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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

My wife and I adopted a wonderful rescue dog that is a mix between lab (definitely) and border collie or boxer (probably one of the two).

I say that because she is all black with characteristics of a lab but has a white chest and white feet which is a pattern I've only seen in border collies and boxers.

Anyway, when we adopted Hadley the rescue place told us that she seemed to have an extraordinary separation anxiety and she also suffered from car sickness, but the latter was most likely something she would grow out of.

For the record, Hadley is 11 months old right now so she's still a youngster and she's still growing and learning.

We observed her separation anxiety from the very first day. We've had Hadley for about 4-5 months now and she NEVER goes off and does her own thing because she NEEDS to be wherever we are at all times.

She is also VERY sensitive to any noises and everything going on in general which might just be part of being a puppy, but it seems like it might be extreme.

As a full-time Internet Marketer myself, Hadley has been able to stay with me while I'm working, which I guess doesn't do much for her as far as TEACHING her to be alone, but that isn't to say we haven't tried to do that...

We tried crate training first. She seemed to like the crate until we left her alone in it the first time. We left her for about an hour and when we got home, she had somehow separated the floor of her crate from the cage and she was inside the cage, clearly disturbed, and had an accident inside the cage (even though she is potty trained normally) and had also severely bent the front of the cage. Needless to say she was visibly disturbed as well.

The last time we tried to leave her alone, we left her outside instead, and the results were even worse. As soon we left her outside and went inside, she went into what I can only describe as a full blown PANIC. It just wasn't right.

I would also mention this is not my first time owning a dog. My last dog was a lab retriever as well, and he certainly didn't like being left alone, but no more than the next dog and it was a lot easier to train him as a result.

Most recently my mother gave me this "thunder vest" that she had purchased for her dog but it was too big for her, so she gave it to me to try with Hadley. The first time we tried it on Hadley, she DID seem comforted by it, but even though I'm definitely going to put the vest on her next time we leave (might as well) I'm also not holding out much hope that it will magically cure her extreme anxiety when left alone.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

P.S. I should also mention that we live in a neighborhood where the houses are very close together and one of the main reasons we have been reluctant to leave Hadley alone and just let her "deal with it" and learn over time is because the last thing we want is for the neighbors to call the cops on our dog when we aren't around and believe me when I say Hadley does NOT give up with the barking! When you combine the fact that it's more than just "barking" and more like a full-on panic and you might will probably have more of an appreciation for our dilemma here!
 

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A thundershirt needs to be properly used so that it doesn't become a predictor that you're leaving. Put it on the dog randomly. The website should have instructions. I wouldn't expect this to do much. The manufacturer makes a lot of claims, mostly unproven. It probably won't hurt unless it's relied on in lieu of getting started with a proven method to help. I urge you not to spend much time or money with alternative type treatments such as homeopathic concoctions (no science to prove they work for dogs or humans), essential oils, massage therapy or any of the many "methods" people hear about or have recommended to them by others.

Look up Malena DeMartini Price. She's a noted expert on SA. She has a website and she does remote consultations.

True, full blown SA is considered something that needs intervention with behavior modification and often with prescription drugs ASAP. Her behavior in the crate is not surprising. Many dogs with SA can not be crated as it increases their anxiety. Imagine having a full blown panic attack with no ability to rationalize it away and you might get a bit of what it feels like to a dog with severe SA.
 

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Poor Hadley, this is separation distress and as Grabby said, it would be best to consult a behaviourist.

For the moment , I would avoid leaving her alone at all. Am hour may seem like a short time but it seems an eternity if you are in an anxious or distressed state.

The advice below might encourage your dog to settle and choose not to follow you around while you are home . My interpretation of advice from Emily Blackwell , behaviourist at Bristol Uni UK.

Give the dog a filled kong on a soft comfortable dog bed or on the sofa in the living room , sit next to her while she eats it , this create a safe comfort zone with pleasant memories. Next time , sit with her while she eats and then get up and walk to the door and back . If she is ok with that , next time walk out the door and back in. next time stay out longer. You build this up in tiny increments until she is completely relaxed at each stage . She is learning that she can cope when you leave the room and doesn't feel the need to be with you all the time.
This is a common problem and if you look a round the forum there is information in other threads and stickies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thank you Grabby and dibbythedog for your help. I really hope this isn't something that would require meds to treat, but I guess the only way to know for sure is taking "baby steps" with the training you guys have suggested and if we still aren't making progress, I will seek a professional's opinion.

dibbythedog, it's interesting that you mention the kong! We have one of these (like nearly every dog owner I guess) and I've actually tried things very similar to what you've mentioned.

Once we left a kong with her when we left the house, and when we returned it was completely untouched. The same thing happened when we tried giving her the kong during a couple car rides, or even tried to offer her a treat in the car, she won't take it 9 times out of 10. To put this in perspective, Hadley LOVES food (she's a lab after all) so for her to completely disregard the kong should tell you a lot about her problem already.

NOW that isn't to say we haven't had any success with the kong. There HAVE indeed been instances in which we've been outside with Hadley while she plays with her kong and we kind of "quietly" walk inside and yes she did her thing for a little while by herself but at the same time I was under the impression that she was only "ok" with that because she didn't realize we weren't out there with her because as soon as she took a moment to look up and look around for us she will come right up to the door wanting to be inside too!

But we have definitely been practicing things you've mentioned i.e. leaving her outside for short amounts of time with a toy and/or kong trying to encourage her to do her own thing and there have been encouraging signs at times, but your comments made me realize that we also need to be a bit more consistent with how we are doing this, i.e. spending time with her each time in a specific area to establish a familiar comfort zone before letting her be on her own (currently we only do this by coincidence and there isn't much of a predictable pattern to how we are doing this which I sometimes wonder if that might be distressing to her in itself since I've heard dogs are very reliant on patterns and routine)

Either way, it doesn't look like it's going to be an easy path for any of us, and as much as we love Hadley we need to figure out how to be able to leave her at home once in a while too!
 

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If you want a guide on how to follow the protocol most professionals recommend, look up Pat Miller articles in the Whole Dog Journal; available online.

Patricia McConnell is also a good source of info. She has a book called I'll Be Home Soon. Doing the counter conditioning correctly is key. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, your order has been placed.
An email confirmation has been sent to you.

Order Number: 107-0960940-0398607
I'll be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety. will be shipped to **** **** by Amazon.com.
Guaranteed delivery: Aug. 28, 2015
Review or edit your order

:)
 

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I highly recommend you talk to your vet about fluoxetine(prozac) for separation anxiety. It can make a world of difference, especially in combination w/ the right training/behavioural regime.
 

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Thank you Grabby and dibbythedog for your help. I really hope this isn't something that would require meds to treat, but I guess the only way to know for sure is taking "baby steps" with the training you guys have suggested and if we still aren't making progress, I will seek a professional's opinion.
I wrote a long reply and then lost it all :mad:
I am out of time so I'll keep this short.

You have a lot of information to process and understand and you haven't experienced SA in a dog before. You are learning by trial and error and as
Hadley has severe SA , you cant afford to make mistakes as you found out when you left her in her crate.

it really would best to consult an experienced qualified behaviourist if you can find one. . They will write you a behaviour modification plan to follow to help guide you and give you the support you need and explain the things you don't understand.

She needs to be desensitised and counter conditioned to being left alone at home but first she needs to be relaxed and comfortable at home when you are there and not feel the need to follow you around before she can cope with you going out .

Emily Blackwells advice that I mentioned earlier is about desensitising and counterconditioning. I would expect most good behaviourists to give similar advice. It lets the dog learn to cope at her own pace and give her choice of eating her kong or following you , this helps relieve her anxiety and can prevent panic. If you judge the timing right , eg walking a few steps and then returning to her , she'll very likely stay with the filled kong or a chew if she prefers that. You build up the distance , if she gets up to follow you , then you have gone to fast and need to go back to the previous distance.

Either way, it doesn't look like it's going to be an easy path for any of us, and as much as we love Hadley we need to figure out how to be able to leave her at home once in a while too!
It takes time and patience and I'm sure you'll get there in the end as like most people here on this forum, you love your dog and you are willing to go the extra mile for her! :thumbsup:
 

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I'm just reading my last post back in the cold light of the day and the last paragraph seems a bit tactless so sorry if I come over as judgemental .

Theres a booklet by Peter Neville : Separation Related problems in dogs.
There's are case studies included. There may be information on Clomicalm ( Clomipramine Hydrochloride) included.

http://www.coape.org/publications.php
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dibbythedog, thank you again for taking the time to respond and offer your advice. I will take your suggestions and hopefully I can find a professional to consult. In the meantime, we will work on her tendency to follow us everywhere inside the house before training her to be alone, as you said. My only concern here is that I know this is going to be a process and it's not going to happen overnight and in the meantime, there may be a time in which we have no choice but to leave her alone. While she has not been alone once since I originally posted this thread because when we really cannot be home or bring the dog with us, we have always been fortunate enough to find someone in our family who can help us out for a little while and Hadley does very well with them (from what I'm told). But you just never know, sometimes "life happens" as they say and we may not be as lucky to have someone around, so we are going to really make the training aspect of this become our priority right now and not just for us, but for Hadley's sake too.
 
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