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Old 11-13-2012, 04:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Help! Severe Social Anxiety

Hi everyone. I'm hoping someone out there has some good advice, because I'm really at the end of my tether. I have a 7 month old female GSD, she's a rescue and I've had her since she was four months old. She's a great dog, real smart, learns tricks in a session or two, very confident around other dogs - but she's seriously over-attached and literally rips up everything she's around when I'm gone. She's destroyed the couch, dining table legs, a couple of chairs, house plants - you name it and she's been at it. She doesn't do it every single time I'm out but at least a few times a week. Sometimes when I think whatever I'm trying is working, she'll go a week where she'll play with her Kong and not touch anything else, worse thing would be finding her on the couch (where she knows she's not supposed to be) - but that's fine. Then she'll relapse and go to town again the next day.

She gets a good deal of exercise most days - there's a park nearby and we do a mile or two of walking around it almost everyday. I work from home so I'm around often, sometimes I'll leave her alone for a bit while at home to try to get her accustomed to it. When leaving/coming home I ignore her completely for twenty minutes or so to try to make it as seamless as possible. She gets a Kong toy with some peanut butter frozen inside it some time before I leave.

I know GSDs are pretty high strung sometimes, but my pup seems to be severely jumpy sometimes. An example would be when I take her out at night. There's only one or two spots within a two block radius that she will actually pee/poop in. If she needs to poop sometimes she will walk back and forth over that same spot, get in position and then stop if a car goes by or if someone rounds the corner, or even if she hears someone open a window in the building above us. And she just won't go until the next morning, no matter how long we walk around the block...

She's getting better around other dogs, she used to be very fearful, but trips to dog parks/beaches has really made her confident and she is fine on that front. She doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body, always been friendly to people, still the case. We do obedience training at home most days, and she does fine with those. She eats really healthy grain-free food. So I don't know what the problem is. Behaviorally I've been working hard to make sure she's doing well, but I just can't get her over this hump.

Vet suggested a behaviorist though to be honest I don't know how that can help. I've read books, tried different things - it's been a month since I implemented the ignore tactic...and I don't even think I can really afford having someone come and give her some sessions. He also mentioned medication, though the notion of drugging my pup just seems plain wrong.

She's never been crate trained, because she spent most of her puppyhood confined outdoors and she's mortally afraid of being crated. Never had a problem though with potty training (she's real smart) - and I don't think I can confine her in one at this point. I try to clear the room when I know she's going to be left alone but still, I can't move the couch...

Sorry for the long post, but I seriously don't know what to do. I came home tonight after a concert and found that she'd ripped her new bed to shreds, and put another hole in the couch...

Please any advice would be welcome.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think that containment is the most reliable solution. You cannot stop her from destructive behavior when you are not around. I assume that you probably live in an apartment from your discussion of going for walks to take her potty. If you had a yard, I would suggest investing in a large out door kennel to put her in while your not home. Since this is probably not the case, can you doggie proof one room in your place and put her in there when you are not home?
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Second the containment. Depending on your setup, dog-proofed room or section off a portion of a room with a diy built kennel. I've seen some pretty cool ones that owners have built.

A good behaviorist is worth their weight in gold when severe problems are involved. The secret is locating a good one. It may take just a few sessions of evaluation, observation and training/advice to get you across this hurdle. It sounds like you have made huge progress in the other areas yourself.

While medication isn't a fix, it can lower the anxiety level enough so that the dog can actually learn. Once progress is made, the medication is tapered off and ends. Others who are familiar with more natural remedies will hopefully post so you can learn about that option as well.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Although the "really healthy grain-free" may seem like a good thing, have you tried other foods? Some dogs are super sensitive to these things, and the food may be making her high strung, no matter how high end the food may be. My dog was way over-reactive on one of the most expensive kibble around, and I had to switch that very quickly, I noticed an immediate difference when I did. What brand are you using? Have you considered raw?

It's never too late to crate train a dog, and is pretty natural for them, just play crate games (do a search for that), my dog loves his crate now, when I first introduced it you would think that there was acid as the flooring You may need to invest in a much sturdier one, but it sounds like it would be worth it, rather than new couches and beds all the time.

Sometimes 2 miles of walking does not cut it for my dog. I came home yesterday to find a shoe heel gnawed off, he never does that. We had gone on a 2 mile walk, but I skipped training, tug, and fetch; mental exercise is just as important as physical, if not more.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by robk View Post
I think that containment is the most reliable solution. You cannot stop her from destructive behavior when you are not around. I assume that you probably live in an apartment from your discussion of going for walks to take her potty. If you had a yard, I would suggest investing in a large out door kennel to put her in while your not home. Since this is probably not the case, can you doggie proof one room in your place and put her in there when you are not home?

You're right that I'm in an apartment. I've dogproofed the room she's in when alone as much as possible - a part from the big things like furniture. I think that some kind of fenced in area might be necessary though even inside the room. Problem is she's so big at this point I'm wondering what exactly will keep her confined - also chewing on whatever fencing I put up might be a problem.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Although the "really healthy grain-free" may seem like a good thing, have you tried other foods? Some dogs are super sensitive to these things, and the food may be making her high strung, no matter how high end the food may be. My dog was way over-reactive on one of the most expensive kibble around, and I had to switch that very quickly, I noticed an immediate difference when I did. What brand are you using? Have you considered raw?
She gets Blue Buffalo Puppy Kibble - I've been meaning to get into the raw food but time/money constraints have made me put it off. Most nights though for dinner I use the kibble as a base and add some raw elements for variety. What food have you had success with? Is it something to do with the carb/sugar content that gets them tweaky?

You might be right about the exercise though. There's a definite connection between exhaustion and less destructive behavior but I just can't spend half the day wearing her out so I can go out later.

Last edited by mika_dog; 11-13-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Get her used to being crated.
You'll just have to work on it with her.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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She gets Blue Buffalo Puppy Kibble - I've been meaning to get into the raw food but time/money constraints have made me put it off. Most nights though for dinner I use the kibble as a base and add some raw elements for variety. What food have you had success with? Is it something to do with the carb/sugar content that gets them tweaky?

You might be right about the exercise though. There's a definite connection between exhaustion and less destructive behavior but I just can't spend half the day wearing her out so I can go out later.
She probably shouldn't be getting puppy kibble at 7 months. But, if that's what you have been advised, then don't let me change your mind. I will say that the way I feed raw is cheaper than BB Wilderness, which is what I am assuming you give? I tried a few kibbles, I have only had limited success with Natural Balance LID, even didn't do so great on that, so I tried raw - his energy went from spikes to pretty average through the day. I am not saying it is a cure-all, but it certainly seemed to help him maintain energy.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Get her used to being crated.
You'll just have to work on it with her.
Think that's pretty much the only way to control this ultimately. What I'm going to try doing is cordoning off an area of the hallway with petgates. She's gotten used to the gate on the stairs and I figure it might be easier on her than a proper kennel.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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She probably shouldn't be getting puppy kibble at 7 months. But, if that's what you have been advised, then don't let me change your mind. I will say that the way I feed raw is cheaper than BB Wilderness, which is what I am assuming you give? I tried a few kibbles, I have only had limited success with Natural Balance LID, even didn't do so great on that, so I tried raw - his energy went from spikes to pretty average through the day. I am not saying it is a cure-all, but it certainly seemed to help him maintain energy.
Hi Jae - you know I actually hadn't even thought about puppy kibble. Figured she was still a puppy though a big one. The vet didn't mention anything when I last saw him a few weeks ago so I assumed it was okay. But transitioning off it might be a good idea. Thanks for your replies though, the food element is a big one and I'm going to start looking into raw alternatives.
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