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Major separation anxiety - what do I do?!?!

528 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  EdlynsMom
We've been fostering and are now in the process of adopting an almost 2 year old Great Dane. She wasn't abused (so they say, but I have my doubts
: ) but had been kept outside and was neglected. We have had her for about a month now and are using a crate when we leave the house.

She freaks out so bad when we leave that she breaks out of the crate. We started clipping her leash hooks to the crate to hold the door shut so she couldn't escape. This weekend, she managed to pull on the door of the crate so hard that she broke a couple of the welds, busted through the door of dh's office where the crate is kept, got out into my living room, took a clydesdale-sized dump on the living room floor, and ate my matchstick blinds in the front window. I am not amused.

When we are home she is perfectly housetrained, extremely obedient, and very well-behaved. She is so well-behaved that we can leave her out of the crate at night and she doesn't touch anything. She lays on her bed or the couch and stays put all night. We thought that we would try not crating her when we left for short errands. That did not go over well. I left her out the other day when I was gone for about an hour and a half and she managed to pull down my curtains in the living room.

So it's pretty clear to me that she's got some separation anxiety going on and it seems to be getting worse the longer she is with us. I really don't want to send her back to another foster home because she is so good with my 3yo dd. (We had to re-home our first foster after he growled at dd.)

I went to the feed store today to get dog food and picked up some HomeoPet Anxiety formula. Does anyone have any experience with homeopathy for anxiety in pets? What about any other ideas on how to get her past this? I cannot worry about a 120lb wrecking ball running through my house when I am gone. Leaving her outside is not an option because, well, she's a Dane.
Any ideas?
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Our dog was 7-8 when we got him, and he had separation anxiety, as well. He would hurt himself and puke trying to get out of his kennel. We locked him up, because he was escaping while we were gone, but it turned out that it was the CAT opening the door! So, we started locking up the cat and stopped kenneling the dog when we left the house.

Anyway... Lots of exercise helps (try a 45-60 min walk every day!); and a nice long walk before you leave will help, as well. Don't make a big deal out of coming or going. Stuffed Kongs help sometimes (didn't help our dog, but he's really not a food-motivated dog at all), because they help to keep the mind busy and focused. Rescue Remedy can help. Google separation anxiety and dogs; I know I'm forgetting some of the "obvious" suggestions.

The good news is, our dog does fine with being left home alone, now. He gets freaked out by suit cases, but regular outings/errands are fine. Oh, and he gets a little excited when I get ready to leave, because I sometimes I take him with me.
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Here are some thoughts on dealing with SA. All dogs are different so some things may not apply but I thought I'd throw a bunch of things out there.

- get a kong put peanut butter in it and freeze it..I have used bully sticks before too. Gives them something to do focus on during the typical panic time.

- Don't crate just when your gone, crate while you are home too. Otherwise the dog will only associate the crate with you leaving.

-Does she go in the same spot all the time, maybe clean that spot and move her food there(I know that sounds bad) but she is probably not going to go where she eats. Not saying she won't go somewhere else but I've heard of several cases of moving the food actually stopping the pooping.

-Do not be afraid to ask your vet about medication Clomicalm is one med commonly used. Also look at Rescue remedy.


-Try leaving the TV or radio on when you leave your dog behind.

-If you have an answering maching make sure the volume is off so that if it goes off your dog can't hear your voice.

-Is she ok with other dogs, maybe a friend will help. Sometimes some dogs just need a pal.

-Keep a journal and if possible set up a video camera to record how she reacts. SA usually occurs in the forst 20-30 minutes your gone so seeing what happening might help you.
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Thanks for the suggestions. I had tried the peanut butter kong idea, but she was not interested at all. She's not too big on treats. She's not crapping on the same spot when she gets out. It seems random. She had never done that before until she escaped the other day. We were shocked (and pissed!).

I think it was a big mistake for us to only crate her when we left. I started putting her in her crate last night while we were eating dinner. I have the homeopathic anxiety stuff and I'm dosing her with that before I put her in. She's in her crate right now and I left the light on in dh's office and turned on the radio.

How long will it take before she is ok with this? If I could at least get a little bit of an improvement by Saturday, that would be nice. Dh and I will be out of town overnight and my mom will be staying her with dd. I don't know that my mom will have the patience to deal with her. She's old school and thinks that dogs should be kept outside. (Well, some dogs probably should be, but not mine!)

What about this idea: Right now, her crate is in the back of the house in dh's office. What if I move her crate to the corner of the living room where her dog bed is and put her bed inside? Then maybe she will be more likely to hang out in there. Of course, I don't want to have the giant crate in the living room all the time but I was thinking that once she gets used to it, I can move it back to dh's office.
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have u thought about medication? i have been using an herbal remedy for tyson and it helps a little. i am considering though talking to the vet about anxiety meds. i have heard good things about anixety meds being used at the same time as desensitizing techniques to help dogs get used to being alone without freaking out. i hope you find a solution, i cannot imagine how much damage a 120 pound dog can do, my 75 pound lab is big enough, LOL.
Just wanted to add that our late dog came to us with SA and we tried different things. We finally did try medication and she still was not okay. While on the meds she managed to bend the metal on the crate enough to get the door open and hurt herself in the process (not terribly bad).
What did help was her getting a buddy.
My understanding is that obedience training is helpful. -of course along with all the other great tips such as mentioned.

All the best of luck to you.

Originally Posted by TrinitysMama
What about this idea: Right now, her crate is in the back of the house in dh's office. What if I move her crate to the corner of the living room where her dog bed is and put her bed inside? Then maybe she will be more likely to hang out in there. Of course, I don't want to have the giant crate in the living room all the time but I was thinking that once she gets used to it, I can move it back to dh's office.
I would definatly do this, so she gets used to the crate being her little den that shes safe and comfy in. My dog likes going into her crate when its up and available, so long as she can **** be a part of the family action. She wont use it if its in a less-frequently used room. Dont force her into it in the beginning, just put her pillow in it, maybe a treat or toy. Dont make a big deal about her being in it....are you givving her a verbal command when you do have to crate her, like saying "kennel" or something?.....DOnt let anyone mess with her when shes in it....
Also WALK WALK WALK (liek for 30 minutes at least), especially before you have to crate her up! Get rid of some of that nervous energy so shes too tired to do anything destructive.

hah, I just remembered this - when I first got my dog and the crate, she didnt want to go in it so I crawled in and she was right on my heels to be with me. From then on, no problem. It was sure funny though, a 70+ pound shepherd and all 5 feet, 1 inch of me in a crate.
I got out when she got comfy though and havent gone back in since..... FWIW, she had seperation anxiety too and would be quite destructive until I started crating her when I left her. Worked like a charm. We were in an apartment then (still are...sigh...), so walks were very frequent.
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