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Barking when left(59 Posts)
Me again! Sorry I have a feeling I'm going to be at on here asking lots of questions for the next few weeks... This is a bit long
So rescue dog came on Sat. He's doing amazingly well given the very short time he's been with us. Done all his wees and poos outside, slept in his own bed last night, been on a few walks, learning not to be glued to me 100% of the time.
He does seen to have bonded with me in particular and as I am at home 3 days a week it's understandable. He whimpers a bit if I go upstairs (which I ignore) but fine if I'm in another room downstairs.
Today I left him for 20 minutes to go on the school run, when I got back he was barking, loud enough to heard as we got out of the car. I'm really panicking as I have to go to work on Thurs and Fri and he will be left between 8.30 and 10 (my Dad will walk him) 10.30 and 12 (I'll come home in my lunch hour) and 1-3.45 when I come home from work.
I'm so worried he will bark the whole time he's left and that this could become full blown separation anxiety. The foster lady told me he could be left with no issues for a few hours at a time but obviously he's in a whole new environment and learning a whole new set of rules and routines.
If you've made it through this post, thank you! And any advice or suggestions to make this work very gratefully received.
Hi!! I’ve no experience with an adult dog but we had this problem with our puppy.
We had to build up his tolerance very slowly, example leave the house for a minute and come back in (repeating lots of times) then as long as no barking increase to 5 mins, ten mins etc until he is now fine for a few hours.
Sorry this isn’t a quick process but it does work, it may work more quickly for a dog who already has been previously left alone and was ok?
Google subthreshold training for dogs for more info.
It’s a really hard situation and I remember feeling very anxious that I couldn’t even leave the pup for 5 mins to nip to the shop, I hope you manage to find a way to make your new dog more settled x
Is there any chance your dad could take him home for a few hours or stay with him at yours ?
@Pringle89 that approach may have worked for you but it’s not recommended. Leaving a highly anxious dog can end up creating full blown separation anxiety. An anxious dog needs to be with you.
What pringle89 is describing is a process of desensitisation which is shown to work, provided (and this is the critical bit) that the dog is never left for longer than it takes to become anxious.
If the dog can tolerate 30 seconds alone without becoming worried, then that's the point you start. If it can tolerate 1 min you start there. If it can only tolerate 10 seconds you start there. If it can only tolerate you looking at your keys, then that's where you start.
Once that starting stage becomes a total non event then you can raise the time by a few seconds. Creep it up in slow enough increments that the dog has time to desensitise (get totally used) to each stage. If the dog ever shows signs of anxiety then you must go back down to a stage they are fine with.
If you 'practise' at stages the dog is anxious about you risk sensitisation - which is the exact opposite of what you want.
The stage a particular dog can cope with will be personal to that dog. However, it will be affected by other stresses in the dog's life. A rehomed rescue dog is going through a really stresful time so it may be that they are especially sensitive to being left at all while they settle in.
If it were me/mine, I would try and find a way the dog was not left at all for a few weeks while he settles in and settles down. Then start a process of slowly building up the time as above. A camera can help you see what happens when you are gone and it's worth knowing the signs of stress in a dog because by the time he is barking, the chnces are he is very sressed indeed. As a result barking or not barking is a blunt measure to determine whether or not the dog is coping.
To leave the dog on Thu is to gamble:
a) He might be fine
b) It might escalate his anxiety and behaviour
I suspect b is more likely than a, so I wouldn't be in a gambling mood myself.
Well at the moment the dog can’t cope with OP going upstairs @missbattenburg so it can’t cope with being left alone.
OK so I need to speak to my dad about staying with him then. I have to say I am really out of my depth with this. I was told by the foster carer that he could be left for a few hours no problem. Also that ye never barked
Are you sure he's not recognised the car? My dog recognises the sound of my car and barks because he knows I'm coming home. This then sets the rest of them off.
Patricia McConnell wrote a book (Love Has No Age Limit) that specially covers many of the issues that might come with a rescue dog and how to handle them.
You might find it useful?
Thank you missbattenburg
@Wolfiefan @missbattenburg would it be ok for the dog to go down to my mum and Dad's house for part of the day do you think?
I think it would be preferable to leaving him alone if he's distressed, yes.
Ok thank you, I have just ordered the book. Feeling really anxious myself which probably isn't helping
For me the anxiety often comes from the feeling of "what if he is like this forever?"
He is newly home and you are probably not yet seeing his full and complete character. The chances are that he will settle and grow ore confident and, with a little help, will be left happily.
True seperation anxiety is pretty rare, though some level of distress at being left is common and is successfully handled by good behaviourists/trainers, along with owners, all the time.
In short - it's too early to panic
Well at the moment the dog can’t cope with OP going upstairs *@missbattenburg so it can’t cope with being left alone.*
Sorry, missed this wolfie. Yep, I agree it's critical not to start too high in the process so if the dog cannot cope with 1 second alone then it's right to start even further back, such as putting shoes on or just going near the front foor or the car keys etc.
@missbattenburg yes and also that I am not very good at not knowing what I'm doing, I've never had a rescue dog before and I feel physically sick and worried that I'm doing it wrong. What I want to do is cuddle up to him but I can't do that every minute of every day. So I'm torn between giving him the love he seems to crave and needing to leave him and get stuff done. Never mind going to work on Thursday and Friday
He's been such a good boy, he slept in his own bed in my room all night last night, no toilet accidents, trots along for walks happily smelling all the smells. My DH thinks he needs to learn to be by himself and part of me agrees. But we're only on day 2 and I want him to feel secure.
Sorry for the outpouringI have no-one else I can talk to about this irl.
The dog will probably feel much happier if someone is around. Don’t panic! Mine chewed through a wall when I left her for a minute. Literally. I went to the next room to have a wee. She is now perfectly happy to be left and often doesn’t stir when we come back in. It takes time, patience and planning. But it can be done.
@Wolfiefan I am panicking! Blimey that sounds awful for you! Did you have to leave her to go to work? How did you get through it?
The dog already has separation anxiety.
@Pringle89 is quite right - the key, as she clearly states, is ensuring the dog remains below his anxiety threshold, as desensitisation to being alone will only work if the dog’s anxiety is not triggered.
Prior steps to leaving the house include separation in a different room and moving gradually away. Each time the dog is left the process should be quiet and calm, and the return should be the same- you need to make yourself unexciting. The dog should be given a delicious occupying treat eg frozen kong and only left when he is calm and focussed. Start in the house, and build up to leaving the house - literally for a minute at a time. It’s a long slow process
If I sit in the kitchen then he'll stay in the lounge quite happily. I've been coming back to offer some cuddles then going off again, as long as I don't go upstairs he's Ok
Really appreciate all the advice, I am definitely having an oh my good God what have I done moment
The Dog Training Advice and Support fb group is also a really good resource with information about all sort sof issues, including getting a dog used to being alone and taking on a rescue dog.
Ok I will take a look thanks
Please please don’t panic!
I don’t work. But even so school run etc it was hard. DH would sit with her when I had a shower!
Not leaving her in the short term has paid off. She’s now relaxed and happy to be left.
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