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Old 07-10-2012, 02:49 PM
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Default SA or just throwing a fit?

Tucker was doing really well being left home alone. No accidents, no destroying things for a very long time. The only time he would have an accident was when he would be isolated while someone was home. Like if mom wanted to go upstairs by herself and left him downstairs, he'd poop because he upset about it. Or once I gated him upstairs so I could go down and do laundry and he pooped. But this has dwindled too.

Then I came home from college for the summer. I am home all day most days, we don't do things during the day, just hang out. When I do leave there is usually someone home. So I've been dogsitting a dog up the street starting Saturday. Tucker screams his head off every time I leave, something he had mostly stopped doing before I came home for the summer (as a puppy he would scream for an hour and often poop when he was left alone but he had gotten over it). On Saturday and Sunday dad was up when I left, so Tucker barked and howled when I left but didn't get into any trouble. Yesterday, since it was Monday, dad was at work and mom was still asleep. I left, Tucker started screaming. When I came home Tucker had raided mom's pocket book, threw everything on the floor and found a bar of chocolate to eat. Today mom was up when I left, so again just noise. Then this afternoon me and mom went out for a little while, so Tucker was alone, we came home to find he had gotten into the bag that I use when I take him to the park (water bottles, ball, folding water bowl, nothing important) and had gotten into a box of brownie mix and ripped open the bag in the living room.

The thing is he has never once shown interest in any of these things. Mom's pocket book was on a chair, where it has sat for two years and he's never before touched it. The box of brownies has been on the floor in the closet for 2 months, he's never shown interest in it. My park bag has also sat on a chair in the kitchen for months with him showing zero interest in it. So it's not thing I would have even thought to keep out of his reach.


So I'm afraid by being home so much I've caused him to relapse into separation anxiety territory. But at the same time I'm not sure it's really SA. Mom and dad say he does it to get revenge, something I don't believe dogs are capable of, but it certainly does seem that way.

I assume the only way to fix this is to contain him somewhere? He's not really crate trained and to be honest none of us like crating because of how upset it makes him. I'm afraid to gate him in the living room (where he generally hangs out and which is easier to dog proof than the kitchen) because I don't want him to angry poop in there, he always angry poops in the kitchen or basement which is at least easy to clean. Locking him in the bathroom would cause a similar reaction to the crate, plus I'm afraid he'd get under the sink where the chemicals are. We still have his puppy play pen which we used for a while when he was small, it worked for a while but he eventually started angry pooping in there too (at which point we let him have free run of the house and the angry pooping when we left stopped, destruction continued for several months).


Anyways, do you think confinement will increase his anxiety and thus make things worse? Should I just try harder to clean up before I leave?
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
I assume the only way to fix this is to contain him somewhere? He's not really crate trained and to be honest none of us like crating because of how upset it makes him.
Honestly, from this and your other threads about this dog, it sounds like you and your family are anthropomorphizing hardcore. No, dogs don't do things to get revenge, he is not "angry pooping" or destroying things because you hurt his feelings.

I would definitely start with crate training, there have been many threads about Susan Garrett's Crate Games, which is an excellent way to start changing his mindset about the crate.

Have you seen a veterinary behaviourist about his separation anxiety?
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:10 PM
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We can't afford a behaviorist or trainer, I tried to get my parents to go for it and they really can't (not for his SA, for his aggression). Maybe someday, but not right now. We could maybe afford a single consult, but not many trainers are going to be able to do a lot in one session. His SA had dwindled down to nothing until I returned from school. He had stopped barking when people left, he had stopped destroying stuff, and he had stopped pooping and had been that way for at least 6 months. And I'm not saying he's pooping to get back at us, that is what my parents believe (and I understand why they believe this), but it is connected to him being upset and thus I call it angry pooping. He is also destroying things because he is upset. Why? I don't know, must make him feel good, maybe relieves stress. I also don't think it's anthropomorphizing to say my dog dislikes being in his crate A LOT and to feel bad about making him to something he hates. The screaming and digging at the door is upsetting to us and I do believe it reflects him being scared or simply very unhappy.

I have crate games, but I wonder if it actually makes dogs okay with being left alone in the crate, as that never happens during the training process. I always saw it as more of a self control game. I have been meaning to get back to it, I had started doing it over spring break but never got back to it after I returned again. So perhaps I'll give it a go. Mom won't allow the crate in the kitchen or living room (the only two rooms he hangs out in) so he doesn't get much of a chance to get used to it or use it without getting locked in. He slept in the crate every night for nearly two years and is wonderful in it at night, has been since day one. Step out of the room and he starts freaking out and continues on (I don't know how long, we've never waited him out, crate training was given up on quickly). In those two years he never elected to enter the crate on his own, he had to be forced or lured. He no longer sleeps in it, he sleeps with my parents mostly or loose down stairs. He never causes problems at night.
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:57 PM
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I have crate games, but I wonder if it actually makes dogs okay with being left alone in the crate, as that never happens during the training process.
Oh yes, it absolutely does. Crate Games does a lot of things but it's about building value for the crate. That's why the dogs will launch themselves for the crate even across the room, because the crate means good things.
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:55 PM
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Pooping isn't angry, but it can be connected to the SA. Some dogs lose control of their bowels when they hit a certain anxiety level. It's not their fault. They're not trying to poop. They honestly can not help it.

Our GSD foster with SUPER severe SA used to have explosive diarrhea if I walked out of the room and she couldn't follow me. It was sad.

The destruction is anxiety related too and not intentional. Most dogs with SA will go for things near exits because they are desperate to escape and follow you. Stuff like doors, door frames, flooring around doors, windows frames, curtains, etc. The other thing they target is stuff that smells like you because chewing is comforting and your smell is comforting. So shoes, clothes, bedding, recently handled books, etc.

The worst thing you can do is let the anxiety escalate to high levels where he's destroying stuff. Every time he feels that anxious, it makes the SA exponentially worse. Every time he feels anxious, you lose ALL your progress in overcoming it.

You want to desensitize him to you leaving. Pick up your keys, put on your coat, then take that stuff off again and sit down for a while. Go through the motions of getting ready to leave and then stop. Give him treats while he's calm. It's really important to teach him to deescalate as soon as he starts feeling anxious.

It's really helpful having meds to keep him from feeling anxious while retraining, so you don't have the major setbacks and have to start over. If you can't do that, Rescue Remedy works well and is a great tool.

Definitely work on crate training and making it an amazing happy place. I'd avoid locking him in until he loves it because it can really screw up a SA dog to confine them somewhere while they're anxious. The cry it out method does not work for SA dogs. Tengu destroyed a steel drop pin crate in 20 seconds. I mean, there was NOTHING left except wire shreds and she had a poosplosion. She could have been seriously injured, but thankfully was okay. After that it was excruciatingly hard to get her to overcome it and tolerate crates again.

Overall, SA dogs seem to do best with indoor/outdoor access and someone home all the time until their desensitization is complete. It's definitely not practical, which is where meds and other management tools help.
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:05 PM
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I agree about the desensitization exercises. There's a lot of information out there, but Romy outlined the essentials above -- take it slowly.

Crate games are great as is Dr. Overall's relaxation protocol (http://dogscouts.org/Protocol_for_relaxation.html).

Bailey does much better if I leave him with a really high value treat (hot dogs and cheese in a Kong, slightly melted and stinky but not too hot). He'll be too stressed to eat anything much lower value than that, including bully sticks.

Finally, you can look into DAP collars, Rescue Remedy, Thundershirts, etc., and medication if you think he's at that point.

Bailey doesn't destroy things except every once in a blue moon he'll rip up a paper product -- for me, it's much more about managing his anxiety, which is very real.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:57 PM
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Scout recently hit another very bad plateau with her anxiety and basically management to keep things from escalating further is the best thing you can do. She's on day two of clomapramine... so hopefully as it builds up in her system it will help us to be able to actually even go back to working on desensitizing. Right now I'm having to do EVERYTHING with both girls together... Scout's anxiety is tied to both me and Lily, not just me. She's kind of a odd case. Honestly given what was imprinted very early on in Scout and her genetics.... I may have to get a third dog in the house sooner rather than later. I would still have to slowly work up to doing things seperately with her and Lily, but at least then we'd have a fighting chance rather than just falling back down the rabbit hole. She was pretty dang functional for months and months when I had a third foster dog and for a couple months prior to that which coincided with our awful neighbors upstairs getting evicted, so like a mentioned its not just one element thats the issue causing her anxiety but a combination of things. Sweet quirky thing, oy vey.

Get a desensitizing plan in place (mental and physical exercise as well as a behavioral adjustment program to slowly desensitize) and have tools like DAP, Rescue Remedy, drugs, whatever to assist with it. Be really, really careful not to go over his threshold for anxiety because every time you do it just snowballs and means it'll take that much longer to work through it.

A DAP diffuser helps a bit, but the Thundershirt didn't really do anything for us. I've not tried Rescue Remedy, but I'd like to. Obviously I've taken the step to go to medication. If it can help us through this plateau in her behavior and get her a better quality of life, I'm all for it. Her anxiety isn't just SA though, she's got a lot of generalized anxiety as well.

Today I did a trial. I took Scout out by herself to potty. Collared up and up we went to the yard (I have no fence). She did fine. Come back down, kennel her up and go to put Lily's collar on. Scout starts vocalizing immediately and messing with her crate. I did some OB exercises with Lily there in the living room/kitchen until Scout had quieted (she was still very anxious though...) and then I opened her crate and had her sit and wait for the release word. And took her outside with Lily.

Basically IMO she was not ready for even this little exercise, but you don't know unless you try. So now I know we're still in triage mode. Fun times!
Luckily Lily has been fairly patient and only a little snarky about doing everything together.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:06 PM
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Juno was fine being left alone for many many months when all of a sudden she turned destructive. The Thundershirt has been our solution because dear God, I am not setting the crate up again.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:12 PM
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Have you tried doing things with him? You said you don't do much with him just hang around. Could he just be super bored?
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:19 PM
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Have you tried doing things with him? You said you don't do much with him just hang around. Could he just be super bored?
Yep, this. IMO, It doesn't sound like true SA, though nowadays everything is labelled SA so it has a name and a "fix" (meds)

It sounds to me like an understimulated dog that doesn't know what he's supposed to do when he's alone, so he uses his energy for whatever is readily available.
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