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Old 02-27-2015, 07:45 PM
Larkest Larkest is offline
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Default Desperately Seeking SA Help

Hi Chaz! It's me.

I haven't posted in awhile mostly due to having started a new job, busy with school, etc etc etc. However, I'm posting now, and I'm desperately hoping someone can help.

I have a six-and-a-half year old Collie/sighthound mix I adopted back in October. So far, she is absolutely everything I could have asked for. Gentle, responsive, affectionate, low energy, etc. There's just one thing - this dog has wicked separation anxiety.

So I'm thinking, okay. I can totally handle this. I picked up all kinds of books - Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, etc. - and got to work. I have, quite literally, been attempting to desensitize my dog to being alone since the beginning of November. I've done everything step-by-step. I've started small and tried to progress and I am honestly getting nowhere.

Nowhere. At. All. Not even a little bit of progress. Nothing.

Okay, I think. Time to get a trainer. Off we go to find a trainer which was a PITA because most of them in my area "don't deal with anxiety". One recommended to put my dog on pills (I am opposed to this). Finally found one and after two months of trying and getting nowhere I was told flat-out that my dog has a "permanent problem" and I "can't expect to fix it". I was crushed, but refused to give up. I kept trying on my own to keep desensitizing her and again - no results. Not even an inch of ground. Same. Reactions. Each. Time.

So alright. Plan C is a dog sitter. Found a wonderful sitter within my budget and we tried that but nope, the dog barks at freakin' daycare because it's not me there. The sitter tried and tried over a period of two weeks to get my dog used to her and to no avail. Finally decided to stop wasting money on a sitter when it wasn't helping my dog at all.

Today I received a notice from my superintendent that my dog has to stop barking NOW because tenants have been complaining. I don't know what else to do. I've tried everything I can think of barring spray/shock collars (which at this point I'm frankly not opposed to if it will help) and I've gotten nowhere. She's totally fine until you leave the house. No pacing, no panting, no stress signals, nothing. It's hard to desensitize her when the only thing she's reacting to is me actually being gone. I've tried anyway, mind you, but she isn't interested in the kong or toys because she doesn't know I'm leaving until I am quite literally out the door with the door closed. I have been working with her prior to me leaving and with the door closed, but even it being closed a half second she's barking her head off. I have tried not closing the door fully but she knows I am there and does not react. :/

I'm at my wits' end. I can't just not go to work, I have bills to pay. I'm a homebody outside of work but the problem is that I am stressing at work knowing my dog is flipping out while I'm not home (and it's incessant barking, there is no lapses). I don't know what else to do. I'm not a professional trainer, I'm not someone who can work miracles, and I am willing to try anything to make this better. I don't want to hurt my dog but my positive-reinforcement-only thing is getting me literally nowhere. I don't believe in alpha theory or anything so I know that sort of thing won't help, but is there any kind of comfortable middle that I can at least try? The only things I know - trainer, sitter, consistency - have literally turned up zero results.

She also has just been to the vet and had her blood work and physical done and she is healthier than a horse with no medical problems, so it isn't something medical we may have missed.

Please, please, I am begging for help. If you know of anything that might help even just a little I am desperate to hear it.

Thank you.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:50 PM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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I'd use daycare for now so you don't get kicked out of your house. Shocking or spraying a terrified dog will not help her anxiety.

Why are you opposed to meds? For many SA dogs they are temporary and they can make a HUGE difference.

Have you tried anything like a thundershirt, ComfortZone diffuser, Composure chews?
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:02 PM
Larkest Larkest is offline
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I'll be calling the daycare in the morning to see if they're willing to watch her during the day, but she barks incessantly there and I don't know if they're willing to take her again because of it.

The cost is a big factor (a month's supply of Prozac at a low dose is $300 here and I honestly do not have that kind of money) as well as the fact that she is already medication-sensitive. I'm really unwilling to risk throwing more toxins at her when she's already older. :/

Thundershirt didn't work, Composure chews made her vomit, and we have not tried a ComfortZone diffuser yet. I haven't heard of it before. What does it do?
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:11 PM
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Kat09Tails Kat09Tails is offline
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I think you need to let go of the novelty of just working by this as your housing is at risk and get the bark collar (garmin or dogtra yapperstopper) or debark your dog with a vet. I would try the bark collar first as you can always return it if it's not going to work with your dog.

My advice is to set your dog up for success. Put the collar on and crate. Remove the collar when she leaves the crate - put on when she enters the crate. Do not get a cheap bark collar - you do get what you pay for with these things.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:11 PM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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If you have a Target or Walmart nearby, the Prozac should be on their $4/$7 meds list, just FYI.

The ComfortZone is a odorless pheromone that seems to help take the edge off of anxiety in about 60% of dogs. Plugged in just like a Glade plug in, lasts about a month, benefits seen in 2 weeks.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:20 PM
Larkest Larkest is offline
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Kat09Tails - She freaks out and vomits if she is crated right now. She had not been crated prior to my getting her so I'm still trying to acclimate her to a crate. So far she will eat her meals in there voluntarily, but if you even move to close the crate door she panic and does like a shriek noise. Debarking is illegal where I live, so that isn't an option. :/

stardogs - I don't have a Walmart with a pharmacy where I live close by but I can look into it (Targets are closing across my country, so that's a no-go). I do know the Prozac is a prescription-only thing and my vet quoted me $300 when we were discussing medication or possibly outright tranqs for her and that's just too much. :/ I will look into the ComfortZone though, it sounds like it works like Feliway and I already have used that with success in the past for my two cats when we first moved here.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:26 PM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larkest View Post
stardogs - I don't have a Walmart with a pharmacy where I live close by but I can look into it (Targets are closing across my country, so that's a no-go). I do know the Prozac is a prescription-only thing and my vet quoted me $300 when we were discussing medication or possibly outright tranqs for her and that's just too much. :/ I will look into the ComfortZone though, it sounds like it works like Feliway and I already have used that with success in the past for my two cats when we first moved here.
I missed that you were in Canada, oops! Do check with human pharmacies - the Prozac for dogs is the same as Prozac for people and human pharmacies often have cheaper rates than vets ime.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:31 PM
Larkest Larkest is offline
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Oh, I didn't know it was the same! I thought maybe it was just like "doggie Prozac" and they made it differently. I didn't know it was the exact same as people Prozac! In that case, I can speak to my pharmacist on Monday about the rates when I go to pick up my own prescription. Thank you, stardogs!
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  #9  
Old 02-28-2015, 08:51 AM
krissy krissy is offline
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Costco is often a good option. I used to send a lot of scripts there for patients. Find out how much it would cost there. It may be worth paying for a membership if you don't already have one. This dog needs medication. If you can't get anywhere with baby steps you need drugs to get her brain to a level where she can actually learn.
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:00 AM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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I know someone in this situation that ended up debarking their dog. I know that is controversial but she also had a middle aged dog with SA and to be honest, those kinds of dogs are really really hard to find homes for. The debarking helped her not get evicted and gave her the time she needed to get her dog on meds and start really working with him.

ETA: Just saw it was illegal. That's a shame as I think it can be useful in such situations where it is life or death for the dog.

I would not be totally opposed to meds though. And I might even try the bark collar. SA sucks. badly. Summer had it when I got her and the only way she got better was by adding Mia. Summer was different though in that she just doesn't like being ALONE versus freaking out being away from me specifically.
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