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Separation Anxiety?

994 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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If you don't want to crate him while you are out then you need to do a quick "dog proofing" of the house to make sure any food left out is put away or out of reach. Once a dog learns that counter surfing means delicious food, he'll do it again and again.

As far as teaching leave it, you can definitely teach and reward it with positive reinforcement. Here's an example video: Teaching Leave-it

However you can't tell the dog to "leave it" when you're not around so management is the key (meaning you need to put away food if you are leaving the room or can't watch him). The less he practices the behavior the less it'll happen.

Counter surfing can also mean boredom. Taking him out more and giving him doggie puzzles is always a fun way to keep dogs busy and out of trouble. Things like the Kong and other puzzle toys that hold food (Buster Cube, Tug a Jug, etc) work well.

Edit: If you catch him in the act of something you can use an interrupter like clapping your hands or making a loud noise. When he looks up you either lure him or put him on the ground and give him something else to do and redirect.
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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.
Which may or may not work. Dogs are smart. They know when you are gone and when you are unable to correct them. So, even correcting him will be hit or miss and you still would have to make sure to either keep him out of the area or put all potential fun/interesting/yummy things off the counters when you are gone. That's why management is usually better in the long run because they learn, over time, that jumping up on counters means nothing because there is no food to reward it, even when you are gone.
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