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Discussion Starter #1
First, some back-story. Elka, my husky mix, is fully house-trained and trustworthy, with a dog door to the fenced back yard. I had recently been leaving her with the run of the house and yard when I went out (anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours).

I have had a visitor for the last month and had the opportunity to have her observed without me there. She likes my visitor but hasn't bonded to him. He said that when I leave the house, she starts to gallops around rather frantically, from the gate, to the doors, to the windows, upstairs windows, and back down in loops, howling and barking. If confined to a crate she just howls non-stop. In either case, she settles down after a few minutes, and he can interrupt the behavior and has been working with her (with hot dogs) while I am gone.

Now, I picked up I'll Be Home Soon from Patricia McConnell, believing this to be a mild form of separation anxiety. I've been working through the pamphlet and am now unsure if this is separation anxiety. Points:

1) She does not get concerned in the least by my preparations to leave. The behavior begins as the garage door sound begins when I'm already out the door. (I can counter-condition this as per the book if it will help)

2) She's not destructive. Oh, she occasionally grab something left out and chews - but she's not eating the doorframes, windows, rug by aforementioned items, etc.

3) The anxiety doesn't last the entire time - she settles down somewhere between 5-20 minutes.

So I'm trying to figure out if this is separation anxiety, how much prevention/counter-conditioning I should do, and/or if I should crate her when I go out (during which she still howls, and will destroy any crate covers) or some combination. She does get a kong when I go out, no matter whether she's crated or not. Usually filled with Cheez Wiz or Peanut Butter or something like that. Not frozen, though I'm going to give that a shot as well.

I know it's hard to diagnose without seeing the behavior, and bear in mind I can't personally witness it either.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. =)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Thank you Peggy. At the very least it's mild, and she does calm down after a bit. I've seen severe forms - terrifying.

I'll find that video, thank you again!
 

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True separation anxiety (SA) is rather rare and is a neurological disorder. Bloodwork can confirm that there is an imbalance and medication is required to fix the neurology.
The symptoms of true SA are self mutilation, destructiveness, constant pacing, constant barking/whinning, inappropriate urination and defecation.
What you're seeing is a dog that lacks the confidence to be alone. Part of that training is teaching the dog what they should do when you're not there. That's where the crate training comes into play....teaching the dog that they should take a nap when you're not around. Mine head for their beds when we leave (unless it's just out to the mailbox or to get the paper....then they watch from the window...how do they know that??!) Others use different tactics effectively...kongs and toys to keep them occupied....I just prefer that mine take a nap.
 

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True separation anxiety (SA) is rather rare and is a neurological disorder. Bloodwork can confirm that there is an imbalance and medication is required to fix the neurology.
The symptoms of true SA are self mutilation, destructiveness, constant pacing, constant barking/whinning, inappropriate urination and defecation.
What you're seeing is a dog that lacks the confidence to be alone. Part of that training is teaching the dog what they should do when you're not there. That's where the crate training comes into play....teaching the dog that they should take a nap when you're not around. Mine head for their beds when we leave (unless it's just out to the mailbox or to get the paper....then they watch from the window...how do they know that??!) Others use different tactics effectively...kongs and toys to keep them occupied....I just prefer that mine take a nap.

That sounds nice and easy.... but how do you teach it. I have the exact same problem I put my pup in crate and he goes crazy - I tried to leave him out one day with baby gate to front door.... chewed the door nob and the window frames.... so back to crate and he cries and whines....

How do you teach him to sleep when we leave I am willing to do anything.....

PLEASE HELP

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Edit:

I leave kongs and treats and anything I can think of - he forgets about them and just cries then when we get home he comes out and goes and get the treats I left in morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Get the pamphlet I mentioned in my first post. I think it was $6 - and in reality, it's invaluable.
 

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Sorry I just saw this post. Been busy with life lol..

I have to agree with TooneyDogs. It's not a case of true SA. I've actually had a dog with true SA, and If he only did what you are stating I would have been in heaven. Anyone here during the time I had said dog can vouch for that.

I would tire your pup out before you go out and leave yummer kongs. I leave a peanut butter kong and now it's to the point where if I turn on music my pup runs to his crate happy as ever.

My question is, does the dog only do it when you leave? If so, you need to work on your dogs confidence, because your dog for some reason see's you as a life line. Maybe having a dog walker come in and walk your dog even if your home would be a good thing. Also allowing your dog to have time "alone" form you when your home would be good. Like closing a door between you and your pup, or making them stay outside of your computer room when you are using it. Things like that to build up your pups confidence will make a huge impact on what he/she acts like when your gone. I actually up until just recently because of a life change, do not allow my dogs to sleep in my room for this fact. If they can be outside of your room, alone for 8+ hours there is no reason why they should freak out when you leave.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, my dog only does it when I go, and only for a brief period. Note - I work at home, I'm only ever gone for social events and tend to make longer trips during the twice a week she's at daycare.

I foster, and having a second dog here seems to help.

She spends plenty of time alone on her own - she sleeps outside, plays outside, sleeps under the bed- all while I'm upstairs working. Note: these are choices she makes, I don't close off doors or anything. She's fine on her own if I'm in the house - but if I go out, that's when she gets uppity.

I'm going to work through the counter-conditioning in the pamphlet as well as some of the ideas in Peggy's videos, I think they will help. I do walk her (and/or put her on the treadmill) before I go out to keep her energy lower. Interestingly, the neighbors have universally said that other than a bark or two when she sees the kids playing outside in the street - she's quiet as can be and really well behaved.

She's not a velcro dog - and she's been going through this routine since I got her, so I was really surprised by my friend's observations and wondering how much of it was his presence (was she upset I left with someone other than me in the house?)

I'm also working through Control Unleashed which I think will also help with her confidence and control.

Thanks for the input - it is very valuable. Knowing that this is a managable situation means I can take ownership rather than feeling bad. =)
 

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Sorry I just saw this post. Been busy with life lol..

I have to agree with TooneyDogs. It's not a case of true SA. I've actually had a dog with true SA, and If he only did what you are stating I would have been in heaven. Anyone here during the time I had said dog can vouch for that.

I would tire your pup out before you go out and leave yummer kongs. I leave a peanut butter kong and now it's to the point where if I turn on music my pup runs to his crate happy as ever.

My question is, does the dog only do it when you leave? If so, you need to work on your dogs confidence, because your dog for some reason see's you as a life line. Maybe having a dog walker come in and walk your dog even if your home would be a good thing. Also allowing your dog to have time "alone" form you when your home would be good. Like closing a door between you and your pup, or making them stay outside of your computer room when you are using it. Things like that to build up your pups confidence will make a huge impact on what he/she acts like when your gone. I actually up until just recently because of a life change, do not allow my dogs to sleep in my room for this fact. If they can be outside of your room, alone for 8+ hours there is no reason why they should freak out when you leave.

Good luck!
sorry for beeing a threat stealer

See thats my exact problem.... when I sit in the living room and put him in the crate he doesnt like it but eventually he sleeps... when we put him in for the night sometimes he cries for an hour and stops and sometimes he doesnt.... and sometimes it doesnt end there is no reason he gets just as much exercise and treats and either cases. I tried to put him in the crate and go upstairs to use the computer - as soon as im out of his sight he goes crazy. He is an adopted dog so I think that he is afraid i am leaving him.

When we leave for work he notices that we are getting ready even tho hes not in the crate and doesnt want to go to the crate. I have to sometimes push him in. I will try to put the kong with peanut butter / philly cream cheese frozen for him, but what if he gets the runs or something. What if he ignores it like the rest of the treats....

Any other suggestions as to putting him in a bathroom for example and closing the door with me in a computer room and mutilating my bathroom / door would be appreciated :) - We left him this weekend at my parents so when we left he didn't cry so I wouldn't say he's attached to me more like not wanting to be alone.

Thanks so much.
 

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I vote that this is not SA because, if it was, you'd know about it without having your houseguest report it to you. I would say most dogs get at least a tiny bit anxious when their people leave. It makes me a little bit sad every time my boyfriend leaves for work and I have the mental capacity to understand that he will be back in just a few days! If your dog is calming down/falling asleep/entertaining itself shortly after you leave, then it's probably all right.
 

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Building confidence...confidence to be alone...coping with spooky sights, sounds....coping in new environments....or, developing their problem solving skills isn't a one or two day program of training exercises. It's a work in progress that may take months or years.
It starts with baby steps but, every step of the way is focused on building the dogs confidence. Afraid to be alone? Leave for a minute or two.....come back when there is quiet and pet/praise for that calmness. Repeat 20 times a day. That's a slight exaggeration but, the idea is you have to do this many, many times. Next baby step...increase the time to 3 or 5 minutes and do that 20 times a day. You're going to work up to hours.
Part of that training can include leaving the pup with something really, really good while you're out of the room for a minute or two.
 
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