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Struggles with SA... Can it get any worse?

763 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Thracian
As you have probably heard me mention on the boards before, I adopted a 2 year old lab mix in February who turned out to have very severe SA. I took off nearly a month of work to acclimate him to his new environment and work on crate training, with no success. He destroyed the crate and was hurting himself so badly that the vet recommended the use of Prozac and Xanax to help him relax enough to respond to the counter conditioning techniques. He did somewhat better out of the crate, but still went on destructive rampages from time to time.

I knew when I tried to move him from my parents house to my house it would spark a regression, so I spent a week at home working on conditioning. The second week I had someone babysit him during the day while I was at work. Last week I attempted to go to work for the morning - 3 or 4 hours. It was total mayhem. He peed on the floor he was so panicked, howled, barked, ate the blinds, ate the doorknobs, scratched up the door frame, threw himself at the glass door... I had to take him back to my parents to regroup, but I'm so frustrated and almost at the end of my rope.

I've literally tried everything - he gets an hour run in the morning and 1/2 hour of fetch, dog park for hours in the evening and a 1-2 hour walk at night. We have DAP, dog relaxation CD's, drugs, every Kong toy and bone in the world. I can't afford doggie daycare every day and I'm not sure I can afford another dog to keep him company (not sure that would help anyway). I've read tons of literature on SA and do the desensitization techniques and counter conditioning all the time.

I guess I don't feel that there's much advice for anyone to give, but I just needed to vent to a group of people that were familiar with dog behavior and would understand what I'm going through. Re-homing him isn't really an option (who would take a dog with such severe problems) and putting him to sleep seems so heartbreaking. I'm staying at my parents house with him for the time being and bringing him to my house on the weekends for more conditioning, but I start law school in the fall and this kind of shuttling won't be feasible. My parents are not interested in keeping a second dog forever, even though he is a complete angel unless left alone. I'm just feeling miserable, I need some doggy hugs :(
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(((hugs))) I feel for you... I know it isn't easy, I went through this with my dog when he was much younger. What worked for me was another dog but... what I tried first was fostering for a local animal rescue group. Maybe you can look into that, rescue groups supply you with food and vet care. Also it's not long term if it doesn't work out & you'd help a homeless dog out until it could find a new home.

Hope things get better.
Zoey had -terrible- SA until we moved into our new house. If we put her in her crate she would drool until her entire body (sans her back) was soaked, she would claw and scratch and bite at the inside of her crate, poop and pee inside and get it all mashed into her fur.. When we'd get home it was just a nightmare. Pieces of toenails, plastic, and poop laying over a foot away from her crate.. it was awful.. so we started leaving her out of the crate and confining her to just one room (the bathroom was our most puppy proof room) she still pooped, pee'd and drooled all over no matter how long it had been since she had been out, but she didn't step in it and get it all over her so much. The problem now was that she kept scratching at the door and frame and jumping up to try and get out of the window. She wrecked the door and the blinds on the window (we had to replace them when we moved from the apartment) and then we moved into our new house. I tried crating her here again and worked with her everyday to try and get her comfortable with me leaving her in there... it just made it worse. Now everytime she see's her crate she drools. :(

But now I'll tell you what worked :) It happened completely on accident.. while we would be outside working on the yard, digging up the garden and such here at our new house, we would just leave Zoey inside and she would watch us out the windows.. eventually she would get bored.. and go off and do something by herself. I realized how good this was for her.. so I've kept doing it... everyday.. I go outside and water the plants and the grass.. work a little out there where she can see me, but I'm out of the house.. and she eventually stops watching me in the window. We are now able to leave the house, and NOT go into the yard.. and she just assumes we are out there, and stays calm the whole while we are gone.. No more drooling, scratching, pooping or peeing :)

Now I'm not saying I think this will work for your dog, but what I am saying is that the answer might not be something that has worked on other dogs.. It might be something really simple that will work for JUST him, so hang in there and keep trying!
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If you haven't already, read Carters story.
if you don't mind me asking... what happened to Carter?





I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I wish SA on no one. Sadly I can't give you any more advice. SA isn't curable only manageable. That's the worst thing about it. Getting another dog normally doesn't help because he is scared of YOU not coming back and that is what has caused the SA.

*hugs* to you, and I'm so sorry that your going through this. feel free to PM me if you need to vent anytime. I understand 100% what you are going through.
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I've seen a documentary where vet schools prescribes medication to calm the dog down and eventually be able to work with him.

Have you considered going this way?
Have you looked into any of the Bach flower remedies yet? You might try some of those before you try the serious prescription stuff.
Thanks for the replies guys. It helps to hear stories of people who have been successful (or even those that haven't) because sometimes it feels like everyone else in the world has a normal dog and I have this crazy one. People that aren't dog people just think it's a chewing problem but it's so much more than that.

I tried some homeopathic remedies when I first started working with him - the Bachs and DAP. I didn't get very good results with them so he's been on Prozac and Xanax since March. The vet approved a final increase in the Prozac after this week's disaster so we're hoping that will help but it's the most we'll be able to do as far as meds.

The master plan for now is to bring him to my house on the weekends to keep working with him in the new environment. My parents have been very nice about letting him stay at their house in the meantime, but he's my dog, and I want him to be with me. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself about it and get it together because I'm sure he can pick up on my stress. It's just so hard to watch a dog hurt himself.
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I'm so sorry. I have no advice you haven't already heard and tried. Just sympathy.
Rufus Report (good news!)

Yesterday I took the day off work to spend some time working with the pup. Wore him out, slipped him his xanax dose, and proceeded with the desensitization and counter-conditioning. By the end of the afternoon I could walk out the door and out of sight for 30 sec without him even getting up. Yay! It probably sounds like a ridiculous milestone (what am I ever going to get done in 30 sec?) but it's a start.

Today is his first day of doggie daycare, so I'm nervously waiting until I can pick him up and get the report. He didn't seem too concerned when I left - too many interesting things to smell and see. I'm too limited financially to do daycare every day but I'm hoping that between keeping him at my parents house where he has a babysitter and doggie daycare once a week or so he can be supervised at all times.

Part of the problem that I've noticed is that when he stays at my house, he becomes overly dependent on me, because I live alone. Not sure how to combat this really. I'm trying to expose him to more people, and leave him with friends. Dang dog, why you gotta like me so much? :p
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I'm glad you're seeing improvement, however small. Celebrate even the small milestones! Sounds like you've got a good plan. Please keep us posted.
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