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Velcro Dog With Severe Separation Anxiety


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Hi all,

 

I feel like there are so many threads on separation anxiety already but the tricks I've read on others aren't working for us.

 

We've been using a crate when we're away and each day it's taking her longer to settle in and sleep (we have a camera on her). Right now, we're at 2+ hrs before she settles and then it's only 30 mins of sleep before she's up and howling / clawing at crate.

 

Here's a summary of her and what we've tried:

  • 18-month-old female that never raced. Our first greyhound.
  • Very timid but learning. Can do city walks without her freezing now. Tail now wags even.
  • At home with us for over three weeks.
  • Work 8 hr days but stagger our times so she's only alone for 6, max.
  • Very bonded to us. Can't close the door to the bathroom without her clawing at it. Always in the same room with us.
  • Highly-food motivated, except when in the crate. She'll refuse to eat anything. Even her favorites (peanut butter filled Kong).
  • She's not all that into toys (2-5 mins a day playing with them) but still put a few in the crate for her.
  • Placed a pillow we'd used for a long time in the crate with her, so she'd have our sent.
  • Covered the crate with blankets (except front) to make it cave like.
  • Play doggie relaxation videos (youtube) when we leave her in the crate.
  • Crate is in a spare bedroom that looks at our entryway, so she can see us come and go.
  • We have to forcibly put her in the crate (lures no longer work).
  • When left to free roam alone (we walk around the block or go to store), she howls nonstop and won't ever sleep.

 

It just feels like we're going backwards with her taking more and more time to settle in and now running away from the crate when it's time to leave (even after mixing up the morning routine). We've considered getting a second dog, but she's had no interest in the other dogs we've introduced her too - including other greys.

 

Thoughts?

 

David

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Stop forcing her in the crate. It's counter productive and will make her hate it even more. Your going to have to find another solution until you can get a handle on her SA.

 

No where in your list do you say you've done any Alone Training. This is likely the first and only time your very young puppy has been left alone in her entire life, so you need to accustom her to being OK when she's by herself.

 

Pick up "I'll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell. It's a good primer and she gives easy, step-by-step instructions for getting your dog used to being alone. You can also see if your adoption group can recommend a positive reinforcement only animal behaviorist to work with you all one on one.

 

In the meantime, try and discover when in your leaving routine she begins to become anxious. Write out the steps you take if it helps. Then begin at the beginning and do that action over and over again until she becomes bored with it. Then add the next thing - repeat both steps together until bored. Add the next and the next until you can do your whole schedule and she doesn't get upset. If she starts getting anxious go back a step and start again. Yes, it takes time. Lots of time. But you have her whole lifetime to overcome. Be patient and structured.

 

Since you can't crate her for the time being, puppy proof a room in your house and baby gate her there. If you're in an apartment or condo make sure you visit all your neighbors (including above and below) and let them know you have a new dog and are working on the issue. You may need to talk with your vet about a short course of a fast acting anti anxiety med such as Trazadone to get you through the tough parts in the beginning. This is NOT a miracle cure. You still have to do Alone Training and get her desensitized to your leaving routine.

 

While your doing this, you can also try and rehabilitate the crate for her. Leave the door open and put really YUMMY treats inside for her to find on her own. When she will go inside on her own again, feed her her meals in the crate. Make it a fun thing and a good place.

 

Good luck!

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

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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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Three weeks isn't very long. Your home and the people are still very new to her.

 

Try to relax so she doesn't feel your anxiety. Also, as greysmom said, ditch the crate. I'll bet she it isn't very pleasant for her.

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With a pup that young, I'd say it's also going to be important to tire her out as much as possible before you leave. It's going to be easier for her to relax and snooze if she's actually tuckered out.

 

We gave the crate a couple days with our guy but he didn't like it and was totally fine without it, though he did a bit of howling/crying during the first few weeks. But, he wasn't destructive to himself or the house so he just had to cry it out, it got better as time went on and eventually he didn't cry anymore. Your neighbors may not like that approach, but if she's not destructive then waiting it out is probably going to be part of the process - in addition to the excellent advice already given ~ alone training, etc.

 

There are OTC 'calming' treats that you could try right away, if getting a scrip is going to take longer than you'd like. Your mileage may vary but the ones we've tried for car rides - Zesty Paws brand - do seem to zonk him out. It takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how long they take to kick in after eating though.

Edited by Bizeebee
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Thanks everyone! Really appreciating the feedback.

To address the point about alone training, we actually have been practicing. I'll step outside for a minute, then come back in. Then I'll take the trash out and come back. Then the recycling. Then walk around the block. Unfortunately, she starts howling nearly instantly, except when it's just outside the door and back in (since she can see me).

 

Would you recommend treats each time we reappear?

 

Also, we tried to baby gate a section of the house and she just jumps over. Closing the door to a room resulted in her jumping up and down, scratching at the door.

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Honestly, I can't remember all the specifics of Patricia McConnell's book (most of hers are short, very digestible booklets - not like a textbook at all) but you may be able to find some tips right away just googling her name and Alone Training, or even in Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies, before your booklet arrives.

 

It seems like the book recommends using really delicious treats in like a kong, that she only gets when you leave, to entertain and distract her when you go. She already feels rewarded when you return, you want her to feel good when you're gone - so good that she wants you to leave because only then does she get the special thing.

 

I've read of people using two baby gates, one at normal level and one higher up - girls are much better jumpers than boys thanks to being in the second floor kennels :)

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Would you recommend treats each time we reappear?

 

No, that may make her think that her howling=your return=she gets a reward. Only give her the treat before reentering the house IF she is quiet.

 

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It seems like the book recommends using really delicious treats in like a kong, that she only gets when you leave, to entertain and distract her when you go.

 

We tried that, but she won't touch it. Even the things that get her jumping for joy, won't get touched when we leave them with her.

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Forgot a couple things:

 

Get a couple DAP diffusers (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) for the house, and maybe a collar for her to wear as well. It will sometimes help take the edge off. There are also plenty of OTC calming products out there if you want to give them a try.

 

I believe Patricia McConnell's books are all available as e-books so you can download and have them today.

 

Respectfully, what you're doing is not Alone Training. It's just leaving her with no warning. Of course she's going to get upset with a surprise like that. Even with the two puppies we've had, a strict daily schedule and routine is *extremely* important. They need to be able to count on it day to day, so unless you take the trash out every day at the same time, it does NOT count as desensitization training.

 

Her anxiety level when you leave is too high for her to focus on any distraction techniques. She's scared and she's doesn't believe you will ever come back to her.

 

SA isn't a quick fix or something that's going to be cured overnight. It takes a good concerted effort. And even then, there are just some dogs that can never be "only" dogs in a home. If you feel like this issue is going to be beyond your capabilities, time , or patience level (no judgement - it's not for everyone), it would be best to return her sooner rather than later.

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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