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Separation anxiety – any tips?(15 Posts)
New little lady in our lives in addition to our 5 year old black lab.
She's a mix, roughly 8 months old, found on the street after being hit by a car, was taken into a foster home and attached firmly to the woman there, and then since to me and my partner.
She's been with us 2 weeks, and her separation anxiety is starting to hurt my heart and also worry me on a practical level (we live in a building with other flats and not the thickest of walls). We both work from home, so we're not out even close to all day, but there are times when we need to run errands / do things that aren't dog-friendlyfor a couple of hours and we can't take the pups along.
She is WHIP-smart; very intelligent and thoughtful, and picks things up quickly (but is also smart enough to choose to ignore them, so we have to be crafty and consistent).
She follows me everywhere, including sticking her head under the shower curtain to make sure I haven't made a dash for freedom under the guise of a wash.
When we leave the house she hurls herself against the door and cries. It usually lasts about 10 minutes and then she quietens, but she's always pressed against the door when we come back (we can see her through the thin gap under our front door).
We've got a baby gate for the hallway to the bedrooms (our dogs aren't allowed in our sleeping areas), which she hasn't jumped yet, but she does wait there and cry quietly when we head to bed.
And even if one of us stays home, she still cries that the other one has left, and waits by the door with her nose pressed against it for at least 30 minutes.
I wanted to leave her with something high-value and brain-engaging to keep her mind off it, like a Kong full of something delicious, but our Lab is an utter glutton and will bulldoze the little 'un out of the way for anything that might possible be food, so that's out.
She's learned that keys and shoes mean we're going out, so we're trying to desensitise the stress of that by jangling keys and then going to do the dishes, or putting on jackets and shoes before we sit down to watch TV.
But I would really, really appreciate some more help and ideas on how to ease her panic about being left. Being with our other dog doesn't make a blind bit of difference, and I just can't keep leaving her in a state like this!
What have you done that's worked / helped?
Join 'dog training advice and support' on Facebook. Seriously. They have fantastic resources to guide you through sorting out separation anxiety. It isn't a simple fix and can be made seriously worse by taking bad advice.
I second the suggestion above. Unfortunately if it’s true separation anxiety the first thing is to stop leaving your dog at all for now. It’s a really hard thing to break. But you can.
Wolfiefan is right, the only way I've improved true seperation anxiety in my fosters is to start by not leaving them alone at all.
Sounds like you're doing everything right though, it might just take some time. I'd say there's hope as she does quieten down when she's left; in the worst cases of SA she would become louder, more destructive etc.
Yep. Mine tried to chew through a wall when I left her to go to the next room to go for a wee.
Oh God, the poor thing and your poor wall!
Mine got over it by following the excellent advice on the Facebook page mentioned above. I used a dogsitter for the times I had to leave him then also when I go to the stage of leaving him (momentarily to start with) I used an app called Presence which set my iPad up as a camera.
He'd still rather not be left but he's really good now, sleeps often.
I feel your pain. We just got a rescue Lurcher - supposedly "can be left for a couple of hours, good with dogs" etc. It's not. At all. It has destroyed all its bedding, and hates being left but I have no choice, I have the school run to do twice a day that can take up to an hour each time. The rescue people knew all this. I can't stay with the dog all the time at the moment as I have kids It's just so soul destroying, I don;t know what on earth I'm going to do. So, I fully sympathise (am going to take a look at that link above, I need help because the dog is making me seriously depressed).
Please do look at the link. We’ve gone from can’t leave her alone for a second to her being fine when left. I can pop in and out. Or we can go out for a meal or to the cinema. As long as she’s fed and walked then she’s happy for the peace and quiet. I won’t lie though. It’s hard. But that advice works.
I also found the advise on the Fb page very helpful, also I downloaded this book on kindle (pic attached) also very helpful.
We had a puppy who couldn’t be left for more than a couple of minutes without continuous barking and now we can leave for two hours and he just sleeps! X
That book looks really interesting too.
Thanks so much, everyone - I'll definitely check out that group on Facebook.
She's a handful in other ways, too - broke a leash this afternoon on a walk and sprinted along in the middle of the road after a jogger. My heart nearly stopped.
She's the most delicious little girl – but the heartache is huge.
Sounds like you're doing everything right though, it might just take some time
You're right, it will. Thing is, we said to the foster woman when we took her that we'd do a month and see how we got on, and I can see DP really starting to think this isn't worth it. I totally get how he's feeling, and it also adds a sense of pressure to get things sorted quicker than feels natural...
I think we've started too intensely, too –we left the dogs for 2 hours today for a hospital appointment and a run to the supermarket, and by the sounds of things that was already too much.
Ooft - life, eh?!
I couldn’t leave mine at all to start with.
She also broke a lead and ran across a main road as a puppy. Scared the bloody life out of me.
Now she is fine to be left and walks beautifully on the lead. It takes time. And patience. And sometimes
We have found a Thunder shirt helps when our dog is anxious .
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