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lizalex

Problems when I leave the room - separation anxiety?

8 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hello

Driven to work crying with frustration this morning, got to work and starting searching for help and found your forum.

We got a rescue dog 5 weeks ago - Fred is a 7 year old miniature poodle.

When he went to rescue he was unchipped and had not been neutered (both now done) he was found as a stray so we don't have his background.

He wears an Adaptil collar

We are first time dog owners - my husband is disabled and at home full time, I work in an office 3 days a week.

 

He has some basic training which we are working on and is improving all the time. The big problem seems to be a sort of separation anxiety.

 

Two main problems

1) In the morning, I take him for a walk, feed him and then go and have a shower and get ready. The second the shower is turned on , he starts barking and growling - and this continues until I am downstairs again. I can't work out how to train him to do this, as I am not downstairs with him!

He sleeps downstairs (on the sofa) on his own, he cries for up to a minute when we go up to bed, but then is quiet (95% of the time) until we get up in the morning.

At the moment we have a stair gate stopping him going upstairs - we are happy to have him upstairs in future, but thought we were best getting him happy to be left alone first. If the stair gate is removed, I guess the shower problem might go away, but it could make leaving house a bigger problem as he would be with us so much more.

 

2) If I go out the front door, just to take the rubbish out or put something in the car, he goes crazy and jumps from one sofa to another non stop, crying whilst he does it. He goes so fast he hurts himself. We have tried finding his trigger distance, and he seems ok with me going into the porch, and playing with the door handle - but the second I take the next step and go into the porch he goes crazy.

 

This mornings episode trying to get ready has resulted in me getting in a state from worrying about the neighbours being woken by his barking, I got dressed in a hurry and just noticed myself in a mirror which wasn't good ! and I got to work late - hence all the tears in the car.

Any suggestions to help me, and Fred solve these problems would be really gratefully received ?

 

Thank you

Liz

Edited by lizalex

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Posted (edited)

Is it just you he gets upset at being apart from or your husband too? I am going to have limited internet access so I'll assume it is just you and reply on that basis. Also I'm on my phone so please forgive the brevity.

 

It sounds like he has become very attached in a short period, perhaps you remind him of someone. So two things, work on weaning him off you and simultaneously building his bond with your husband. Your husband should always have yummy treats or his favourite toy, should feed him etc. Meantime you should work on disappearing for short periods - just a minute or two at a time, and at times when the dog is not actually engaged with you. If you do it while he is eating, or playing with your husband, or just lying dozing, your absence will be less drastic. If he associates you going with you puting on outdoor clothes, put them on and stay in to break the association. Build up gradually.

 

Buy chocolates for your neighbours and tell them you are working on the barking! Get a Kong for your dog, these are great things for occupying them. And have a word with the rescue, they might have behaviourists who can help.

 

Let us know how you get on!

Edited by JoanneF

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This is similar to my situation. Regarding the sleeping - we started our rescue dog in the kitchen, seperated from the rest of the house by a stair gate. Initially he was OK but after a couple of weeks, he started getting stressed when we went to bed and tried jumping over the gate. He didn't succeed but he could've injured himself and with this in mind we moved his bed to our landing outside our bedroom and now when we go to bed, he walks upstairs and just gets into his bed and goes to sleep. that said, he does sometimes need encouragement to leave the sofa!

 

Good luck with it all, as I new dog owner myself with a rescue dog that has his own little foibles, I know how trying it can all be. As joanneF says, let us know how you get on.

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Separation anxiety is an extremely stressful for both the owner and the dog. I had the same problem with my dog, after my mother and his owner died earlier this year.

It is among the most misunderstood problems with people attempting to manage it by addressing it directly from a human perspective as well as falling short to see the root cause. I read many books and watch number of video on youtube.

 

in the end Acknowledging that the adhering to behaviours are symptoms is the first step. They are simply as vast arraying as they are upsetting for the dog, however, by dealing with them you are not really addressing the root cause of the problem. First of all quiz yourself the question; does the behavior cease whenever you come back? If so at that point I propose that you’re being certainly away is really connected to the root cause.

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Because of his history you may need professional help with him.

 

Try not to let him rest touching you all the time. He will miss you more if he does.

 

Teach him to be as independent as possible. Build his confidence by reward training him. Tricks are good for confidence building.

 

Have a think about engaging a trainer to teach him how to help your husband. There is an organisation called Dog Aid that comes to the house and teaches your dog to perform tasks for people with disabilities.

 

I, too, am a bit short of time. If you reply I will pick up your reply when I have some more time.

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Thanks all - very helpful advice.

 

We involved a professional and have made some progress.

We removed the stairgate and although Fred thought he should sleep next to me, after a couple of restless nights, he now sleeps in his own bed in the bedroom. And because he can access upstairs now, when I leave for work, he settles with my husband.

99% of the time he still gets very anxious when I leave the house - however he now settles quicker, and we have had the odd occasion where he has taken no notice of me leaving at all.

It will take a while to get there, but we can see some progress now which is fantastic!

 

Thanks again :)

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Well done you!

 

Can you share a little of what the behaviourists advice was?

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She gave us several things to do 

- my husband has several games to play, including hand targeting and watch me games to build their bond

- I have written a trigger list of everything that I do before I leave the house.  I do these at all sorts of times, and in lots of different orders to try to desensitise him to my leaving cues.

- to monitor this, we count how many steps I can move away from him without him starting to move to follow me 

Its definitely slow progress, but progress none the less.

Thanks all

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