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Lisa
Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16168
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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About a week ago, we got an 18 month old neutered male

Customer Question

Hi there - about a week ago, we got an 18 month old neutered male Australian shepherd who seems to be suffering from separation anxiety. If he is left in a room without a human (i.e. he is gated in or door closed), he immediately starts barking. I left the house yesterday and sat in the driveway listening to him bark for 15 minutes before I had to leave. What can we do to help him get over this? Some additional information:
He came to us from a situation where he was left alone for long periods of time.
He was never crate trained so we don't have that to fall back on as a place where he feels safe.
I work from home and it is rare that someone is not home with him - at most for 1-2 hours at a time, occasionally
We have a 17 month old, spayed female Aussie who is confident and fairly laid back. They enjoy playing together and they switch dominant roles a lot, although in general I would say he defers to her. When the humans leave, they are left together.
Thanks for any help or suggestions you can provide.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have some questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....

Can you explain your routine when you leave the house?

Would you be open to crate training?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Lisa - because I work from home, there is really not a lot of structure to when I leave the house. Sometimes I am alone, sometimes the whole family leaves together or I leave with one of our kids. Sometimes I put on makeup and get dressed up, other times I just throw on a coat and Crocs. I don't think there are really specific signaling behaviors that I or the family are about to leave that are consistent.We are open to using a crate, but honestly we were hoping that having the two dogs would mean we would no longer be crating our female Aussie (the original Aussie) when we left. She is not crated except when we leave the house and she is very comfortable in her crate. She was crate trained by the breeder from the time she was a little puppy until we got her at 5 months.
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

It does sound to me like your new dog is pretty anxious....since you've only had him for a very, very short time, it's definitely possible he may get over this behavior just by watching the way your more confident dog acts, and it's important to remember he's still very much in a period of adjustment, but you're right...it does sound like he's got some separation anxiety going on.

Some dogs develop destructive behaviors such as breaking through windows, destroying crates, chewing holes in walls and destroying sofas in their frantic efforts to cope with feelings of abandonment. Some other dogs may go on hunger strikes or even begin using the bathroom in the house to cope with their feeling of being alone

Dogs with serious separation anxiety issues may need medication as well as behavior modification help from a professional dog behaviorist. Look for a board-certified veterniary behavorist (ACVB) or certified applied animal behaviorist. As for references from your vet. You need solid guidance from someone properly trained to assist you and your dog.

You might also want to consider using a product made specifically for dogs with anxiety. A couple of these things would be:

Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/melatonin-melatonex/page1.aspx , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.

Try a DAP collar. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's office..you can also find them online at places like Amazon.com and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

When I'm working with an anxiety dog, I generally start with the collar, and then add in the melatonin if I don't see a change within a week or so.

If this were my dog...I'd start with the collar and then go from there. Hopefully he'll become better about being without a human around with some time and direction from your more confident dog.

I hope this helps.

Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

And please do me a favor...touch base with me in a few days and let me know how it's going.

Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tracy,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Lisa

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