Separation anxiety in adult dog, poop and pee in the house, Help?!? - Mothering Forums

Separation anxiety in adult dog, poop and pee in the house, Help?!?

alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
03:15 PM Liked: 11
#1 of 17
05-23-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
About a month ago, we adopted an 18 month old golden retriever.

He's a great dog, but he has major separation anxiety issues, and I need some help!

When left alone (whether for half an hour or for three hours), he poops and pees in the house!
(No issues with chewing or destructive behaviors like that.)
Note: we do make sure that he is well-exercised and has just peed etc. outside before we leave.
High-value treats and chewies don't seem to help.

His previous family had not crate-trained him at all, which is new to me. The dogs I've had in the past, I raised from puppyhood, and I crate-trained them. I do want to gradually introduce him to a crate, but I don't expect that to be a solution here, since I have tried confining him to a small space, and he still poops and pees when left alone-- I returned after an hour to find him covered in it, so I think that just panics, and a crate won't help with the panic.

When we're with him, his house-training is fine, of course.

He doesn't velcro to me too much during the day. He will wander in to sleep in whatever room I'm in, but if he's comfy, he doesn't get up right away to follow me into the next room, and he may stay put and nap where he is for a while by himself.

He doesn't seem to get anxious at signs that we're *getting ready* to leave, or anything (shoes and coats on, etc.).

If we are able to bring him with us, he waits calmly in the car while we go into a store, or whatever, and is usually snoozing when we return to the car.
It's getting warmer now, though, and that won't be an option again until fall.

He eventually (after gradually escalating whining) knocks down or goes through (!) pet gates to get to our bedroom at night, as well, and once peed in the house in the night when gated out of our bedroom. (He was gated in DS's room, as DS was really hoping that the dog would develop a habit of sleeping near his bed.) Now, I don't really mind a dog snoozing on my bedroom floor (as long as there are no dominance issues, of which he has none), but I'm so not ok with a dog who *has* to be there, or he'll freak out. That's not acceptable.

We all love him already, but we need to be able to leave the house without coming home to a revolting mess!

Please help me, wise mamas!

alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
08:21 PM Liked: 11
#2 of 17
05-23-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
lifeguard's Avatar lifeguard
10:01 PM Liked: 94
#3 of 17
05-23-2010 | Posts: 6,541
Joined: May 2008
My separation anxiety pup did not do well in a kennel. We tried so hard to get her used to it but she never did & yeah the poopy puppy when you come home is so terribly upsetting for everyone.

I didn't discover it when she was younger & at her worse but I have in recent years had really good luck with rescue remedy when we've had her in situations where we knew she would anxious (ie. flying, being away from us for an extended period, etc.)

It would certainly be worth a try to try the rescue remedy before you left the house.

We had used anxiety meds for our pup for a short period (3 months) after she jumped out a 2nd story window to try to get to us. We found that it worked immediately but more important it calmed her enough to learn & accept that we always return & after we stopped the meds she was much less anxious when we left.
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
11:37 AM Liked: 11
#4 of 17
05-24-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
The same Rescue Remedy that people use?

I'll definitely try that! How should I calculate dosage?

I'm also up for trying more conventional meds, if it comes to that.

HopefulJo's Avatar HopefulJo
03:38 PM Liked: 23
#5 of 17
05-24-2010 | Posts: 272
Joined: Dec 2009
We adopted a large 18-month-old dog with separation anxiety as well, and the solution for us was to crate train him. He hated, hated, hated the crate- he freaked out when we got him near it- but we kept the training gradual, feeding him in the crate but not necessarily locking him in it until he'd go in it on his own. Locking him in a small room didn't work for us, either, but the crate did, eventually. Now, he deals very well with our departures provided he's in his "safe" place, and sometimes we can even feed him in his crate unlocked and leave- which would have been unheard of before.

At night we don't crate him, just close the bedroom doors, and he has the ruin of the rest of the house. At the beginning, he'd scratch up our door and cry and pee in the house, but has (finally) stopped that and accepts that we're just behind the door, we haven't left him.

I hope you find something that works for you!
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
05:28 PM Liked: 11
#6 of 17
05-24-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
Thanks so much, mamas.
Please keep the advice coming!
just_lily's Avatar just_lily
05:39 PM Liked: 29
#7 of 17
05-25-2010 | Posts: 2,153
Joined: Feb 2008
I have a dog with sever SA, and a crate is the only option. He still doesn't like it, but goes in it willingly. It is the only way to protect my house from him when we leave. He has dug up carpet, destroyed blinds, taken out panelling, and even dug all the way through an interior door. Plus the pooping and peeing. He has broken all four of his canines in his hysteria.

If you can secure a room with hard floors enough to leave him there, like a kitchen, you could try that. But in my house it has to be a crate. (And I should add that he has even destroyed crates from the inside out as well. He is in a collapsable metal crate now with all of the sides held together with cable ties, and when we put him in we hold the door shut with carabeener clips. Seriously. He has destroyed three other metal crates and when I tried him in a plastic one he dug through it.)
lifeguard's Avatar lifeguard
02:34 AM Liked: 94
#8 of 17
05-26-2010 | Posts: 6,541
Joined: May 2008
For the rescue remedy you can check with a vet but I just put a couple drops into her mouth (as best as she'll let me). I also put a couple drops on her paws as she licks at them when she's anxious. And yes, it's the same stuff as for humans.
treeoflife3's Avatar treeoflife3
02:50 AM Liked: 260
#9 of 17
05-26-2010 | Posts: 1,484
Joined: Nov 2008
crating was the only thing that worked with our dog too. The vet said that the best way to crate is to have a crate that isn't a lot bigger than the dog.. just big enough to lay down and turn around and have some water. With his blanket and water, he actually started hanging out once in awhile on his own in there although his tail always went down when we made him go in... but he'd be okay once in.
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
10:18 AM Liked: 11
#10 of 17
05-26-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
Thanks so much, everyone!

I'm going to pick up a crate for him (our old crate is a smidgen too small for him).

In the past, we have always used collapsible coated-wire crates, like this.

Do you think that a dog with separation anxiety would do best with this style, or with the plastic, more solid-sided kind, or will it not matter?

floss&ferd's Avatar floss&ferd
04:31 PM Liked: 22830
#11 of 17
05-26-2010 | Posts: 1,558
Joined: Mar 2009
My cousin adopted a dog about the same age with horrible separation anxiety. He had been crated too much before adoption so they didn't want to go that route.

Their vet put him on prozac for a year. He's fine now.
just_lily's Avatar just_lily
04:53 PM Liked: 29
#12 of 17
05-26-2010 | Posts: 2,153
Joined: Feb 2008
Originally Posted by alsoSarah View Post
Thanks so much, everyone!

I'm going to pick up a crate for him (our old crate is a smidgen too small for him).

In the past, we have always used collapsible coated-wire crates, like this.

Do you think that a dog with separation anxiety would do best with this style, or with the plastic, more solid-sided kind, or will it not matter?

We have a crate almost exactly like that. We used cable ties every few inches to hold it together at the edges though. He squeezed through otherwise. We also use carabeener clips to hold the door shut once he is in.

I tried a plastic crate once. It didn't work for us at all. The door release was attached with a plastic piece and he chewed it off from the inside. So I rigged up some bungee cords to keep the door on and he managed to dig through the plastic wall. To this day I am still amazed. That crate cost me $150 a lasted all of two weeks. So all metal over here.

But I think I have a pretty extreme case on my hands. It is like he doesn't feel pain when frenzied so he just won't stop. If your problem is more defecation than destruction a plastic crate may be fine... but I wouldn't spend more money on it thinking it is better.

And I tried Clomicalm with him for a while when I first got him and it didn't do a thing. The crate is the only answer. He did calm down quite a bit when we got a second dog, but we still need to crate him. We tried leaving him out one day several months ago and he climbed on top of my deep freeze and took out the window blinds. But like I said, I think my guy is 'special'.
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
10:45 AM Liked: 11
#13 of 17
05-28-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
Thank you so much! I may be be back soon, in need of more guidance.

SquishyKitty's Avatar SquishyKitty
04:55 PM Liked: 11
#14 of 17
05-30-2010 | Posts: 1,721
Joined: Jun 2005
Have you looked into doggy daycares, or somewhere that he can run out more of his anxiousness?

How long is he exercised before you leave? At least 30 minutes of hard walking, or do you play for 30 minutes?
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
11:10 AM Liked: 11
#15 of 17
06-06-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
We make sure that he's *well* exercised.

A drop-off doggy day care would be lovely, but we wouldn't be able to afford day care or a paid sitter for the kids if we wanted to, so the dog won't be having it, either.

For now, we're gradually introducing the crate, and hoping (fingers crossed) that it will eventually become someplace that can contentedly spend a few hours.

(I'm a SAHM, so he really only is left alone about once a week.)

alexsam's Avatar alexsam
02:13 AM Liked: 22
#16 of 17
06-19-2010 | Posts: 3,191
Joined: May 2005
I would talk to your vet. We just adopted a dog who has some seperation issues (but they seem to be getting better pretty quickly) but my DH is a veterinarian himself (large animal) so he has been reading up and asking around and there are quite a few meds as well as behavioral routines that have research behind them for helping with seperation anxiety. Vets can also help to make sure it IS seperation anxiety (it sounds like it, but just to be sure...) because there are some other issues that can look similar (a noise phobia, for one... For example, some dogs when alone can become phobic or panicked by thunder or another harmless noise that spooks them when they are alone and that can start the cycle, not the seperation, and they might be best helped by a different drug & routine. They would also rule out other physical issues.).

I think we will be using some drugs for our dog, even though she is doing a bit better each day. Dogs (like people) can get into habits and cycles of anxiety and apparently the research shows that the meds can really take the edge off and we are working on the behavior part too.

You can also try pheremones, which have been shown to help as well. They are like an electrical outlet plug-in and it releases chemicals that are the same as a lactating mommy dog and this makes them a bit less edgy . We got one and I do think it has made a difference in her level of calm.
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah (TS)
04:43 PM Liked: 11
#17 of 17
06-20-2010 | Posts: 2,144
Joined: Apr 2002
Thanks, alexsam!

OT, but: I went through a long phase of being on MDC very rarely, and I think that I nearly forgot how much this place rocks.

I am so grateful for all of you mamas....

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