this last few months, he never chewed anything that was not one of his toys, and now, it is every time we leave. It used to be just some whining for a couple of minutes. Then it moved to howling and attacking tissue boxes and then on to books left on the nightstand. And then it progressed to plastic electronics and chargers...he has a thing for plastic stuff.

 

We curbed the behavior initially by baby-gating him in our bedroom, where he has a bed and is where he sleeps every night with us. No whining, happy and comfy, settled right down. That worked for a while, and then he started destroying things in there. We have a soft-sided enormous crate, and we have started closing the flap on it to see if we can keep him in there while gone for short amounts of time. However, we are afraid he will chew/eat his way out, as he ate part of the carry bag for the crate during one of his episodes a few weeks back... We also have a plastic basket muzzle for him, but we're also afraid he may chew it up. His bottom teeth are broken (possibly from metal crate bars), so we're hesitant to do a metal crate but we are open to at least trying it.

 

We have gone back to step 0 with alone training, with no idea where else to start, but we are open to any suggestions you all may have. Everything seems to happen in the first short while when we're gone, but I'd like to get back to a place where he does not need a Kong every time we leave, even to take the trash out, just to not start terrorizing. Some of what he's destroyed definitely took longer than a few minutes (he hand-picked a bunch of different percussion sticks and mallets out of a bag...).

 

Another challenge is our hound's over-attachment to me vs. his level of attachment to my husband. He's very attached to both of us and is a very social-with-people dog, but he is much more attached to me and will go nuts even if my husband is still home in the same room. I don't acknowledge any of his whining, and I ignore him for several minutes before I leave and when I come home to make it 'no big deal' that I didn't see him.

 

I think part of the problem has been the extreme cold this winter - walks are much, much shorter than he probably needs to work out all of his energy, and we are hoping that the fenced yard we just bought (we bought the house it comes with too!) will go a long way toward helping curb this new-found behavior.

 

We would love to hear any suggestions you all may have on things we can try to get things turned around. Do people like the DAP diffuser, collar or wall-plug? I'm afraid he will eat the one that plugs into the wall since it looks plastic... The noise isn't the problem. We are just afraid he is going to eat something that will hurt him and need to protect him from himself until we work through this. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've had exactly the same problem as you. I think it was caused by a combination of me going back to work after two weeks off at Christmas and him having a cut pad so no walks. I think he was just bored. I came back to find literally everything that wasn't stuck down in his bed and most of it chewed!

 

I couldn't crate as he would chew at the crate and putt the metal bars off I was worried he would hurt himself.

 

Does Marvin chew furniture/carpet etc as well or is it just things that he can pick up? With Jake he would only chew up things if he could take them to his bed first, so I blocked his access to all the rooms and just left him with the landing, stairs and hall and made sure I didn't leave anything out in these areas. This obviously hasn't cured the problem but does stop him getting anything that hurts him.

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Sounds like he's really bored.

 

Have you tried a nice big Nylabone?

 

Think of something you can do inside to stimulate him--I am currently training my boy to lie down and hopefully to shake.

 

DAP collars worked really well on my cats (well, they're Feliway collars for cats, but same idea).


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

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Thanks for the feedback! I put his antler and favorite nylabone in the bedroom with him, along with a variety of toys, but he's not a big chewer. He doesn't gnaw on furniture, walls, or carpet, which is a small consolation. It really has to be plastic or wood and something he can 'steal', no dog bed required. We've got down, stay, sit, shake, play dead, spin, and heel, but we haven't been doing any dedicated training time at home of late, and it sounds like we should try it to make it a daily event to wear his brain out. We've also found a way to baby-gate a short hallway for him (about a 4x8 ft area) for short periods of time with his bed and bowls where there is nothing he can chew. He destroyed nothing today - a small victory!

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