lizalex

Problems when I leave the room - separation anxiety?

23 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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How   is he getting on. I keep having issues with my puppy

 

 He    is chewing  and clawing the door  and the frames in the kitchen. Where is put when we go out.  He isn't never left  for more then 4 hours but (he still does it when  we leave him for less time) as I come back from work.  He is given a good walk in the morning  so he is defintney  tired. 

He used to wine when  he and my other half  went upstairs and  left him downstairs.  If we give his access to the kitchen and lounge   he doesn't seem to whine   in this situation now. However as he is chewing and calling we don't  trust him  to left in the lounge and kitchen  when we  go out

 

Any suggestions.  We have contacted  a  dog trainer who says he dealing with operation anitexy  but want to try and get much help as I can. Because   the stress is starting to take it a toll.  And no rehoming  is not an option.  It would break mine and my other half heart to him our boy up 

 

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Mainly the advice above is what we would suggest. But 4 hours is a long time to leave a puppy - how old is he? Can someone come in to engage with him during the periods?

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Posted (edited)

he  5 months. Almost 6  doesn't matter How long he is left for be it  an hour or 4 the action he does is still the same. I go home on my lunch to find that isasleep  in his crate so he does settle. But it the bit before that concerns me  

Edited by Shaun Haynes

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When you leave he doesn't know if you are going to be away for one hour or four though! Can you find a sitter for him or day care while you work on this (following the advice above about leaving and coming straight back, putting on outdoor clothes but not going out etc).

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, JoanneF said:

When you leave he doesn't know if you are going to be away for one hour or four though! Can you find a sitter for him or day care while you work on this (following the advice above about leaving and coming straight back, putting on outdoor clothes but not going out etc).

Ok I'll try this. And are the apadter  things any good? I'm looking  at doggy day care and  someone to come in but it quite pricey  to come in everyy day. and  my parents dog is happy being left for four hours. 

Edited by Shaun Haynes

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Some dodogs settle better than others. And yes, an Adaptil diffuser might help.

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fYes, I agree with Joanne, an Adaptil diffuser might help him. Some dogs do settle better when left to have the run of the house. Could you do a trial run where you clear the house of all valuables and let him loose?

In most cases of separation anxiety the trouble starts within minutes of owners leaving the house. It is not the amount of time that the dog is worried about but the act of "abandonment" as they view it with their little doggy brains. If it helps you to understand, his level of brain power is less than that of a two year old child. Some dogs do become properly distressed when left, it is not them "getting their own back" at us for leaving them. I have seen video footage of owners in tears when their dogs have been filmed when the owner leaves the house. The level of distress felt by some dogs is very high. It always seems to be the most loving of dogs that suffer the most. My own rescue dog is extremely independent natured. He does not want fuss or cuddles when we are around. He does not give a fig when we leave him!

The advice given above, about teaching your dog to be more independent, and the advice shared from the behaviourist's visit to the OP's dog, is all still relevant. Of course a more individual assessment from a behaviourist would help you to target your dog's problems in a more exact way.

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Thank for that. Yeah I'm  more just gathering ideas for when he visits  I think we going to do a trail run on Tuesday for an hour or so well we spoke about it this morning.

We are trying to think of  action plan of things that might work and  then cross them off. 

Our pup is a rescuse aswell  so you never know what has happened before we had him at 4 months.

The older get the worse it seems to be though. Or is that more he more attached to  us beacaue he with us longer.

 

The 1st two night we had him he spend both night howling and crying . I wonder if that has enforced a negative mindset  in his head with the kitchen  

 

 

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It is possible. In a new environment he may well have been confused and lonely. However what's done is done, I'm not sure from your post whether the person coming is going to just be checking in on him or is a behaviourist?  If it is a behaviourist please make sure they only use positive reward based methods, the last thing your dog needs is to be intimidated now.

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12 minutes ago, JoanneF said:

It is possible. In a new environment he may well have been confused and lonely. However what's done is done, I'm not sure from your post whether the person coming is going to just be checking in on him or is a behaviourist?  If it is a behaviourist please make sure they only use positive reward based methods, the last thing your dog needs is to be intimidated now.

Plan is to get a behaviourist

 We are waiting for the callback from one to get booked in.

 I say hello to him to loud  by mistkae and he intimidated.. Hes that soft. 

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I wouldn't say "soft" as much as "sensitive" :)

Well done on getting a behaviourist involved. The world of dog behaviourists is an unregulated one. This means that anyone can call themselves a "behaviourist". There are two organisations that we can recommend where you can be sure that the person you are paying has been thoroughly vetted before being allowed to join.

They are COAPE and APBC. Many of their members are educated to degree level in the field of dog behaviour. Any one less well qualified may do more harm than good to the well being of your dog.

Once fully assessed by the behaviourist you should get an explanation of why your dog is exhibiting all the signs he is. You will also get a plan to work on and support while you are following it. Most people say it is the best money they have spent because they feel confident that the way they are handling the dog is the best way for their dog.

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Posted (edited)

Ok thanks I'll make sure I get them checked out before I agree to anything. 

We got the plug in a 2nd collar yesterday.  We're gonna to trail run him with a bit more freedom this evening. 

 I left the door open behind the baby gate  when I get upstairs and  he just curled up and  went in his bed. So gonna  leave the  door open for today aswell so he  not locked in  all the way round.   

So I tho k he has the ability in him to be left it just gonna be like everything with him it sgosnna take a while 

 

Edited by Shaun Haynes

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 So    came home to find he's jumped the puppy gate chewed two more did the door frames..    so hard not to tell him   off but I know it not the right thing to do... 

So  frustrating  never known a dog like it.   I'll chase up the pet behaviourist later.

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Every dog is different.

You are right to not tell him off. It only increases the anxiety around being left and makes everything much worse. Not only are they upset at being left but anxious about you coming home too!

The behaviour organisations, mentioned above, will want a referral from your vet. If he hasn't been for a while then you can save time by getting him checked over. Some vets will refer without seeing the dog but others insist on ruling out any health problems.

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