Separation anxiety...what do I do?!(6 Posts)
I've got a bit of an issue with our cockapoo and separation anxiety and have tried so many things, I'm at a bit of a loss.
He's a 6 month old cockapoo and so so loving. He's always been a bit of a shadow, but I can't even get off the sofa to go to the toilet without him waking himself up, following me upstairs, waiting for me to go and then escorting me back down. If I take too long (I'm pregnant so this is unavoidable sometimes), then he starts to bark because he misses me. This is also the case if I go in the shower, or if I leave him in one room while I go into another and I don't want him to come with me (ironing, hanging the washing etc).
The main issue is when we try to leave him to go out. I started off slowly, just trying to be out of sight for 10 seconds and then build it up but that's still not getting anywhere. I've had times where I've needed to pop to the shop which is 5 minutes away and I've left him with food, water, a puzzle or treat and the TV on but when I come back he's still howling...our neighbour has mentioned it it to us, she's not annoyed in the slightest but I feel like there are others in our building that might be.
So far I've tried the following things which have had no effect on him barking/howling:
- Leaving him with a puzzle/treat: but he ignores them and then seems to only start to play or chew when I've come back.
- Walking: Taken him on a LONG walk with lots of play, then tried to leave him and he still barked
- TV on (with Bake Off on....he likes that)
- TV off
- Saying nothing when I leave
- Saying "I'll be back in a minute" when I leave
- Crate training: big nono, he HATES the crate
- Not greeting him when I come home/back into the room: Put my bag down, stick the kettle on etc before saying hello to him
I need to be able to leave him for a couple of hours with no problem because I'm worried that if I suddenly needed to dash to the hospital with the pregnancy then I could leave him for an hour or so with no problem and also just for my own sanity of being able to pop to the shop or get a coffee when the baby does arrive.
I know it's my own fault because I work from home so I'm with him virtually 24/7 but for his own good as well as mine, I think he needs some independence. Other than this he's wonderful - easy to train, excellent recall, soft personality etc. He has daily walks to the beach and play time, has many toys (but still prefers stealing socks out the washer), has training time each day.
Sorry that was a long post, I think I just had a particularly fraught moment earlier when I had to go to the shop for something to stop this pregnancy related heartburn and then when I came back he was distressed and then I got distressed....so we both ended up crying!
I have a poodle with seperation anxiety. I can now leave her at home alone for a few hours without any issue.
I used this book. I won't lie, it took a lot of work and about 6 months but it worked.
I had this issue. I did read a similar book and the main thing I took from the advice and work on before leaving my pup completely on her own was this:
Have a designated room/puppy area as sounds like you do. Ensure water/toys/puppy bed there etc and radio on. Then aim to leave and come back into the room closing the door each time as many times as you can in a day. Leave with no eye contact or fuss and return the same way. And not for long. So, toilet trips etc and just going in and out. Puppy realises you will come back eventually.
Took 2 days and mine started to settle so I left gap to 15 mins and then 30 etc. I would just go into my room and not be out the house!
Now she's 8 months and manages 2-3 hrs happily if well exercised and fed etc whilst I'm out shopping/work etc.
Thanks both...that book does looks interesting! Ok I think I'll aim to leave him and close the door when I'm going to the toilet or upstairs so that he can get used to small chunks of time frequently throughout the day.
I just hate it when I can hear him getting upset, just wish there was a way to explain it to him!
Did either of you try the plug in things? My friend suggested that to make him feel more at ease...I just wasn't sure if 1. They worked and 2. Whether it's alright to be breathing it in when pregnant!
Halfbuffy a better way to leave him while you are still in the house is to teach him to stay (not a formal stay) in the same place, his bed or the sofa. You train it the same way you would a stay except it doesn't matter if he changes position or moves around a bit as long as he stays in his place.
You start by just taking a step away before rewarding him and build it up so you can leave the room for 20 or more minutes at a time. Training this way means that he isn't anxious about you leaving him in a different room from you and it will help to reduce his anxiety when you leave the house because he will know what is happening.
As for the plug in things 1. some people say they work, I never noticed that they did but couldn't say for sure and 2. no idea sorry!
There's some great reading (both the article itself and in the links) on this page.
The key with separation anxiety is starting within your dog's comfort zone and taking absolutely tiny steps to get them comfortable with you gradually moving away from them. If they become distressed then you've moved too quickly and need to go back a step or two to where they're comfortable. It can be a very long process getting over it but it certainly can be done.
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