We had a trainer over yesterday to help us work through this separation anxiety. It was a good visit, reassuring and informative. The bottom line: there's no magic cure. Helping Lola overcome her anxiety will take time and patience.
Our plan is to essentially desensitize her to the cues that we are leaving and gradually get her comfortable with being left alone. This means that in the meantime we cannot leave her alone, because each time she goes into panic mode that causes us to go backwards in progress. So, we're working on finding a place where she can be happy and calm while we're away. That's the difficult first step, but we have some ideas and leads. Hopefully one will pan out.
We are also taking her in to the vet to get a prescription for doggy prozac. Her case is bad enough - she cannot be left alone for any amount of time - that medication may be helpful. It was recommended that we give her about four weeks for the meds to build up and start having an effect before we start the training. Yes, this will be a long process.
We also decided that there's not much point to using the crate. That causes her to panic more and she breaks out anyway.
We discussed getting a second dog. Our trainer basically said it's a gamble, which is what I was thinking. A buddy could help with Lola's anxiety. On the other hand, a new dog could actually develop anxiety from being with Lola. That would not be a good development! So it seems the best idea is to get Lola to a better place before adding a new dog. That makes me a little sad, because I was getting excited about that possibility, but we have to accept the reality of our situation.
That's the basic summary. Obviously, we discussed it all in far more detail. We worked on some other things too, like loose-leash training. She did well and I can see us making good improvements there. Overall, I fell clearer about how to approach this problem. I'm happy to share more if anyone's curious.
Here's an update: We've ditched the strict method from the Dog Listener book, but are still utilizing some of the tactics. I would say that Lola is doing better. We've ditched the crate when leaving her alone, because she has now figured out how to undue the latch on the door.
We have a trainer coming to visit our home tomorrow, which we're looking forward to. One of the hardest parts has been deciding on a plan to stick with, so we're optimistic that we're heading in a good direction.
Also, we're finally seriously considering adopting a second dog, so that Lola has a buddy. We've found a possible match and hope top meet him this week.
Well, I real the book, The Dog Listener. Now my husband is reading it. From the way the conversation has progressed I can see people have a variety of opinions on her method I don't have a particularly strong view either way. I'm sure her method has strength and weaknesses. My husband noticed in the first chapter that she says Homo sapiens emerged from Neanderthals, which we no longer believe to be the case. I believe that doesn't, however, mean her method is totally useless.
I'm ready to choose a method and stick to it until it works. Jan Fennel's is appealing to me in some keys ways, so I'm going with it. Today is day one, over the next 48 hours I will be taking control of the pack through simple and subtle messages. I'm optimistic and have seen some results already.
It's pretty interesting, actually. The first step is sending signals that I am the leader whenever we are reunited. This involves intentionally and consistently ignoring the dog as they go through their "repertoire". For Lola this means whining, starting at me, pawing at me, standing between my legs, etc. I have been ignoring her, which can be a challenge. For example, she has tried to get up on my lap, but I preempt that by standing up and turning my back to her. When she has clearly finished her "repertoire" and is calm and disengaged for at least 5 minutes, I call her to "come" and give a treat and some affection. So far, I think this whole process is working. Right now she's curled up in the back of her crate! I'll keep you all updated.
Thanks, Therese. I just found a local training/boarding place that will do private consults for $150…that's a little more reasonable. As far as the book is concerned, could you give me a little idea about how this book was so helpful? I'll buy it and read it myself, but I'm curious what you think was special about her advice.
Report: Lola did get out of her ex-pen set up. The pen itself had not been opened, so my theory is that she climbed on top of her crate and jumped over. She peed on the carpet in three places (Thankfully, no poop!), shredded all the toilet paper and cardboard in the apartment, and chewed on the window blinds in every room. The worst part is that she cut herself, maybe on her gums from chewing, and got little smudges of blood everywhere.
This is clearly not sustainable and just painful to watch. She's just miserable. So I'm taking her to the vet to see if putting her on meds is a possibility. I've thought of seeking the help of a dog behaviorist (there's a highly recommended women nearby in San Francisco), but they're sooooo expensive. The second B is a possibility, but it's a risky move - could help or could not help.
Sorry I haven't responded sooner. Thanks for all the thoughts!
Today we're trying an ex-pen around her crate, Renaultf1, to see how that goes. She does love marrow bones, but, believe it or not, has historically still ignored those when we're away. She goes straight into panic mode and sees nothings else! She has to be alone today for 5 hours, which is longer than she's been alone the other days. I'm worried she'll bust out of the pen, but I can't bear to think of her going nuts in her crate for 5 hours. I could probably take her too school but it seems like it would be so distracting and I feel like it may look unprofessional.
We have thought about getting a second basenji. I'm concerned her SA anxiety will continue and then we'll just have two dogs to contend with! So, DebraDownSouth thanks for the suggestion about borrowing a foster dog. That's a good idea and we may try it down the road a little.
I have decided to visit a vet to see if we can get her on meds. I'll keep you posted.
Greetings! It's been a long while since I've been on this forum. I'm remembering how much I loved the conversations here and am glad to be back.
What's brought me back is that I would love some advice with a tough situation. My husband and I have a 5 year old Basenji, Lola. We've had her since she was one. She's always had separation anxiety, but in the past we've been able to slowly train her to be used to our absence for short periods of time. Over the last couple years, we've been lucky because we lived with my parents in Seattle who have a yard. That was a dream. We recently moved to at apartment in the Bay Area and our daily lives have changed a lot. Lola's SA symptoms have been worse ever since. When left alone, she chews and cries much worse than ever before. She has chewed window blinds, carpet, door trim, etc. It's getting expensive and frustrating..not to mention heartbreaking to watch her get so unhappy.
We hadn't used her crate in a few years, but now we're pulling it out again and working on crate training. She had been doing well over the last week. She could happily chew on a kong treat with the crate door closed while we were home and would occasionally hang out in the crate. Now that the holidays are over my husband and I are starting work and school again, so we have to leave her alone for 4-5 hours a day.
The problem - this is where I could use some help - is that she's not ready to be left alone in the crate. We crated her yesterday and she cried, peed, chewed her water dish and just generally freaked out. This causes her to backslide, understandably, in her crate comfort level. We even exercised her for two hours (1 hour walk and 1 hour at the dog park) in the morning. I left her with her kong, which she only gets int he crate, and she ignored it. That's SA sympton, I believe. Has anyone out there found way to crate train, while still leaving their dog alone? Today I'm trying a "Happy Traveler" capsule. It's an herbal calming remedy and might help.
Any advice or thoughts are welcome! Thanks in advance.
I need a little reassurance. We will be boarding Lola for a week, starting Saturday, and it will be her first time. Will someone please tell me she'll be okay? She used to have pretty bad separation anxiety, although she's much better now. Of course she still doesn't like to be separated from us.
I'd really liek to hear that there are others with clingy Bs, who've made it through boarding the first time. She'll be at a place with stall style kennels (she hasn't slept in her crate for a year!), 4 acres to run around in occasionally, daily walks and even optional "spoiling", otherwise known as hanging out in the kennel office.
So, do you think she'll be okay? I think I'm probably worrying too much, but I just don't want her to be miserable….or scream and howl all night and get sent home. :eek:
Lola has started a nasty habit of growling at dogs she meets on our walks. She didn't do this at all when we first got her, at about 1.5 years old. She used to be really sweet. She was good to every dog, even if they growled at her.
Now she crouches down when she sees another dog. Sometimes she stares and trembles, if they're far away. If they get close to say hi she growls under her breath. Today she outright growled…like louder than usual. It sounded like she was getting all frothy at the mouth. So, it seems to be slowly getting worse. I don't want her to start snapping!
How can we train her to be nice and get all worked up? I know we're supposed to be positive when other dogs approach and to try and keep the lease loose. Maybe I should be doing something else? I don't know why she's started this. I feel like we've surly done something to cause it, since she never did it before. Plus, now I'm worried, which she's probably sensing. Thanks.
Thanks for the great suggestions. Lola stayed with my parents over the holiday, while we were out of town. She had no trouble with the eye. We got her back this morning and her eye swelled a little. So, my husband thinks she might be allergic to something in our house. The tooth theory is a good one, even thought the vet did consider that.
We've put of taking her to the vet because the swelling is no where near as bad as it was. I'm still not satisfied thought, so we'll seek a second opinion. I'll let you all know how it goes
Her other eye does not seem to be affected at all. In fact, there is nothing else unusual on the rest of her body. The vet looked all around her eye and didn't see anything unusual. She certainly might have something embedded in her eye. She often rubs her face on the ground…don't know why. It seemed normal to me.
Our Lola has a little health issue, that's confusing us and the vet I don't think it's anything really serious, but I'd sure like to ge it figured out.
About three weeks ago, Lola's right eye swelled up to golf ball size. Only the eye lids were swollen and it was a little moist. Her eye ball seemed normal. So, the vet gave her a one shot each of cortisone and antihistamine. The swelling went down and the eye looked normal again.
About a week later, it swelled up again, this time looking a little worse. She got the same two shots and the swelling went down again. This time the vet theorized that it could be an allergy to a plant. Perhaps she was putting her face in something on our walks. She suggested giving her benadryl when it starts to swell. We've done that once already this week, when we noticed the swelling coming back.
So, here we are this morning and the eye is starting to swell again! I wish I knew the cause. The plant allergy theory doesn't hold for me. She hasn't been outside yet today and her eye was fine last night. Plus, it's the same eye every time. I thought we might not give her benedryl to see if the swelling is as bad as it's been. Perhaps it's a bug bite that's taking a really long time to heal.
Does anyone have a theory?
Hi, all. This is probably going to be along post, but I'm really desperate for some helpful advice. I've posted before, asking for advice about leaving our Lola home alone, but it's since become obvious to be that she has a serious case of separation anxiety.
When we leave Lola home alone, closed in a large room, for almost any amount of time, she poops on the carpet. We used to crate her, but she peed and whined so loudly that it bothered out neighbors. She's not destructive, except for a couple times when she clawed at the door or window.
Per the advice of many, we make our coming and going low key, leave her with treats and toys and try to leave for small amounts of time throughout the day. So far, we don't see any improvment. What may be hurting the process is that invariably, we wind up having to leave her alone for 2-3 hours once or twice a week. In other words, we havn't been able to "ease" her into being left alone.
Since we adopted her (the last 4 months), my husband has been able to stay home while I'm at work. This week he starts a full time job and I don't know what to do. I work next door to our home, but coming home ever 2-3 hours wouldn't solve this problem. I would still be cleaning up poo. My parents love her and can doggysit her often, but not everyday. Afterall, we adopted her, not them!
We're not rich, but we're willing to do whatever will work. The question remains… what will work? Does she need medication? A playmate? Private training? Therapy? Day care?
Has anyone had experience with this? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? What's the best method?
Well, I could hardly believe it, but Lola was a perfect angel during our vacation. We got a car "hammock" for the back seat and she slept like a baby the whole way. It was wonderful.
She was also terrific at the many different hotels, houses and town we visited. The only time she was a pain was around the two campfires we had with friends in CO. I think the sounds and shadows scared her.
As usual, I was so preoccupied that I hardly took any pictures. The few I did take are under Member Galleries titles "Road Trip".
We just bought a car harness and it worked great! We drove around with her, wearing the harness, and whe was really calm. It also doubles as a walking harness and it worked out better than the one we had before. I think we've found the solution. We'll get some of that spray stuff (Rescue Remeday, or whatever it's called), in case she freaks a little, but I think we're going to be okay.
BTW, we decided not go all the way to Denver. We're going to stop in Yellowstone and enjoy the scenery. Yellowstone, here we come!
Thanks for all the great suggestions