Help with Severe Separation Anxiety!
Hi! I just adopted my first dog and he is a 10 mos.-1 year old shepherd mix. He is such a sweetheart around anybody, but his separation anxiety is out of control, and I've had him for 4 weeks now. Since I've got him my family and I practiced slowly increasing increments of leaving him by himself. We would give him a kong and other chew toys, not make a big deal leaving and coming home, and only greeting him when he calms down. This method worked until we got him up to 4 hours by himself once.
After 2 weeks I had to go back to school and he was left for 4-5 hours by himself 4 days a week and he started freaking out and destroying the house. The destruction got worse, so by the third day we put him in a metal crate with a kong and bone. He broke out and the destruction got worse!
After this episode I tried associating the crate with treats: feeding him in there, sitting next to him, keeping the door open with his kong; basically trying to make the crate a happy place. However, leaving him for a minute, in the crate or outside, makes him start to cry and bark. Today he was left by himself for an hour and the crate was zip tied shut, the tv was on, he was given a kong and chew toy, and we put a one of our socks with him. When we came back the bottom of the crate was pushed out, he peed on the floor (he's housebroken), and he shook the crate so much that he moved it next to the couch and chewed the side off! This was also staying with him 15 minutes before we left while he was in the crate and content.
We are at our wits end and I feel horrible all the time, worrying about my pup and feeling upset over how bad his panic attacks are. Is the anxiety worsened by him being a a rescue dog that moved from shelter to shelter ( I don't know if he even had a home)? Moreover, we can't even leave him at doggy daycare because of his nervous aggression against other dogs and financial reasons. We also recently enrolled him in obedience classes (we train him 15-30 min. day as well, walk him twice a day, and play fetch frequently) to try and increase his confidence. Additionally, he follows everyone around the house constantly, no matter how tired he is; he just can't control his anxiety and it saddens me. I won't give up on him, I just need some good advice on how to stop his separation anxiety.
Sorry for the long post. Thanks all!
Last edited by Marcosheppy; 09-15-2013 at 05:01 PM.