Dog Training World Forums Behavior Problems Dog Anxiety severe separation anxiety Re: severe separation anxiety

  • Teresa Stanczak

    July 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm


    Kudos to you for being so very dedicated to your dog. Seperation anxiety can be very taxing and frustrating, also very sad for the dog.

    It sounds like you have worked on many of the suggestions for seperation anxiety. When you mentioned you are having trouble with the triangle , is it trouble understanding the triangle or viewing it?

    Here is a breakdown of troubleshooting the triangle:

    1)Knowledge- understanding your dogs behavior and what is normal.– Did she have any anxiety/ separation anxiety when you aquired her at 2 years of age? do you know anything of her history?

    2)Health- does she have any health problems?

    3)Attitude- never correct her for any of these behaviors. Losing your temper and correcting her or yelling at her can add to the anxiety.

    4) Golden Rules (Timing, motivation and consistency) Timing is especially important. Dogs associate things rather immediately. 1.3 sec is the time frame for associating cause and effect between two events. Not understanding this concept can cause miscommunication between you and your dog and create further anxiety.

    5)Pack Structure – Following rules for Petting, going out, Toys, Bones and chew toys, feeding, and furniture as outlined in layer 5 are essential to creating solid leadership and creating a predictable environment for your dog. Poor Petting rules especially can create or worsen seperation anxiety. Dogs who are touched or pet constantly usually have the worst cases of seperation anxiety.

    6)restless spirit- give an outlet for pent up energy

    7)housebreaking- is she reliable in the house with you present (ie no destructive behavior or peeing and pooping in the house)

    8)Anxiety- desensitizing and counter-conditioning her to your departure (ie graduated leaving exercises), no emotional hellos and goodbyes, using kong toy or other puzzle toy in crate a few minutes prior to your departure. It sounds like you have doing a lot of this.

    Is she comfortable going in the crate when you are home? If not, teach her to go in her crate on command. You can even use the clicker for this. Click and treat for any forward movement toward the crate and then gradually reward for being in the crate with the door open and then with the door closed. Also reward for any relaxed behaviors such as taking a deep breath or muscle relaxation.
    There is a product called a Manners Minder which is a remote control food dispenser , this can be helpful in delivering treats when you walk out of the room and remain there for gradually longer periods of time.

    Following through on all of these sections will help create a stable and predictable environment and help to alleviate some anxiety.
    Some dogs do have a generalized anxiety.

    I have recently heard of L-theanine (which is an amino acid) used to treat anxiety with some success.

    I would recommend troubleshooting all of the above information and looking for forward progress. None of these solutions will offer an overnight fix as I am sure you are aware. Stay positive and keep us updated with any further questions and progress updates.

    As an aside:

    In one extreme case of a dog who had generalized anxiety(even as a 8 week old puppy the dog could not relax enough to sleep soundly) and severe separation anxiety (broke out of multiple crates, tore apart the house, emptied contents of cabinets and refrigerators) we used megesterol acetate (a hormone) she was weaned on then off of the drug with no side effect, and her anxiety was greatly diminished to the point that she could be kept without a crate and cause no damage. She was also able to sleep soundly for the first time in her 6 years of life.
    This drug is no longer used in the veterinary community, and would be difficult to have you be prescribed it. This owners veterinarian prescribed it only with a waiver because it was a last attempt prior to euthanasia. Strong medications or medications that could potentially cause side effects should be used as a last resort and only after exercising and exhausting all options.