Hi All, I'm sorely needing some advice because I'm just about out of ideas. I have had a 2.5 yr old cocker spaniel for four weeks. I'm her 3rd owner so understandably, she's nervous and not very secure. When we leave her (even if it's just for a couple of hours), she always pees and/or poos on the covered balcony that we keep her on when we are out even if she has cleared out her bowels right before we leave. I always take her down into the garden where she does her business. She does it right by the door, and I know this is a symptom of separation anxiety. She has plenty of water, a huge area to run in, and all her chew toys I wash down the area and even clean it with bleach, and have tried anti-pet spray but she still does it. I think to tell me she's not pleased to be left alone. If any of you have been through this or have any advice, I would really appreciate it. Otherwise, she's a great dog, if rather clingy. Maybe I'm just doomed to continually clean up dog doo doo! Thanks, Jan
Jan I would get her a crate. She will feel more secure in the crate when you are not there. One of mine will tear the house up if I am not home. I got him a crate and we have no more problems with it. She probably feels very alone and very scared when she knows she is all alone. A crate will help her feel like it is her own little space that is secure.
i agree, crate her. my dog was from a puppy mill and then in a pet store and some crazy lady's house (where she spent all her time in a crate) so she is terrified of being in a confined area with metal bars. i dont know what your pup's history is but if this is the case, get him a soft sided crate (i use a sherpa carrying case) and she treats it like my other dog does her crate.
I went through the same problem with a puppy I found. I learned that someone in my building had found her and taken her in for some time and then dumped her back on the street. So, I provided her with her third home in a short period of time. She was a bright puppy and was housebroken in less than a week. She never went on the floor when I was home. But if I left, even to take out the trash, she would freak out and empty her body. Your dog isn't trying to show disapproval of your leaving; she's not being passive-aggressive. She's just afraid and with good reason--nobody else has kept her. I never found a quick fix for the problem, but over time, as my dog grew increasingly secure with her new home, the problem started to go away. At first she learned that if I had a trash bag in my hand, I would be right back. Then we moved up to learning that a laundry basket meant I'd only be gone a few minutes. The process was long (and a crate didn't work for my dog, but it's worth a shot). However, now the dog is very secure and confident and is a wonderful companion. And she was worth every second of that cleaning.
Thank you everyone, I do appreciate it. I really love that dog but I don't know how to make her feel more secure and that makes me feel rather alone and sad. None of my friends here are really aware of how to take care of dogs either. I am unfamiliar with crates because I don't think anyone uses them in Singapore (where I am). I will look online for more information about it. The only problem I foresee with crating her is that I am at work during the day, and though we have a helper coming in at lunch to take her down to the garden and let her run around the house for a couple of hours, I would hate to have her in a confined space for 4 - 5 hours at a time. Any opinions on this?
She's old enough to handle four to five hours. Keep in mind that many dogs sleep in their crates at night while their owners are in bed. Also, given that she's so unhappy while you're gone now, using a crate will not be preventing her from having fun, hang out in the living room time. And when she develops confidence and a sense of security, you won't have to keep her in the crate during the day. Eventually, you'll be able to keep the door to the crate open, and she'll be able to enter and to leave it as she pleases.
Okay now need more crate advice. What kind of crates have you guys chosen? How do you introduce the crate to your dog? Do they feel like they are being caged? I can just foresee her clawing at the grill and trying to get out. When we put her on the balcony she always jumps on the door to try to get it and sometimes whines and barks her small bark (she has a different "don't come near me" bark for strangers). Sorry but it's just such a foreign concept to me and I know absolutely nothing about crating.
In all the years I've been a pet owner, I never had a dog with seperation anxiety, that was until Angel. The timing of my vacation, then return to work was difficult for her to understand. She came in while I was off for a month and went everywhere with me. Then I was leaving her alone for 4 hours, coming home for an hor, then leaving again for another 4 hours. I received some great advise along the way that you may find helpful. The crate should be tall enough for the dog to stand up in and wide and long enough to turn around in and lie down comfortably. Too large and they won;t associate it with their "den" and will soil it. They don't like to foul their sleeping area. You must make sure she has water available to her at all times. Since you are feeding her before work and before she goes out in the mornings and again in the evenings, she will not starve in the crate. It isn't necessary to give her food in the crate, but do give her some toys to play with. 1) Never make a big fuss when you leave or return. Have her crate, then go about your routine before work. Making a fuss of it only creates more confusion for the dog as in, welll SHE'S all excited about the whole thing...I guess I should be too! 2) Crate your dog (inside the home, not on the balcony) BEFORE you leave and keep her there after you return home *start with 5 minutes work up to about 20 minutes before you leave and after your return so she won't think of the seperation as a big thing. When you get home, start dinner, read the mail, whatever, but simply ignore her. Sounds cruel, but it helps her understand that being in the crate is no big deal. 3) Leave the tv or radio on soflty for "company" 4) Leave one of your tee-shirts or pj tops with your scent in there for her (be ready to sacrafice it though as a "chewie" 5) Butler's Doggie Anti-Anxiety pheremones (tablets or aresol plug-in) sometimes helps with dogs who are still having a difficult time adjusting. I had to use it for about 2 weeks (plug in) for Angel, keeping it close to her crate. Hope some of this helps. I had to work at it for 2 weeks before Angel got it down and has never had a problem since. You are trying to "undo" what's gone on before and it's going to take a lot of time and patience and remember, "this too shall pass"!
Jan, I had a dog given to me several years ago. She had been passed around from several different homes. By the time I got her she was suffering from separation anxiety , which I didn't know. She destroyed my home. She actually scratched her way through a door putting a big hole in it , ripped up curtains and jumped out of a two story window twice (she tore the screen apart to get out) in one day. Is this balcony you are putting your dog on high? Can she get through or over the bars? Please make sure she can't. I crated my dog, thinking this would solve the problem. She would have panic attacks (I guess that's what I'd call them)in the crate. She would drool so much and just freak out in the crate, that it was a disgusting slimmey huge mess everyday. She actually pawed and scratched at the metal bars so much that she ripped the cage apart and cut her paws and injured herself. I tried keeping her in my fenced in back yard. She would dig out under the fence and run the neighborhood, ending up at the same house several times. They had children and were home all day. She wanted to be with people. I tried to put her on a lead in the back yard to keep her inside the fence. She would tangle herself all up everyday and the neighbors would call me and say your dog is all stuck again. (I had to work and this was becoming a huge problem). I didn't know anything about separation anxiety at the time and not much about dogs in general. I ended up having to give her away (poor dog, passed around again). I advertised her in the paper, telling the truth about her problem. A family contacted me and wanted her. The woman was familiar with this problem in dogs and was willing to deal with it. She was also home alot more than I was. She wanted a border collie and my dog was a border mix. Besides her problem with this separation anxiety, she was a fantastic dog. Cute, smart, sweet, lovable and well behaved. It was a shame that I didn't know more what to do for her. Since then, I have learned there are several ways to treat this. Medication is one way but I think that would be the last resort. There are methods to try to make your dog feel safe and secure. Look up separation anxiety on the internet. I think that you should try crating her first. See how she does. You can look that up on the internet also. If you hang in there with her eventually she will probably realize you are going to be there for her and not pass her to someone else. I feel so guilty now for giving my dog away. Good Luck.
Jan, I did not mention that I first crated Angel because she ate a love seat, the throw pillows for the sofa, the phone cord, the area rug, the list goes on. When I first tried the crate, she was so hysterical that she tore her muzzle up trying to get out (another trip to the vet). It was bad. REALLY bad. That's why, like you, I turned to others for helpful suggestions and found that the information I gave you earlier worked. Not overnight, not in a week, but in about 2 weeks it was like day and night. Getting them used to the crate when you're home so they don't think of it as a "prison" or place of punishment, but as a refuge of comfort for them. Getting them used to the idea (as with some toddlers) that yes, you're leaving, but you always come back. Seperation anxeity is so hard to deal with. There's the frustration at the damage done to your home and more importantly the fear for your pet's safety. Just keep trying, don't give up and be patient and firm in your resolve.
I did a risky thing and got another dog, she was a few years older. It worked, but it could have totally backfired. He was happy to have something living there with him. It was a decision I will never regret. I would try out the crating. Thats something I learned about after my problems were over.