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How long did alone training take and will separation anxiety naturally get better?


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Hello, as the title said I am curious on how long alone training took before you and your grey were comfortable with them being left alone. I was also wondering if even without training it would naturally get better as they simply get accustomed to it and you returning every time.

For some background I have recently adopted a lovely ex racer. He suffers from SA despite trying to begin alone training immediately three weeks ago. He becomes very stressed, although thankfully not destructive and whines and barks loudly. I have gone right back to the beginning using Patricia o'Connells great book and working on it slowly. Confident he will come around with hard work and patience so the questions were really just to satisfy my own understanding.

Thanks, this forums has been a great resource 

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The time period really depends on the dog and how anxious they are when alone.  Remember that greyhounds have likely *never* been alone in their entire lives until they're adopted into a home as an "only" dog.  It's a huge adjustment - probably the biggest one in their lives - and it just takes as long as it takes.

If your lucky,, it can be as short as a few days.  Mostly it takes, probably 6-8 weeks of diligent and patient work.  Some dogs can take many months.  And, though rarely, we come across dogs that simply never get used to being alone.

And reactions can run the gamut from a bit of whining for a few minutes after their person leaves, to full out destructive panic attacks.  There have even been dogs who jump through windows and destroy dry wall in their attempt to get out of the house they feel trapped and alone in.  Uncontrolled toileting in the housedue to anxiety is also fairly common.

It can, very rarely, work itself out with time and a good bonding of trust between new dog and new owner.  Unfortunately most people nowadays have close neighbors who don't want to put up with the howling and hubbub until that happens, so we have to actively work on extinguishing the behavior with counter-conditioning.  You have an excellent guide to follow, so just be patient and go through the steps.

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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Act confident when leaving him. I think a lot of us give their hound a Kong filled with healthy treats, say goodbye and walk out of the door. If you fuss and look concerned he'll think something bad is going to happen and you've left him to face the oncoming menace all alone.

Get yourself a cheap petcam, Amazon stock them, so you can see what he's doing without needing to creep back and it'll give you the confidence and peace of mind that he's OK. If he's anything like my Grace you can only watch a sleeping dog for so long.

 

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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No magic number  I've had dogs walk off the hauler into my living room and go to sleep on their backs and dogs that never settled. 

Are you using a crate?  If  your kitchen is big enough for the crate with the door open as a woobie spot and to gate that might help. .Don't fawn over him.  That is my best advice.  Love him and go about your business,  That may sound mean but some dogs feed on doting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you so much for the replies, they have been very useful. 

We have since moved to a house where he is much more comfortable. I have done a lot of alone training and there is more to do but am comfortable enough leaving him for longer periods if 100% neccessary. However, I suspect this is because he hasn't realised I have fully left him as I shut him in the living room (with access to large conservatory) so he doesnt see me actually leave out the front door. He was a lot better in my previous flat before the one day he saw me head out the front door and went from SA to full blown bad SA. 

So my next question is, should I just continue as is and not let him ever see me leave or let him see me leave and have to work through a worse SA but ultimately fix the problem properly? 

 

thanks!

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I have no doubt that your dog knows that you have left, even if he can't see you!

The fact that you have moved houses has likely set him back a bit.  I'd just continue to work on your training.

You may be surprised at how he responds if he sees you leaving.

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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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Set a routine and stick to it so he knows what happens next and knows you are coming back.

In my case I make sure I'm ready to leave with shoes and coat on, keys in my pocket etc. I give Grace her Kong on her bed, say "see you later" and go. If I forget to give her the Kong she doesn't settle the same if I don't leave immediately.

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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