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Mild separation anxiety


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Our new foster Max has a touch of separation anxiety. In comparison to some of the posts I've seen here, it's very mild, but it might hurt his chances of "staying adopted".

Max is part Golden (I think) and as such is a living, breathing teddy bear. He loves to touch and cuddle and even sneaks up onto our bed when I leave and lays his head of my wife's shoulder. The problem is, when we all leave, he scratches at the door. He destroyed one door jam (it was cheap fiberboard; no loss)and we now crate him when we leave.

Is there any behavioral shaping we can do to let him know it's OK to be alone and that we're coming back?

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How does he act when he knows you are leaving? Does he whine or cry, drool, get hyper, etc?

 

You can help him by being nonchalant about comings and goings, no exuberant greetings, no emotional good byes. Try to disassociate the things you do when you leave from leaving, like picking up your keys or putting on shoes, so they no longer ALWAYS mean you are leaving. Finally leave him a stuffed Kong with really high value stuff just as you leave, so he can associate the idea that you disappear with the really good thing of this tasty treat showing up.

 

Being in his situation, learning to be comfortably alone is a life skill he really needs.

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How does he act when he knows you are leaving? Does he whine or cry, drool, get hyper, etc?

 

You can help him by being nonchalant about comings and goings, no exuberant greetings, no emotional good byes. Try to disassociate the things you do when you leave from leaving, like picking up your keys or putting on shoes, so they no longer ALWAYS mean you are leaving. Finally leave him a stuffed Kong with really high value stuff just as you leave, so he can associate the idea that you disappear with the really good thing of this tasty treat showing up.Being in his situation, learning to be comfortably alone is a life skill he really needs.

 

 

That sounds like a winner! Leaving = yummy!

He doesn't whine when we get ready to leave (that I've seen) but he does whine at the door if any one of us goes out. It's only when ALL of us are out that damage is done.

When we're getting ready to leave Cerb goes over and gets into his crate, even though he hasn't been crated since he was four months old. ^_^

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All of the information we got for Buster included lots of exercise, and lots of tasks and rewards, sit, stay, target touches, etc. I think the real goal is to catch it and address SA early. I didn't know what was wrong, and waited way too long to try and address the issue and as a result, we have to keep gradually increasing his medication. He is 12 years old, so I am guessing age plays a large part in this. Good luck with Max, I hope you find a wonderful, understanding home for him.

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What about simultaneously crating him (to reduce damage) and giving him a yummy Kong? I may set up a "nanny cam" to see how this works. This (hopefully) may kill two birds with one stone: let him know that being alone is OK and get him more habituated with his crate. I wonder if the Kong will act as a "bridge" that will distract him long enough so, by the time he finishes, the most anxiety producing time has passed.

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That sounds good to me, but I would also get him used to the crate when you are still home. So keep the door open, and throw treats inside. Once he is okay inside, give him the kong, close the door, then do something near by. This way he does not connect: in crate = you leave. With my fosters, every day I try to do a "just for fun, go in the crate for an amazing treat" game.

Then yes, give him the kong in the crate right before you leave. If you can, dont leave him in the crate too long at first. A couple hrs at max.

 

Good Luck!

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Our dogs stay out in a dog yard when we leave, unless the weather is bad, but we've *always* given our dogs cookies/treats when we're leaving the house. They actually get excited when it's time for us to go somewhere, because they know food is coming!

 

"C'mon, mom, hurry up and go so we can have our treats!" :P

 

Treats that take a while to consume, such as kongs stuffed with something yummy or really large, hard-to-chew cookies seem especially effective. We've never had a problem with separation anxiety, that way. :)

 

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

P.S.

The crate advice in the post above this one sounds excellent. Our young pups all learn to love their crates and want to get in them, and continue to sleep in them with the doors open even after they're grown.

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Slightly off topic, but lately the Kongs in my house have been filled with a few kibbles and chicken baby food and then frozen.

 

REALLY gets their attention and I don't have to worry about too much fat or whatever. I can fill about 6 of my small size kongs (small BC and 2 Paps) with one jar, adding as much kibbles or other small treats (my dogs eat raw 80% of teh time so kibble is a treat) and glued in when frozen baby food.

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