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  1. #1
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Anxious poochie advice

    All you dog owners, what would you do in this scenario?

    My 4 year old Labradoodle (Fibber), that I've had for 2 months, has separation anxiety. Whether gone for 1/2 hour or gone to work for 9 hours, he barks like crazy. He hasn't chewed or defiled anything. He has always had the company of people and/or other dogs. He is walked daily. I've taken him to the beach with the MTB tearing up and down the beach for an hour prior to work to tire him out. I've tried brief alone times, gradually ramped up. I've tried homeopathic anxiety relief drops. He's a great dog who gets along with everything but squirrels. I'm not keen on getting another dog. I've communicated with the dog's previous [foster] owner and have her permission to return him if I so choose. Funds are limited (working 32 hours/wk) so doggy day care and other costly solutions are not feasible. Neighbors have mentioned that he sometimes barks for hours while I'm at work. He is supercharged when I get home and fetching is the only thing that brings him down to sanity...which takes 5-10 min of fetch. Should I just HTFU, or return him, or.....suggestions?
    Thanks Foo for reading my novel

  2. #2
    Your imaginary friend. fuzzbox's Avatar
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    Watch the dog whisperer or something. Or cut the vocal cords, just sayin.

    Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.

  3. #3
    Hillary 2016
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    A quick thing here... I'll try to remember to post more when I get back from work. Give your dog something to do while you are away. I personally liked hiding the bustercube filled with bill-jac liver treats around the house. It is noisy, so it isn't the best solution if you are in an apartment.

    Doggy daycare really is the best. I don't know if you can get in there once a week or something, but if you want to keep the dog, it might be worth sacrificing something to get it done.

    Here's a link to the bustercube... http://www.bustercube.com/

  4. #4
    Mystery Meat gitarzan's Avatar
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    Try caging him. Go to a pet store and get the smallest plastic cage that he can lay down in. He does not need a lot of space, just enough to lay. Place it so he cannot easily see out, face a wall or something.

    He may not like it at first, but soon it will become his cozy safe place. While humans think that it's terrible to be locked in a cage, dogs see it as their burrow or den. Soon, you'll go looking for him and find him sleeping in there voluntarily.

    http://www.sniksnak.com/doghealth/cratetraining.html


  5. #5
    Banned. ModoVincere's Avatar
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    I've heard of some people leaving a television on for the dogs. Apparently, the sound of people talking helps them with their anxiety. Might be worth a try.

  6. #6
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    A big no no when dealing with separation anxiety, is to get home to a hyper dog and let him our of his kennel right away. Especially going right into a fetch game.

    If you've been away from the house for only a short period of time, when you get home do NOT let out your dog right away. In fact, do not even acknowledge him until you're ready to let him out. Wait for 5 or 10 minutes after getting home before you let him out. When you do let him out, don't greet him enthusiastically. Wait for another 5 or 10 minutes before you ramp up his excitement level.

    If you've been away for a long time, let your dog go outside to do his business, then put him back in his kennel for 5 or 10 minutes before releasing him. When you let him out, don't greet him enthusiastically. Wait for another 5 or 10 minutes before you ramp up his excitement level.

    Also, continue his kennel training through the day. Include times when he's in the cage and you're outside. This will simulate being away from him. The more often you do this, the more he will come to realize that you will always come back, and that he's always safe in his kennel.

    A useful tool to monitor his progress is to set up a video camera during the day while your away.

    A bit of disclosure: I'm not an expert. However we were having similar problems with one of our Jack Russells. There is an excellent on-staff dog behaviourist at our dog training centre who gave us this advice. It worked really well. However it can take a couple of weeks before you see any small benefit, and even then it will be gradual. What ever method of changing you dog's behaviour you go with, be patient.

  7. #7
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    I re-read your original post. It looks like you're not currently using a kennel/crate. Run, don't walk, to your nearest pet store and pick one up. Many owners think it's cruel to keep your dog in a kennel while you're away from the house. It's not. A dog does not need the run of the house while you're away. It's only adding to his insecurities. There are also many great sites advising how to properly crate-train your dog. I would recommend reading them. Your kennel will likely also come with training instructions.

    A quick note on choosing the right size of kennel: it should be large enough for him to stand up, and turn around. However it should not be excessively big, which would allow him to deficate on one end and sleep on the other. If it's sized correctly, dogs will not use one end as their personal bathroom. Their natural tendancies is to go to the bathroom in areas where they don't sleep.

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    Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. 3 times a day if possible. Take him for a long walk first thing in the morning. Fetch, while exercise is not the same as a walk. Dogs have a primal drive to walk and hunt. Feed breakfast after walk. Then he rests. Do the same thing at night.

    The number one problem with dogs is they don't get enough exercise. They become hyper or slothful. Read Ceaser Milans books for more info.

  9. #9
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    I didn't want to make my original post too crazy long so here's more info building on the suggestions.
    Quote Originally Posted by fuzzbox View Post
    Watch the dog whisperer or something. Or cut the vocal cords, just sayin.
    Cutting his vocal cords has been suggested but that really wouldn’t eliminate the root problem. Plus, he actually has a neat deep “someone’s here besides the master” bark which is very different than his “separation” bark.

    I watched the Dog Whisperer’s 2nd season. His only relevant anti-anxiety tactic seems to be regular exercise which I have been doing. Oddly, The DW (Cesar Millan) demonstrated biking WHILE walking the dog (without a helmet no less). This seemed very dangerous to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillary 2016 View Post
    A quick thing here... I'll try to remember to post more when I get back from work. Give your dog something to do while you are away. I personally liked hiding the bustercube filled with bill-jac liver treats around the house. It is noisy, so it isn't the best solution if you are in an apartment.

    Doggy daycare really is the best. I don't know if you can get in there once a week or something, but if you want to keep the dog, it might be worth sacrificing something to get it done.

    Here's a link to the bustercube... http://www.bustercube.com/
    I’ll check out the Bustercubes. That’d be an easy fix but he couldn’t be kenneled then. Which tactic to try first? Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by ModoVincere View Post
    I've heard of some people leaving a television on for the dogs. Apparently, the sound of people talking helps them with their anxiety. Might be worth a try.
    I have tried leaving a radio (talk) on so he hears other voices. He cannot see the television where the cage/kennel is…I have a smallish house and putting the kennel near the tv isn’t feasible. Maybe the "All-Carpenters" station is in order.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfster View Post
    A big no no when dealing with separation anxiety, is to get home to a hyper dog and let him our of his kennel right away. Especially going right into a fetch game.

    If you've been away from the house for only a short period of time, when you get home do NOT let out your dog right away. In fact, do not even acknowledge him until you're ready to let him out. Wait for 5 or 10 minutes after getting home before you let him out. When you do let him out, don't greet him enthusiastically. Wait for another 5 or 10 minutes before you ramp up his excitement level.

    If you've been away for a long time, let your dog go outside to do his business, then put him back in his kennel for 5 or 10 minutes before releasing him. When you let him out, don't greet him enthusiastically. Wait for another 5 or 10 minutes before you ramp up his excitement level.

    Also, continue his kennel training through the day. Include times when he's in the cage and you're outside. This will simulate being away from him. The more often you do this, the more he will come to realize that you will always come back, and that he's always safe in his kennel.

    A useful tool to monitor his progress is to set up a video camera during the day while your away.

    A bit of disclosure: I'm not an expert. However we were having similar problems with one of our Jack Russells. There is an excellent on-staff dog behaviourist at our dog training centre who gave us this advice. It worked really well. However it can take a couple of weeks before you see any small benefit, and even then it will be gradual. What ever method of changing you dog's behaviour you go with, be patient.
    I did try caging him for three days after acclimating him to it for the three previous days (not locking him in). On the third day he tried to get out because he had a cut on the bridge of his nose and some fur worn off his elbow and hip area as if he was spinning around. And the cage was turned from where I had left it. It’s the right size, he can turn around and stand up. If anything it might be a tad too small. He’s a big dog…lab-size. Should the kennel be positioned so that he cannot see outside? I did have the kennel in my bedroom initially so he couldn’t see either. That’s where/when he injured himself in it. I’ll look into more kennel training.

    I tried ignoring him when getting home from work. He’d bark to the point that I couldn’t stand it and ended up putting on earmuffs. He has had piddling accidents due to this over-excitement which is largely why I gave up on that tactic. He scrambles for his nylabone or a ball and brings it to me in obvious effort to get me to play with him. I will revisit the ignoring tactic. I agree on the fetching…my bad, in effect rewarding him for his excitement. I attribute that to my own intolerance and simple desire to get him to stop with the frantic barking.

    Oh, and other than when I get home, he isn't much of a fetcher. A half-retriever? Go figure

    I’ll try multiple tactics suggested here. Thanks everyone!

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Our pupster is a rescue dog with bad separation issues we're still working through. During the day, she sleeps in her crate. As someone said, it becomes their safe place. ASCII loves her crate; she'll often drag her favourite toy in there and take a nap, even if we're both home.
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  11. #11
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
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    Another dog can help.

  12. #12
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Alfster is on to the right idea. A kennel would help a lot. There are ways to ensure they don't hurt themselves in the kennel if they start trying to get out. You can pad it with pillows or blankets or something until he gets used to the idea.

    Like CliftonGK1 said, they will get to think of it as their "safe place" after a while. My old lab, years ago, got to the point where he'd go in his kennel, on his own, just about every time I wasn't actively engaged with him in some way because he felt so safe in "his world".
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  13. #13
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Our pupster is a rescue dog with bad separation issues we're still working through. During the day, she sleeps in her crate. As someone said, it becomes their safe place. ASCII loves her crate; she'll often drag her favourite toy in there and take a nap, even if we're both home.
    Yes, I will try kenneling again but in a different location and after more acclimating time...assuming his psyche isn't scarred from the first experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Another dog can help.
    That would probably work but additional pets wouldn't be wise as I'm only working 32 hours/wk. I did think of adding a cat but that'd have to be one bombproof/tolerant cat. I was told by his previous owner that he's fine with cats. His previous [foster] owner has three other dogs and he never had this problem with her being gone for work.

  14. #14
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    Alfster is on to the right idea. A kennel would help a lot. There are ways to ensure they don't hurt themselves in the kennel if they start trying to get out. You can pad it with pillows or blankets or something until he gets used to the idea.

    Like CliftonGK1 said, they will get to think of it as their "safe place" after a while. My old lab, years ago, got to the point where he'd go in his kennel, on his own, just about every time I wasn't actively engaged with him in some way because he felt so safe in "his world".
    A padded cell and a white doggie jacket with straps in back

    Thanks, I'll see what I can do to pad the walls. Good idea

  15. #15
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    A padded cell and a white doggie jacket with straps in back

    Thanks, I'll see what I can do to pad the walls. Good idea
    LOL
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  16. #16
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Just be careful not to pad so thoroughly that no light comes in. You don't want him stuck in a "dark hole" the entire time.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  17. #17
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    Just be careful not to pad so thoroughly that no light comes in. You don't want him stuck in a "dark hole" the entire time.
    So don't stick the kennel under the computer desk then? Roger that...although it would be a great out of the way spot.

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    I reread your first post. Is it possible that your dog was given up for adoption because of his barking? If you cannot make the commitment to fix the problem, regretably, I think your best decision is to give the dog back to the original owner.

    My dog is a Jack Russell Terrier, a breed known for high energy and exercise requirements. Only exercise will calm her. She has two moods. Intense activity and sloth. You CAN fix the problem. Consider a consultation from your local humane society. They usually have knowledgable dog owners who will do anything to prevent another unwanted dog.

    Good luck.

    Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. (works with children as well).

  19. #19
    Mrs. DataJunkie Luddite's Avatar
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    Firstly: You've only had the dog 2 months, how many other homes has he been in? My dog was abandoned at the SPCA twice and was rotting there for 6 months and was only a year and a half old when I got him. He would flip out about stuff at first (who could blame him?) and still hates being tied up outside stores etc.

    However, to curb the anxiety, don't make a big production about leaving the house. Do not look at, touch, talk to the dog. Do not say goodbye, it's gonna be ok etc. In fact, never tell a spazzing dog "It's ok" as they think that means "oh, it's ok to freak out, gotcha."

    Try leaving for short amounts of time, like 1 minute, 2 minutes etc. Do not make noise when you're outside. Try to desensitize the dog to your coming and going. When you come home, ignore the dog completely, even if the dog is overjoyed to see you, for I dunno, 10 minutes so the dog forgets you just came home. Make sure everyone in your family does exactly the same thing.

    Finally, be patient, dog has only been with ya 2 months.

  20. #20
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    However, to curb the anxiety, don't make a big production about leaving the house. Do not look at, touch, talk to the dog. Do not say goodbye, it's gonna be ok etc. In fact, never tell a spazzing dog "It's ok" as they think that means "oh, it's ok to freak out, gotcha."
    Very good point here.

    Remember to your poochie, you are the alpha dog of the pack. Dogs are still instinctively pack animals and you are lead dog. Don't make a production out of leaving at all. The lead dog just goes when he needs to go. It works better for how dog's brains are wired.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  21. #21
    Mrs. DataJunkie Luddite's Avatar
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    Ayep. I'm old school, no dogs on the bed etc. My dog has his own special bed. Sometimes if there;s a bad thunderstorm we cower together on my bed though...neither one of us likes loud storms. Neurotic owner = neurotic dog.

    However, just to blow holes in my theory, I came home after my ride yesterday, dog was giving me the hairy eyeball "I need to go potty" so I let him out in the yard. He began burnin' rubber all over the yard, tongue hanging out, enjoying being outside. I've had my bonehead dog for nearly 8 years so he's not going to become a spazz about me leaving just because of stuff like that. However, every time I've moved, he's put up a fuss for a couple of weeks (new environment.) he did it here too. Howling and stuff. People upstairs heard him doing it (argh) eventually, he got used to the place and quit doing that. Plus he gets to sneak upstairs and see their kids.

  22. #22
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Fibber’s history:
    He’s had three homes. Breeder (home #1) is the boyfriend of the woman [and foster owner (home #3)] I got him from. The breeder has a female lab (Fibber’s ma).

    The original buyer (home #2) was a couple described to me by said foster mom as “He is a dried up drunk, and his SO isn’t much better”. I take this to mean that he was abused verbally although he showed no signs of physical abuse. (A quickly raised hand does not induce a wince)

    He was returned for the usual BS reasons. He has never been in a shelter. The foster mom didn’t want to see him end up there where his future might have involved the needle.

    Quote Originally Posted by spikedog123 View Post
    Is it possible that your dog was given up for adoption because of his barking? If you cannot make the commitment to fix the problem, regretably, I think your best decision is to give the dog back to the original owner.
    You CAN fix the problem. Consider a consultation from your local humane society. They usually have knowledgeable dog owners who will do anything to prevent another unwanted dog.

    Good luck.

    Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. (works with children as well).
    I'll try to motivate myself to walk him after work in addition to prior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    Firstly: You've only had the dog 2 months, how many other homes has he been in? My dog was abandoned at the SPCA twice and was rotting there for 6 months and was only a year and a half old when I got him. He would flip out about stuff at first (who could blame him?) and still hates being tied up outside stores etc.

    However, to curb the anxiety, don't make a big production about leaving the house. Do not look at, touch, talk to the dog. Do not say goodbye, it's gonna be ok etc. In fact, never tell a spazzing dog "It's ok" as they think that means "oh, it's ok to freak out, gotcha."

    Try leaving for short amounts of time, like 1 minute, 2 minutes etc. Do not make noise when you're outside. Try to desensitize the dog to your coming and going. When you come home, ignore the dog completely, even if the dog is overjoyed to see you, for I dunno, 10 minutes so the dog forgets you just came home. Make sure everyone in your family does exactly the same thing.

    Finally, be patient, dog has only been with ya 2 months.
    Yes, 2 months isn’t very long. It just seems long when I get greeted this way upon returning from work. Luddite, your Juneau is a beauty and very lucky dog to have you. It's more about me training myself. I was spoiled with my previous dog (from animal shelter)...as I drove him home from the shelter he layed his head in my lap. Awww, what a ham!

    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    Ayep. I'm old school, no dogs on the bed etc. My dog has his own special bed. Sometimes if there;s a bad thunderstorm we cower together on my bed though...neither one of us likes loud storms. Neurotic owner = neurotic dog.

    However, just to blow holes in my theory, I came home after my ride yesterday, dog was giving me the hairy eyeball "I need to go potty" so I let him out in the yard. He began burnin' rubber all over the yard, tongue hanging out, enjoying being outside. I've had my bonehead dog for nearly 8 years so he's not going to become a spazz about me leaving just because of stuff like that. However, every time I've moved, he's put up a fuss for a couple of weeks (new environment.) he did it here too. Howling and stuff. People upstairs heard him doing it (argh) eventually, he got used to the place and quit doing that. Plus he gets to sneak upstairs and see their kids.
    Is that like the ol' stink eye?

  23. #23
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    One other complication with the kenneling that I forgot to mention.
    On the three days that I did try kenneling him, he got very dehydrated because of all the barking. He must have drank a half gallon of water when I let him out.

  24. #24
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    One other complication with the kenneling that I forgot to mention.
    On the three days that I did try kenneling him, he got very dehydrated because of all the barking. He must have drank a half gallon of water when I let him out.
    Many kennels have attachments to allow special bowls to be attached inside for water without tipping. If there isn't anything like that, you could put a small bowl of water and find a way to attach such that it won't tip over.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  25. #25
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    When 1st crate training, your goal shouldn't be to get your dog to stay in the crate. Instead, leave the crate open and put a treat in it when your dog is watching. Once he retreives it and comes back out, do it over again. Once he no longer shows hesitation getting into the crate, put the treat in and close the door slightly once he gets in, not entirely though. Try feeding him a treat through the partially closed door. It's a slow process, but it will eventually work.

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