Separation Anxiety Driving Me Crazy!!!
I have a 1.5 year old GSD that I have had since he was about 10 weeks old. He is a smaller GSD about 60 pounds. He has anxiety about everything. His major problem is with separation anxiety.
He has uncharacteristic bad behavior whenever I am gone. I crate trained him as a puppy the same way I did with my other dogs. As he grew up he developed bad behaviors that I have not been able to correct.
He screams, howls, whines, barks, pants, sheds, and paces in the crate. When I come home if he has not escaped, the crate is covered in drool and hair. I have tried ignoring him before putting him in the crate and even putting him in there 10-15 minutes before I leave.
He refuses any kind of food in the crate. No treats of any kind. As soon as the door is shut he will drop anything that is in his mouth. He enters the crate easily and happily and waits for his treat but as soon as I shut the door he starts to panic.
He will not play with any toys in the crate but usually find his own toys! He has pulled multiple comforters into the crate and chewed them up along with eating the arm of a chair next to the crate and eating countless dog beds.
Every neighbor I have had has complained about the screaming and howling while I am gone. It got so bad that I had to muzzle him in the crate. Even that didn't last long. He figured out how to get the muzzle off and chew it to pieces. I have been through 5 muzzles. I got him a thundershirt for Christmas and that seemed to work pretty well, but of course one bad day in the crate and that too was destroyed.
The vet suggested drugs to generate more serotonin. These drugs made him more hyper and upset his stomach. We stuck with those for over a month and the situation got worse so I stopped giving them to him. Next we tried Prozac and Xanax. They also made him worse, and he refused to eat.
When I am home with him he is a great dog. He does follow me around, but most GSDs do the same thing. He is very smart and has learned many tricks. I thought the training would increase his confidence and help with the anxiety. The second I leave the house to do anything he goes crazy. Even if I only leave to take the trash out he is at the front door whining and panting. If I leave him with my roommate when I leave he has a panic attack. He has even opened the storm door and run out of the house. I have tried to desensitize him by putting on my shoes and sitting around the house, and picking up my keys and carrying them around.
He gets daily exercise, but unless I tire him out completely it doesn't help. It takes him hours of playing or miles of running to tire out long enough to be good in the crate. I don't have 3-4 hours every morning to run him into the ground. I tire out long before he does! I also don't have the money to send him to doggy day care everyday.
I am a fan of the wire crates and have been through a few with him. I have ordered a plastic crate that will arrive shortly. I am really hoping this will help him feel safer. Maybe I can re-crate train him with this new kind of crate?
I love German Shepherds, but this dog has me going crazy. I don't know what else to do for him. I don't understand why this happened to this dog but not any of my others. I do not coddle him, let him in my bed or on any furniture. I ignore him and discipline him accordingly.
I have read many article and talked with vets and trainers. I feel like I have tried everything with this dog.
Will he grow out of this? I am so frustrated!