Advice for dealing with dog separation anxiety?
My sis recently adopted a 2 year old hound (the previous owners said he was a purebred beagle, but we suspect we might be part foxhound) from a family that had to give him away due to moving. He's a very sweet boy and doesn't have a lot of obvious bad dog behaviors except for some occasional marking. Unfortunately, he is also very clingy and panics whenever my sis leaves the house or when its time for us to go to bed. We've tried crating him, but the confined space just freaks him out. Having him sleep in bed with either of us is NOT an option, but he hates sleeping alone and will bark all night if he's ignored.
Any advice would certainly be appreciated.
- Rep Power
The dog I adopted last year from a shelter - my adorable Leo - had (and possibly still has) a bit of a problem of separation anxiety. At first not so much, but when he started to adapt to the new place and really feel at home, he would really freak out when me and/or my mum left the house, as if he didn't wanted to be alone (well, with the other dog Kyoko and the cats). He would munch on himself till he was bruised if not bleeding, so much that at first the vet thought he had some skin/allergy problems and gave us a new diets and ran several tests - of course they came back negative.
Things seemed to have settled down (I guess we went out less than usual, or tried to coordinate our schedules to have one of us at home every night) till one night when we both were out and we found him munching on his fur again, till the point he had grazed his skin and it was bleeding. Of course we rushed to the vet the very next morning, and she prescribed these tablets and they seem to have helped - he stopped this behaviour quite quickly. (I am perplexed because I read just now on the site I linked that they do not suggest them for use with dogs with separation anxiety, but that's what our vet gave us and they did work! Anyway, I'm not a vet, so in case you would evaluate this route, of course follow your doc's advice!).
We stopped giving those to him after a bit, and the fur-muching beheaviour never came back, possibly also because in the meantime he figured out that we are not trying to escape from him all the time and we do come back home anyway... so apart from some excessive barking to celebrate our return, things are much much better. (You mentioned he's a recent adoption too.. maybe he's a little shaken up like my Leo was?)
Fortunately Leo has never had trouble at night, though he too likes to sleep in company and both my mum and I have dog cushions in our bedrooms down for him to sleep on - and he alternates between the two bedrooms and his main dog bed in the living room, or a carpet near our favourite armchair. I don't think he would appreciate very much being kept outside or in another room, but apart from being in a corner of the room and not alone, he won't do anything - surely won't try to jump on the bed! I can barely perceive his presence at night! I can't even imagine putting him in a crate, not him and not my other (smaller) dog Kyoko... she would go nuts! Could having a designated place for him in the room where he won't feel left out but won't be in your feet be an option?
Sorry for the long post, anyway, this is my experience, hope it can give you some ideas.
When we first adopted our dog from animal rescue, she cried at night so we would let her sleep with an article of our clothing and the radio on at night. She eventually calmed down only to develop a case of separation anxiety six years later. She use to put herself in front of the door and snap and growl at us when we tried to walk past her to leave. After consulting with the vet, we started her on medication especially made for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. The medication is called Reconcile and it is actually a form of doggy prozac. Now she will bark when we leave but does not growl or try to prevent us from leaving the house.
Leo is adorable!
Originally Posted by alhrayth
I saw this on a episode of No More Bad Dogs .... You walk out the door while the dog watches you, but you come right back inside a few minutes later. You repeat this multiple times. The idea is to let the dog know that you will come back to him. Also, don't make a big fuss on the dog when you leave the house.
When crating mine as a puppy, when we first got her, I would put a stinky tshirt in with her - either mine or my husbands (or both). Dogs are very scent oriented and it was comforting to her.
Crating is the answer, I promise. I do doggie rescue and it's always rough the first few weeks until the dog figures out the house routine and that you will come back for them. I second the suggestion to go through the getting in the crate routine, go outside for a few minutes and then come back in. It really does help.
Giving them something to do in the crate helps as well. I have lots of kong toys that I put some kibble or a milkbone ("cookie) in and stuff with peanut butter, canned pumpkin or baby food, then freeze it. It gives them something to focus on for a while, and then a nap always seems like a good idea.
You probably know most of this, but thought it might help!