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My doxie, Baseball, is a dream, and my husband and I adore him. For the first three years of his life we lived in a 600 sqft apartment. He took walks to potty and lived mostly indoors. We recently bought a house, and now have a large house and property.

My husband and I both work shift work, meaning when we are gone, we are gone for over 12 hours. We have always worked this type of schedule, so Baseball was raised this way. He is usually alone two days out of the week, and we often have people come over to check on him or pick him up for half the day. He usually stays in our large bathroom with his blanket, food, water, and toys.

While we are gone he is now chewing up his blankets and completely destroying them! He chews small holes in them and puts his head through them so that when we get home he is "stuck" in his blanket. Often he is in it very tight and it scares me that he could choke himself. He does this even on our days off when we leave him for an hour. When he sees us getting ready to leave, he hides and shakes which he never use to do. We leave him with treats and toys, but when we come home we see they are untouched. He often doesn't eat his food while we are gone either. He has also started pooping in the bathroom and smearing it all over the floor. Something he has NEVER done.

We are at a loss, we have lived here for only three months, so maybe he needs to get use to it still. But he has chewed up so many blankets, and I'm worried he will hurt himself. He gets so sad when we leave now, it breaks my heart!

I am wondering if another dog as a friend would help him? I don't know how to help him feel better here while we are gone. Any suggestions would be helpful!
 

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You could try training the dog out of associations with you getting ready to leave the house, because it obviously triggers anxiety in the dog.

-Another thing you could try is train the dog to be alone by leaving it only for a couple of minutes at a time. Increase the time he spends alone progressively over a few weeks or even months all the way up to the necessary 12 hours.

-Leave on a radio. The noise calms the dog a bit.

-Most importantly take the dog for a long walk before leaving him alone. At least an hour long walk to really burn that extra energy which he uses on destroying blankets and stuff.

Try these but 12 hours is still very long time for a dog to be alone and if no one is there to take him out during that time, it is pretty much inevitable that he poops on the floor.

Good luck with the training! ;)
 

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Most say it doesn't work, but a second dog helped calm our first dog. King (chihuahua mix - 1 years old) had separation anxiety. He wouldn't destroy anything, but he would defecate his crate every single day. I was to the point of getting rid of him. He is an energetic dog. My girlfriend decided to go to our local shelter (CAPS) and was looking around. We settled on our new dog Chase (3-4 year old Husky mix). He is a completely calm, laid back dog. He has helped King out tremendously. While King still whines when we are about to leave, he goes into the playpen with Chase without hesitation.

A second older dog, with a completely opposite temperament, worked for us and may work for you.
 

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Or it may work against you :D I had two rescue dogs who just fed each others anxiety and taught each other new bad habits. For example the other one was very calm and quite at first but within a few weeks the other one taught him to howl and whine in anxiety when I was out of the house. Voilà, problem doubled.

This is just my experience and it may work other way around as well. They might teach each other good behavior too! Just didn't happen with my dogs. :)
 

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The first and hopefully most obvious step is to remove anything that could become dangerous if he destroys it -- blankets, bedding, swallowable toys, anything he could reach within the bathroom even if he normally wouldn't. A panicked dog isn't thinking rationally, so his normal behavior isn't a safe bet for what he will or won't destroy/swallow while anxious.

Incremental separation training is really the way to go, especially since this is a new habit that isn't as firmly established yet. The books "I'll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell and "Don't Leave Me" by Nicole Wilde would be my first stop. Both authors are excellent.

Contrary to popular belief, a second dog rarely solves true separation anxiety (a significant behavioral and sometimes medical condition, which is what it sounds like you're dealing with), although it may mitigate isolation distress (the normal level of discomfort that social animals feel when alone, basically a combination of boredom, loneliness and confusion). And in the very-few cases I've seen where a second dog DID help with real separation anxiety, the anxious dog became unhealthily attached to the second dog and then had separation issues from the second dog instead of the humans. So that would definitely not be my first steps.

Some people put great stock in DAP diffusers and collars (that's Dog Appeasing Pheromone, a synthetic smell made to mimic the comforting pheromone a nursing mother makes for her pups), but it's a your-mileage-may-vary thing. At best, it provides him with some comfort. At worst, it does nothing. I've never heard of a dog having an adverse reaction to it, but it seems to be about 50/50 whether it actually does anything for any individual dog. Worth a try, at least. The collars run about $15.

Are you familiar with counter-conditioning and incremental separation training?

Are you open to working with a qualified behaviorist, and if so, would you like help with locating one?
 
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