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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Need Advice on Separation Anxiety

I have been making a lot of progress with Lola, who is almost 5 months old now. She accepts pets from most strangers, I've worked up to leaving her alone confined in the kitchen for up to 3 hours and she doesn't bark/whine [at least not that I know of], most of the time she doesn't pee when left alone, but occasionally will go on a potty pad.

I tried leaving her alone with my parents for a few hours while I went out to dinner and things did not go so well. My mom said she was very stressed, as she paced, whined and looked around for me and she peed in the house 3 times and pooped once. She has only pooped in the house one other time since we got her when I left her alone with DH for the weekend. She refused to go outside with my mom to potty & wouldn't let her put her leash on. Usually she loves my parents dog, but my mom said she didn't even want to play with him. My mom is a dog lover and good with animals and said she felt so bad for poor little Lola because there was nothing she could do to make her happy.

I thought she was ready to be alone with my parents because it was the 3rd time we'd spent the weekend there and she let my mom & dad pet her and seemed to recognize them, she also wags her tail and seems excited to be there. But I guess it was too much too soon....I was gone for about 4 hours. In hindsight I should have tried leaving for 20-30 min or so at first.

So my question is how do I deal with her separation anxiety? I didn't realize it was so bad because she seems to be ok when left alone in my house and she did ok when DH watched her when I was out of town for the weekend. I want to be able leave her with my parents or brother-in-law if my husband & I want to go on a weekend trip or on vacation in the future. At this point, I don't even think I'd be able to take her to the groomer without her freaking out.

After this weekend, I think that part of her potty-training issues are due to her separation anxiety. She seems to pee when DH is watching her when I go into another room that is gated off so she can't follow me. When she's on my watch she is pretty good with the potty training. Even at my parents house she is good until I leave the room & DH is watching her. I thought it was because he doesn't read her signals as well as I do, but now I think it could be because she's stressed that I'm not around.

My thought is to try leaving her with my parents again & maybe my brother-in-law, but only for 20 min or so, then work up to an hour and so on. I think I should approach is similarly to how I worked up to leaving her alone in my own house.....in slow increments a few times a day. Lola loves other doggies, so maybe I could try one of those cage-free, fun daycare places?

Sorry this is so long! I appreciate any advice anyone has to offer!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 12:12 PM
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Oy, I have a 2 1/2 year old Lola who is still having SA issues, despite months of training, medications, etc. Do a search on here for Separation Anxiety and you will find excellent advice. Also, visit dogstardaily.com for their advice. It is difficult to know if it is SA, as if she is OK home alone. But you could do that same approach with your parents or others. And with your DH.

It is not unusual for your dog to pace about and whine and stare at the door in your absence. See "mellowbo" opera star Gabby thread. Lola lies right next to the door when I am gone. Leaving yummy treats and even dinner sitting across the room until I return.

The improper elimination is a classic signal of SA, especially for dogs that are not chewers or barkers. Which describes my Lola to a "t". For the first year I thought it was a potty training issue so I did not deal with it properly, and I am still feeling the pain. My next move is to work with a behaviorist. As the meds did not help and I must be doing the training wrong.

Good luck. We love our Lolas and don't want them to be stressed!

---Little Lola a.k.a. Princess Pee and Poop and her humom Anne

"Happiness is a warm puppy" Charles Schultz

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 01:06 PM
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I had this exact same problem with Piper (your Lola's face looks so much like Piper!) She would go crazy if I left her at my parents to the point that they were worried she was traumatized. She loves my parents so I couldn't understand why she was better home alone than left with them.
I did exactly what you were thinking-left her for a few minutes and built up slowly. I would also walk around with my keys or purse but not actually leave. Or go outside and come right back in. I also did not acknowlege her when I would get back until she calmed down. It was so hard because I just wanted to pick her up and tell her it was ok but I just ignored her until she stopped crying and whining. It was a lot of work, it took all summer of slowly extending the time. She's still not perfect but I can leave her there for a few hours without worrying so much.

Julie, Piper and Riley

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. ~Edith Wharton
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 01:26 PM
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can your parents come to your house? maybe take him to your parents house, walk out the door, come back in a few minutes later, repeat. SA is so hard, our dog had it a few years ago, he is over it for the most part but still gets very stressed when we take him to someones house and leave him behind. we have found he's in a much better place when someone is at home with him. he's in a familiar surrounding and its much better for him.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips everyone. I'm hoping that because she is still young I can work through this issue. Do your dogs with SA do ok at the groomer? After this weekend I'm worried about how she'll handle her first trip to the groomer....I wanted to take her soon.

Anne -- I was also unsure if it was SA or not because Lola does fine alone in our house. But I guess she's just comfortable here now and my parents place is still new to her. I keep thinking we have a potty training issue too....but when I really think about it, she hardly messes in the house when I'm around. She seems to have accidents mostly when I'm gone or out of the room. Good luck with your Lola too

Julie -- It's nice to hear you had a similar issue with Piper and was able to work through it. That gives me hope! I'm willing to put in whatever time it will take to make her feel comfortable there. I feel bad for my poor parents though who have to deal with her potty messes during these lessons.

Littlebuddy -- My parents live about an hour away, so I want to be able to leave her there if we go on vacation. We also spend a lot of weekends visiting my parents, so I want to her to feel comfortable there and with them. The only people I really trust to watch her when we're out of town would be my parents or my brother in law. My BIL would be able to come to our place so I'll work on him coming over and watching her for short amounts of time too. We tried it once but only left for 5 minutes and he said Lola did ok.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 11:32 PM
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Do a search on "Separation Anxiety" there is so much to read on the forum about it that can really help you.

My Casper was one of the worst with separation anxiety there was and he is three now and doesn't mind me leaving at all...I did end up getting another dog, but it didn't even help him at first.

I think they kind of grow out of it...one thing that helped me with Casper leaving him home alone was leaving him with a filled Kong of his favorite food.

Doing if often for short periods of time really helps, but it takes time.

Last edited by Lynn; 11-18-2009 at 08:47 PM.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2009, 08:22 AM
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You have gotton good advice here and I hope Lola gets better with SA.

I however would like to say that sometimes even all the training, consistency may not work and the furball may have continued SA. My Lizzie is really bad with SA. I trained and socialized her exactly like I did Benji. He was very good, never had any issues with SA. But Lizzie never got better with her SA issues. I can't leave her alone in the house as she gets into panic attacks. I have to take them both out together everywhere. It is not always convenient but it can't be helped and I hate to see her in distress.

Best, Poornima
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Lola is still having issues with SA. I worked on leaving her alone with my parents, increasing the increments of time as mentioned above. She did much better after a few
"sessions" and my mom said she finally relaxed and played with their dog and my mom was even able to walk her outside to pee [off leash]. She still looked around for me and whined a little, but it was a big improvement from the first time I left her there.

Now I'm dealing with leaving her alone in my house again. I thought she was fine because every time I left & came home she was quiet. Well, I have a new neighbor in my condo building who told me that she barks for an hour straight when I leave. Thank goodness the neighbor is nice about it - she said she's raised many puppies and understands. Phew. But, now I feel like I'm back at square one because I thought she was ok with this. I should probably get a tape recorder to see just how long she barks for because she is quiet 99% of the times I get home. I just started an obedience class with this AMAZING trainer and he said he'd help me work through it after classes.....so hopefully he'll have some insight after our class tonight.

For those of you who've had similar SA issues.....how long did it take to get better? Did they eventually grow out of it or get used to being alone? I know part of the problem is that I work from home so I spend a lot of time with Lola.

Oh and the potty training has been going GREAT lately [knock on wood]....so she just exhibits signs of SA with barking/being stressed out and she's not eliminating in the house anymore.

I do the whole tv on, kong filled with treats, leave a t-shirt of mine to comfort her, say the same phrase every time I leave and its just not working
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 08:30 PM
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Oh, Susie, I feel your pain. I have not conquered this yet (been at it for nearly a year). But I was able to stop the barking. I did it by training Lola not to bark. I live in a condo, so it was critical.

I did the leave for seconds, return, then minutes, return, over and over. The thing was, I would wait down the hall until she started barking, then I would wait for a break in the barking and come back in then with a reward. I also trained her to not bark when I am at home, by isolating her in another room until she would start whining and barking and then rewarding the not barking moments. And I added in a glass jar with 10 coins in it and when she would bark at the doorbell or someone walking by in the hall, I would shake it loudly to startle her and distract her from barking. I alsways said a loud "ack" which is our "no". I spent a weekend coming and going focused on the barking and was able to get her over it in that weekend. Now she just pees on the floor when I leave.

Give that a try. If you can get over the barking at least your neighbors won't freak. It may be that your neighbor understands, but she should not have to tolerate that hour of barking. That is not in your condo rules...

And maybe the effort will pay off on the SA as a whole.

I have continued the same work on leaving and returning for longer periods of training periods of three and four days on end. And it hasn't helped at all. I can get her to remain calm and passive when I leave, but within 15 minutes she will get up and freak out a bit and then pee or poop. And no amount of restriction helps that behavior. She did it in her expen and in her crate. Panicked elimination.

It takes a lot of effort. Worth it to have happy neighbors. I just wish I could guarantee you a happy puppy!

---Little Lola a.k.a. Princess Pee and Poop and her humom Anne

"Happiness is a warm puppy" Charles Schultz

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 08:54 PM
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Susie,
I always want to help everyone that has this problem because Casper was so hard to handle with his SA. I did go to the vet and talk with her and we decide to put him on doggie prozac for a period of time and I did get another dog for companionship.

Dogs like to be with other dogs when home alone....it is a big decision to add another dog and maybe not an option for you at this time, but you might think about it.

Casper and Missy really show no SA issues now, I do always leave them with a filled Kong. They spend 4-6 hrs home alone M-F, most of the time. I home alittle more in the winter months.
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