Rescue Dog Separation Anxiety

Rescue Dog Separation AnxietyOnce you are your rescue dog's accepted Pack member (not necessarily accepted Pack leader), your dog may more readily feel Separation Anxiety upon your leaving than a non-rescue dog would normally feel.

Understandably: After feeling lonely if not left behind for some time, the dog finally found you or was found by you, grew attached, is now left alone again and so the dog must feel that (s)he may have been left behind again. Your dog can't know that this time it is different: You're simply off to work, or grocery shopping or whatever.

Be aware that Separation Anxiety has dog behavior, dog health, and dog care implications:

  • Dog behavior: For example, having a panic attack means your rescue dog may destroy house inventory without even wanting to! Thus scolding would be detrimental: your dog wants to behave well (if trained well) but a panic attack changes dog behavior as much as people behavior!
  • Dog health: For example, having a panic attack means your rescue dog feels enormously stressed, and if that's repetitive then the frequent stress will drastically impair your dog's health (at first the immune system and the integumentary system: more sick in general and skin issues in particular).
  • Dog care: For example, having panic attacks means that you will have to make your house extra dog-proof. Otherwise you would have to lock your dog away which never is a genuine solution - and here, it will worsen the Separation Anxiety!

So you see there is ample reason to avoid Separation Anxiety issues with your rescue dog from the outset. But what if this feeling of urgency comes too late and you are already facing a Separation Anxiety problem with your rescue dog?

With a rescue dog it is more important to steadily build up time of separation, progressively longer periods. Also, your dog will feel calmer (because less bored) when you provide his/her favorite SAFE toy before you leave. For this however you MUST first have checked your dog's play behavior with that toy and in general, because a dog with a panic attack (that's what Separation Anxiety is) might show his/her worst play behavior with his/her most favorite toy.

Similarly, even dogs that behave very well in the house while we are there, may become destructive when we are gone and they get a panic attack. It makes that a big difference, yes! Hence why Separation Anxiety has its own chapter in House Training Dogs To Behave Well f, and why there is a long list of points to consider before you leave your dog alone for more than a few minutes - too much for a succinct "decision tree" like this here.

You may also want to take a look at our relevant dog care remedies here (scroll down to "Separation Anxiety / Relaxation").

 

Note that every key point raised above you can find more comprehensively explained in other places on this website. The menu is your friend. Here, links have been omitted only to keep this decision tree straightforward.

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PLEASE NOTE: Posting a fragment of your overall dog problem in the comments below is not going to help. Provide complete details if you really seek the right solution. Of course we have a page for that as well: Dog Problem Consultation.

 

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?

GBP  

 

 

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  1.  

    Good evening, I just rescued a German Shepherd about a month ago. At first I did not have a crate or kennel and the very first day I left him alone for a couple of hours he unbolted the front door and left the house. He met me at the door that day and every time he gets outside. I placed him in the kitchen with a gate and he jumped over it or just just pushed it aside. Next I bought a metal crate and he immediately bent the bars and left the house. I have had 4 metal crates and one travel crate. He brakes and get out every single time. I placed him in my son's room and he of course gets out. I am at my wits end. I called a behaviorist and i have tried all (and still doing it) tricks and nothing. The vet prescribed him Prozac and it he is still doing it. And before I forget we go for a 3 to 4 mole walk at 4:30am every day. My 8 year old boy absolutely loves loves this dog who is so cute as he follows my boy everywhere. He was found as a stray so the rescue workers did not have any information but the first day I reached up to get something out of the counter and he flinched, cried, and ran away. So I am guessing he was abused and went through a lot. I do not want to give this dog back to the rescue because I believe he is a great dog with my son plus my nieces and nephews but I am at a lost I will not be able to keep if the complex starts to complain about him getting out. Sorry I forgot he also gets past all the child/dog proof locks. Just a super smart dog.. I will continue to read through your website but I am in desperate need of assistance.

    •  

      I understand you cannot know the rescue dog's age in this case, but a rough guess or a photo is indispensable, you must understand. The age IS relevant, yes. ALL of this is relevant. But in your case you cannot know.

      That you sought to address a behavior problem with a medicament is disturbing, that the vet prescribed Prozac is outrageous!

      An example will make the right solution clear. Take this example from a quick google search: "For five weeks in 2013, Lexi, who is now seven, took two tablets a day in some butter. She also underwent behaviour management therapy, which taught her to cope better with being separated from her owner. Ms Cook slowly built up the amount of time Lexi was left unattended for and now the dog is off the medication and able to better handle being home alone."

      That makes the entire "study" worthless, a joke! That is NO science, and she shouldn't get a Master degree for that garbage.

      "... She also underwent behaviour management therapy, which taught her to cope better with being separated from her owner. Ms Cook slowly built up the amount of time Lexi was left unattended for and now the dog is off the medication and able to better handle being home alone.. ..." - THIS is ALL she - and you - should have done. Addressing the BEHAVIOR. It works every time. Without any medicaments.

      You must know that German Shepherds are the breed that suffers most when left alone. Add to this that you have a RESCUE dog. Add to this that the dog is suffering a trauma from prior abuse. - What else needs to be said?

      Anyway, I do:
      1. Address the trauma
      2. Then desensitize the dog from feeling anxiety when left alone. Desensitization is a dog training tool, thus it is of course included in the Dog Training Toolkit.
      3. Then do full House Training. If you don't know how(?), it's covered in House Training Dogs To Behave Well.
      4. Then "slowly built up the amount of time the dog is left unattended for".

      Easy! AND: avoids locking the dog away - which makes his behavior problem worse.

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