Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

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btr323
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Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by btr323 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:12 am

Hi everyone,

This next month, I'll be taking care of my neighbor's 8mo Cesky Terrier. (Neighbor's in the coast guard and had to deploy to Miami for a month for hurricane relief.) Her dog, Gaston, is absolutely lovely and has daily play dates with my 1.5yo lab mix, Gypsy.

Gaston's only flaw (besides loving to pee on Gypsy's beds :roll: ) is that he's got a mild case of separation anxiety. When neighbor leaves, Gaston barks and barks and barks—continuously for up to fifteen minutes, and intermittently for as long as half an hour or 45 minutes. (Neighbor and I share a duplex, so I can hear him.) Neighbor kennels Gaston when she leaves, and says he settles in his crate, but he still barks all the same. He also is fairly attached to neighbor, following her just about everywhere. But I think that's the extent of his SA.

My question is whether it would affect Gaston's SA to keep him in my side of the house for this next month. It could make things easier on my end, and I know Gypsy and Gaston both would love the extended playtime. Plus I'm sure it would be easier for him to handle neighbor's absence if he's living full time with me, my work-at-home wife, and Gypsy. On the other hand, I don't want to contribute to his SA issues (and, if possible, would love to start working to curb them). And I could totally see how keeping him on his preexisting schedule (food, morning walk, crated until early afternoon, play date with Gypsy, food, evening walk, bedtime) could keep him calm while neighbor's gone.

So, should I keep him in my place or neighbor's? Any other suggestions on how to help Gaston handle neighbor's extended absence?

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JudyN
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Re: Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by JudyN » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:10 am

If he stayed in his house, how long would he be alone for? He could be pretty upset at night.

My feeling is that no dog should be left alone with just a dogsitter coming in for a month, and if that's what happens, his SA could get worse as whenever his owner left, he might fear that she won't be back for a month again. So the obvious solution is for him to move in with you.

Would you and his owner be willing to transistion him back to his home very gradually when she comes back? I'm thinking he would start off not being left at all, then going through the normal SA protocol (e.g. viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20143) but working both in your house and his house, hopefully ending up with him being happy to be left in his owner's home. As the ideal for treating SA is always to work within the dog's comfort zone, I think this would be the most effective way of helping him long-term.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

btr323
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Re: Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by btr323 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:23 pm

If he stayed in his house, he'd be alone overnight and for a couple of stretches during the day, probably no longer than 2 hours at a time. (I know that's not ideal for his SA, but he's usually alone between 7 and 4, so it's an improvement.) I'm not in favor of this option—like you said, Judy, it's a lot of alone time.

Second option: Gaston stays with us with free run of the house, but we keep his crate in his house so that, on the occasions OH and I both leave, he's crated in the house he's familiar with. (With the peeing and some chewing habits, I'm not comfortable leaving him alone with free reign in our house.) He'd presumably sleep in there overnight, too. This could keep him in a comfortable spot when we just have to leave him alone, but it might be a bit much to leave him alone overnight.

Third option: Gaston and his crate move in with us, and he doesn't spend any time on neighbor's side of the double. This gives him the most time with people, but also removes him altogether from his comfort zone in his own house.

I think it's got to be either option 2 or option 3. Do y'all have any guess which one might work best? Is this something we should just play by ear?

Either way, we could definitely transition him gradually back to neighbor's when she returns.

And thanks for the link! I'm very excited about doing some targeting and some impulse control / "it's yer choice." Gaston gets yappy when he isn't attended to (e.g., if you ever dare to pause the walk too long to talk to a neighbor), so I can't wait to see how he does with a bit of training.

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emmabeth
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Re: Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by emmabeth » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:10 pm

I now specialise in SA and honestly, no - I would have him at your home full time whilst they are away, and then if you are willing to help them out, have him when they are out so that he can hten be stress free and able to complete a separation anxiety treatment course.

SA will really only get worse if left, even if it seems mild (and tbh, and bearing in mind SA is almost the only behaviour problem I treat now as it takes up so much time, what you describe is not what I'd call mild anyway!).

You can start to help him with his SA at your house though, but I would strongly recommend the support of an experienced and qualified behaviourist, for example Malena De Martini and her team of SA specialists, who work remotely via skype. https://malenademartini.com/
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

btr323
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Re: Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by btr323 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:32 pm

Got it. Thanks, both of y'all, for the advice. It might be another few weeks before we get him, but I'm sure I'll be back here pretty quickly once we do.

jacksdad
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Re: Dogsitting a Puppy with Mild Separation Anxiety

Post by jacksdad » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:09 am

I don't currently do a lot of SA work, but I do spend a lot of time working other issues where anxiety/fear is a root cause.

Emma's advice is spot on.
btr323 wrote:
Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:12 am
He also is fairly attached to neighbor, following her just about everywhere. But I think that's the extent of his SA.
Lot of people tunnel vision in on this, particularly with SA cases. In my opinion, least of the worries and not an issue to solve. keep in mind, some dogs just like to be near their people and that behavior isn't always SA related. besides, if being near a favorite person reduces or eliminates the anxiety, that is a good thing.

a solid and sound SA training plan will help a dog learn to be alone and any "unhealthy" attachment behavior will resolve as a side affect. it is far more important when not training that your dog feel relaxed and safe, if being near someone is what they need to achieve that, let them.

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