New Dog, Separation Anxiety

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ReverendBonobo
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New Dog, Separation Anxiety

Post by ReverendBonobo » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:38 pm

I introduced my new dog Asher over on the Dog Photos forum.

I got him from the shelter only four days ago. He came in as a stray with a messed-up leg that had to be amputated. He's still wearing the cone and his stitches don't come out until Monday. So he's been through a lot. From the streets to the shelter, where his leg gets cut off and then some weird dude comes in and starts fawning over him, then takes him away to a new home full of strange sights, sounds, and smells. I don't blame him for being freaked out. He sticks to me like glue when I'm home, and loses his little doggie mind when I leave. He whines, he barks, and he defecates in his crate.

I've tried stepping outside for just a moment and coming back in, and he starts barking the second the door closes. I had a bit of success today, after he got a new toy. He was enjoying the toy so much, he didn't fuss when I went outside. He was waiting by the door when I came back in, but he stayed quiet while I was outside. So I might have some leverage there. I put the toy away so I can use it as his "special toy" that he only gets in his crate or when I'm gone. He can play with his second-favorite toy when I'm home.

He whines in his crate even when I'm home, so I'm trying the desensitization without his crate. Would it work better if I got him one of those playpen fences so he can move around, or maybe a couple of baby gates to confine him to a small area that's still less confining than his crate?

I want to take him to work with me, but he still barks at everybody who isn't me (unless they have a dog) so I have to wait until that improves before he can be my regular office dog.

Right now, I want to calm his separation anxiety, for his sanity and for mine.

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JudyN
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Re: New Dog, Separation Anxiety

Post by JudyN » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Four days is absolutely nothing. After what he's been through, you'd expect him to be still stressed out and thoroughly unsettled. Ideally, you want to give him a week, maybe much longer, to settle in and get to feel secure.

Does he need to be crated to restrict him movements, or can he be destructive? If not, I wouldn't shut him in it for now but let him follow you around wherever he wants - including the loo!

Generally, dealing with SA involves always working within his comfort zone. So if he starts barking when you shut the door behind you, then you need to practise getting ready to go out, opening the door... and then sitting back down again. Once he's realised that you opening the door isn't a problem you can step out, and step back in... then you work on shutting the door behind you and coming straight back in again.

Do you need to leave him to go to work? To work on this, it's important to start by never leaving him on his own, or at least not for longer than he can cope with, which at present is pretty much zero seconds. So you need to consider leaving him with a trusted friend or relative, or at dog daycare (check them out first as I'm sure some are pretty rubbish).

There's a thread on SA here: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20143 I can also recommend the book I'll Be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

ReverendBonobo
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Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: New Dog, Separation Anxiety

Post by ReverendBonobo » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:47 pm

I only crate him when I'm gone, because I can't have him running around and jumping on and off of things until he's fully healed (that's why I thought about baby-gating him into the hallway where there's nothing to jump on). When I'm home, he gets to follow me everywhere - including the loo. I have a great picture of my pants around my ankles and his head resting in the crotch. He spent his first night home in his crate, but now he's sleeping with me. I have some stairs on the way so he can get on my bed without having to jump.

I work part-time and he can come to work with me every day except for Wednesdays, where I have two to three hours of meetings. He came to work with me on Tuesday and it was a mixed bag. He barked a lot, but most of my clients didn't seem to mind and a couple of them requested that I bring him every day. He took treats from some of them, and let my coworker walk him and cuddle him. I'm concerned that it's stressing him out, but I think it's less stress than being left home alone.

So far he can tolerate me stepping outside and right back in, which is a step up from when we started. I know I'm expecting a lot from him so soon, but I really don't like seeing him anxious and upset. Not after everything he's been through. My vet prescribed a sedative to help him get more rest while he recovers, and that might help a bit with the anxiety (I need to go pick those up, and it looks like he's coming with me). I'm also looking into pheromones and Rescue Remedy. Thanks for the link - that looks like a really thorough post. I'll give that book a look as well.

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JudyN
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Re: New Dog, Separation Anxiety

Post by JudyN » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:38 am

I'd worry that crating him only while you're out, combined with the SA, will make him fear the crate. So a pen might be better, though you're still faced with the problem that at the moment he will be stressed when left and if he's not happy with being confined in the crate/pen while you're there, then he'll end up feeling the same way about the pen. It's really about finding the best (or least worst) way of keeping him feeling secure for the time being, even if he's glued to you for the time being. Good luck!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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