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Dog has developed separation anxiety

(8 Posts)
slalomsuki Sat 21-Sep-19 18:30:47

We have a 16 month old cocker spaniel who we have had for 10 months now. She is lovely and a bit like a lap dog at times. She is walked 3 times a day and has the run of the house and garden when we are home and has an older dog for company.

In the last month she has developed separation anxiety when we leave the house for even just a few minutes to go to the shop. It takes the form of running frantically round the house looking for one of us followed then by dragging coats and leads around the house. She isn't particularly destructive with them unless there are sweets or a chew in the pockets and when you return she is sheepish knowing that she has done something that she isn't supposed to.

I've left her treats, dog puzzles and the TV on to try to distract her but to no avail. When I take her with me when I can she will sit in the car quietly waiting for our return and not get stressed but in the house it's a different matter.

I'm a bit lost what to do with her now as we have tried the leave for a few seconds then return and repeat with a longer period and have praised her loads and ignored the destruction but it's becoming an issue when it wasn't before. It's definitely her and not the older dog doing it.

OP’s posts: |
NotGreenNotKeen Sat 21-Sep-19 18:33:34

Praising when you get back says well done doggy for the destruction!!!!!! No praise no change and it will become normal.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Sat 21-Sep-19 18:34:15

Have you tried Adaptil - it is a pheromone based treatment that helps calm anxious dogs. You can get it as a collar, a spray or a diffuser. We got given an adaptil collar when we got ddog2 who was from the Dogs’ Trust - to help her be more relaxed whilst she settled in, and it did help.

heidiwine Sat 21-Sep-19 18:45:33

I’ve just tried to find the separation anxiety training guide we used (it worked).
Our dog was vocal and behaved v strangely when left alone. We trained him to be relaxed on his own using a guide (that I can’t find but it was and Australian thing I think). We videoed him each time we left and everything we saw signs of anxiety we went back a step. It started off with getting him used to the sound of the keys and very slowly built up to closing the door, leaving him for 30 seconds and over the course of a few weeks getting him used to being alone for 20 mins. It worked but it took a long time and we had to be consistent and committed. I now don’t worry when he’s left and I know I’m going to come back to a sleeping dog (he doesn’t even greet me these days).
I would say that his separation anxiety got worse when he had the run of the house and then only the kitchen when we were out. Now he can roam free downstairs and that makes a difference too.

missbattenburg Sat 21-Sep-19 18:53:17

Praising when you get back says well done doggy for the destruction!!!!!!

It absolutely and scientifically does not. The dog cannot link you behaviour to something it did several mintues ago and, even if it could, it is much more likely to link praise with your arrival than any of it's own behaviour.

She also doesn't 'know' she has done wrong. If she is acting nervous when you return then she has picked up on the fact that sometimes when you get back you are in a bad mood and this is unpleasant for her. This will only add to her emotional state when what you want is a dog that is neutral, calm and relaxed when you are gone.

It's enitely possible she's going through an adolescent sensitive/fear stage and things that previously did not scare her, do now.

I would be tempted to keep leaving her very short, very low key and very frequent for the next couple of months or so, until she's matured a bit more, and then start to build the time back up again. Just like heidiwine describes.

Adaptil may also help (it can't harm) so might be worth trying? It has mixed reviews...

slalomsuki Sat 21-Sep-19 20:03:09

Thanks for your suggestions. I'll look in to Adaptil and see if it has an effect. It's come in so suddenly and destructively.

When I said praise her when I return I meant I praise her when I have tried the going out for a short time and returning to no destruction rather than praise her when she has run riot. To see her now you wouldn't believe it but I will persevere.

OP’s posts: |
Darell04 Sun 22-Sep-19 10:23:10

I have a rescue who was abandoned at the roadside before coming to us. Understandably, she had terrible separation anxiety! The advice given to us from the rescue centre was to go in and out of the house regularly, building up on the time that you are gone. When doing this, be completely neutral towards the dog. That is, do not make a fuss saying goodbye and do not make a fuss when you return. A brief stroke to acknowledge that she is there is fine but otherwise just act completely normal. We were also advised to start doing this straight away, not to stay with her as much as possible, as this would establish routine and would not make it harder further down the line when you suddenly start leaving her. I found that even something as simple as going out to the bin and more or less ignoring her as I came back in was an effective place to start, slowly building up the time. As tempting as it is to make a fuss and show them that you love them, by praising on return (regardless of destruction) you are simply reinforcing the mindset that you being gone is the bad and you returning is the good.
Like I say, this was only advice given to me and I'm certainly no expert but it worked wonders, even after my poor pooch had such a trauma. She was completely happy being left after about 3 or 4 months.
Good luck with your pup! xx

Jouska Sun 22-Sep-19 10:37:00

How much space does she have when you leave the house?

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