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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18962
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I believe my cane corso suffers from separation anxiety. She

Customer Question

I believe my cane corso suffers from separation anxiety. She is destructive. My couch is no more and she has eaten her way through many things. She never did that when she was younger and it seems to get aggravated as she gets older (she is now 2 yrs).
Recently, she does not let me or my husband leave the house, she pushes to get out of the door and refuses to go back inside.
We both work from 9am to 7pm (sometimes later). My husband comes home at lunch time for 1.5 hours. She destroys nothing up until that time. From 14:30 onwards is when the problem starts.
At first we thought it was just boredom, so we took her every afternoon to a friends house. He has a large outdoor space and a German Shepherd and they get along. But she was destructive and found a way to escape so we couldn't leave her there anymore. For the first week when we didn't take her to his house there was no destruction at home either. After, that it all started again.
I have left stuffed Kongs with peanut butter, and other treats, she seems to just get the treats and then go back to the couch or any other object she shouldnt be chewing on.
She has had obedience training, she is walked every evening along with off leash running and playing, she will come, sit and stay on command just does not listen when leaving the house!
She has never been crated, I live in an apartment and her destructiveness started at 1.5 years. I would like to get a new couch but worried I would just be getting her a new treat!
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.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

Has she ever been crated?

Do you have a fenced yard?

Did you just stuff the kongs and leave them?

How much obedience work do you do with her now?

Is she spayed?

Does she eliminate inside?

Does she bark when you are gone?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She has never been crated and we live in an apartment. She never eliminates inside and will wait until she is taken downstairs. There is no more obedience training as she knows the basic commands, though sometimes when she is excited it takes a while until she responds. I give her the peanut butter stuffed kong after she sits before I leave. When i come back, her kongs are empty and the couch is destroyed. She doesn't bark every time, only a little as you leave and then as she hears you coming. Though I am not there, the neighbors haven't mentioned anything.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Being destructive can be a sign of separation anxiety. There are some things that can keep them occupied while you are gone and stop separation anxiety. I do have a write up on separation anxiety that I'll copy here and discuss with you.

First thing is to take your dog for a nice long walk before you leave, preferably 30 minutes or long. Make it a long, quick paced walk to tire her out. If she is tired she is more likely to sleep instead of being destructive.

Second is to use a low-key approach to leaving the house. Ignore her before you leave and after you come home for at least 5 minutes or more. If your house is like mine in the morning everyone is running around getting ready to leave. This has the dog in an excited mood and then suddenly she is alone. If this is the case, put er 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 she's destroyed something else. When you do, you increase her stress level rather than reduce it.

You have the right idea with the kong, but freeze it with the treat inside so it takes her hours to get it out. Also try yogurt or meat baby food that does NOT contain onion or garlic.

Sometimes leaving a TV or radio on can help a dog with this problem as well. Tape the sound of you taking a shower and loop it on your computer. She'll know you are gone but the familiar noise from when you are home may help keep her calmer. Also remember to not reward a dog's excitement to you with petting and affection or even eye contact. You want to show her nice calm praise when she is being calm.

The best way is to crate her. This prevents injury to the apartment and protects her as well. Dogs can develop obstructions from ingestion of foreign objects which can be life threatening. Another thing that might help is a DAP collar. These use a pheromone to calm a dog. See one here:
vetmedicine.about.com/od/behaviortraining/gr/DAP-Dog-Collar.htm

Practice putting her in the crate, leaving the house, opening the door immediately and rewarding her with a hot dog treat if she was calm. This teaches her that you leave but come back quickly. Once she seems to not do anything when you initially leave, lengthen the time she must be quiet and calm for you to come back in. Change the time as well. Make it 2 minutes one time and 10 mintues another, so she never knows if you are gone for an hour or gone for 2 minutes. It helps her stay calm for longer periods of time, just be sure you reward her 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.

These should help her separation anxiety and boredom and help curb her destruction. 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 her. Here is a site that also offers idea to combat separation anxiety.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx

Another option is medication, which is discussed on this site:

http://www.fidosavvy.com/dog-separation-anxiety-medication.html

Another options is an instant indoor fence. Placing the transmitter near the couch will keep her away from the couch. You might also give her ha room where she can not destroy things. Crating is the best option.

Start back up obedience training again. She may know the commands but she is an adult now and testing her boundaries which is why she is not obeying you as much. You need to keep training her so she continues to see you as the boss. If you are the boss, the house is yours as well and she won't be as likely to destroy the apartment. Daily practice is necessary. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer.

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