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Discussion Starter #1
My new rescue (2 year old lab mix) has terrible separation anxiety. I've had the last 4 weeks off of work and have been working EVERY day on crate training. He has no problem going into the crate, and sleeps there every night without any problems. But the minute he thinks we have left the house he chews the bars, barks incessantly, and rips his bedding to shreds. He won't play with toys or eat treats in his crate, and hasn't shown any improvement despite me putting in a TON of work. I can't leave him out of his crate when I am gone, because he's too destructive. The vet recently put him on some anti-anxiety meds, but even with that, I haven't seen much of a decrease in his anxiety levels.

I'm just wondering if anyone else with a rescue (or otherwise) has had problems with separation anxiety and how long it lasted. I have to go back to work next week so I'm hoping he "snaps out of it" before I get kicked out of my building. Help!
 

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Practice leaving the house. You leave for 1 minute, then 2, then 3, etc. You build his confidence to be alone by praising calm/confident behavior. When you go back to work next week, you want to exercise him HARD before you leave. Labs should get 12-15 miles of daily exercise or they go stir crazy. Ideally, you want him to sleep the entire time you're gone.
 

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That's what we've been doing. He's never gone longer than 25 min though without starting to flip out. I have also been trying to exercise him till he drops. Sometimes he gets walks, runs, AND dog park all in one day. Still nothin!
 

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Confidence building is a long, slow process. In the meantime, I suggest a talk with the vet about the medication level as you're not seeing any improvement in the anxiety level.
 

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Hello!
We adopted our 2 year old dog around Christmas and he had terrible separation anxiety. He was actually at risk of hurting himself, so the vet finally recommended that we put him on Prozac. The problem is that it can take up to 8 weeks for the Prozac to take effect.

He really started to improve around week 5. We had to give him Xanax when we left the house but we have been able to discontinue that completely. Can't wait to get him off the Prozac too, but it will be a while.

Best wishes with your dog!
-Mike-
 

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He really started to improve around week 5. We had to give him Xanax when we left the house but we have been able to discontinue that completely. Can't wait to get him off the Prozac too, but it will be a while.

Best wishes with your dog!
-Mike-
I haven't seen any results with the Xanax, and we're on week 2 of Prozac, so that probably will take a while to kick in. What kind of improvements did you see? The most important thing is that he stops chewing on the bars, which could hurt him, but I need to get the barking under control too.

I've read that it helps to make the dog sit and stay and then move away. Has anyone tried this technique for clingy dogs?
 

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I just adopted a German Shepherd two days ago, and he's going through the EXACT same thing as the owner that started this thread. I bought a book on training and it said to start training by giving him a treat for going in the crate, leave for one minute, and if he's not fussing, come back and praise him. Let him out for a few minutes and repeat. Each day it said to up the time limit slightly and once it gets to about 30 minutes you can make the incriments larger.

My dog must be a fast learner, because the first day he was very attached to us, but if he was in his crate and we were out of sight (right outside the bedroom door) and he could hear us, he went nuts. He broke his crate the first day. Now we can close the door and go about three minutes while being dead silent. It's a work in progress, but it seems to be working. The key I've heard is to him out after being calm and praising him. You don't want the crate time to seem like a punishment or for him to associate the crate with negative feelings, so use baby steps. If this turns out not to work for us I'll reply back with the change in our results.
 

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Do a forum search on "Carter" Or go to all of my topic I've posted and go to the very beginning of when I was here. I ended up having to put the poor guy down. He was trying to kill himself every time we left. Between that and his redirecting aggression on me he was a ticking time bomb. I spent 8 months working with him without results.

The key to overcoming SA is to NEVER be gone longer then the dog can handle it. That means if the dog can only go 5 mins before the crying starts, youc an only be gone for 4 mins 59seconds. That's where the hard part of SA come in. And keep in mind you WILL regress at times. I had it to the point that Carter was GREAT for 8 to 9 hours alone then someone rang my door bell while we were gone and we had to start all over again. But it was never the same after that.

The one thing I found that really worked was separating you from the dog during the day while you are still in the house. Then either tape or video tape yourself for a few hours just doing normal stuff and then play it when you leave. don't let the dog know you left. This worked for about 3 days before Carter figured out what was going on. Carter was also very very smart for being a dog.

Can you use a doggie day care? That would at least solve some of the issues.

Google Separation Anxiety and read all of that stuff. Also look into a behaviorist. They cost about $300-$600 a session but are well worth it. I was lucky and was able to get one to come in under their "trainer" fee and came out a few times to help me out. There was too many screws loose in Carter that we just couldn't get anywhere. With the backing of 2 behaviorist and 2 trainers, we put him down. Hardest thing ever, but I am happy to know that he is no longer in pain and isn't suffering anymore.
 

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We've doubled Rufus's Prozac dose to 40 milligrams, and upped his Xanax to 3 milligrams one hour before we leave. He had to be crated for 2 hours a few days ago and though he barked incessantly he didn't bend the bars of the crate... which is an improvement. This is the beginning of week 3 on the Prozac so I'm hoping to see some sort of improvement soon. This is in addition to the behavior modification of course.

I looked at the pics of Carter's first metal crate and that is EXACTLY what Rufus did to his. He didn't get out but it's pretty bent out of shape. I put the divider in to make it smaller and keep him away from the plastic that he chewed. Did you have Carter on meds as well?

It's nice to hear that there are other people out there struggling with this problem. I sometimes feel like everyone else has a lovely life with their dog and I'm the only one with a crazy one. He's the perfect dog except for this problem, but it's so bad that it will compromise me keeping him.
 

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The Prozac is only suppose to be a tool to help you while you do the behavioral modification necessary to get the Separation Anxiety under control. Has he had a thyroid test done to make sure that it isn't just an issue with that? Separation Anxiety is something that is never cured, it something that is just managed. There is a good chance that he will have it and you'll be playing how long will he be ok for for the rest of his days with you.

Yes Carter was on Meds, Clomipramine 50mg. It did nothing for him. Rescue Remedy did MUCH more for him then the meds did.

It's a long hard road dealing with Separation anxiety. I'll tell you now, EVERYONE you know will tell you that your an idiot for not putting your dog down, or getting rid of him. You will be ridiculed over it. Stick around here and get the support you need. Keep a positive mind and just keep your chin up. You can do it.
 

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Today I got home and thought wheee! He didn't destroy his crate! Then I found out my roommate had NOT let him out, but had come home to find him hanging out upstairs. I have no idea how he got out. He doesn't seem to have destroyed anything... but what the heck??!
 

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Chico is like that too. He flips out any time he cannot see or get to me. We have a corner store that I stop at every time we go for a walk (he likes red licorice), and he pulls on the leash to get there so he can have his treat, but the second that I walk inside while he's tied up, he screams like a banshee. And the frustrating thing is that he knows I will be back in under 1 minute because we do this every day. I put him in the cage when I have to go out. but he shreds up anything inside there, and he gnashes his teeth on the bars and screams and poops sometimes. Having him inside when I am around is okay, but it is as soon as I am out of his sight that he goes berserk, and it is hard to build up to leaving him any amount of time when I am starting at 0 seconds.

Oh and he also learned how to separate the wall of his crate (it is supposed to be collapsible) and let himself out. One day I locked him up and when I came home, he was stuck in the bathroom and had pooped on the floor. He had pulled apart the crate and then ran to the bathroom and somehow closed the door on himself and done his freaking out in there. Now his cage is duct taped at the edges.
 

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Rufus got out AGAIN today. We had clipped the bottom lock closed with a caribiner but he somehow slid the top lock open and then squeezed out the top of the door. He also jumped the crate halfway across the room. Once he was out he jumped over the baby gate and went upstairs to sleep on my roommate's bed. I can't find anything that he destroyed...

I haven't given him much chance to be loose in the house when I leave because I've seen him throw himself at the door. I don't want him to destroy everything in the house or get out. Has anyone with a SA dog had good results with leaving them in a room or free? I think I'm going to experiment with it this weekend...
 

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How do you normally leave the house? Do you say good bye to the dog, reassure him everything's going to be fine and then leave? or do you just leave?
 

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I haven't seen any results with the Xanax, and we're on week 2 of Prozac, so that probably will take a while to kick in. What kind of improvements did you see? The most important thing is that he stops chewing on the bars, which could hurt him, but I need to get the barking under control too.

I've read that it helps to make the dog sit and stay and then move away. Has anyone tried this technique for clingy dogs?
Sorry for the delay in replying. We had the same problem with him chewing on the bars. He even chipped a tooth and was wearing the enamel off his teeth. When we came home, he had been chewing them so much that the floor around the kennel was covered with foamy drool. We moved him back to a plastic travel kennel but I had to reinforce the door with some extra metal bars. He still chewed on the crate, but was not hurting his teeth anymore.

After about week 5, he can go several hours without chewing or barking at all. Right at about 4 hours he will try to break out, but it only lasts a few minutes then he lays down again. Set up a video camera and tape him when you leave. It will give you a lot of peace of mind to eventually see that the barking only lasts a few minutes after you leave.

4 hours is the longest he is ever in the kennel, so he is doing really well.

Hang in there! The medicine will make a big difference eventually.
-Mike-
 

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When we first got Taylor 3 years ago we also had huge destruction issues because he just got so anxious when we left the house. He was a rescue dog but he had been adopted out before and brought back after they had him for a few months so he'd allready been to the SPCA twice at that point. Anyways, it took a long time with very consistent efforts to help him through it. Basically read up to make sure your not doing thr wrong thing, no punishing him after hours have passed since he tore something up, no punishing if he pooped on the floor while you were gone, nothing.
It was really hard work and you can have set backs if something major in the house changes. When my husband went overseas Taylor pooped on the floor for 28 days straight, add a truck with an alternator going, a few bad snow storms and missing my husband who went to Afghanistan and I can certainly say it took every effort to not freak out and yell when I came home to a mess *lol. But just have patience and understanding as to why the dog is like that, know it can get better and that it's just something that takes time to get over, no matter what the dog still loves you *smiles*.
 
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