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 Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!

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Alucard
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Join date : 2013-02-07
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PostSubject: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:44 pm

I recently adopted a 4 year old husky mix. She's mostly Siberian Husky, with just a little German Shepherd so we think.

This dog is fairly tame, obeys commands, seems to be eager to please, does pretty well in general with just a few occasional slip ups.
The big exception is when it comes to me leaving. She hates it. If someone else is with her she usually just whines, but if I leave her alone alone, for any length of time, as soon as the door shuts immediately she starts SCREAMING. I don't mean whining, yelping, or yodeling, i mean literally screaming to the point you can't hear yourself think.

I am not an experienced dog owner, nor am I experienced with huskies. I was looking for a dog at my local animal shelter. I saw her and ended up falling in love with her because she was much sweeter than any other dog we met that day. It seemed more that she picked me out than me picking her.
A little background: she was at the shelter a year before we got her, and before that she was surrendered by an elderly owner that simply could not care for her anymore because of health issues. She is very heavily dependent on me since I have gotten her home (I assume due to the year in the shelter). She seems to still be very fearful of the slightest thing, though she is much improved since we brought her home. For example, when she came home she was slinking around, tail between legs and ears down with bloodshot eyes, and lowered head. She didn't obey commands and seemed lethargic. Now she is bright with tail wagging, mouth open and panting, ears up and alert, and seems in general much happier than when we brought her home from the shelter, and obeys commands well. She sleeps overnight in the house just fine, with me in one room and her in the other - she doesn't seem to mind me being away from her in a situation where she can still hear me wherever I'm at.

I've tried leaving for varying lengths of time, desensitizing my cues (getting her used to the keys, the coat, etc without me leaving), kennel training, and I've tried ignoring 10 minutes before leaving and upon returning. None of these methods seem to work - she just starts screaming as soon as she realizes I'm leaving her alone. When I return, she starts up the screaming again as soon as I am within earshot.
One thing that kinda helps is when she screams as I am returning home, I will stay in the kitchen and not enter where she is until she quiets down. If she starts screaming when I enter I will go back into the kitchen until she quiets down again.
This only really works to get her quiet quicker, but isn't really helping the underlying problem. I wouldn't mind if she made some small noise, but the screaming is so loud that it literally gives you a headache and earache. You can't even hear yourself think let alone hear anyone else in the room. The command "hush" or "quiet" does not help because she just screams over the top of it. I'm not even sure she can hear me say it. I don't want to yell it to her either, because I don't want to make her more fearful/upset.

Is this separation anxiety or another problem? Anyone ever had this problem and found a way to help your dog? When I start work, leaving will be a regular thing for me. I want her to understand she can be safe and secure while I'm away, and that I have a right to come and go as I please - with or without her.

Also - she doesn't do anything else that I can tell except for urinating in her kennel, and I don't know if that's even related to the "anxiety" or not. She doesn't urinate in the house when someone else is there with her if I leave - so I don't know. Also, I cannot afford pet sitters or boarding (unless you can find me a daily sitter who works for peanuts)

Thanks in advance for any help/advice!!

P.S. Please don't be rude or unkind, I am new at this and trying to do all the right things, and I wouldn't even be asking these questions if I weren't trying to do my best for my doggy. Be constructive in your criticism if you have any and thank you for reading.
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uelrindru
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:20 am

You can try leaving her in the crate for awhile when she can see you which might help. Does she have anything in the crate to keep her occupied while you're away? Finding some good sturdy toys you can leave in with her to play with might help a bit too. The only other thing I can say is try leaving for five minutes or so and gradually increase the time you are away. Bella used to cry and howl whenever I left but after a few times of having to put her in the kennel and ferry stuff from my car to the apartment or vis versa she just kinda got out of it.
Also, as a rescue she's WAY more likely to have seperation anxiety for awhile, her first owner dissappeared and she's afraid you will too. Give it time.
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ljelgin
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:11 am

First Thanks for rescuing her. She is a pretty girl.

Have you exercised her before you leave. Take her for a mile or two walk before you go. Sounds like she need something to do bones, Kongs in the kennel when you leave. Also fix her some Kongs with frozen goodies when you leave.

I do think she is have separation anxiety my girl did some when we first got her she was 2 years old and we got her from a shelter they had no idea of her past.

I am sure others will chime in with some other advice.
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Motoxd3
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:27 pm

My adopted 2 year old Siberian husky did the same, he eventually started scratching the door and messing Inn The house. We are his 3 home so our thought is that every time we left home he felt abandoned again.
We tried the kennel, it made it worse he one thing that helped was he thundershirt. It seems to mellow him out and he doesn't howl and hasn't mesed in the house since. We do leave the kennel open when we leave and he sits inside it and waits for us to come home.
As soon as I get home he looks at me and the second that shirt comes off ge is his crazy hyper self.
Hope this helps you
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uelrindru
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:21 pm

Another good thing to do is make sure you're not worried or sad when you leave. Dogs pick up on that and it will make it worse. If you're calm or even happy when you leave it will help her not freak out that you're leaving. And when you cmoe home be calm, leave her in the crate for a bit but be in the same room so she doesn't associate being in the crate with you being gone.
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Wildkatt87
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:30 am

you are lucky she stops at all. my dog doesnt even stop when im not home. She will cry for hours on end to the point that she makes herself pass out.
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eander83
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:44 am

Have you tried making leaving a postive experience for her? Give her a treat (chicken jerky or big crunchy dog cookies) that takes awhile for her to eat and slip out the door. Eventually she SHOULD (notice I'm not saying will) see that you leaving equals treats and be less negative for her and eventually quiet down.
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alexa&joe001
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:09 pm

Sounds like the definition of separation anxiety..My dog has separation anxiety as well & she poops in her crate when we leave her in it so we just gave in n stopped crating her, so whenever we leave we "puppy proof" our house so she's not destructive & she's pretty good now & eventually got used to us coming & going. I have found that plenty of exercise DOES help. Before you leave (if you have the time) make sure she gets a few hours of exercise, take her on a long walk/jog. Tire her out! Huskies need at least 3-4 hours each day. When you leave, maybe put her crate by the tv & leave the tv or radio on for her. Leave lights on & she'll have the impression that you're near by. Like someone mentioned before, positive experiences are essential! She will adjust! Smile she really doesn't have a choice. If it becomes a bad habit, i would suggest taking her to a professional trainer or something!

& you'll find that everyone in this community here is friendly and supportive of any question being asked! Rudeness is impossible here. Smile welcome to the forum! & good luck to your fur baby!
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Ghost
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:27 pm

First of all thank you for adopting her! She's very pretty and sounds like a lovely dog, Unfortunately separation anxiety is much more common in dogs that have been rehomed, I guess for obvious reasons (they have already lost one person they cared about). It can be resolved and it sounds like you are doing all the right things, it's just that it takes time.

Just so you know, you will solve it much more quickly if you're able to not leave her alone for so long that she gets upset. I know that's probably not feasible.

The way to solve it is with gradual departure exercises and to begin with you might literally just leave for a second and come straight back in (before she's had chance to get upset). And then very gradually build up the time that you are gone for - from a second to a few seconds to a minute, then a couple of minutes, and so on. You can do this lots of times in a day.

Leaving a radio or the TV on can help, especially if you use it as a signal that you won't be gone for long. In Jean Donaldson's book The Culture Clash, she suggests that you leave the radio on only when you won't be gone for a long time. Then it will be reassuring to the dog because she will learn that it means you will be back soon. If you have to be gone for a long time, then Donaldson suggests not leaving it on because it would break the positive association with it meaning you're only gone a short time.

The ideas other people have mentioned - like exercise before and a kong or other toy - are really good suggestions. You could stuff the Kong with goodies and only give it to her when you are going out. It will give her something to do and something positive to associate with your departure.
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Alucard
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:49 pm

I really appreciate all your suggestions. I will try these and let you know if something works.

Thank you all so much for your helpful input and well wishes.

She is coming along pretty well so far, she is not as loud when she vocalizes. I have faith that we will get there together! Smile

God bless!
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LoveMyBrat
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PostSubject: Re: Is it Separation Anxiety? What to do!   Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:43 pm

I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on this post. It makes me feel a bit better knowing that others have experienced similar issues but also handled them in ways similar to the way i have.

I've had similar issues with thor - we are his 4th owners and he is only 3 years old (although that baffles me because he really is a fantastic dog). Thor is crate trained, but he doesn't like it and will howl. He is much better at dealing with us being away when he can look out the window. So although i don't want him on furniture, (couches and beds are okay when given permission), i let him go on the side table because it calms him down alot. I have had issues with him defecating and urinating in the basement but for the most part he has stopped defecating. i think that will gradually improve. He can get a little mischievous, so we make sure to dog proof the house as best as we can (he sometimes gets creative and impressive) but for the most part he is really good. It definitely helps going on atleast a 2 mile walk before leaving (although if you do a long walk or jog i would recommend hanging out at home for a little while until they settle in just because they get excited from all of that exercise and it has made it worse in my experience). Slowly but surely it gets better. A combination of knowing the routine, knowing they are HOME, and age will definitely help.
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