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Anxiety pooping

1291 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  vm0613
I have a 1.5 year old adorable Pomeranian, Pinto. I got him from a breeder at about a year old, where they could not keep him as a breeder dog because he was cryptorchid and they didn't want to pass on that trait. For the first year of his life he was confined to a crate majority of the day. He is the sweetest, loving dog, but he obviously has separation anxiety. I've had a lot of dogs I've trained in my life, but I have never encountered one that has had this much of a problem.

My husband and I live in a camper and frequently travel. Traveling does not stress him out; we are lucky as he seems very adaptable and excited to see new locations and he loves riding in the car. He currently has some OCD licking pillows and sheets and used to have a special 'running pattern' in the camper when he had anxiety but no longer does it (some improvement). However, when me or my husband leaves, he poops. He doesn't have any destructive behavior and he is not an excessive barker by any means, but as soon as we leave, he poops regardless if we take him for a super long walk to try to get it out. I know for a fact he does not have an issue holding it, so that is not the problem.

We originally let him have free range of the camper when we left, but he kept pooping. So me, knowing something about dogs, knew that dogs naturally don't like to soil themselves. So I buy an appropriate sized open crate so it is not like the crate he was enclosed in as a puppy (grew up in a closed crate). He was never afraid of the crate itself, only when the door closed and we left would he start freaking out. Well, after him flinging poop EVERYWHERE and having to wash him several times in a row (not good for their fur or skin), we decided to baby gate off about a 2x4' portion of our hallway and put his bed in there and a pee pad. Silly us. He pooped in his bed, tracked it all around, broke through a sliding door at the end of the hallway which we had attempted to put something there to keep it from sliding, and got up on our bed with poop on his feet. It's not like he poops in the corner and stays away from it. He runs THROUGH IT.

My husband works all day, but I am home with Pinto. We have one car, so my husband takes it to work and as a result Pinto is not left alone very often (1-2x/week for a date night or me doing laundry). And when we leave it is max 4 hours if we are eating dinner and watching a movie.
These are the things we have been doing/have tried to relieve the anxiety when we are gone:
Don't make a big deal when we leave or come home, ignore him when we get home until he calms down (hard to do when he's got poop all over him), keep the tv on for background noise, give him a kong toy with treats inside to keep him occupied, bought a thundershirt (which he pooped all over), gave him natural calming drops, and go for long walks with some running daily especially if I know he will have to be alone. I would try the calming pheromones but trust me, this dog can't smell a piece of food that drops on the floor right in front of him so I'd hesitate to waste my money.

I'd hate to medicate him, but unless there is something else that will work, I will have to talk to a vet to see what can be done. I know the anxiety is not healthy for him, and I am sick of cleaning up poop all the time. His anxiety poop is normal, not loose, and only occasionally he will also pee. I am going to start leaving him alone behind the baby gate for gradually increasing periods of time to see if that helps but since my husband has our vehicle I'm kinda just hanging out outside awkwardly for that time haha.

Any constructive advice is much appreciated!
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In terms of separation anxiety, make sure you never make a big deal about leaving. All those goodbye hugs and kisses can actually reinforce separation anxiety. There is an anxious dog at the shelter I work at that has improved significantly with a pheromone collar (It mimics the pheromones a mother dog gives off to reassure puppies.) If that doesn't work, don't look at medication as a bad thing or even a last resort. One of the dogs I worked with who was really having a hard time, and had similar separation anxiety has improved a ton after being put on prozac. He's much calmer and happier now, without losing any of his personality or energy.
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