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Recently Adopted An Ex-Racer, But Have Doubts If We're The Right P

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Hey everyone,


I've been lurking the forums quite a lot for the past few days, as my wife and I have adopted a 4yo ex racer for about a week and a half now. He's an AMAZING boy, super sweet and really likes a cuddle. But a bit too much - so yeah, it's yet another separation anxiety post. And a long one at that, so thanks to whoever reads through!


My wife has dreamt of getting a dog for the past 5 years; we did a ton of research about breeds that would fit our lifestyle and the Greyhound was on the short list, especially because we moved to the UK and there's a lot of ex racers who need a home. Hindsight is 20-20, but we should have researched a lot more into ex-racing Greyhounds specifically (it was more of a broad breed research regarding health, temperament etc).


The first day was a complete joy, but the following ones were hell: they hit us like a brick and showed how unprepared we were. A lot of despair and emotional rollercoasters (my wife actually got sick on the 3rd day out of sheer stress), but our sense of responsibility kicked in and we decided to power on to see if we could improve the situation.


I work full time, which means she's the one who spends most of the days with him, doing the alone training during the week. Now, from what I've read around, his separation anxiety is relatively mild: he's a velcro dog and on the first nights he cried and clawed or bedroom doors - nowadays, we give him 2 t-shirts of ours, a stuffed kong with PB and it's around 20mins before he's walking around the house all night and whining every few minutes. We started from day one not allowing him to sleep with us because we knew that it would be way harder to separate later on. The rule is: as soon as we close the door, it doesn't open until the morning - we were going back and telling him to go to bed and giving him some treats when he did on the first couple of days, but stopped as we realized we were most likely getting him to think he'd be rewarded for scratching the door. Nowadays, he still pants and whines quite a bit and walks back and forth through the night, but no longer scratches the door.


My wife today got him to around 6mins of alone time with the "I'll be home soon" technique (put on your jacket/shoe, grab keys, give the Kong, go outside, wait, come back, take the Kong, clothes off, leave the key, wait a minute, rinse, repeat). Unfortunately, he drops the kong very quickly if he doesn't get any treats, so we kind of reached the point where he eats the Kong before we can extend the time even if it's frozen, and he just stops paying attention to it if it's too hard to take whatever is inside, which reduces his time to around 3 minutes alone without whining.


We now spend at least 10 minutes not giving him any contact when showing up in the morning and after returning from work. He unfortunately doesn't play with anything that isn't food (there's this plush toy he destroyed in about 5mins and he doesn't really touch it unless we incite him A LOT, but even that isn't working too much anymore).


We do 2 pee breaks before meals to guarantee he doesn't have accidents, and we try to give him at least 2 40min walks a day. One is literally before bedtime, between 10 and 11pm, but there's a lot of foxes around the neighborhood so we're starting to consider if this is just getting him more amped up at bed time instead of tired from the exercise.


One of the things that originally attracted us about Greyhounds is that we are pretty laid back, so even though we don't mind caring for him, our routine was very affected by turning into a clockwork bootcamp. Not being able to have some wiggle room or just say "let's go out to the supermarket together" in the middle of the day was way of a bigger burden than we expected.


We live in a relatively small flat, with no garden, where both him and us are mostly on the living room. Even thought some Greyhounds will do well in that situation, we feel bad because the only thing he's interested in is food and cuddles, and we can't give him cuddles when he asks for it with all the independence training, which means he's probably bored most of the day (which in turn gets him less likely to sleep at night). It's also pretty heart breaking that we can't make a fuss with him when he comes to greet us.


Here comes the hard part: we do love his eventual antics, and we were very emotional this Saturday when he managed to talk to some dog friends in the park (he gets INSANELY anxious at the park seeing a dog running and playing and it breaks our hearts that we're so far away from being able to leave him off the leash to run somewhere). But the hard truth is that we're not madly in love with him, at least not as much as we should have been, most likely because we constantly worry so much and have to ignore him when he's the most excited to avoid increasing his SA, that we're having a hard time bonding with him - right now, my wife feels like she's basically living for him, and not getting a lot of joy from the experience.


Thinking this rationally, at the moment we're doing things way more because it's out responsibility to him than because we'd want to keep him even if his condition took many months to improve. The feeling is that, while he is much better in a not-so-good situation with us than waiting for adoption in a kennel, he'd be way better with people who have more experience, a garden, a dog buddy, or someone that is set to love him unconditionally (as we thought we were when we took him). We do know, however, if we were to return him, we'd have to do this as quickly as possible (as he's starting to get used to his routine and feeling a bit more relaxed at our place). It's been really crushing for us to take care of him, because it's been both emotionally and physically draining: the idea of living through months of this without any guarantees that it will improve is, to be honest, terrifying to us.


So at the end of the day, my biggest questions are: do you think we're just not the right people/environment for him? Or is this just normal and our feelings also develop over time? I've read so many stories here of situations way, way worse than ours and people who really went above and beyond for over a year, and I simply don't see us being able to do that. Should we simply give up sooner rather than later to avoid turning a mild SA into an acute one? How long do you think we could keep on trying without risking ruining the dog for life?


If it was me reading this post some time ago, I'd be judging us hard, but we truly just want what's best for the dog and, if we can't be happy with him, how can we expect him to be happy with us? We're fully aware that this is all on us and that we have probably made a mistake by thinking we were ready for a dog, so thank you to whoever reads the wall of text and provides some insight.

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Retired racers are very social pack dogs.

They have never, ever lived without many other greyhounds with them 24/7. Human interaction also plays a huge part in their everyday lives.

Your dog wants to be with you...to get and give affection.

Please do not deny him this!

He does not want to sleep all alone in a closed off room!

 

Please read this article to gain more insight into your Greyhound

 

http://www.northerngreyhoundadoptions.org/ThoughtsOfAGrey.php

.

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Nancy...Mom to Nigel (Nigel) , Sid (Peteles Tiger) and Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos)Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie) and especially Ruby (Watch Me Dash) waiting at the Bridge.

 

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Hi there and welcome :)

I won't tell you this is easy! My first dog, it took almost three months before he would stop crying when we left him. But now he is totally laid back when being left alone now. It depends how much you are willing to work with the dog and him with you. He doesn't know you, doesn't know what to do and you leave him all alone in a strange place, I bet you would panic too!

We tried everything. What worked for us was routine routine routine. No matter how many toy/treats he had, he needed a routine. The first morning, we prepared ourselves as if going to work, we went outside (dog stayed in) and back in. Then the next day we went outside , walked around the house and back in. In a few weeks, we went to going for a coffee and back, then to my mom's and back. Each morning, it was the same, exact routine. Eventually he knew what was coming (him being left alone) and he just accepted it.

What help also was bonding. We walked a lot, trained a lot, played a lot and he slept with us in the room. Dogs are pack animals. He probably just feel excluded and insecure when he isn't with you at bed time. I know my current hound who's been with me for over 2 years can't sleep without me in the room. He never had a scratch of separation anxiety, never, but sleeping alone is a no-go for him! Let him know he can trust you and believe that you will care for his security.

But my best advice would probably to contact your adoption agency and ask for advice. They have probably seen hundreds of adoption matches and they could have a feel if you have a bad match (it happens) or if you are just going through the initial rough phase. They can give you advice and help you.


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Cynthia, with Charlie (Britishlionheart) & Zorro el Galgo
Captain Jack (Check my Spots), my first love

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Let him sleep in the bedroom.

Don't wait 10 minutes to have an interaction with him when you come home.

Don't walk him so late at night - try more early evening or late afternoon.

This may sound strange but, talk to him more - when you are walking him and at other activities, it helps with the bonding. When you leave, tell him how long you will be gone.

Dogs that are newly adopted are really nervous when you are leaving - they don't trust that you will be back. Routine (as someone already mentioned helps a lot) gets them to trust that certain things will happen at certain times.

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As the others have said, it's very early in his new life as a pet in a home. These dogs do not do well being closed off from the humans when home. When we adopted our first dog, we crated him in the bedroom at night with us, and eventually moved his crate else where and switched to a dog bed in the bedroom. The hounds are highly social, even if they aren't giving you the time of day, they still want to be able to see you and be nearby you.

 

What the others suggest works as far as training, but only you can decide if this is the dog for you or not. There is no shame in realizing that this particular dog or this breed just isn't going to work out well in your home. You will be doing the dog a great disservice if you decide that but keep him.

 

Your group should be there to help, offer advice and support, and ultimately re-home the dog if that's what needs to be done.


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Always missing my boy Hi Noon Rocket. The home of Petunia, MW Neptunia and Kate, Miss Kate.

 

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Your problem isn't really separation anxiety. It's that you feel you're not bonding with a dog you basically spend no quality time interacting with in the mistaken belief that will turn him into a quiet confident dog.

 

If you had a toddler would you ignore it until it miraculously grew into a responsible adult? Throw the "tough love" out the window. It doesn't work any better with dogs than it does with kids.

 

A quiet, confident dog doesn't just happen. It takes time, and training, and trust. Time for him to get used to this completely foreign living arrangement. Training to give him a framework for behavior and a bond with his new pack. Trust that he knows what's expected of him, and that you know what he expects from you.

 

Bonding and trust is a two-way relationship. He wants to be with you. He needs to feel connected to you. But you are continually shutting him out. Let him sleep in your room. Be as happy to see him when you get home as ge is to see you. Walk walk walk together as it's one of the best bonding activities (and he needs the exercise). Sit near him when he's laying quietly and read a book or the paper (out loud if possible). Find a beginning obedience class and see how he does (he may not do well the first time). Give him support and encouragement and watch him blossom!

 

One word of advice when you're reading all these responses: attitudes are different in the US regarding many aspects of dog training and keeping than the UK. So keep that in mind if you are asking your adoption group for advice. It will likely differ from ours in certain respects.

 

Pick up any basic training book by Patricia McConnell- "I'll Be Home Soon," "The Other End of the Leash," or her book on family friendly dogs. They will help you get back on track to a happy loving relationship with your dog.


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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You've only had him for a very short while. Imagine if you were left in the middle of a foreign country, not speaking the language, not used to the customs and not knowing where you are. You'd cling on to the first person who took an interest in you, housed you and fed you as if your life depended on it.

 

I'm lucky in that my hound didn't have separation anxiety, doesn't need to sleep in the same room as me and is that laid back she doesn't seem to be bothered when I go out or come back but she also doesn't come for cuddles, ear rubs etc but is happy to receive them if I go to her.

 

What I'm trying to say is that not all greyhounds have SA and there is a greyhound out there for you but it's up to you to decide if this is the one. There is no shame in taking him back and trying again. Does your adoption agency do fostering so you could try before you buy?


Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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First of all, thanks for all the responses and the support - the latter is very much needed. Answering to some points:

  • We got Patricia's book a few days ago, that's what we're basing alone training on - the biggest issue is we're reaching the point where either the food runs out before we can extend the time, or he loses interest if nothing comes out for too long. Any tips regarding that?
  • We're giving him attention and talking to him often, but have stopped doing it when he comes asking, and wait until he's back at his bed first because we read in a greyhound settling guide that should help with independence. He does seem less clingy because of that (wanting attention is not really something we mind at all, we just want to avoid the SA developing)
  • The routine does seem to work - we feed him when I leave for work after the morning pee break, and he already comes back straight to the kitchen door and doesn't seem to search around for me anymore after I'm gone. We're trying our best in that regard.
  • Yesterday evening I had him on a more intense walk before bedtime, and it did seem to help - we actually reached around 40min with a frozen Kong (don't really know if he cried during the night, but he did whine a bit in the morning because we were about 10mins late to leave the bedroom than our usual time)

Here's a question: it does seem the overall suggestion is trying to do less micromanaging (which is something we'd very much appreciate, and I'm sure he would as well). Do you think we should simply start doing longer alone times (eg: a couple of 15 min absences on one day, 20 on the next, 30 and so forth), and just let him "cry it out" to get used to them? We're being super careful because every SA guide we read basically says "if the dog reaches the point of being stressed before you return, you're back to square one". We don't want him (or us) to live a peanut butter Kong driven life.


Thanks once again to all!

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Alone training will take time and is an on-going process.

 

But...As others have mentioned...this dog needs affection from you!

Why did you want to get a dog?

He wants to love and give you affection....and be loved in return.

Don't shut him out of the bedroom. Enjoy your walks. Spend some quiet snuggle time watching TV.


NSK-Winter.jpg.a6ea578c2e544932c5222b81cda3216d.jpg

Nancy...Mom to Nigel (Nigel) , Sid (Peteles Tiger) and Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos)Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie) and especially Ruby (Watch Me Dash) waiting at the Bridge.

 

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Retired racers are very social pack dogs.

They have never, ever lived without many other greyhounds with them 24/7. Human interaction also plays a huge part in their everyday lives.

Your dog wants to be with you...to get and give affection.

Please do not deny him this!

He does not want to sleep all alone in a closed off room!

 

Please read this article to gain more insight into your Greyhound

 

http://www.northerngreyhoundadoptions.org/ThoughtsOfAGrey.php

.

 

This was my first thoughts too. I super admire your determination to do what is best for him but SOME dogs simply are not at their best when being forced to be alone. Many greyhounds have a very strong pack drive which means they cannot and will not be well and happy unless they can be with their pack. And its not just greyhounds. Let me tell you a true story. When I got my first working dog, a Belgian Malinois (police/military dogs!), the first night I put her in a kennel in the living room. She was a whirling dervish all night and made a complete mess and was major stressed. The 2nd night I needed sleep myself and thought I wonder if it would help any to move her to the bedroom where the other dogs and I sleep. So I put her in a kennel-which I had to fight to get her in- and put her in the bedroom with the rest of us. You know what happened? Instant peace and quite all night and no mess. And I might add that now as a mature working dog I can kennel her anywhere and she will be pretty happy and stress free and let me tell you as a working dog she is often kenneled in MANY STRANGE places. Never a problem. Once he bonds with you as his pack he will probably become much less anxious if not somewhat independent because he knows that his pack is close by. You will not cause SA by letting him spend as much time as he wants with you. And IMO the key with arriving and leaving is not to totally ignore the dog but rather just not to be excessive about the greetings or goodbyes. Giving him a hug and a pat before you leave or when you return won't teach him SA-it will merely reinforce to him that he is a beloved member of his pack. Some dogs can be sensitive and if you totally ignore them like you are doing when arriving/leaving it can upset and stress them. Let yourself go. It's OK to love on him. It feels good to you and him! Thats the way it should be. When I come home my working dog jumps in my arms she is so glad to see me. It is a big positive for both of us. Forcing alone time on them will NOT make them independent especially if they have a high pack drive like your boy probably does. It is genetic. You cannot change it ever. His little genes are driving him to be with his pack not alone by himself. Now that does not mean that you can't leave him alone when you want because he will learn that his pack always returns. In fact you can begin showing him that by doing that for increasing lengths of time. I like to give them a treat before I leave as well. I swear I think sometimes they are wanting me to leave so they can get their goodbye treat. Main thing is for everybody-ya'll and the dog- to just unwind and get to know each other. That takes time. Go places, take walks, have fun whatever. But just focus on getting to know each other. It may take a whole year before the 'real' dog emerges and you see what a jewel you have. Things take time. Don't panic. Stay in touch here. This is the best source of greyhound info there is IMO and GT's are eager to help :) But you are not in a crisis. Just relax a whole lot and let him be a hound dog and enjoy him and he will make you very happy! It is NOT wrong for them to learn that you will protect them from things that make them uncomfortable. What happens is you wind up with a relatively fearless dog then because they learn that they don't have to be afraid or upset because their peeps will protect them. Really- they are smart. And a greyhound has the wisdom of the ages to share with you-and will if you just be patient and let everything come together.

Your problem isn't really separation anxiety. It's that you feel you're not bonding with a dog you basically spend no quality time interacting with in the mistaken belief that will turn him into a quiet confident dog.

 

If you had a toddler would you ignore it until it miraculously grew into a responsible adult? Throw the "tough love" out the window. It doesn't work any better with dogs than it does with kids.

 

A quiet, confident dog doesn't just happen. It takes time, and training, and trust. Time for him to get used to this completely foreign living arrangement. Training to give him a framework for behavior and a bond with his new pack. Trust that he knows what's expected of him, and that you know what he expects from you.

 

Bonding and trust is a two-way relationship. He wants to be with you. He needs to feel connected to you. But you are continually shutting him out. Let him sleep in your room. Be as happy to see him when you get home as ge is to see you. Walk walk walk together as it's one of the best bonding activities (and he needs the exercise). Sit near him when he's laying quietly and read a book or the paper (out loud if possible). Find a beginning obedience class and see how he does (he may not do well the first time). Give him support and encouragement and watch him blossom!

 

One word of advice when you're reading all these responses: attitudes are different in the US regarding many aspects of dog training and keeping than the UK. So keep that in mind if you are asking your adoption group for advice. It will likely differ from ours in certain respects.

 

Pick up any basic training book by Patricia McConnell- "I'll Be Home Soon," "The Other End of the Leash," or her book on family friendly dogs. They will help you get back on track to a happy loving relationship with your dog.

Wise advice!

Let him sleep in the bedroom.

Don't wait 10 minutes to have an interaction with him when you come home.

Don't walk him so late at night - try more early evening or late afternoon.

This may sound strange but, talk to him more - when you are walking him and at other activities, it helps with the bonding. When you leave, tell him how long you will be gone.

Dogs that are newly adopted are really nervous when you are leaving - they don't trust that you will be back. Routine (as someone already mentioned helps a lot) gets them to trust that certain things will happen at certain times.

More wise advice :)

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You've got some excellent advice here, I wanted to throw in my two cents and some experiences we've had as well.

 

My first thought is that you haven't had him very long, so short a period that IMO 1)you can't really say he has true SA and 2)you can't reasonably expect to have done that much bonding. When we got our current grey we honestly didn't do real alone training. We would have, but we got to pick him up earlier than we expected and weren't quite ready work-wise. We got him on a Saturday and went back to work on Monday. He hated the crate so we didn't use it, and I watched him on a nanny-cam when I was at work. I came home midday for lunch to let him out and play. For the first week or two he cried and yowled when we were gone, but he never did anything destructive and it got better over time. We let him cry it out and he got used to the fact that we were coming back and by a month in I wasn't using the cam anymore because he was just sleeping while we were gone. He had been an overexcited hazard when we first came home, but we ignored behavior we didn't like (barking, jumping, craziness) and now he greets us much more calmly and gets pets pretty much as soon as we walk in the door.

 

That just took time, time that you just haven't had yet. Yours could have true SA, but you don't know that yet. He's still settling in, and you are too. There is really no new-dog scenario where you wouldn't be dealing with something like this - whether it was a puppy and potty training, or a different rescue and other issues. There's really no such thing as a seamless transition with a new pet. There's no shame in returning a dog that isn't a good fit, but I also don't think you've given this the proper time to know if that's necessary.

 

I'm also shaking my head at whatever guidance is encouraging you to train your dog to be independent. Dogs that aren't feral need us for everything, what does being independent even mean? My personal opinion would be to throw away guidance that is telling you not to love on your dog because it's going to teach them to have SA. That's not a thing. If you want to pet him, pet him! I wouldn't reward/pet him when you don't want to encourage him (like maybe don't encourage snuggling while you're on the toilet), but if he comes up to you, and you both want to snuggle, snuggle!

 

Once you do that, I think the bonding will come must faster. But also remember that the bonding ebbs and flows. When we first brought ours home he was awesome, so snuggly and playful (the polar opposite of our first shy spook), but come winter and we've run into issues - maybe medical maybe behavioral, the investigation is ongoing - that makes us question what we've been doing and what we need to do moving forward. I think they say 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months - general milestones for settling in and changes in personality. 3 months hit us hard; some people still see dogs coming out of their shell at a year. YMMV.

 

I'm not sure why you guys don't want him in your bedroom, other than not wanting to have to deal with training it out later, but I'll tell you this story:

My SO got his first greyhound around 8 months before I came along, and during that time the dog got to sleep in bed with him. Once I was in the picture, the bed was definitely not big enough, so the hound had to choose between the many comfy beds - in our room or elsewhere in the house. He adjusted very well, and even moved himself into the room across the hall for the duration of his time with us.

 

While I wouldn't necessarily recommend letting him sleep in bed with you unless you really want that, if he's pacing and whining on and off all night, he's anxious all night. How would you feel being stressed for that many hours on end?

 

Do you use a crate? It seems like crating isn't as big of a thing in the UK, but a lot of people in the US swear by it. Many dogs do really well with a den-type area, both at night and when they are alone during the day. You might not get too much advice on it locally, but I think you'll find good resources here (and elsewhere on the internet) if that's a route you want to try out.

 

You just need to dial back the managing and the stressing (he can sense it and it's not helping). Live your life how you want to (with the bedroom door open) and help him find his place in it. In a month or so, my prediction is that things will be a lot different.

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It's so early on and everything is so new. I haven't read anything from your post that hasn't happened to most of us, if not all of us. It takes them a while to adjust and they could seem very clingy, especially when newly adopted. When I adopted my first one, I thought he hated me, and the second and third ones wouldn't leave me alone. Just new surroundings and new people.

 

Relax, smile and let him come to you if he's truly scared and shy. Just love him, no matter his personality. Everything will be fine :). I always sing to mine (despite my awful voice) with a happy tone so they know I'm around and so they get used to my voice.


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Xavi the galgo and Allen the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09.

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Not much to add to the wonderful advises from the experienced grey people but just wanted to share my experience.

 

I have felt EXACTLY the same way when my husband and I adopted our girl, so I understand how you feel and what you guys are going through. I kept asking myself if we were the right people. It is not easy and it could be challenging both mentally and physically.

Hang in there and don't be so harsh on yourself. You never know what your boy will be like after 6 months. It took our girl almost 3 and a bit months to stop whining when left alone. What changed her was us taking her for a longer walk (about 45 minutes walk in a park) before leaving the house, and letting her sleep in the same room at night.

 

We were hesitant about letting her sleep in the same room with us for the same reason you mentioned, but we were wrong. She has gotten much happier and more confident just by moving her bed into our bedroom.

The change doesn't happen in one night but it really does help.

 

Also, don't worry if it takes time to bond with your boy. Be playful and affectionate with him but let him come out of his shell at his pace. One day, he will come to you for a pet, kiss, cuddle etc. It may take time but it will happen :)

 

Try look at the positive things your boy brought into your lives. I am an immigrant and never felt like a part of the community where I live before, but now random people talk to me when I walk her and I feel like I truly belong here for the first time!

I am so grateful that she did her best to fit in our lifestyle and all the joy she brings us. It took me a while to feel this way, but I am so happy that I didn't give up on her.

 

Take a big breath, be nice to yourself first, and enjoy each day as it comes :balloonparty

Oh, and we also live in a humble-sized apartment with just a balcony, and she is energetic for a greyhound. We can't let her go off leash in public where we live, so we feel guilty that she can't have a free run. What we are doing is we are planning to take her to a slip track every now and then so she can run to her heart content. We also take her out four times a day (20 min morning walk, mid-day 45 min walk, 20 min evening walk & 5 min potty break before going to bed). As long as those walks happen, she really don't care exactly when they happen.

Edited by Rijnbeek

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Like it has been said: Let Him Sleep in YOUR room..He does not need to sleep in your bed, but in your room. He has never been alone in his life.

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Thank all of you so much once again. I honestly wish I had posted this before. We were so afraid of the whole separation anxiety monster, that we created this situation where we simply couldn't do what we wanted the most: enjoy having our bud around and give him a ton of cuddles.

 

Much love to all of you and your pups!

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Hello, like you, we have experienced the same kind of second-guessing, fear of the making SA worse by being in a situation where our pup MUST be left alone and therefore perhaps building to a panic (a big no-no with alone training), the chronic stress all of this places on the ability to bond with a new dog, etc. We brought our 2 year girl (Ruby) home 6 weeks ago. We just finished a very expensive renovation to our home. and after she became destructive in her crate and we witnessed her whining, crying, pacing, etc. out of the crate, we were beside ourselves with fear that she would build up to destructive behaviour outside the crate when alone. In 6 weeks, we are out $1200 on replacing shredded bedding (hers and ours), lost wages after getting the spycam and seeing her howling in her crate, therefore prompting a quick cancellation of all afternoon clients to rush home to her, vet bills (she is also hookworm positive), home-based dog training, etc. We finally got to the point where we said to ourselves "either she will get with the program and be a good fit for us, or she will need to be in a home where someone can be with her all the time". She is rarely left longer than 4-5 hours at a time, but we are very active and come and go. It feels like we have been in doggie jail the last 6 weeks, structuring our lives around making sure we dose her with Trazadone at just the right times, and once home, not leaving again for the remainder of the day, etc. What I can say, though, is, we have hope. Finding the right Trazadone dose (150 mg) to keep her anxiety from building has helped tremendously. This has only happened in the past week. Our vet, who consulted with a vet behavioural specialist, also prescribe Paxil, so we are about to start that while titrating her off Trazadone (because it is so sedating and has such a short half-life). As I have allowed myself to have hope that we can keep her, I have opened my heart more. I was so afraid of getting attached, only to have to let her go. I felt such shame at thinking that maybe we did not have it in us to live in turmoil and up-end our lives in order to accommodate her special needs. After reading lots of encouraging words here from compassionate and experienced GH owners re: there being no shame in returning a mismatched dog, I have been able to let go of my own self-criticism on that front. I am willing to continue working with her because I see promise, though I do not have rose colored glasses on.

One other thing to mention; the vet behavioralist is not convinced that we are dealing with true SA. She said that since Ruby CAN eventually settle, it may be a case of "separation-related distress", and that these dogs eventually just come to outgrow it as they make the transition from track to the being a family pet. I wonder if that accounts for all the folks who mentioned a switch getting flipped a few months in. Our girl is not anxious in general (other than when she wiped out on our slick floors). Is your boy generally well adjusted other than when you leave him? I'm no expert, but I wonder if the more generally even-tempered dogs will outgrow what looks like SA.

Basically, I mainly just want to say, I feel your pain and hope that you, your wife, and your pup find your way to peace and happiness.

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I can understand how you feel too. Our girl is our third dog, the first 2 were very aloof and nervey at first, and were older. We got Suzy 6 months ago, she is 4, and she came into our little one-bed flat like wooohooooo!!! racing all over the bed and furniture lol. Everything was fair game - the remote controls got chewed, my mobile phone destroyed, glasses, shoes and slippers, the carpet ripped up. She was so affectionate and excitable, she would jump on our heads if we were in bed, ... it was stressful at times, but we had to laugh. On walks at the slightest stimulation I felt like I was trying to control a spooked or excited horse. She was/can still be quite a handful physically. We have a small flat and it feels like we are all living in one big kennel.

 

I have still only left her for 1-2 hours maximum in this time, as I work from home, but it is all a work in progress. I often pop out for 20 minutes max, and I come back to just find her lying on our bed, but my neighbour tells me she whines, even though she seems relaxed when I leave and come back. I know it is just a matter of time. The improvement in 6 months is amazing, and 6 months is nothing.

 

I agree with letting your dog in the bedroom, some excellent advice here. She knows now that she is not allowed on the bed when we are in it too.

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