Moving house & separation anxiety

Posted by CKB
Feb 4, 2010
I sold my house and moved out with my 3 year old beagle last month and went to stay with a friend for the night. He escaped from her backyard while I went out to get petrol. After 3 days of intense heat, he walked all the way back to my old house and luckily the new owners spotted him and rang me. He was very timid and kept running away from them. We had to chase him down several streets before he knew I was behind him and then he stopped.

He wasn't hurt or dehydrated, but had a few bad blisters on his pads.
Since then he has been very very clingey and would not let me out of his sight. We have also moved to a much bigger city, a much smaller house with a very small patch of grass out the back. I used to have a big yard in a quiet neighbourhood and Rambo has spent all his life there since he was 10 weeks old until now.

I can't leave him for even a couple of minutes without him barking his head off, or howling or whimpering. The neighbours are quite upset by it.

I stayed with him all the time for 2-3 weeks since he escaped before starting my new part-time job this week. I have to put him in doggie daycare while I work and that's getting very expensive. I also got a trainer in to help me with his separation anxiety and she tried to convince me that he does not look anxious...she said he's more of a bully and being dominant and wants to dictate what I do. I am not convinced because he does look very stressed out when I leave. Even at daycare they have to distract him or take him to another room before I can make my way out.

M neighbour suggested a bark collar but I do not like the idea of zapping him when he is already stressed out.
A friend recommended sedatives.

He also has a habit of lunging at other dogs when we go out for walks. He is not aggressive although his bark is so loud and sounds so vicious. He is just highly driven and stubborn, wanting to get the other dogs' attention.

I don't want to give him away but the bills are piling up and I have been told separation anxiety is such a difficult thing to treat that I don't know how long I can afford doggie daycare for.

Any suggestions pleeeease!!! THANKS!!!
Posted by crazycrayonmom
Feb 4, 2010
Sounds to me more like he is adjusting poorly to his new home. I don't know if that constitutes separation anxiety but I would think not. Since he's uncomfortable in his new house he just wants you nearby to make sure you don't leave too. A lot of what you say, including how he reacts to other dogs on leash sounds to me like he isn't accepting you as his pack leader. He thinks he is the boss.

I have a few questions.

If you don't think the trainer is right can you get a second opinion with another trainer?

Is he crate trained in the house? Do you like to leave him outside when you're at work or does he stay inside the house?

Have you read the information on alpha dogs?

Hopefully you can take some time with your neighbors and let them know your pup is having a difficult time with the transition. If he wasn't a big barker at your last place he can be again. For the barking, is this how it goes . . . you let him out alone, he starts having a fit, barking and whatnot, you go back out and comfort/play with him or let him back in? If this is what's happening you are rewarding him for barking.

If you're ready to end the barking this is what I do (better let your neighbors know in advance when you get to step 2 because he will get worse before he gets better. Also don't do this early in the morning or at night when your neighbors or their children might be sleeping).

Step 1: He needs to get comfortable in his new backyard. For the next couple of weeks or so, when it's time for him to potty go out with him. Get him to do his business and play with him a little then bring him back inside. Don't give him any alone time outside to start barking. This should help him get comfortable in the yard. Get him a Kong-type toy you can leave out with him and he can distract himself with for Step 2. Use this toy in your play.

Step 2: Get that Kong-type toy ready with high value treats in it. Go out with him as usual to do his duty. Play a bit and leave him with the Kong toy and go inside. Don't make a big deal of going in. Just turn around and do it. When he starts barking, stay inside, do not go outside. Let him see you through a window occasionally. The second he stops barking say "no bark" or some similar command, and reward him for stopping barking by playing and bringing him back inside. I had one dog that took forever to learn but he was deaf so teaching him anything new took longer. I don't know if anyone else has a better plan but this one works for me. Good luck and let us know how he progresses.
Posted by CKB
Feb 5, 2010
Thanks +++for your advice.

I haven't got another trainer yet. The one I had before recommended a static bark collar but I am not so sure. She also said my dog doesn't see me as pack leader and I should establish some boundaries. I am getting a good response from him while we go for walks, that is unless he spots another dog and goes crazy.

He has never been in a crate.
Whenever I leave the house he is outside as he is likely to scratch the door and do some damages to my rented place.

As long as he can see me he doesn't bark. I can get him to go and stay outside without barking, but he will be sitting at the door the whole time watching me and not be relaxed.

I guess I don't like the yard myself and haven't been spending enough time outside with him.

I have been giving him a kong with frozen chicken meat inside whenever I would go out. Being a beagle that adores food, that usually works to distract him initially but I know as soon as he got all of it out he would be barking his head offprobably because he thinks I am still in the house and tries to tell me he wants to come back in.
In my old house there's a side gate and he can see me drive off in my car, whereas in this house he cannot see the front from the backyard.

Do you think I should try leaving him inside instead when I leave, at least initially?

What do you think of bark collars?
Posted by kjd
Feb 5, 2010

You are braver than I! When I am home, my dog can use the dog door to get in and out. When I am out, she is blocked from it. I'm always afraid something will happen and she will get away -- the last dog I had her size would jump the fence and go exploring (she also climbed chain link fences). Some dogs won't leave, even when the gate is open; some just [I]have [/I]to go exploring. Since your dog still thinks the old house is home, I'd be afraid he'd get out someway and try to make it back.

Crazycrayonmom asked about a crate. If you could crate train him, that would be the ideal place to leave him when you are gone. He would feel save and he couldn't damage anything. However, you do want him to look on the crate as a good thing, so don't be quick to put him in it and leave. Gradually introduce it to him. There are many explanations on how to get a dog to use the crate, so I won't go through it here.

As for the bark collar, why zap your dog when all he is doing is calling you? Sedatives could be dangerous unless you have a vet determine the appropriate dose -- then again, do you really want to drug your dog?

When you and anyone else (trainer, vet, friend, stranger) disagree about why your dog is doing something, do just what you did: Take a good look at the dog, considering that the other person could be right. If you still don't agree, stick by your own gut feeling -- you know your dog much better than that person does.

Sometimes we have to take drastic measures because the alternative is to put down or get rid of our dog. Try the kinder methods first. I do think spending more time in the backyard with your dog will help. Right now, he isn't convinced he is home. He probably went back that first time looking for you. Is that dominant behavior, bullying of you? Once he is convinced this is where the two of you are going to stay, he will settle down. (I see you spent several weeks with him, but it is obviously taking him longer to settle in.)

Please hang in there with him for a bit more,