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Ok this will be long, please bear with me. I want to give all the info on our situation to provide a clear picture of what we are dealing with.

I have a Neo Mastiff, Nicky, believed to be around 2 yrs of age. I got Nicky from an elderly couple around 6 mos ago. Their son was the original owner, somehow they ended up caring for him. They never mentioned his seperation anxiety, but they also kept him outside for the most part, where he was allowed to just roam since their yard was unfenced. During that time he was hit by a car, which seemed to be what made them relise they weren't a good home for him.

Nicky is overall a great dog. We have leash training, basic commands, pottty training etc. down pretty well. He seems to have had someone who worked with him in the past, even if it was just on basics. His seperation anxiety is extreme though. Since I am home all day and do not work I have been doing lots of training with him.

Nicky can, and will, escape from any crate we have tried, in a matter of seconds. Food is completely ignored when he is crated or even just slowly trying to get him comfy with standing in one with doors open. I'm still trying to work with him on being more comfortable with a crate, but not actually making any progress.

When I leave him he cannot control his bowels/bladder, (I don't get upset, I understand it is just a part of the anxiety) he pants, cries will destroy walls, doors etc in an attempt to get to me. At first we started with him in just a seperate room, but that no longer works bc he has figured out how to open door knobs. He is smart and quite resourceful lol I found over time he does do better if he has close to full run of the house. The past month he had been doing exceptional. We had such great progress and managed to work up to a couple of hours and he wasn't panicking and destroying anything.

Unfortunately yesterday everything changed. I had a meeting and my husband had one as well. The time Nicky was alone was only going to be 1hr, 2 at the absolute most. Since he has been showing so much progress I thought it would be ok to leave him home, vs taking him to family member's house like we had to in the beginning. *Huge* mistake. I am so upset with myself for doing this. Nicky broke through a window in the living room. Thankfully he was not injured and one of the neighbors leashed him and my husband got home soon after. The thought of what *could* have happened is really eating at me. I bought the neighbor flowers and a card for keeping my boy safe when he got out.

I no longer think my training alone is enough. I hoped we could manage it but I think it is time for a behaviorist to help out. I don't know how to find a good one though. I want someone who is experienced and won't tell me to hit him, shock him etc. Just not my cup of tea and from my research those methods would do nothing to alleviate his anxiety.

Also, I had been avoiding medicating him, but this escape has me reconsidering. would any of the Rescue Remedy type meds help or is it time to go ahead and ask the vet about something a bit stronger? I have read about the anxiety wrap, anyone know if it is effective?

I want Nicky to feel more comfortable without me. I love that he is a cuddle bug and all but this level of attatchment is quite stressful and dangerous for him. My husband couldn't get him calmed down until I got home. He wasn't totally spazzing but he was panting hard, drooling just stressed and wouldn't relax. Once I got here, he calmed down and relaxed, took a nap after I checked him over head to toe for cuts. What else can I do to help ease the attatchment a bit? He shadows me 24/7, he likes my husband just fine, but the connection is different.

Almost forgot, I do need to excersize him more. We walk about an hour per day but I think he needs more. Just nervous bc when he was hit by the car it has effected his back legs. From my understanding, they couldn't afford the reccomended treatment and just allowed the suspected breaks to heal on their own. Is the hour walks plus the intermittent training sessions throughout the day enough?

If you got through this whole thing, thank you and I apologise for the length. I'm still quite shaken up so I'm a bit scatterbrained and probably forgot to include some things.
 

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After breaking through a window, I don't think this is a DIY project anymore. Clearly he is experiencing a lot of anxiety and is not getting relief.

Medication and anxiety wraps can both be useful in helping reduce anxiety. Regardless of which you use, you will need to work with your vet and a behaviorist to desensitize his angst. A friend of mine went with prescription meds and switched to over the counter. She didn't like the effect of the prescription, however, you might need something strong to help get you over the hump.

A good, consistent regiment of exercise will also help to reduce his anxiety. I would make an appt with your vet, start getting up earlier to walk him before work, and again after work. Ask your vet for the recommendation of a good trainer/behaviorist.

I truly hope you see progress soon. It's hard to see a dog in such a state.
 

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I agree. I found two behaviorist's on IAABC and am waiting to hear back from them. I don't have the skills and knowledge to handle this on my own anymore. It is far too dangerous for him. I think before getting Rescue Remedy or DAP products I will see what the behaviorist recommends. Hopefully, we can get an appointment, with one of the two, very soon. I do not work, but management of this is still needed for his well being. I won't give up and know this will be a life long management process with lots of work for us both.

My apologies for my terrible spelling, forgot to run spell check before I sent the original post.
 

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I don't know too much about separation anxiety, but have you heard of the book "I'll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell? I've heard it is a good resource and it might be something to look into for ideas/suggestions. But from what I understand, once a dog starts severely putting themselves in harm's way it is time to call in a behaviorist and try to get a grip on it.

Good luck though! Nicky is a beautiful boy and he's very lucky to have such a caring and loving owner to help him out. Kudos to you for taking the time to help him get through this. :)
 

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Don't be reluctant to use medication - your dog's safety comes first. Then the work you can do will ideally allow you to reduce and eliminate the medication. But just as with people, safety first.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This is Nicky. Sorry for the bad cell phone pic quality.


Thanks Nil, I ordered "I'll Be Home Soon" and two of her other books as well.

Dannimac, I guess, since we had been making progress, I felt he was doing alright without any meds. I completely agree his safety is first, and after breaking through a window, I wish I would have looked into them more before now. I'm not sure what caused him to regress or have such a bad time that day, but I am kicking myself in the rear for thinking I was managing this well enough.

One of the behaviorists I contacted said he doesn't work with dogs in my area, but referred me to another trainer. She isn't on IAABC's site though, should I keep searching or could she be a possibility? I know this has to be awful for Nicky, mentally and physically. I want to find someone to help us ASAP, but I do not want to end up with someone who isn't fully qualified to handle this.
 

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I can only offer the use of a Thundershirt and the CD's "Through a dogs ear". I think Nicky is very lucky to have you for an owner.
 

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What area of Texas do you live in? You might also try contacting Texas A&M Veterinary program to see if they have some good recommendations.

With regard to the trainer recommended, you can call a see how the conversation goes. Ask them about their approach, training methods, prior experience and if they have a former client with a similar case that can offer a referral. You can pick up on some things about a trainer over the phone. But I will say, I've spoken with trainers and behaviorists on the phone in the past, all recommended, the best ones were never the ones I would have picked over the phone. I would still call the trainer, but also check with your vet or Texas AM for a recommendation, if you can get one.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you Inked Marie. I see it more like we are lucky to have each other. He accepts all my quirks and weird personality traits and helps me through bad days. The least I can do, is the same for him. Even if my bad days aren't nearly as destructive and expensive as his :p
He has had a bit of a rough go at life, from my understanding of his history, Not sure if the separation anxiety caused him to be bounced around and left outside, or if it's vice versa. Regardless, he deserves to be loved and happy. He can't be truly happy with such fierce anxiety so I will do everything I can to help him out.

The Anxiety Wrap https://anxietywrap.com/About/HowItWorks.aspx is the same idea as the Thundershirt, just covers more area I think. Hopefully that link works.

3DogLady, I'm too far to travel to A&M but I hadn't even considered calling for their recommendations. Awesome idea, thank you.
I will go ahead and call the trainer suggested and see if I can get some references and what her methods and experience are. I know she is working in a doggy daycare, boarding grooming facility that is attached to a vets office I have used previously. One of the vets there is awesome, the other two, not so much but it is worth a shot.
 

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For what it's worth, the Thundershirt offers a money back guarantee, thought I'm not sure if the Anxiety wrap does. Same principal though. The PetSmart in our area carries them. One of my dogs does really well, the others were not affected one way or the other. I use it for storms, fireworks, and when Pebbs is having an off day.

Oh, and I also wanted to say, pretty much what Inked Marie said. Nicky (very handsome) is very blessed to have you in his life. I hope you will keep us updated.
 

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Sorry. Just a couple more thoughts. The vet you like attached to the daycare might be able to provide you some feedback on if the trainer would be qualified to handle your case. Also, ASPCA or a local rescue group may be able to make a recommendation for a behaviorist.
 

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I don't know what you're protocol is for leaving the house but have you tried more structure? Before doing medication, if you are really hesitant about it, I would try making some changes to his schedule/environment.

1. Get a DAP infuser. Or a couple and put them in different rooms. I hear they work well.

2. Walk him briskly, play ball, etc. for ~30 min before you plan on leaving.

3. Do some clicker training or something to get his mind going for a little while before you leave

4. Put his breakfast in a food toy (tug-a-jug, kong, etc.) (I know you said he ignored food when you were gone, but if the only way he was going to eat his meals was if he rolled a ball around, I think he would eventually do it. He might skip a meal and get hungry to learn that, but I think he'll get hungry enough to do it.)

5. Make a frozen kong with very delicious things inside like kibble, treats, green beans, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, canned 'whiz' cheese, etc. and freeze it (He only gets these special treats when he is being left alone)

6. Turn on the TV or radio when you leave (sometimes the noise helps dog's relax)

7. Leave something of yours that is dirty for him to have that has your scent (dirty t-shirt, pants, something you don't mind getting ruined)

8. Buy some toys or treats he likes but only gets when you are gone. When you are about to leave pull them out and when you come home immediately put them away.


In general, when you come home and he is excited to see you, act like he isn't there. Just a very casual and very plain "Hey Nicky" and then ignore him. If you come home and give him a lot of attention, well, now he has more reason to miss you. After he has settled down and is over his initial "Mom's home!", then play with him and talk to him, etc. Teach him that you coming home is not a big deal.

Also, as for training, try doing mock trials. Exercise him, train him, then grab your keys and jacket or whatever (do not acknowledge Nicky at all. Don't talk to him or fuss with him and make it a long goodbye) and say "Bye" then go out the door. Close the door and five seconds later open it and come inside. Do not talk to him, do not pet him, don't even look at him. Take off your jacket, put your keys away, and go about your business. Do this again. Then again. Do it 20 times day. Then make it 20 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then a minute. Etc.

Eventually, hopefully, he will get bored with your crazy shenanigans (geez Mom, decide already!) and just not care. Over time you can build up the time he is left alone. This teaches him that "yea, she leaves but she always come back". If, after all that he is still jumping through windows, then I would go for medication. The medication would just relax him enough to where you could work on training him and habituating him to being left alone. Eventually you can wean him off it. Those are my ideas though, I am not sure what you have tried already.
 

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I don't know what you're protocol is for leaving the house but have you tried more structure? Before doing medication, if you are really hesitant about it, I would try making some changes to his schedule/environment.

1. Get a DAP infuser. Or a couple and put them in different rooms. I hear they work well.

2. Walk him briskly, play ball, etc. for ~30 min before you plan on leaving.

3. Do some clicker training or something to get his mind going for a little while before you leave

4. Put his breakfast in a food toy (tug-a-jug, kong, etc.) (I know you said he ignored food when you were gone, but if the only way he was going to eat his meals was if he rolled a ball around, I think he would eventually do it. He might skip a meal and get hungry to learn that, but I think he'll get hungry enough to do it.)

5. Make a frozen kong with very delicious things inside like kibble, treats, green beans, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, canned 'whiz' cheese, etc. and freeze it (He only gets these special treats when he is being left alone)

6. Turn on the TV or radio when you leave (sometimes the noise helps dog's relax)

7. Leave something of yours that is dirty for him to have that has your scent (dirty t-shirt, pants, something you don't mind getting ruined)

8. Buy some toys or treats he likes but only gets when you are gone. When you are about to leave pull them out and when you come home immediately put them away.


In general, when you come home and he is excited to see you, act like he isn't there. Just a very casual and very plain "Hey Nicky" and then ignore him. If you come home and give him a lot of attention, well, now he has more reason to miss you. After he has settled down and is over his initial "Mom's home!", then play with him and talk to him, etc. Teach him that you coming home is not a big deal.

Also, as for training, try doing mock trials. Exercise him, train him, then grab your keys and jacket or whatever (do not acknowledge Nicky at all. Don't talk to him or fuss with him and make it a long goodbye) and say "Bye" then go out the door. Close the door and five seconds later open it and come inside. Do not talk to him, do not pet him, don't even look at him. Take off your jacket, put your keys away, and go about your business. Do this again. Then again. Do it 20 times day. Then make it 20 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then a minute. Etc.

Eventually, hopefully, he will get bored with your crazy shenanigans (geez Mom, decide already!) and just not care. Over time you can build up the time he is left alone. This teaches him that "yea, she leaves but she always come back". If, after all that he is still jumping through windows, then I would go for medication. The medication would just relax him enough to where you could work on training him and habituating him to being left alone. Eventually you can wean him off it. Those are my ideas though, I am not sure what you have tried already.
1. I think I am going to buy some of the DAP diffusers, from everything I have read so far they sound quite effective when they are used as long as training is being done as well. I considered the collar but size is a problem.

2. I have been doing exercise before I leave, but I will try increasing the length of time we are walking/playing. Maybe he needs to be a bit more worn out.

3. I haven't used a clicker before but I am going to pick one up when I get his dog food tomorrow. I've been doing some reading on them too and maybe it will help us more than just treating during training.

4. Ah the food problem lol when Nicky first came to our home he was underweight. He also has a very tricky tummy and gets the runs just from stress. It took months of trying to find a food that didn't run straight through him. I even tried cooking for him, btw that is *a lot* to cook haha. He is on Diamond Naturals now and does well with it. I would prefer something a bit better but hey, no water poops so I'll take it. He has started gaining weight now but I'm a bit afraid of trying to withhold his food. Free feeding is the only way he can eat enough in a day. Scheduled feedings he just won't stay interested enough to eat hardly anything with the Diamond. I have tried putting chunks of boiled chicken into empty 2 liter bottles. He *loves* it when I am here with him, otherwise he totally ignores it.

5. Good idea, maybe if I use something else for training treats the chicken will have more appeal since it's a "special" thing he only gets when he is alone.

6. I haven't tried radio but I do leave the TV on. I think trying the radio is worth a shot.

7. Nicky has figured this out all on his own. He will open closet doors and pull my clean clothes off of hangers, open up the laundry hampers and pull out my dirty clothes, take my pillow off the bed etc. He digs out anything that is mine. This makes for lots of laundry lol He is a slobbery boy, I'm just thankful he doesn't tear them up, he breaks hangers pulling clothes out but no shredding stuff. Maybe I can curb this by using one blanket to get it smelling like me and then leaving it on his rug/bed for him. It is tricky since he knows how to open doors.

8. Another good idea. He loves anything that squeaks so I will get him some special ones just for when I leave.


The ignoring him when I walk in the door is hard. Not bc I just want to coddle him but he is SO worked up. He is great about not jumping any other time but when I come in he goes absolutely bonkers. He jumps and paws at me like crazy. Due to his size if I just ignore it he will bruise me from head to toe and there is a good chance I get knocked on my rear. I don't know any other method to deal with it though. I can make him sit but the second I move he goes insane again. It is something I have been trying to figure out but I'm really struggling. I know attention is just reinforcing it but his brain has just gone into "Mom! OMG, OMG! Mom, YAY, YAY! It is a welcome home like no other, that's for sure. Any ideas for another way to handle this?

He does good with my practice runs, partially bc I take my other dog out on a leash to potty too and he seems to have caught on that if she is with me, I will be back. He sits at the window and waits, sometimes he does very minimal whining but that is pretty rare. I'm doing practice runs without her too and working on increasing the time. I stay outside just out of his sight, but where I can hear him. I will try to work on more variations of my getting ready routine. I do vary it, but I will try doing it more.

It doesn't seem to help him to have her left out when I leave and while she is excellent with him, I hesitate to leave them alone together. Maybe I am just paranoid but I worry his stress will make it where he isn't reading her well enough and what if they get into a fight? I could just be over thinking this but they are big dogs (she is a Great Pyrenees) and could cause each other major damage.

I wish so badly that I had gotten him as a puppy. I know that wouldn't guarantee the separation anxiety wouldn't rear it's ugly head but he is so smart. If he would have had someone working with him regularly he could be leaps and bounds further than we are now. It's ok though, we will get there together.

Oh, almost forgot I finally have gotten him to stay out of my bed at night! I know it seems like a small victory but I sleep so much better when I'm not waking up to force him back onto his bed every 30 minutes. Now to work on getting his bed slowly moved out of my room.

Yet another question, his house training has slipped a bit since the great escape. Is this normal? I haven't found much in my reading but I have kind of chalked it up to the setback and am just taking him out more frequently. This isn't a huge deal, just want to be sure it isn't some other issue. Thank goodness for ceramic tile floors. Now if he would leave my area rugs alone lol Nothing a bit of cleaning doesn't take care of though.

Sorry for the book, but I cannot tell everyone how much I appreciate the help! Waiting for a call back from this other trainer, and I'm going to call and make sure the vet I like at that practice is still there. Our current vet is ok for routine stuff but hasn't been helpful in regards to this.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For what it's worth, the Thundershirt offers a money back guarantee, thought I'm not sure if the Anxiety wrap does. Same principal though. The PetSmart in our area carries them. One of my dogs does really well, the others were not affected one way or the other. I use it for storms, fireworks, and when Pebbs is having an off day.

Oh, and I also wanted to say, pretty much what Inked Marie said. Nicky (very handsome) is very blessed to have you in his life. I hope you will keep us updated.
This is great, I didn't know there is a money back guarantee. I have read reviews and visited the site so many times and managed to somehow miss that part. Hopefully the XXL will fit him.

Thank you, I love the big goof. It's hard to have a bad day when he is covering me in slobbery kisses and looks at me with his big, droopy, eyes that are so filled with love. I will keep everyone updated. Ya'll have been so helpful and hopefully I will have great progress to start reporting back with soon.
 

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The ignoring him when I walk in the door is hard. Not bc I just want to coddle him but he is SO worked up. He is great about not jumping any other time but when I come in he goes absolutely bonkers. He jumps and paws at me like crazy. Due to his size if I just ignore it he will bruise me from head to toe and there is a good chance I get knocked on my rear. I don't know any other method to deal with it though. I can make him sit but the second I move he goes insane again. It is something I have been trying to figure out but I'm really struggling. I know attention is just reinforcing it but his brain has just gone into "Mom! OMG, OMG! Mom, YAY, YAY! It is a welcome home like no other, that's for sure. Any ideas for another way to handle this?
This almost sounds like an impulse control thing. He just can’t help it but he needs to learn to control himself. I would make you coming into the house a reward. With treats in your pocket walk into the house, if he jumps up, walk right back out and shut the door. Then come back in and try again. If he jumps up, walk outside. Try again. If you walk in and he does not jump up, give him a treat and a quick pet and a “good Nicky”. Keep it calm though. You want your return to be as boring as it can be. Does that make sense?

Oh, almost forgot I finally have gotten him to stay out of my bed at night! I know it seems like a small victory but I sleep so much better when I'm not waking up to force him back onto his bed every 30 minutes. Now to work on getting his bed slowly moved out of my room.
Yay! That is great news!

As far as the slip in housetraining, I really don’t know. I could imagine that the changes your implementing might cause this. Could be a UTI maybe? Could just be that he is nervous and not really thinking things through?

Have you thought about daycare during the day? Taking him to a doggie daycare, letting him play with other dogs, and then picking him up in an hour? Then increasing the time? It gets you away from him but now he is without you in an environment that, I could imagine, is very captivating and exciting versus boring. Might get expensive but it might also give you that initial association that “mom being gone isn’t the end of the world”. Do you think he could do that or have you tried that already?
 
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