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I'm hoping to hear from some owners who've managed/treated/"beat" separation anxiety and can give us some perspective. I've read a lot about it, but have not really had first hand experience until this foster dog. I'd like to get my head wrapped around it a bit better, so we can do a better job at letting our adoption group and potential adopters know what this pup will likely need.

We've had this 5yo hound for about a month now, he was surrendered by his owner (she'd had him for about a year) because he had developed separation anxiety - which manifested as howling/crying and chewing the entire time she would be gone at her new job. She made the tough, but probably right, choice, to surrender him.

His first few days with us were rough, we were not aware of his SA when we agreed to take him on (we both work). Even though we have another hound, he cried and howled most of those first few days and had an accident or two during that time. But he seemed to adjust relatively quickly (our schedule is very consistent) and the crying during the day has decreased dramatically, but not completely. I can monitor them with a nanny cam while I'm at work, he makes it through the morning but then then the whining/crying starts up again after I've come home and left after their lunch time turn out. It doesn't start until after I've been gone a while and doesn't seem to be triggered by anything I can see/hear.

He came to us on 80mg daily of Clomicalm, and had been on it for at least a month at that point (so it has now been another month). My understanding is that it should be well established in his system by now. I'm less sure about whether it works, mostly because we didn't experience what he was like before he started taking it, but also because he still does whine intermittently throughout the afternoon.

If the medicine was working, would he still be whining/crying?

Is 8 weeks long enough to know if it's working?

Should we try splitting the dose - currently we give it all at breakfast, would it make sense to give half at breakfast and the other half at lunch time?

Or does this mean he would maybe be better served by a different drug?

With SA is there a certain amount of crying/distress that you just have to be ok with?

There are 10 more days until the next adoption event, where he will hopefully find his forever home, but until then is there anything we should be trying to get him past this plateau point?

Or, should we think of this plateau as success?

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Clomicalm does not help without alone training.

If it works it only works the way to make the dogs system more relaxed. A stressed dog is not able to learn properly.

 

I see a large differene in American and European sight on SA. It is really hard for me to understand, why people leave their hounds fully on their own without proper training. It seems to be sort of common sense in german speaking countries to never leave the dog alone for a larger period of time than it (or is it she, the dog? Never figured that out) is capable of right now. Which means: doggy daycare when off to work and lots of training when back home.

 

Well, there might be a certain amount of SA you are okay with. But as long as a dog shows signs the dog itself is not okay with it.

As you plan to only short time foster I would say there is not that much you can do. Maybe there is a chance to have a family member or neighbour around while you are off to work, so that SA has no chance to kick in and worsen itself.

If not...well. Then the dog has to go trough this I guess and hopefully there is a forever home where there is enough time and patience to work on that topic. 

Edited by Rakete
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5 hours ago, Rakete said:

I see a large differene in American and European sight on SA. It is really hard for me to understand, why people leave their hounds fully on their own without proper training. It seems to be sort of common sense in german speaking countries to never leave the dog alone for a larger period of time than it (or is it she, the dog? Never figured that out) is capable of right now. Which means: doggy daycare when off to work and lots of training when back home.

You're very fortunate to have those kinds of choices; most of us in the US know that in our work culture, it's hard enough getting time off to take care of your own mental health issues, much less the sudden onset mental health issues of a pet [which was the case here]. And millions of us live in rural areas where the nearest doggy day care is at least an hour away, one way, not to mention the cost of such a luxury. So let's leave the judgment of those less fortunate than you for a more appropriate place and chat more about your experience with SA.

How long did it take for your dog to improve on meds and with alone training? How did that improvement look; did it just extend the time before the anxiety kicked in, or did the actual anxiety seem to get less intense when it occurred?

Was your dog ever able to come off the medicine? How long did that take?

How would you approach continued alone training (we assume he'd had some previously, as he improved dramatically upon settling in here), when his anxiety seems to flare up at unpredictable and inconsistent intervals? For example, he is happy to nap all morning (5 hours) until I'm home for lunch, but will often get a bit whiny again sometime before we come home, only 3 hours later. 

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Allowing for possible culture differences on this issue, I'd support whatever is in the best interest of the dog. Medication doesn't 'cure' SA, but helps the dog to be more able to learn all of the new calmer behaviours that you're training. Having said that, from far across the Internet, this sounds like a mixture of anxiety and boredom. How does your dog spend a typical day EG: walks and exercise, play, food, toys, training, etc.?   Best wishes.

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