Seperation anxiety

Posted by Emz
Sep 1, 2010
I have a 1 1/2 old female siberian husky called Kafka. I have serious problem with seperation anxiety. 6 months ago we had to put Kafka outside in a run because when left in the house she was chewing on the skirting boards, door frames and kitchen table. We got a 12x6 run as we thought the bigger the bigger. We thought everything was going well but after a month or 2 we received a letter from a neighbour say that the noise Kafka was making was terrible when we weren't there. I recorded Kafka and all I heard on the tape was a very annoying whinning but she did not bark or howl. I purchase a collar that sprayed a citrus liquid. But that made no difference. A month ago we even got her spayed but that made no difference. When I put Kafka in the run she paces back and forward constantly but makes no noise when she knows that someone is at home or senses that someone is about. So I can't catch her in the act. I only have to go by what the neighbour is saying. She is obviously stressed in the pen because when she is left in the back yard she is happy and gives no bother. I cannot leave her in the back garden when away encase she escapes. Any suggestions would be grately appreciated.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Sep 2, 2010
Hey Emz,

Seperation anxiety can be a real pain, as you said its hard to know exactly what you're dog is doing when you're not there! Do you have friends nearby that are willing to walk past your place when you're not there to listen out? Or ask your neighbor to be more specific about the "noise" Kafka's apparently making?

How does Kafka act when you're home? Is she glued to your side? Does she get really anxious when you show signs of getting ready to leave? You want to deter these behaviours if they are being shown.

When you do get ready to go, try not to make a big deal of it. You want to avoid talking to Kafka about "be a good girl" or "dont worry, I'll be back". That sort of talking it up only gives her more reason to work up into an anxious state. Make your exits (and entrances for that matter), as low key as possible. You getting worked up over leaving or coming home only gives her more room to do the same. Make your exits short and sweet, just put her in her kennel, and walk away. When you come home, just let her out, dont make a fuss over her. Wait for her to calm down until you pet or talk to her, and then do so calmly.

If she does display attention seeking behaviour when you're home, ignore it, dont reward it by giving her the attention she's after. If she follows you around, or is constantly glued to you, ignore her. You can try telling her "enough", or if she knows "stay", use that to keep her from being at your side all the time. Any other vies for your attention should be deterred.

You can also try DAP for your home, to help calm her down with pheromones, or sedation based drugs are available from your vet, who can give you more information on them.

Does she go in her kennel when you're not leaving? Try and convince her its a "safe place" by leaving toys or blankets that smell like you in it, especially when you leave. You don't want her associated the kennel only with you're leaving, she should like it as a place all the time.

When you leave the house, at least to begin with, you could try leaving a radio or tv set on, so that noise is coming from inside, it might help her relax a bit.

I hope these techniques help, let us know how it goes!
Posted by jinx
Jan 28, 2011
Hi. i'm having separation anxiety issues with my puppy as well. It not nearly as bad as Kafka but I'm worried that it might get worse. According to my roommates, when i first leave the house, he whines alot, and then he just goes quiet. Sometimes if he's able to find any kind of paper, he goes crazy with it and I'll come back home and find my floor littered with paper scraps. And as you advised above, I don't make a big deal when i leave, i just put him in his pen and leave quickly. And I feed him and put all his toys in his pen so as to make sure he doesn't associate that place as a place of confinement only. My roommate has also said his whining is getting worse these days as well. What can i do to get him to feel secure. He whines even when i don't put him in the pen and i leave to maybe put out the trash as well. I'm gone for about a minute but the moment i leave the house he starts whining. I can actually hear him sometimes as I'm walking away but i don't go back because I don't want him to think if he whines he'll get his way. And these days, he's also started picking up the habit of scratching up our carpet~What do i do? I feel like as he's getting older, he's getting clingier
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jan 29, 2011
Hey jinx,

Does your pup whine when you're home? If so, its best to ignore him. Whining and getting a reaction (good or bad) teaches a dog that whining = attention, so they'll do it more often.

When he whines when you're not home, ask your room mates to ignore him as well. When you have to leave, try confining him to a quiet area, with toys, and something that smells strongly of you. Smells often work to make animals more comfortable. When you are home, try putting him in the area for a while, and leaving him there until he's calm and quiet for a while, only letting him out when he's settled down. Practicing while you're there lets you hear and keep an eye on his behaviour, and lets him get used to the idea, which should make him more comfortable in the future.

When you are home, dont encourage any kind of hardout attention seeking behaviour. If he follows you around, or is constantly nudging in for pats, etc, ignore him. This helps encourage independence. Obviously I'm not suggesting not giving him any attention or cuddles. Just try not to when he's pushing for it. Do it when he's being calm and not actively seeking it.

Hope this helps, its a continual process, the key is not to reward behaviour that will make him more and more reliant on attention from you alone. Keep us updated!
Posted by kris1975
Sep 20, 2011
I have a 1 1/2yr old mini Dachshund who hates being left alone. She is an inside dog but we have tried leaving her outside and that didn't work. I leave her in the hallway (fenced off with a baby gate) with her bed and kong, I am a stay at home mum so I don't got out much or for very long but when I do she paces, barks and chews on the gate.

I've tried the de-sensitising method, tried "quiet" command, have left her with clothing I have worn, TV on, and even now on medication - nothing works! She starts by whining then builds up to full on non-stop barking. We have had a letter from the Council now too. I have ordered a DAP so I'll try that.

I do training with her, she sits, stays, comes, down, drop, walks next to me. I walk and jog with her alot - for a little dog she has a lot of energy and is highly sensitive she never seems to fully relax until its bedtime. Sometimes I wonder if we are the right family. I have 3 small children and I think alot of her issues are due to them being so active, she certainly thinks she is above them. I think she needs to know where they are at all times. When I walk with the pram she is on constant look out, particularly for dogs.

I've tired using a trainer, but didn't address her anxiety or aggression issues. She is also extremely (fear) aggressive towards other dogs to the point where she has attacked (without harm thank goodness). But it worries me now when I walk her with the kids, I've had a couple of incidents where she has seen another dog coming and starts to lung and bark at the other dog (normally large dogs). They pick up on her fear and anxiety and charge for her. I can control my little dog but it's not always the case with the owners of the much larger dogs and I worry that my kids are going to get hurt because of this.

I don't know what to do. Around the house she is good. We don't spoil her she is happy to sit in another part of the house without us. Although she has taken to following me around which she just started up again recently and I am working to make sure I close doors behind me. I don't think she sees me as the leader, she may obey commands to a degree but she is not fully convinced I am in control and no matter how much I try I can't get her to let go. Im not sure if Im right in my assumptions but I this has been going on for a while and I am stumped as to what to do.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Sep 24, 2011
Hey kris,

It sounds like she's having trouble with the household hierarchy and its leading to all her problems - the anxiety and protective aggression.

To start with - I think you AND all your children need to go through proper alpha training with her. You could try enrolling in an obedience course again, but take your kids with you and get them involved so she starts to see them as being dominant to her, and not the other way. At home, you all should eat before you feed her, every one of you should be able to go through doors before her. Try to give her attention and love moreso on your terms - that is, if she begs for attention, ignore her until she stops, then give her pats. Be stern with her discipline - don't let her get away with bad behaviour she might have done before (barking at home, winding up while you're around, etc).

I think this is the best start to solving your problems, hopefully if you can get your "pack" hierarchy in order her other aggression and nervous signs will start to calm down as she fully understands that you are in charge, and she does not take care of you.

I hope the DAP works for you, it sounds like you've tried every trick to get her to be calm while you're gone, and its unfortunate that the Council has contacted you about her barking. Is she crate trained? Confining her to a much smaller space in a dark, quiet room may help her relax a bit more, especially in addition to what you've already tried (TV on, one of your sweaters with her, etc).

I hope another member can offer another solution to the seperation anxiety, and in the meantime I'll ask/look around for more helpful ideas! But definitely give strict alpha training a go - if you look under the members downloads you can find a heap of info on how to do it at home. Just remember that all of your kids (assuming they are big enough) should participate too, she needs to understand that every person in the house is above her!