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We got a second dog that was a few years older and with a 100% completely different temperament. Keep in mind that this solution isn't successful for the majority of people from what I understand.
 

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Maybe this should be a support thread for people dealing with SA instead of just success cases?
Anyway. James, one of my dogs has SA. I can't give you a success story since we're not successful yet but we will be:).
James developed SA during a very stressful period (dogs fighting and we had to switch to a crate-rotate lifestyle) and even though that problem is gone, SA remains. He most likely has a genetic disposition for it, so he might have developed it sooner or later anyway.
I started treating James SA a little more than a month ago and we have now worked us up to being able to leave for 40 minutes without any stress for him whatsoever (he barely notice when I leave and sometimes he doesn't even get up when I come back, lol). 40 minutes might not sound a lot but we started at 5 seconds! I've been really aggressive in dealing with this, so far I've managed to avoid him being alone at all outside training. I stick strictly to a plan that I worked out so I have a pretty good idea how long it will take before he can be alone one hour, two hours etc. We have had a few setbacks but nothing serious (and those really happened because I got greedy and didn't stick to plan). Tomorrow unfortunately, I have to be away for a few hours for the first time since we started - hopefully that won't set us back too much.
For me, dealing with James SA is extremely boring and it takes a lot of time but it's not particular stressful since I'm so confident that we'll fix this. It's like training long distance running, stick to the plan, do the work and you'll get there. When you just start running and barely can make a 1km, running a marathon seems impossible but eventually you will do it. SA is the same, when your dog can only be apart for a few seconds before falling apart, the idea that he can happily alone for an hour seems impossible, but you'll get there.
 

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I started treating James SA a little more than a month ago and we have now worked us up to being able to leave for 40 minutes without any stress for him whatsoever (he barely notice when I leave and sometimes he doesn't even get up when I come back, lol). 40 minutes might not sound a lot but we started at 5 seconds!
40 minutes certainly sounds like a success story to me! Congratulations! It's important to have both long term and short term goals. I'd love for this thread to turn into a place to celebrate even the "minor" successes, and support each other to help reach the long term goals. We all have to eat the elephant one bite at a time!

Unfortunately, I'm struggling with the reality that it is impossible for my dog not to be left alone at all outside of training. Although I think we might be on to something by simply letting her have the run of the house instead of confining her to her crate or the kitchen. She still doesn't particularly like it when we leave but if I give her something to safe to chew on (I've been using Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Salmon Skins), she runs to her bed or upstairs to our bedroom and doesn't even worry that we've left. When I leave her with the same thing, but confined to either her crate or the kitchen she hasn't chewed it much at all when I return because she's so stressed while I'm gone. So, I'm hopefully dealing with very mild separation anxiety but more severe confinement anxiety.
 

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When I adopted my dog Belle, she was around a year old. It was sort of a last minute adoption decision (not a good idea but there it is) and so I didn't have a plan in place. She was fine in the crate the first night but we were home. The next day I took her to work with me so I could take her to my vet to be checked out. That evening, I had a class with another dog and my husband was playing golf. I put Belle in a crate and left the house.

My husband got home first and he thought we'd been burglarized by a crazy person. There was poop and pee in multiple spots. The blinds on two windows were torn down. Books were pulled out of bookshelves and torn up. The sliding glass door to our backyard was open. She'd somehow fiddled with the lock enough that she managed to open the door. The crate had been damaged beyond repair. Thank goodness she hadn't hurt herself or escaped from the yard.

I took off a few days from work and started the SA protocol outlined in Patricia McConnell's booklet. Luckily there was a weekend in there too so if I remember correctly, I had about a week to work with her every day, multiple times a day. Luckily, Belle quickly caught on that me leaving meant great things happened. It helped too that she had two other dogs with her. We were careful not to crate her when we left for a long time, maybe four or five months. I don't know if that mattered or not but I didn't want her to feel that panic in the crate again until she'd gotten settled and comfortable. Today, at seven years old, she has no separation anxiety.

I know that I was lucky in some regards. I was able to start immediately working to change how she felt about being left alone. I had other dogs that helped her feel comfortable.

I think separation anxiety is like many other behaviors. The more the dog practices the behavior the harder it is to change the behavior, especially when you're talking about a fear based behavior.
 

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@MeStephieP: It it possible to protect your training to a degree even if you have to leave the dog alone longer than your current training level. The way to do this is to have separate rituals around both when you leave for training and when you leave for none-training. An example would be to ring a bell, but it could be really anything. The purpose of this is that the dog learns what is a "safe" leave and what is not. It's not as good as having no alone time at all during training but it still works if the amount of training absences exceeds the "none-training" absences by far.
James is now up to 50 minutes, unfortunately I had to leave him alone outside training three times this week. He handled two well and was pretty upset about 5h3 last one of them. As the time he can be left alone gets longer, in a way, progress gets slower just because each training repetition take so much time! I've also discovered that I can't stack two 50 minutes leave on each other, with just a few minutes in between, while when we were doing 5-10 minutes, I could practically just enter the door and leave again.
 

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Layla has separation anxiety. In some ways we're very lucky that it's not severe. She makes some noise usually, but it lasts 30 seconds. She does scratch the door which isn't good.... however she does no other damage at all, and it's not long before she's snoozing and waiting. When I get home after work I can tell she's getting down from the couch to come greet me lol.

I adopted Layla and they told me about her SA and screened me and chose me because I worked from home (at that time).

The foster had been crating Layla when she went for work - which was recommended by the rescue (quite reasonably really, since I'm sure they didn't want to risk having to pay the security deposit for a ruined apartment). However Layla was TERRIFIED of being crated. Likely a result of being in the pound. I actually had to have two of her teeth extracted because she'd broken so many teeth chewing bars (and this is a dog who doesn't chew anything).

Anyway I guess I'm just sharing this because sometimes with dogs with SA, crating or confining in a closed room does make it worse. Layla would soil her crate in terror, and the only time she did actual damage was when she was shut into a bathroom when the foster left.

Since I've had her, she's NEVER done actual damage other than a bit of scratching at the door (easily managed with a gate). She still hates it when we leave her, but she's able to deal with it, and nothing bad happens.

I'd suggest listening to the advice of others here but keeping in mind that giving your dog a bit of freedom might help too.
 
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