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Separation Anxiety - Help Needed


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My boyfriend and I are new dog owners and both new to greyhounds. I have been very interested in greyhounds for a few years now and despite doing a decent amount of research I believe we have made some terrible mistakes with our new girl (3.5 years old). We have had our dog since October 26 - she was living in a foster home with two adults, another greyhound and a cat for I believe 3 weeks. Both humans were home all the time and I don't think she was crated very much there. When adopting, we were told by the rescue group to keep her in a crate for 10 days, only letting her out for the bathroom and food, not showing any affection and ignoring her until the 10 day period was over. We failed miserably at keeping her in the crate.... maybe only lasting an hour or two in the crate before we let her out and sit with us in the living room on a bed on the floor while we were home. The foster mom had encouraged us to keep her out of the crate but it didn't take much to twist my arm to stray from my instructions. In addition, she followed us everywhere - I thought it was cute at the time.

 

My boyfriend and I both work full time - we have dog walkers come let her out during the day (around 12:30-2) and then are normally back home around 6-7. She is in the crate while we are away. Although we did leave her out a few occasions when we were not gone long (this was before her destruction started however). Occasionally the she will stay with her foster family for the day while I am at work. I knew she cried every time we left her alone but I assumed it stopped after awhile - especially since our walkers never mentioned hearing her before or after they came/left. We have come to believe that she has been howling all day long. During the week of Thanksgiving, my boyfriend and I had some time off (about 5 days) so we were around her pretty much 24/7 - in addition we traveled to both his and my families homes (30 minute drive and 4 hour drive to each). Her routine got very messed up with us being around and traveling to 2 different places. The Monday after Thanksgiving (last week) it came to our attention that she cries all day long. We had been giving her 2 melatonin tablets for awhile along with a bone filled with peanut butter --- I guess they were not working. Her crate also has a bed and a lot of toys so one would think that would be enough to keep her occupied. The day after we were told she was not any better and in addition, she ripped up her bed in the crate. The next day she was no better and destroyed another bed in her crate. The next day she ripped up the towels we kept in her crate (she lost bed privileges after 2 destroyed beds).

 

This week hasn't seemed to get any better despite getting a camera (we have tried to talk to her - it seems to make her worse - we also confirmed the SCREAMS all day long), continuing to use melatonin, rescue remedy, a toy that hides treats and a large peanut butter filled bone. We also leave the tv or radio on - it doesn't seem to make a difference. We also have been using a citronella collar which hasn't been working (she will stop when she gets sprayed but will start up again after a few seconds - eventually the collar runs out of citronella). Prior to Thanksgiving she seemed to not notice when we left for work when she had a peanut butter bone --- this week she drops the peanut butter bone and immediately will howl when she sees us leave. This week she has ripped up her new bed (twice) despite me covering it with bitter spray both days. Last week I thought her destruction was out of spite but this week seeing her on the camera I can tell she is doing it because she is absolutely terrified of being alone.

 

I know there are a ton of tips on separation anxiety here (I have looked through them), however, I want some advice given our backstory. I have purchased a calming coat (will try that on Friday - she is going to the foster family tomorrow.) I have gotten mixed advice between the rescue group, google, etc. I was told to ignore her for a few days and she should be back to normal (to be fair I don't think she was ever calm or comfortable being alone). I have tried to not let her see the cues of us leaving (ie. I don't let her see me put on my coat, grab my keys very quietly and out of her sight) - however, once she hears me lock the door is when she screams/howls.

 

When I get out of work I let her out of the crate - should I continue to leave her out of the crate? Should I ignore her completely? (it's extremely difficult - I did not get a dog to ignore). She has been sitting on the couch with us --- should I not allow this? When do I look to medication? Did we give her affection too soon? Is her SA moderate or severe? I would like to try to uncrate her but with her destructive behavior I pause with that - however, I did buy baby gates to test it out in short durations this weekend. I know this does not get cured over night - but I would like to approach this situation in the most efficient way possible (and also would like some real time examples of "my dog had SA and i did x,y,z and it took x weeks/months for her to be cured). Will bringing her somewhere during the day a few days a week help or hinder her SA?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I would suggest a consult with a veterinary behaviourist and consider starting medications sooner than later. In addition you'll of course need to work on alone training and other behaviour modification (the behaviourist can help you with this). The poor girl sounds very upset.

 

You don't need to ignore her 24/7. She needs comfort and to be loved. You cannot reward fear, and in addition she's already very upset about being left alone so getting more attached is unlikely to make things worse. If anything, learning to trust you guys is probably helpful in the long term.

 

If she can stay with her foster family who are home all day while you guys are at work that would be helpful. While working through separation anxiety we ideally don't want to leave the dog alone long enough that it gets upset. We want the training process to be very slow and not produce anxiety. Understandably it is not always possible to not leave them alone, but if you have an option I would use it, even if it's just a couple days a week.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Thank you for the response! I will definitely look to engaging a veterinary behaviorist (do they need to specialize in greyhounds?) I have also already contacted our vet about medication. My fear is investing a lot of money in medication and it won't work (like the rest of the methods we have tried so far).

 

As for alone training I have been using the camera to monitor her - after work I will leave her for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes and so on... the trouble is she will whine immediately when I leave and tend to not stop until I come back - also since we work, we really only have the weekends to dedicate to leaving her alone for an increasing amount of time in baby steps (and again - she never seems to settle).

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I just posted this same question. My new girl isn’t as bad, but did howl and cry the whole day (I recorded it) when she was in the crate. One day she ate the bed to pieces, likes yours, and she’s been using her teeth to rip the cage off. I also prob did the wrong thing by letting her sleep with me, go on couch, etc. This is my second greyhound and never had an issue like this with him, so it’s all mew to me.

 

Only things that are working right now are, kong of kibble and frozen PB on top, window seat, no crate, and 4mg of melatonin, which i plan on increasing tomorrow bc it barely affects her.

 

How much melatonin are you giving? You said two tablets.... I’d also try her out of the crate, in a dog safe room, woh her muzzle on.

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