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Destruction to the Nth

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I "rescued" Mac 2 mos ago...he is the perfect gentleman. He was at the shelter 2 mos...because he did not "take" to people. I have no idea how he was raised. His manners are excellent...however, he suffers big time from separation anxiety. Today, he didn't want to go into his kennel when I left...so he had the house to himself. He destroyed two sets of wood blinds, the plaster around the window, the front door trim, the window wood mantle, and anything else in the vicinity of his escape route.

The only time he is left alone occurs 3 days/per week for 2-3 hours. Other than leave him in his kennel ... is there some sort of training to do? I tried leaving him along for a few mins. while I watered the plants and he "freaked" and ate a different blind plus the deck screen door. Other than this one issue he is a perfect dog. We daily do long walks with training sessions, and short walks about the area. He even likes my cat (tho the feeling isn't quite mutual). HELP. Is there a solution or is the "kennel" the solution. The vet suggested a "natural" tranquilizer available at the organic food store.

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You can work on him getting use to being alone but I would just give up and kennel him. I have 2 dogs with separation anxiety. It got so bad when she started chewing the metal bars on the crate and was breaking her teeth, we tried medication. It actually made things worse. We followed directions and did the exercises they wanted us to do...and she was actually worse. This time she broke a front tooth into the gum and had to be surgically removed.


We decided to allow her free run of the house. We figure it was cheaper for us to replace paperback books and DVD cases then her loosing teeth.


This is a dog that likes her crate...


I would get a kong, put something like peanut butter in it, put it in the freezer over night and when you crate the dog, put the kong in the crate.


Don't make a big deal about coming and leaving the house. Ignore the your dog for about 5 minutes before and after...that did help. The destruction of books is down to once or twice a week...and there are times we will go months without destruction.


I would also make sure to give the dog mental exercise not just physical. If the dog already knows the commands you are working then you need to find something else to teach the dog.

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You can work on him getting use to being alone but I would just give up and kennel him.


I wouldn't.


For one thing, separation anxiety is treatable. It's hard to deal with because the results are best if the dog is never left along longer than he can handle while you're working on it. However, it sounds like the original poster is home most of the time, so it should be doable.


For another thing, not doing anything about it is just plain cruel. Dogs going through separation anxiety are in a panic. They do what they do because they feel lost and scared. Personally, if it were my dog, I would want to alleviate that fear. To me the biggest problem isn't the destruction (in Solo's case, it wasn't destruction -- it was vocalization, to the point that he would fill up both sides of a 60-minute tape with non-stop barking, and be hoarse when I got back home -- but same difference). It's the distress the dog is going through that's the problem.


For the original poster, the fact that the dog is almost never alone could be part of the problem. Not that it is bad for a dog to have company, but that he never gets a chance to learn to be alone calmly. You can use the time you have with him to help teach him this. You can teach him this by starting with lots of tiny absences that gradually, as he can handle, get longer. When I say tiny, I mean tiny -- like you go out the door (or into the next room), turn around, and come right back in. Lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe do this five times in a row every couple of hours to start off with. Once he's totally blase about it, start leaving for one minute, two minutes, five minutes. You get the picture. You must teach him that you always come back and it is not a big deal. It may take a long time. But he can learn.


It is extremely important that he not have a setback during this time, if you can help it. If he needs to be left alone for longer than he can handle, it can undo the work you've done. Would it be possible to take him to a doggie day care or the like while you are working on this, if you need to be away? It doesn't have to be a permanent things, just for a couple of weeks maybe, as a stopgap measure.


In the meantime, work on building a good association with the kennel/crate -- WHILE you are still home. Toss treats in there, feed him in there, hide his favorite toys in there for him to find. Confine him to the crate for very short periods while you are still present and let him out again. Don't let him think crate = you leaving. Then he will fear the crate as well. You want him to see the crate as a fun safe haven he can use at all times. The suggestion of a stuffed Kong or other toy/treat is good too. Associate the crate with something very special that he only gets when he goes in there. That will all help when you have to leave the house.


There are a couple of decent websites dealing with this issue you might want to look at. My current favorite is this one: http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/separtn.htm


Good luck.

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Another thing you might do, in addition to planned departures, is break down your going away routine into its individual steps, and desensitize him to those things. For example, put on your shoes, but don't go anywhere. Pick up your keys and carry them around the house with you, but don't go anywhere. Put on your jacket and walk around the house with it on, but don't go anywhere. You get the picture. Many dogs with SA start getting nervous long before you leave, because they recognize the cues that you are about to leave.


Here is another site that I think is pretty good:


Separation Anxiety In Dogs

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we got another dog.... seriously we almost lost our lease, my hound X yodelled for more than 8 hours consecutively while we were in school, or at work. she was a research dog and that was what she had learned to do in the lab, but when we adopted her she bonded intensely with me and yodel even if my husband was home, she wanted me, we ended up being given a bc puppy for free on the spur of the moment and poof problem solved, she was lonely....she will still whimper if I'm gone but they are confined to the bedroom while we are away and they sleep most of the time. if we loeave them loose then anarchy ensues and our house is demoed (I lost $500+ worth of shoes and boots and have since kept them confined, never mind all the damage to blinds, curtains etcetc)


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