We picked Buster up from the pound a month ago. The man who owned the shelter said that they found him on the side of the road, and after a week no one showed up to claim him. We absolutley fell in love with him, and decided to take him home.
We love him dearly, but he has a SEVERE case of separation anxiety. We lock him inside of his crate when we go to work he breaks out of it bungee cords and all. (We don't know how he does it.. the cords are still attatched in place & the door is still shut...) He has his water/food, toys, shirts that smell like us, etc. Once out, he destroys whatever he can get his paws on. We tried putting him in the garage, and he destroyed the molding around the door in attempts to get out, out on the back porch he ripped the screens out of the windows. If he is tied to a tree and we're outside working, he howels and howels until he can be near us. If we are outside and he is in, he howels, scratches, jumps, whines.
Even when we are at home, he refuses to be anywhere but by our sides. If one of us gets up to leave a room he follows. He will not stay in a room to play, sleep, etc. without someone with him.
I don't know how to fix this problem, if it is at all fixable. Has anyone else had this problem? And if so.. what did you do?
below are some links i've found to be helpful.
the bottom of the article has really good recommendations for books, too.
I'll be Home Soon -- by Patricia B McConnell
is a very good little booklet about sep anx. i highly recommend it.
luke still has a wee bit of separation anxiety, but it is a lot better than it used to be. we adopted him in 2004 when he was 3 years old. there is no quick fix. it was over 3 months before we started to see improvements in how he was dealing with being home alone. we used the crate by adding extra security measures so that he could not break out, but his anxiety was not as severe as some dogs, where using a wire crate to contain them can become dangerous. it was a terribly tough time for me, more so than luke, but i'm so glad we were able to get past this part of his life, because i think in some ways, it really made our bond that much stronger. luke is a wonderful dog. aside from the bit of sep anx, he is the perfect canine companion.
you may also want to talk to your vet about this. they may be able to prescribe meds to help take the edge off.
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford
I don't have any direct experience, other than to tell you that you're in for a long haul. These things take a long time to work through. Bless you for the patience you'll need.
Basically, the approach is to de-sensitize the dog to your leaving. So watch for 'triggers' that spur his anxiety. Does he get antsy when you put on your shoes? Grab the car keys? Reach for your jacket? Exactly WHEN does Buster start to lose it.
And then you've got to take the anxiety out of that particular action. Say it's the car keys. Pick them up and jingle them into your pocket as if you're going somewhere... but then sit calmly on the couch and pick up the newspaper. Do the same thing several times a day without leaving. Grab the keys to go to the bathroom. Grab the keys and start cooking dinner. Grab the keys and go to bed.
The idea is to break the notion that keys = you're departure.
Then, try grabbing the keys and stepping outside onto your front stoop for a full minute. Return. Act totally nonchalant about all this -- it's just another exercise w/the keys.
Then try for 2 mins. Build the time up until you can be gone for a while. If Buster loses it, you've progressed too far too quickly. Retreat to your last plateau of good behavior and start in smaller increments.
I agree with Luke from GA/Sunjin -- get Dr. McConnell's booklet "I'll be home soon" and follow it exactly.
Here's the link:
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
I agree with the others get the books and follow their instruction. In the meantime he is watching your routine and something is triggering this behavior. When you leave for the day is there something you always take with you? A bag or a briefcase, maybe a coat? If so maybe you can put those out in the car the night before. When you leave for the day don't mollycoddle him leave as if you are going to be back in 5 minutes, don't say anything to him just go. While your at home make him lay down in one spot and go into another room for 2 minutes. If he gets up, (and he will) take him back to the spot and start over. When the time has elapsed go back to him and reward him with praise, maybe a small treat. Do it again and over time increase the time he has to stay in the downstay. This will teach him that he can survive without him being attached to your hip. Is doggy day care an option?
In addition to the great suggestions already given, I think you should also work on his clingy behavior. The downstay is perfect for this. Start by teaching a downstay, where you have him down and only take one step away, then back, then treat and release him. Work up to two steps. Then three, etc. Once he will downstay reliably with you still in sight, then start by stepping around a corner, out of his sight, for just a split second, then back to him, treat and release. Slowly increase the amount of time you are out of his sight by slight, millisecond, amounts of time. Eventually the idea is that you will be able to put him in a downstay and go out of his sight for up to several minutes, and he will remain exactly where you left him. This will increase his confidence and cut down on the clingy behavior.