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Separation Anxiety?

997 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Nil
I'm new here and in need of some advice, it sounds like other people here have dealt with similar issues.

A month ago I brought home a terrier mix Pete from a rescue. He is not only adorable (looks like a little fox!) but has a great temperament, gentle and very loving. He's been socialized in a lot of situations and acted like a champ, friendly with dogs but not super interested, really a people dog.... maybe a little too much so.

He had been at the rescue for a few months and we were told he was crate trained so we set one up in our kitchen thinking it would be a nice haven for him in an unusual environment. The first day he was literally on our (especially my) heels all day. He walked right into the crate and lay there for a few minutes in the afternoon. When evening came I sent him in there and went upstairs to bed. He proceeded to SCREAM and intermittently claw at the door for 3.5 hours with no break. I know you cant let them out when they're frantic but by midnight I was desperate and clearly he was too. I went downstairs and sat for half an hour till he fell asleep, I thought I could sneak away but as soon as I moved he was awake like a lighting bolt and I decided to take advantage of the lull to let him out instead of letting him get going again. He whines when he cant see me for a moment and refuses to go outside alone.

I'm home most of the day but I had a few appointments that required me to be out for 3 hours at a time, I'm pretty certain he barked the whole time and I came home to a puddle of drool. Another time we left him in the house with my brother (who got locked in the bathroom for an hour... hilarious) and when we came home Pete was barking at the door and had COVERED our front hall with sweaty pawprints, not one or two trails but layers of solid pattern. I have done LOTS of research and have been trying to get him used to being alone... all the standard stuff, no intense greetings or goodbyes, desensitizing him to triggers like opening the door, leaving for a few seconds then a few minutes. He still whines but wont start barking until about the 20 min mark.

He doesnt seem to destroy things or soil the house *thank god* but I can't spend my whole life inside my house... I've been assuming its SA but we're at the 5 week mark and have seen only minor improvements. I really want to fix the problem and make darn sure I don't make things worse. Advice? Suggestions?

Any help or support would be appreciated.
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Thanks for the replies... He was being given freedom of the house when we are home and crated when we are not. We THOUGHT he was housetrained but this afternoon we discovered he has been sneaking downstairs to the basement and peeing in the MIDDLE OF THE COUCH! Silly dog. I was happy that occasionally he was leaving my side, I thought it signalled a little more independence. However, we will be keeping a closer eye on him from now on. Because he is always crated when we are away the accidents must be happening when we are home and are not a symptom of SA. I think he just doesnt know how to ask to go out because he has never gone in the house in front of me. We'll get a little bell for the future.

Just today I started playing games with the crate and he now runs in happily, still doesnt like being left alone but he seems to be okay with the crate itself now. I got "I'll be home soon" by patricia mcconnell and have started doing some of the exercises including a frozen kong when I leave for a moment. Hopefully he's just settling in and those measures will prevent it becoming a long term issue. I'll keep everyone apprised of our progress!
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Today as I was doing chores around the house I noticed he wasnt at my side. I decided to investigate (my couch really doesnt need another layer of pee, one is probably enough;) and I found him curled up asleep in his crate!!!! He went in by himself and settled in there for the first time. I gave him a good belly rub and quite a bit of chicken. I think hes feeling more comfortable with me out of sight and starting to regard his crate as a cozy home and not a terrible cage where he is abandoned. I think that will make things easier on all of us. Man, those crate games are pretty great.

I can also tell he is more comfortable here because he has started to get a bit cheeky. At first he was very passive (and well behaved) except for when we left him alone but yesterday I found him on our kitchen table eating our leftovers! This leads me to ask, I really like positive training methods but in a situation like that surely a correction is necessary... I don't want to put him in his crate or otherwise give him a "time out" since the last thing I want is for him to think being left alone is a punishment. When food is in front of him a stern "no" just won't do the job, the food in his mouth is worth more than my disapproval. What are my options here?
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I will try exercising him more and start teaching "leave it". I was actually just in the next room for a moment. I think the ship has sailed on avoiding the behaviour cropping up, while I was doing the dishes I had my back turned and caught him at it again, this time when there wasn't even food on the table!! I might have to get sneaky, leave something up on the table and watch with a mirror to correct him BEFORE he tries to jump.
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