GSD with Separatio Anxiety - how long before leaving them home alone?
Background: Three weeks ago now my wife and I adopted a year and a half old GSD who was abandoned at a local animal hospital when she was pregnant. This dog was with the prior owner for her first 14 months, and he mated her with another GSD. When she had the puppies she spent nearly a week at the animal hospital, then 8 weeks at a foster home, another few days at the hospital, and then we took her in. So there has been ALOT of moving around for this poor lady.
We got her on a Thursday, and went to go to work the following day. I would have taken off the next day but we are currently in a black out period for vacations/days off until April 15th, so it was just not an option. After she was home alone for about 3 hours one of my neighbors called (apartment complex) to tell me my dog had been crying loudly for the prior 3 hours. I immediately went home, thankfully only living 5 minutes from work, and absolutely amazed that there was no destruction of anything, just a very sad dog.
Since then we have been working with here to cope with her anxiety and learn how to be home alone without any problems. We have made immense progress, with the first day of training her only making it 5 seconds without whining, to the other day she went an hour and a half before I stepped back inside. We have been dropping her off with my mother during the days to avoid any further full blown panic attacks, and have been continuing to work on desensitizing her to our getting ready routines as well.
Heck when we first had her when she came across new people, which we had to do since someone had to babysit her during the day, she would submissively urinate, which she no longer does...she has come a very long ways.
At this point we have consistently left her for 30-90 minutes with no issues. Typically we walk down the stairs in the building, tip toe back up the other side, and just hang out in the stair well watching her on Skype for any signs of anxiety, increasing the time slowly, to avoid any anxiety while we are not in the apartment.
My question is this, at what length of time would you be okay leaving a dog with SA for hours at a time? I have seen some articles that state after your dog is able to go 30-60 minutes, they should be set for a while, do any of you have experience with this? We also started crate training her, when she is happy with her crate, would we be able to jump right into the longer periods of time, or should we start from square one?
Thanks for your help and suggestions!