separation anxiety- HELP!

Posted by ak21
Nov 19, 2008
I recently adopted a 3 month old german shephard/rottie mix. He was raised at a shelter with his mother and other puppies from his litter so when I took him from the shelter, he attached to me right away. I have had him for a month now and I believe his behavior is worsening and he is becoming more hyperattached to me. He follows me everywhere I go and is constantly by my side and if I leave him for a short second, for example to use the bathroom, he lays outside the door until I open it again. He excessively barks everytime he is left alone whether it is for short periods of time or long periods of time. I even leave him rawhides (which he loves) and other chew toys along with some of my clothes and leave the radio on when I leave him hoping he will be entertained but he always ignores everything and just focuses on barking until I return home. I have read other sites addressing separation anxiety but they all say to do things such as desensitize him to being away from me for little periods at a time and then slowly lengthen the amount of time. But what do I do if he can't even stand to be alone for a second? How do I desensitize him for longer periods of time if he can't even handle the short periods of time without barking and whining excessively? How can I help him to figure out that it is ok to be in another room from me? How can I teach him to entertain himself while I am gone? I would really appreciate anyones help with this issue!!!!!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 19, 2008
Hi ak21,

I understand it is hard for you but he will have to deal with this sooner or later so lets be firm.

As a first step, can you leave him at a dog camp or something for a couple of hours? Or maybe at your friend's house?

He needs to be socialized with all kinds of people and dogs so it will be a good opportunity.

Waiting in front of the bathroom doesn't sound too bad. All my 3 dogs plus a foster dog wait outside the bathroom or outside my computer room when I am in there. They are not making noise but just lieing down and waiting.

Being with other dogs might destract him so please see if you can do that for a couple of hours a day.

Good luck:
Posted by KOPsBecks
Nov 20, 2008
The following steps are intended to reassure the dogs that they do not need to fear being left alone. Remember that each dog is an individual and some dogs will like a smaller space to be confined to to feel secure in, while other dogs may panic in this situation, if your dog gets in a panic if crated - DONT DO IT, you should not force the dog to be crated, this will make the situation worse.

[B]Step 1:[/B]
Teach your dog to "sit" and "stay", and not only to obey these commands but to look happy and relaxed while obeying these commands. Get to the point where during your "stay" command you can clap, hum, walk slightly away from your dog and then back again. When they are really getting the hang of it you may like to introduce some acitivities like picking up your car keys while your dog is in the "stay" position, or leaving the room? See how you go, if at any point your dog loses its relaxed and happy attitude, tone down the exercise a little and work at a level were they are relaxed. It is important to practice this at least twice a day. the harder you work the better progress you will see. It is important that while training your dog not to be anxious that they are not left home alone, take your dog to work, or arrange a dog sitter while training if possible. If the dog must be left home alone put into a confined space...see next step!

[B]Step 2:[/B]
Crate the dog, or isolate in a small room whenever you are not home. make sure the dog has everything the require to be comfortable in this room, eg. bedding, water, toys and a biscuit. Take your dogs collar of if they are to be crated, to ensure they don't hook themselves onto the crate. This room/crate is an area the dog can feel safe. Do not use this room/crate as a punishment area - EVER.
Make sure the room/crate is brightly lit and warm and leave a tv or radio on while you are away as company. Some dogs like to be able to see the outside world, so set up the crate in front of a window or isolate to a room where they can see out the window.

[B]Step 3:[/B]
Try and minimise your time away from the house and if you have to be at work all day then get someone to come and visit the dog.

[B]Step 4:[/B]
As mentioned briefly in Step 1 we need to desensitise the dog to the cues of your departure. These may include keys rattling, doors opening, lights being switched off, make-up being put on etc. To desensitise your dog to these cues, perform the appropriate action, but do not leave the house after it, soon your dog will learn not to associate this action with your leaving. If you work hard at identifying the things that make your dog anxious and work hard to desensitise your dog to these it is achievable relatively quickly.

[B]Step 5:[/B]
Leave your house for very short intervals of time initially and work up to longer periods, aiming to have a nice relaxed dog when you return. If your dog is worked up and anxious do not make a big fuss over it. It is important that when you return you do so in a calm and relaxed manner.

[B]Step 6:[/B]
Most of these dogs require some kind of anti-anxiety medication to improve, most of these have very minimal side effects and tremendous benefits. Try all the above steps first and assess your dog's progress, at this point it may be identified that your dog needs a little help in relaxing, in which case consult with your local veterinarian.
Posted by KOPsBecks
Nov 20, 2008
hope the post above helps, I have also had a dog with separation anxiety and it was relatively easy to fix although we did require medication to help. The post above is my general guidelines, these are flexible for individual dogs/owners needs.

good luck with everything,
Posted by Jaime-Blanch
Nov 21, 2008

I would also like to add one think, recently I had a dog listener in my house and they have a way of looking at separation anxiety, according to them this is caused because they don't see you as the alpha dog, so they take that position, and as the alpha dog, it is their responsavility to protect you, but if you are not there, How can they protect you? Imagine that you have a kid and he goes out to play, if after dark your kid doesn't come back, would you just stay home and not worry? Dogs that consider themselves to be in the bottom of the pack don't have much to worry, so they would just lay around and sleep and protect the space they consider their home while the alpha dog is away.
I know that every dog is different and there can be lots of other issues link to this problem and your dog still a puppy, this comment is only that, a comment, but its never to early to teach your dog who the alpha dog is and the bonus book you get will help big time. Make sure your puppy respects your space, and only give him attention when you call him to you not the other way round.

Best luck,