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Please help...separation anxiety and having accidents in the house

(2 Posts)
MrsTMD Tue 11-Jun-13 13:17:33

Hi.i have a German shepherd cross.she is a rescue and she is an amazing dog and I adore her but she has a separation issue...whenever she is left in the house she has accidents and its normally a poo and a wee.she gets lots of exercise and attention and I have tried where I go out the door for minute then in and not instantly acknowledge her and increasing this so far up to 15 mins but whenever I am out longer than 5 minutes she has another accident.i am a stay at home mum at the mo but obv have to go out to walk my daughter to and from school and weekly food shop.am sick of scrubbing the carpets...I can always smell wee! And the carpets are getting wrecked.is there anything I can do to help her??!!!

moosemama Tue 11-Jun-13 17:09:25

First of all, is there anywhere you can leave her that isn't carpeted and she will feel secure? Could you perhaps slowly introduce her to a crate, not necessarily to shut her in, but so that she has a small, den-like place of safety for when you are out? Could you borrow one and see how she reacts to it, then if she's ok, feed her and give her treats/kongs etc in it to pair it with positive experiences?

We are just helping our boy through newly developed separation anxiety after losing our bitch in April and this is what we've done.

1. Lots of desensitisation to 'exit signs' ie things that give him a heads up that we are about to leave. For us this involved frequently closing the kitchen door and leaving him on his own in there. No goodbye, no last stroke or fuss, just making a quiet, calm exit then spending time in the next room, before opening the door and ignoring him. We did this randomly all day for a couple of days - sometimes just closing the door for a few seconds, sometimes for a couple of minutes, sometimes for longer, so he never knew when we were likely to open it. This desensitised him to being left alone in the kitchen, as well as letting him know that a shut door doesn't necessarily mean we are going out.

2. We give him a really tasty kong stuffed with peanut butter, cheddar and liver treats whenever we shut the door, so now he associates the door being closed with getting a tasty treat.

3. We leave the tv on, so there is some 'typical' household noise. If you think about it, the silence must be awful for dogs when everyone leaves a normally bustling household and this exaggerates them being left alone.

4. We dealt with the over-reliance/over-attachment he'd developed to me since we lost oldgirl, by not accepting his constant overtures for fuss, but making a point of fussing him and telling him 'good boy' when he was lying quietly.

5. I removed my front door key from the fob that has all my other keys on, so he can't hear me pick up my keys or locking the front door anymore.

6. Once he was used to us regularly closing the kitchen door we realised he was also recognising the sound of our hall door opening as a pre-cursor to us leaving. So, we started going in and out of it regularly whenever the kitchen door was shut and did so several times - for random lengths of time until he stopped reacting to it. We also go in and out of it several times at random intervals before finally slipping out the front door, so he's never quite sure when/if we've left.

7. When we come home after being out we now leave the kitchen door shut for at least ten minutes before going in and only greet him if he is lying calmly in his bed.

8. I have 3-4 10 minute school runs a day, depending on which day it is and these frequent, short exits have really helped.

It's a slightly different situation, as our boy has only recently developed SA, so it's not so ingrained. Last Friday, when our neighbours let us know that he'd been howling, I recorded him and found he could started whingeing almost as soon as I shut the door and could only go 3-4 minutes before really starting to wind himself up and become vocal. We have been working with him intensively since Friday morning and this week he hasn't whined or howled once, having been left from 5-15 minutes. We won't leave him longer than that now until he has had chance for it be become habituated and will then gradually increase the time he's left.

SA is a tough nut to crack and in your girl's case, as it's likely to be a more ingrained anxiety it is obviously going to take longer, but if you are consistent and don't leave her over her tolerance level while you are building up the time she's left you can do it.

I know it's hard. Especially if you have school runs and shopping to do etc. I have had to cancel my plans for a birthday lunch out followed by an afternoon's shopping tomorrow, as I can't leave him that long, but it's a small price to pay for eventually knowing I can leave him for an hour or so without worrying.

We are due to go out for a few hours on Saturday as well, so have co-opted the PILs to dog-sit for us, so that we don't have to leave him for any longer than his 15 minute limit. Is there anyone who can dogsit for you when you can't avoid leaving him, just during the re-training/desensitisation programme?

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