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What on earth to do with my dog??(61 Posts)
I have a deeply neurotic spaniel who has separation anxiety - whenever she’s left alone she barks/howls the entire time, raids bins/tables/anywhere she can smell the vaguest trace of something interesting (including vegetables, birdseed, live insects, tissues... 🤢) and pees upstairs. She is never, ever left for more than 4 hours, and usually less than this. In the last year or so I’ve started working part time, but my daughter is at home the majority of the time and so is here to keep her company (though she still displays anxiety and will raid and pee if DD is asleep/upstairs).
The big problem is that
A) my work is steadily ramping up and they want to employ me for more hours.
B) from June onwards, DD will not be anything like as available to dog sit.
I need to find a workable solution, but I’m wracking my brains to think of a solution I can see working.
Dog is an idiot on walks - she doesn’t like other dogs, rolls in disgusting things at every opportunity, whinges constantly unless you’re playing her favourite game, and is likely to run back to the car at any point but always towards the end of the walk. A dog walker walking her with other dogs absolutely would not work - she’d hate it. She’s also dreadful on the lead, natch. 🙄
She’s not hugely interested in people other than us, though she might settle with someone once she got to know them, and will whinge constantly if we leave her with someone. She would need to be with someone who is pretty hot on security - she’ll run out of a door, given the slightest opportunity, and would get out of an insecure garden to go looking for us.
All the dog walker/doggy day care solutions only seem possible if the dog is happy with other dogs, and ours isn’t.
I don’t want to turn down a great work opportunity because of the dog’s anxiety, but I’m struggling to know what to do - everything I think of, I immediately think of reasons why it wouldn’t work.
I would get a behaviourist in. She clearly is not a happy dog with that level of anxiety. You need to work on it so that either she is better when left alone or she creates positive associations with other dogs.
You will probably find once you work on one part of her behaviour the other parts will naturally settle. I don't mean to be unkind but it sounds like she has never had any proper trying at all. But it is never to late
Have you had professional input from a behaviourist? It certainly sounds as though you'd all benefit.
Look for someone APBC or CCAB accredited (which is important for avoiding the charlatans). It's not as expensive as you think (I paid £150 all in, which was well worth it).
Well we've been training her/trying for 9 years now, @Yecartmannew, but thanks for your input.
My concerns are around how to find a dogcare solution that is affordable and will work for her.
I know how you feel we have a almost 5 year old dachshund who is the same! We just never leave her alone now which is a nightmare as I can't go anywhere unless someone is available to have her will be following for any tips!
Thanks @Rubyduby26. It's very restrictive, but we've always made it work without too much difficulty up until now. If I'm going to take on the extra hours, though (and I'd be an idiot not to, really - it's a great opportunity ) then we need to find a solution that works for her. Even if she were ok with being left, I wouldn't ever want to leave her for more than 4 hours in any case; it would be horribly unkind to her, being the dog she is.
Could you construct a dog pen and kennel in the garden?
Unfortunately if it’s separation anxiety that means you need to never leave the dog longer than it is happy with. If you’re on FB Dog training advice and support have great files on this. A vet may even consider medication in the short term.
Try dogbuddy.com. We have a rescue dog with issues (cant be left for more than an hour or so without getting distressed, scared of strangers, doesn't like other dogs, reactive on lead, has once bolted from a dog walker and turned up at home 2 hours later) and we've found a lovely semi-retired couple with no dog of their oen locally to take her when OH and I can't coordinate our work schedules for one of us to be at home.
@Wolfiefan that would mean that I never left the house, even to hang out the washing or go shopping!
@Sarahlou63 that wouldn't work at all, but thank you for trying to think of a solution.
Thank you @Squickety! Will have a look at that now.
Unfortunately every time you leave a dog with full blown separation anxiety that means they have what is basically a panic attack. This reinforces that being without you is bloody terrifying. It’s the only way to make it better. Then you can start to leave the dog. The alternative is to carry on as you are.
There are some dog walkers who do one-on-one walks rather than groups. I've used the site recommended above and found someone lovely. My dog does do group walks but there are plenty of alternatives. Do you live somewhere where most of the time could be spent off lead?
I would try crate training her so she atleast has a safe space. That and consult a dog behaviourist whilst you’re still around enough to be able to help.
@Wolfiefan we've tried lots of things with her over the years, and I've read about separation anxiety and how to combat it/condition them out of it - nothing hasn't made much of a difference. We went through the process exactly as described when she was a pup, but clearly we didn't get it right. I feel that it is too entrenched a behaviour (she is a very, very vocal dog, and as soon as she is not happy about something/not happy about the speed with which her needs are being attended to, she whines/growls/barks/howls) to change much at her age. It is simply not practical in our life to never trigger that separation anxiety - if we were in a pub and one of us went to the bar/loo, she would whine until we return. If one of us gets out of the car for a moment, she'll whine. If I hang out the washing, she barks. There are dozens of times in a day of normal life where she vocalises her dissatisfaction about something.
She also whines/growls/barks/woo-woos when she's not distressed, but just wants something. Or when she's excited. Or wants to play. Or sometimes when she is happy. That behaviour is not going to change, annoying as it can be at certain times.
Great, thanks @Namechangeforthiscan
@Foxmuffin we tried crate training when she was a puppy - she hated it.
Her safe space is me/DP.
^ It could easily catch someone out who doesn't know her so well, though, or who didn't quite take the warning seriously.^
I can definitely see that would be worrying. A responsible dog walker should take that warning very seriously, but I'd be worried too in your position.
Please see a clan or sonic behaviourist. Your dog will be feeling dreadful when you leave her - a behaviourist and anti anxiety medication could make a big difference
Maybe I haven't been clear enough with my OP...
I'm not looking to leave her for a longer period than she gets left already.
I'm looking for solutions so that she has company when I'm out.
Also, it has to be flexible because the times that I'm out of the house are not set hours and are very variable. I might be at home all week (apart from usual life stuff like shopping) one week, and then next week out for 2 long days, a half day and 2 - 3 hours on the other days.
Well I would get another dog, but that may not be possible for you to do. Spaniels are puzzling. Ours howls if the cat miaows outside the door because that upsets him.
@Veterinari is clan sonic a typo? We've tried Zylkene, herbal medicine, plug-ins. Is there another medication you'd suggest? Our vets have never suggested anything else.
To be clear again... this post was not looking to find ways of leaving her alone, it's to find ways that I can continue to work once DD isn't here most of the time, so that she is not left alone!
My describing of her neuroses were to indicate why it's going to be tricky to find someone I can trust to keep her safe and happy, not because they are things that I think can be solved.
She's actually a pretty happy dog most of the time, and is very trainable (to a degree) - but that's not the side of her that is worrying me with regard to this issue!
@justasking111 not a good idea. The dog wants its humans. Not another dog. And a new dog could learn this behaviour.
“Tried lots of things” that’s not helpful. This is a supremely anxious dog and the only way to improve it is to stop leaving her to be anxious.
You need proper behavioural help. See what veterinari says above.
Ah - have just realised you probably meant canine. I googled it thinking it was something I hadn't come across.
@justasking11 that's something we have considered many times over the years, and quite recently, too. She's got a couple of dog friends, but for the most part, she's not interested in other dogs - never has been. Also, I think she would be very jealous/possessive if we got another.
@Wolfiefan "This is a supremely anxious dog and the only way to improve it is to stop leaving her to be anxious."
As I said, that is not possible for us. I need to leave her for 1 - 4 hours every now and then - that is how it is and that is not going to change even I gave up work tomorrow. It's called life.
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