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Old 12-26-2013, 11:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Separation anxiety - but only in public.

My 15mo male shows severe separation anxiety when anyone from the family/pack walks away from him in public, even when there's still someone with him. I don't try to 'calm him down' by patting him or stroking him or anything. I realise this would only further reinforce what he's doing. We're also aware that the person walking away should only return once he's calmed down. The problem is he never calms down He wails, pulls like a beast, does loops around me to get me to walk (this was the method I employed to get him to walk nicely on leash - when he pulls I stand still, and he realises that he's caused leash tension then returns to my right, walk continues). He pants and cries, and is clearly incredibly stressed. He shows zero interest in anything else and can not be distracted. The trainer at our club has seen it himself and has shared some techniques/games we could try while acknowledging that it is clearly breed related. We've had very slow progress, if any, with these methods and I was wondering if anyone else had any ideas?

Perhaps worth mentioning, he is totally fine being home alone. He goes into his crate and sleeps when we leave - the anxiety is only an issue when we're out and about.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially if you've dealt with something similar!
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Oh just to add, we're not throwing out the trainers advice, we're soldiering on. I'm just wondering if anyone has any ideas to add to our list of approaches
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't think it's separation anxiety.

I think he's worried that the person moving off is going into GREAT DANGER and is only safe when everyone is together. Or that the other person doesn't realize they are leaving the pack! So all the noise is communicating 'I'm over here!!!'

You ever read The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell? Great info in that book.

What I'd do is the 'baby steps' thing with TRAINING involved. Do you use a clicker? Just have your pup do a sit and back off one step, return and click treat, then have a 'down' back off a step, return click/treat.

Progress as you can and only have a distance your pup is calm and focused on training/treat initially. then you work in 'stay'. Then longer times. Then out of sight. But you always are calm. Come back alive . And reward her while she's calm and doing what she's been told to do.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Separation anxiety is when your dog was left alone locked. That is a serious mental disorder when the dog has to be on medication, and it often starts as a depression. In your case... GSD has a "herding instinct", together with his predatory instinct the herding of a cattle become possible. Herding instinct, or "a sense of the pack unity" asks your dog to keep members of the pack together. Sometimes dogs refuse to leave the house only because the pack which is going for a walk is incomplete. On other hand, this sort of behaviour should concern the leader of the pack only, one person of the family your dog chooses to be a leader - his wish should be to follow him/her. Seems, that it is you, and he is worried about other ( inferior) members walking astray. He will get use to it. Train him patiance by asking him to sit and remain in one position while you are walking away from him. Teether him to a tree at the beginning, then off leash, and walk away a greater distance than the previous day.

Last edited by David Taggart; 12-27-2013 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've noticed some dogs acting like this and i think it is pretty normal.

You want to practice having one member of your group go away for a short time and come back.

It is good fun to do this in the country and have the dog search for the person.

Over time the dog will start to see it as normal.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's like playing peekaboo with a human baby...you have to do it to get them to be okay with the idea that you're going to go away, but you're going to come back again!
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vagus View Post
My 15mo male shows severe separation anxiety when anyone from the family/pack walks away from him in public, even when there's still someone with him. I don't try to 'calm him down' by patting him or stroking him or anything. I realise this would only further reinforce what he's doing. We're also aware that the person walking away should only return once he's calmed down. The problem is he never calms down He wails, pulls like a beast, does loops around me to get me to walk (this was the method I employed to get him to walk nicely on leash - when he pulls I stand still, and he realises that he's caused leash tension then returns to my right, walk continues). He pants and cries, and is clearly incredibly stressed. He shows zero interest in anything else and can not be distracted. The trainer at our club has seen it himself and has shared some techniques/games we could try while acknowledging that it is clearly breed related. We've had very slow progress, if any, with these methods and I was wondering if anyone else had any ideas?

Perhaps worth mentioning, he is totally fine being home alone. He goes into his crate and sleeps when we leave - the anxiety is only an issue when we're out and about.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially if you've dealt with something similar!
You're not alone. We have the same issue with our 9.5 mo. old and have for several months. We still haven't been able to resolve the issue so I will be reading the responses with you.
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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After reading the suggestions here I thought I'd go off and give them a go and report back on any progress.

I think MaggeRoseLee's statement here -

Quote:
I don't think it's separation anxiety.

I think he's worried that the person moving off is going into GREAT DANGER and is only safe when everyone is together. Or that the other person doesn't realize they are leaving the pack! So all the noise is communicating 'I'm over here!!!'
might be most pertinent to our situation.

A few days ago we took him for a walk around a busy/urban environment and my SO ducked into one of the stores while Baron was taking in all the sights/smells/sounds. I had the leash, so me and Baron just kept walking. After a few metres, Baron turned around to see that SO was gone, and seemed to want to go and find him but I just kept moving at a semi-fast pace. There was lots of turning his head, but he seemed to settle and we were able to continue our walk as if nothing happened. No straining, whining, crying, barking or anything had happened even once. I was totally shocked. When we walked in the direction that my SO had slipped off, he seemed to get back into pulling to find him, but still quite manageable with no whining or barking. It was only when I saw my SO on the other side of the street, looking for us, that I called out his name. When Baron heard me call his name his ears pricked up and he starting pacing on the end of his leash. I had to call out again, since my SO didn't hear me the first time and when I did this Baron let out a whine-bark. I suspect he was doing exactly what MaggieRoseLee said, and was trying to let my SO know where we were. The only time he made any fuss was when I had called out my SO's name (perhaps Baron thought I was distressed?) so I am incredibly happy with his progress and will continue to work on this.

He also whines if one of us leaves the car, but I was able to get him quiet after just one 'enough!'.

Thanks to everyone for your insight and suggestions and I hope you see some progress soon too Springbrz
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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does he know sit or down? when he starts pulling, howling, and running circles around you tell him to lay down, and make him lay down. he cant do all those useless, unwanted behaviors if he is in a Down.
Treat his actions like any other undesirable behavior, it doesnt matter why he is doing it or what he is thinking about. Down means down.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vagus View Post
My 15mo male shows severe separation anxiety when anyone from the family/pack walks away from him in public, even when there's still someone with him. I don't try to 'calm him down' by patting him or stroking him or anything. I realise this would only further reinforce what he's doing. We're also aware that the person walking away should only return once he's calmed down. The problem is he never calms down He wails, pulls like a beast, does loops around me to get me to walk (this was the method I employed to get him to walk nicely on leash - when he pulls I stand still, and he realises that he's caused leash tension then returns to my right, walk continues). He pants and cries, and is clearly incredibly stressed. He shows zero interest in anything else and can not be distracted. The trainer at our club has seen it himself and has shared some techniques/games we could try while acknowledging that it is clearly breed related. We've had very slow progress, if any, with these methods and I was wondering if anyone else had any ideas?

Perhaps worth mentioning, he is totally fine being home alone. He goes into his crate and sleeps when we leave - the anxiety is only an issue when we're out and about.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially if you've dealt with something similar!
My gsd used to have the same problem she was a basket case in public around strangers even if I took a few steps away to go to a trash can I could see the anxiety build up in her so since my family is my guinea pig alot and she sees some of them once a year we all went to a park id do what I typically do walk to a.trash can or whatever and have different members of my family interact with her while I wasnt present and I'd come back see how she was handling it if all was going well she got rewarded of not I corrected her mistakes
She's fine now

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