My name is Jane. I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you.
I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.
Can you give me more information on what signs he is exhibiting that lead you to believe he has separation anxiety?
Besides the medication, what else have you tried to help with the situation?
What does he do when he hears a siren?
Have you reassured him when he has displayed the behavior you recognize as separation anxiety?
When he has the anxiety he pants really bad, his heart rate seems very fast, sometimes he his whole body shakes terribly. When I get home he goes nuts but not normally so and if he feels insecure or scared he has to get up close to me against my back or legs. Like if i'm on a chair he'll jump up behind me and push real hard against my back. When i'm gone he opens the cabinet and sleeps under the kitchen sink, in the bath tub, in a clothes basket and god knows where else!
When i go home during the day to walk him and doesnt want to go out. When we're out he tries to hide himself under trees, dig a hole to lay in or pull in another direction of the house afraid cause i'm going again all while panting excessively.
When he sirens he shakes real bad and howls real loud until it goes away even if i hold him tight to reassure him.
if i go home to walk him and decide to take him back to work with me he knows because i pack his bag, he gets excited and runs straight to the car.
i need to get him use to being alone while i work.
i do try to hold him tight to reassure him and talk quietly to him to relax him
Most cases of separation anxiety involve symptoms that your dog doesn't seem to have such as destructive chewing, excessive barking or eliminating everywhere in the house. Your description doesn't really indicate that he is exhibiting these behaviors. What you might want to do is set a video recording device up to see what behavior he is having when you are gone. Most new digital cameras have a video option and so do many smart phone.
Panting and trembling can be from excitement or stess as well as from pain. With separation anxiety, the dog exhibits the behavior when the owner is gone rather than when the owner is present. My own dogs will find a cool place to sleep and the bathroom tub is prime sleeping place for many dogs since the porcelain is cool. Any place near water lines is also a good spot since it is cooler than other areas.
It sounds to me like your dog really loves you and would like to be around you all the time which is really a wonderful thing, but if this is separation anxiety it is relatively mild in nature or the drugs are doing a pretty good job of controlling the issue.
There are still a few things that might help. One thing would be to vary your routine a bit. If you pick up your keys or purse before leaving, try picking up your keys and purse and walk around with them or sit on the couch or otherwise relax. This helps stop the dog from knowing when you are getting ready to go.
Start leaving the house and coming immediately back and rewading your dog for not displaying the behavior you find unacceptable with some calm praise and a tasty treat like a hot dog slice. If your dog exhibits the unwanted behavior, ignore him completely. You can not show him attention or reassurance when he is displaying unwanted behavior. When you do so, it will actually encourage the dog to do it again to get the attention. You can only show attention and praise when the dog is displaying the behavior you want to see. So if your dog is calm then you show your dog CALM attention and praise in an even tone of voice.
Another possible thing you could try is a DAP diffuser. It is not medication but a device that emits pheromones similar to the ones that a nursing dog emits to calm their pups. These have been proven to be a calming influence on dogs exhibiting separation anxiety. So I would recommend you try this to help him as well.
We are not sure why sirens affect dogs but they seem to affect almost all dogs. Some dogs howl naturally along with the sirens while other dogs seem to learn the behavior from other dogs. It might be that when your dog stayed with a neighbor, he may have learned to howl in response to the high pitched noise of the siren. It is doubtful that the dog associates the noise with the untimely passing of your husband. In fact, it may be the stress that you still feel about the loss of your husband that the dog may be picking up on which contributes to his behavior. If you still feel your loss, the dog would still be picking up on that causing him to be under stress as well.
I would go ahead and try the suggestions I have made and see if they make a difference. If these techniques and tips don't help, then you may need to consult a professional behaviorist. Your vet should be able to recommend one.
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Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms. http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/