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Discussion Starter #1
So here is my situation. I've had my White German Shepherd for 6 weeks now. He is a male, not fixed, and I am his second home.

He has had severe seperation anxiety since I got him. The long and short of it is I've tried everything so far from an hour long walk at the dog park in the morning before going to work, giving him those all natural calming pills from Pet Smart, including a Kong stuffed with Peanut Butter, treats, and the kong fill that you freeze.

With all this, he still gets massivly anxious while I go to work. I only leave him for 4 - 5 hours at a time, I come back mid day to let him out to pee and drink water. He does so much damage to his nose and paws trying to get out of his crate, and I know the issue isn't specifically hsi crate because he sleeps in there at night no problem.

My question is can anyone who has had experience with seperation anxiety tell me if I get him fixed and combine that with some actual medication from the doctor, will that make any difference? I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place because I love the guy but he is severly hurting himself on a daily basis. (I tried to let him out of the crate and in the course of a week he ate garlic, got a candy jar off the counter - which I thought was sufficiently far enough back - and broke it, meanwhile cutting up his tongue on the glass).

Any feedback you can give would be great.. even if it is negative or that seperation anxiety can't be cured and he needs to go to someone who doesn't work or works from home...

Thanks.
 

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Rafi had quite severe separation anxiety when I brought him home 3 years ago. He would drool, thrash against the crate, destroy anything in it, bark, etc. even if I just left the room!

I followed Patricia McConnell's protocol for SA to the letter. In his case it only took 7 weeks for me to be able to leave him (loose) alone in the house. I adopted out a middle aged dog with severe SA back when I volunteered with gsd rescue in WI. They also followed McConnell's protocol and since this dog was older and her previous owners had dealt with the problem by keeping her year round in an outside enclosure while they were at work it took her longer to get through it. I think it was more like 3-4 months. However, today she is completely fine when left alone.

Here is the little booklet that tells you what to do: Amazon.com: I'll be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety. (9781891767050): Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D.: Books: Reviews, Prices & more
 

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Desensitization seems to have worked the best for us. Try leaving the room for just one second, close the door, open it, and give him treat. Repeat it over and over again until he’s bored senseless with the exercise. Then move onto a little longer length of time but so he can still hear you behind the door.
Just be careful that you get the door open again in time to catch him before he reacts, otherwise you’re rewarding his panicking behaviour.
 

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Yes!! Patricia's book on Separation Anxiety is great! Our GSD, Hannah, chipped her tooth on the kennel trying to get out, made her paws bleed from scratching trying to get out, used to bark, cry, whine, etc. when having to go into the kennel, used to lose hair when going on trips. I can now leave her alone in the house without her destroying anything or hurting herself. She'll sleep in the kennel voluntarily now although she prefers our bed. She still barks and yaps if I walk outside without her, but it isn't as bad as it used to be. Spaying her didn't help. Actually, it got worse after she was spayed. We got her straight from her breeder at 3 months old. I have to tell DH not to pay her any attention before we leave and after we come back until she's calm. We also think she's just over-reactive, but not aggressive at all. It's not from lack of exercise or mental stimulation. We have this book - Scaredy Dog! Understanding and Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog and it's got some great info.
 

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Desensitization seems to have worked the best for us. Try leaving the room for just one second, close the door, open it, and give him treat. Repeat it over and over again until he’s bored senseless with the exercise. Then move onto a little longer length of time but so he can still hear you behind the door.
Just be careful that you get the door open again in time to catch him before he reacts, otherwise you’re rewarding his panicking behaviour.
McConnell's little booklet gives step by step instructions on how to do this. :)
 

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I always wish luck to anyone dealing with SA. It takes a lot of time and commitment and unfortunately it was not something we were able to manage with our SA dog- who was also a White Shepherd. Being young and with jobs and school there was no way for us to be able to take the necessary time off to go through the whole process of densensitization. We taught her games and were able to make improvements so that it was not EVERY day. But probably 2 or 3 times a month she would still have a complete meltdown. She would drool, give herself diarrhea, would not be contained in crates, would go through drywall and trim around the door frames, howl and whine incessantly, take down any window coverings. She was pretty major. Meds did not help. She could not be prescribed anything stronger and she would still get anxious.

We had to re-home her despite extensive training and medications, but fortunately we were able to place her with a homebound elderly person.

Good luck. I hope that you will have the ability to solve this.
 

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It's been 6 months of dealing with SA with our rescue GSD and we still can't leave her alone for a full work day. We did go through the "I'll be home soon" protocol and it greatly improved, however she is still insanely anxious if she has to spend more than a couple of hours alone. She also hurt herself trying to escape her crate, but we did find out that she does better uncrated...she didn't tear anything apart.

Honestly, I'm not sure what we will do if she isn't better in another month or two...we can't afford the extra $250-300 a month for doggie daycare for much longer. Medication (clomipramine) seemed to help a little bit, but she is still anxious in general and worse when she has any amount of time alone. She really isn't destructive and doesn't pee/poop in the house, but if left alone her anxiety shoots up and then she is so reactive which makes exercising her really not fun. She won't eat in the mornings or eat anything we leave if she thinks she might have to be alone.

Does he eat things that you leave for him (kong, etc) when he is alone? If he does, then you may have good luck with the McConnell protocol. Our other problem with the protocol is that there was nothing we could put in a Kong that would keep her attention.

It's a hard problem to deal with if you're not in a position to either pay for daycare indefinitely or stay home.
 

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he fully ignores his kong until i get home then the second i do he goes wild on it and loves it. it is also irrelevent how long i am gone for, on saturday for example i stepped out for 30 minutes and he did the most damage to himself yet..
 

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If it is SA, the worst of the anxiety and self-destructive/destructive behaviors happens in the first 20-40 minutes. That's why the training focuses on helping the dog through that time...the longest part of the training is working from 0 seconds to 30 minutes.


Is doggie daycare an option temporarily? Or a friend with a dog?
 

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Speaking from experience with SA. It is a condition that can be managed. How much you can take down the actual anxiety and panic when the dog is left alone is different for every dog. Some dogs will seem nearly cured-some will show very little improvement even when all the proper measures are taken. I had a dog with moderate-severe SA (He also had several other anxiety realted issues as well as OCD) who would soil himself, scream and do what your dog was doing to his face and paws when left alone no matter what we did, protocals we used, desenstitization we worked through, medications we used and excercise we performed with him. We were a part of a SA group on Yahoo. We got him to love his crate. We got him to a point where he would only vocalize and would only soil himself 1x a day (after his break in the middle fo the day for potties and lunch) and he could be left alone for about 4-5 hours. Most of the consensus from experts and those with dogs who had severe SA seemed to be that if you got a severely SA dog to the level we were got our dog to you had accomplished your goal of keeping him safe from himself and that the soiling was something you tolerate and live with. We found that bathing him (since he had no qualms about laying in his feces or urine) and the house or crate up every single a day after a long day at work was far too taxing and really damaged our realtionship with him and ended up rehoming him with someone who would only be gone 4-5 hours a day on a bad day. The dog is thriving there and has even made huge progress with some of his other anxiety issues and OCD issues.

Ok so long story short, you have to decide what is acceptable and what you can live with in managing your dog's SA and treat from there with that as your goal. You also must realize that you may not be able to improve this dog to that acceptable point and you have to either be willing to tolerate that or be willing to accept that you may not be a good placement for your fuzz.
 

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We have been dealing with severe SA with Zoe. We have finally resorted to medication from our vet- she in on Reconcile and it is starting to work wonders. She alot less high strung. We did, however; have to buy a $300 heavy duty crate, because she could escape from the other two we tried. But her new medicine, along with additional training is working. I would highly recommend Reconcile. It's stronger than clomipramine, but doesn't turn your dog into a zombie. Just makes them more trainable- more focused.
 
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