02-22-2018, 05:00 AM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Cambridge MA
Mentioned: 50 Post(s)
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My dog had extremely severe separation anxiety. Doggy daycare helped as did a consultation with a veterinarian behaviorist. He needed medication of a human antidepressant which he's still on. The behavioral training helped too, we've gotten to the point where he can handle being alone for two or three full work days a week. I alternate them with doggy daycare days, as in Monday Wednesday Friday home or doggy daycare and Tuesday and Thursday vice versa, as two days in a row alone at home stresses him out too much.
Once I'm home from a long work day, that's it for alone time for him for the day. We immediately go to the dog park the minute I get home and stay at least one to two hours so he can have his relaxing time to mellow from the stressful day of being alone and I spend the rest of the night with him. Any social life I have I include him in as he'd be too stressed being alone more than his nine or more hours that day.
I don't crate him as he flips out locked in a crate. He broke out of a crate before I had him at his last home. He was petrified of the crate when I got him and now will go in it and relax voluntarily as long as the door stays open. If I close him in he frantically dogs at the door and would hurt himself.
The behaviorist had said to give him his favorite toys and absolute favorite treats in a Kong to keep him busy and only give him those special treats when I'm not home and at no other time do he'd associate being home alone with amazing rare treats. But he won't eat or drink anything at all when I'm not home no matter how long I'm gone.
He's much better he no longer barks and howls or breaks the window screens and tries to jump out the third floor windows. And he doesn't destroy my apartment anymore. Usually I find him asleep on my bed cuddling with my two cats. Huge progress I used to have to confine him to a tiny area with no windows and nothing he could chew or destroy. Just the fact that I can leave him with access to my bedroom is huge since there's a lot to destroy in there and two large windows he could break out of.
When you leave and return, just do it casually with no dramatic or emotional greetings or welcomes. Make it completely quiet and routine. Emotional exuberant greetings reinforce to the dog that your leaving is a huge scary event and increase their anxiety. Best to just ignore the dog and leave and ignore the dog when you get back for a while.
This was particularly hard for me. I loved the super enthusiastic welcomes and wiggling whole butt and body tail wags and dog gentle repeated kisses. He's usually much more reserved and quietly affectionate and I really miss the boundless energy and enthusiasm and exuberance my last dog had his whole life. This dog is much more quiet and sweet and loving in his own gentle way. But won't come racing at you at warp speed wagging and licking your face off and knock you down with dog affection and exuberance. My last dog did that to everyone he met until he was too old to. The only time this dog is that exuberant, or even close to it is after I come home after being away. It's tough to balance my selfishly wanting that enthusiasm with what's best for him in getting over that awful anxiety.
But those are some of the highlights of what behaviorists recommend. For severe cases medication is very helpful.