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Separation Anxiety

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Hi, I was wondering if I could get some advice on separation anxiety?


Dallas is almost 6 months now. He sleeps in his crate overnight and will be crated during the day every now and then for various reasons. I used to put him in for 3 hours in the afternoon when he needed to calm down, but he's learned to calm down on his own so I stopped doing that probably a month ago.


However, even when I was putting him in the crate in the afternoon, he had separation anxiety problems. I'm usually home because I work from home, but every Sunday we go to church and can be gone for up to 4 hours. Although he doesn't chew on furniture anymore, I'm hesitant to leave him out of his crate just yet. I take him for walks before we go, play a bit of fetch with him before we go, turn on Dog TV (plays calming music and has video for dogs), turn on the radio, give him a frozen stuffed Kong, and he still cries and cries and cries. I've tried leaving clothing with him that smells like me, but it hasn't helped in the slightest.


It gets so bad that sometimes I come home to him having pooped in his crate and he never does that, only when he is really upset.


Do you have any tips for things I can do? I'm going to start gradually working up to leaving him alone. Every day this week I'm going to go out for 5 minutes and then slowly build up. I'm wondering if there is anything else I can do, though?

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You might try something like calming treats made with supplements that tend to calm, or Rescue Remedy or Adaptil. Perhaps 3-6 mg. melatonin, which helps ease anxiety for some dogs but may not for others.


You would use these thing in addition to the desensitization and counter-conditioning you're already planning, not instead of them.


Are there any other ways you can create positive associations with the crate? If you don't feed him in the crate, try making that the only place he gets his meals. In addition to the Kongs, maybe try some bully sticks or hooves or other special chews he doesn't get anywhere else.


Also, pay attention to your own behavior both when you're putting him in the crate and letting him out. It helps to be calm and very matter of fact about it, not fussing or cooing and making a big deal about it.


Do you know if this is crate anxiety rather than true separation anxiety? Can you leave the house for a few minutes with him out of the crate without his becoming anxious? The reason I ask is if it's truly separation anxiety, leaving him loose in the house is going to cause the same anxiety for him and if so it may not be a good idea to leave him out of the crate. He may become destructive in ways he hasn't previously done when you were home with him.


It's unlikely you'll be able t6o change this in just a week. It's going to take time. He needs to learn that you'll always come back and you've going to have to leave the house for ever-increasing times until he learns it's OK to be alone.


Best wishes helping him through this.

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I used to feed him his meals in his crate but stopped to do things like "find the food!" I'll go back to doing meals in the crate. The hoof would be a great idea. He has never had one, but I know he would love it. I'll have to pick one up for him this week just for the crate. I do put Lavender essential oil in our diffuser sometimes as well, but it doesn't seem to help much. Melatonin, Adaptil, or Rescue Remedy might be good to use. Alongside desensitization and counter-conditioning of course ^_^


I am pretty sure it is separation anxiety. Whenever I leave the house to take the trash out or to pop out to the shops and he's out of his crate, even if my husband is home, he whines as I leave. He usually stops pretty quick after I've gone out, but I'm not sure if that's because he knows my husband is there or if it's just he's calmed down. I'll leave my phone recording today when my husband and I go out for a few minutes and I'll leave him out of his crate to see what happens.


But yeah, I'm expecting it to take a few weeks, at least, for him to do better when I leave. Until then, we're going to arrange for either someone to come around while we're at church or we'll take him with us and pop out periodically to check in on him in the car. For some reason he doesn't seem to have any issues when he's in the car. I think it's because every time I've left him alone in the car, it's been very very brief so he's been able to learn quickly I'll always come back to the car.


Thanks so much for the advice!

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Don't know if this will help or not.

I had a dog-training client one time who came to me because her young dog had "terrible separation anxiety" and was "terrified of the crate".

Rather quickly I realized that none of the techniques she had tried were working because the dog didn't have separation anxiety nor was she afraid of the crate.


The owner thought that she had been screaming all day in her crate, because when she came home she could hear the dog from the driveway. Turned out the dog was just happy she was home.


the dog wasn't afraid of the crate. I could put her in just fine. but when the owner did it, the dog squirmed around and screamed. Once the owner calmed down and stopped feeling afraid to crate her, the dog was fine.


It is possible that after you are gone, the dog settles down and is fine.


As for the pooping in the crate, that might just be that he is not yet old enough to be 100% house trained.

I wouldn't ascribe psychological reasons to it just yet.

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That's really interesting D'Elle! Unfortunately I think it is separation anxiety, though :( my neighbor has told me more than once that Dallas cried the entire time we were gone to church. My husband's grandparents (living in the flat below us) have also said that he cries the entire time we're gone.

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  • 1 month later...

So, I had every intention of getting professional help, but it seems Dallas has managed to work through it?? So I'm assuming it wasn't proper separation anxiety.


Until we were able to get his 'separation anxiety' under control, our plan was to take him with us wherever we go and leave him in the car (don't worry - the car wasn't too warm!) if the situation called for it. We tend to walk most places so he was really only in the car once or twice a week. When we did use the car, he was never in the car for any longer than 3 hours and we would pop out to check on him about once an hour to make sure he was ok.


The very first time we tried leaving him in the car, he was perfectly happy. He slept the entire time. No crying, no barking, no pooping, etc. When at home, I would practice leaving the house for just a couple of minutes a day with the plan of building up that time slowly. However, after one or two times in the car, he has no issue with us leaving the house without him. In fact, I just popped to the shops just for 10 minutes, leaving him alone. He just went to a nice sunny spot of the house, curled up, and went to sleep. He was perfectly content. Before this, he'd be crying the minute I left the flat.


I even had no choice but to leave him at home by himself for 2 hours a couple of weeks ago. My husband got home before me and said Dallas was perfectly happy just taking a bit of a nap when he got home! Of course, he was happy to see my husband, but he wasn't crying and didn't cry the entire time we were gone (we even checked with the neighbors who always hear him cry).


So, I don't know if that was actually separation anxiety (probably not), but he's doing much better! I don't know what caused the sudden change, but I am so grateful. It broke my heart hearing him cry and knowing how much it distressed him when we were gone.


Thanks for all of your advice! We did also give him special treats, only in the crate, and would feed him some of his meals in his crate, so I think that may have helped a lot, too.

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Great news!


It may be that he was building up to a serious case of SA but that your intervention helped him learn that you were always there and would return. Even though he liked the car, it may have been perceived as an extension of your home and your coming back to check on him frequently reinforced that he was safe and that you'd always return.


And there could be an element of maturity in all of this too. Maybe he was going through a bit of a fear stage that manifested in apprehension about being left alone and your accommodations helped him move through it.


Whatever it was, I'm very happy for all of you that it's worked out so well.

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Thanks! I was wondering if maybe maturity had something to do with it, too. He definitely was suddenly pretty frightened of people that he had loved before, so it would make total sense if this was part of his fear stage.


Either way, we're super glad he's much happier now! Thanks again :)

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