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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19093
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My beagle is 13 and has separation anxiety. Loves dogs, so I

Customer Question

Hi. My beagle Bailey is 13 and has separation anxiety. Loves dogs, so I keep finding him friends to replace his brother, who died a year ago, a roommate's dog 3 months ago, then rescued a 14-year old retriever to keep that has now died. He is now almost completely deaf and has very limited vision. In addition, Bailey has two herniated discs that he takes Gabapentin for.
I can't keep rescuing dogs for his anxiety. I can't stand the thought of leaving him at home alone on my long work days, especially if he is having a panic attack. More drugs I suppose, but what? Prefer alternatives. Please advise.
Wendy
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
There are actually a lot of training techniques that can be used to help combat separation anxiety. It is likely that you have tried some of these at one time or another. However, even if you have tried some of them, often combining techniques can help better than trying them one at a time. I also have another thing to discuss with you after giving you some techniques for the separation anxiety.
So let me go over techniques for separation anxiety. First thing is to take Bailey for a nice long walk before you leave, preferably 30 minutes or long. Make it a long, quick paced walk to tire your boy out. Be sure he has the go ahead from your vet due to his advanced age.
Second is to use a low-key approach to leaving the house. Ignore your dog before you leave and after you come home for at least 5 minutes or more. If your house is hectic in the morning, put him away from everyone, say in a bathroom until the frenzy is over.
Don't punish or shout at your dog when you come home and find he’s been anxious, destroyed something or barked the whole time. When you do, you increase his stress level rather than reduce it.
You can provide him with small stimulating toys or toys that you can fill with treats. Buy a kong and fill it with yogurt or peanut butter. Freeze it and give when you leave. It can keep a dog occupied for hours.
Sometimes leaving a TV or radio on can help a dog with this problem as well. Some clients record themselves doing something where they are out of the room, like taking a shower and then play it back from inside the bathroom when they are gone. The dog knows they are gone, but the familiar noise seems to help for some dogs. Also remember to not reward a dog's excitement to you with petting and affection or even eye contact. You want to show him nice calm praise when he is being calm.
The best way is to crate him. This prevents injury to the home and protects him as well if he is destructive. Another thing that might help is a DAP collar. These use a pheromone to calm a dog. It won't interfere with medications and is proven to help with anxiety. See one here:
vetmedicine.about.com/od/behaviortraining/gr/DAP-Dog-Collar.htm
Practice putting him in the crate, leaving the house, opening the door immediately and rewarding him with a hot dog treat if he did not scratch, bite and carry one or display anxiety behavior. This teaches him that you leave but come back quickly. Once he seems to not do anything when you initially leave, lengthen the time he must be calm for you to come back in. Change the time as well. Make it 2 minutes one time and 10 minutes another, so he never knows if you are gone for an hour or gone for 2 minutes. It helps him stay calm for longer periods of time, just be sure you reward him when he is good.
Another thing that helps is to do things that might make the dog feel you are leaving and then don't such as putting on your coat or picking up your keys. Or leave without doing those things. This helps remove things that might trigger the dog to become anxious. Since he is operating a lot on scent at this point, leave something that smell strongly of you for him to have with him. Sleep on a towel for a few days or so and give that to him. Just your smell may help him be less anxious.
These should help his separation anxiety. It will not be an overnight cure and will take work on your and your family’s part to be consistent in your interaction with him. Here is a site that also offers idea to combat separation anxiety.
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx
This site discusses medications.
http://www.cpvh.com/2011/08/08/separation-anxiety/
Now if he has started with this anxiety in recent years, he may have a touch of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). There is a wonderful site that explains it well and also explains how to document your dog's behavior and discuss it with your vet.
The good news is that there is a drug called L-Selegeline (Anipryl (R)) which has been recently approved for use in the clinical indication of cognitive dysfunction (CDS) in dogs.
Please see this site for more information and other causes that may exhibit the same symptoms.
http://www.swiftwaterfarms.com/swiftwater/p22CanineCognitiveDysfunction.htm
http://www.cliniciansbrief.com/column/applied-behavior/house-soiling-cognitive-dysfunction-syndrome?96m5sri9MY
So you might see if using Anipryl helps as well. You might also see if there are any neighbors with friendly older dogs that might be willing to let him come spend some time when you are at work. That may be a great solution for the time you are at work.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If not or if you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Does the use of Gabapentin over a couple years cause CDS?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Jacustomer,
They actual in some cases suggest Gabapentin for CDS, but I would talk to your vet about perhaps trying the anipryl instead of gabapentin, If it doesn't help you can go back to the previous meds.

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