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I figured I would write to you about Spencer who is almost 3 years old just in case anyone is dealing with these issues and has a miracle cure for me. Sorry in advance, this is going to be a long one.

For some history for those of you who don't know me, we got Spencer as a pup when he was 7 weeks old from a woman whose dog got pregnant. (I know now about BYB's but did not know any better back then). From day 1, Spencer was left at home in a dog safe room when we went to work. After just a few days, Spencer started to develop separation anxiety and started to get very upset when we would leave. We never made a big deal when we left or when we came home. I had done a lot of training research before getting him and I knew from the beginning that would just cause more problems.

Spencer started chewing the door frame in the bathroom, shredding the blinds, shredding his blankets, puppy pads, you name it. He had a lot of toys in the bathroom with him (it was a large bathroom with a baby gate on the door so he could at least see out). We tried everything with him and nothing helped. By the time he was 3 months old, he was jumping the gate so we had to put a 2nd gate on the door so that it was 2 gates high. That worked for about a month then he just started pulling the gate right off the wall, no matter how tight we had it on.

At about 4.5 months, we started leaving him loose in the house while we went to work. As long as we followed our strict routine when leaving, things usually went well. He had to be fed in his treat ball and have kongs and hidden treats to keep him distracted long enough for us to get out of the driveway. There were a few days that we would come home and he had shredded the mail form the counter, or chewed the coffee table or ate the blinds or whatever.

Spencer was always crate trained where he would sleep in his crate at night as a pup but never when we were gone all day. We now have a 2nd beagle Sydney who is 2 and she doesn't have any of these problems. Sydney was crate trained from day 1 and has always been crated when we are gone to work.

Just over 3 months ago we moved to a new house and we decided that both dogs are now going to be crated when we leave. I got really tired of coming home to something else being chewed or another accident on the carpet. I had a crate that was the biggest one I could find. It is 3' x 4' and both dogs were crated together. I had tried crating them before we had moved from the old house in separate crates and Spencer would hide on me every morning and I would have to go drag him out of hiding and put him into his crate (some days he would actually growl and snap at me, he is not a biter so this is really not like him). Now in the new house, Spencer will freely go into his crate every morning when we are getting ready to leave and just sit there waiting for his breakfast. I leave the radio on for them and make sure that we are out of the house before they are done eating. If we happen to forget something, that's too bad, we don't go back in for it.

After a few days, I noticed that the bars on the door of the crate were all bent and chewed. This is supposed to be a crate for a Rottweiler or German Shepherd yet my 26lb beagle is doing a lot of damage to it. I started giving him Rescue Remedy about 20-30 minutes before we have to leave but it did absolutely nothing. I would come home every night and the blankets in the crate have all been shredded and everything has been turned upside down.

After speaking with a behaviourist in the area, she suggested that I switch from the Rescue Remedy to more specific Bach Flower Remedies (Chicory, Mimulus, Heather). I tried that for a few weeks and still nothing.

I was actually able to get a video camera and tape him while we were away one day. I was shocked at what I found on the video when I got home. We leave at 6:30am. Spencer ate his food, his treats and kong within 3 minutes then the panic kicked in and the barking started. He was barking, digging, biting the bars, shredding the blankets, and pawing at the cage. This continued straight through until 9:50am. He did take a mini rest for about a minute at 8:40am but then it started up again. 3 hours and 20 minutes, I couldn't believe it.

The most shocking part was that my other beagle Sydney gets so frustrated with him that she snaps and attacks him (which I think she is trying to correct him but it obviously is not working). I saw her do it at least 5 times within that 3 hour span. They never actually bit each other but there was a lot of growling and teeth in each other’s faces. Obviously they are now in separate crates.

This is the video of me leaving and them being in the crate. It continues on exactly like this for over 3 hours (it is about 15 minutes long, you don't have to watchi it all, it just goes on and on).


http://media.putfile.com/Spencer---Separation-Anxiety


This is a video of the two dogs actually fighting in the kennel. This is why I have separated them into their own crates. (Please prepare yourself, this one is really hard to watch, had me in tears).


http://media.putfile.com/Spencer-Again


*Just a note, the crate they were in is 3ft x 4ft. I have the camera angled from the corner so I could see the whole thing so it looks a lot smaller.

I decided after this that it was time to take Spencer to a vet and get some sort of medication to calm him down. This vet was pretty useless and told me that there was nothing that I could do. He said that Spencer has more than just anxiety, from what he can see, he outright panics. He also said that I have a beagle, a hound, who has been bread to be a determined dog. They were bread to catch a scent and do whatever they have to do to get to it. So basically when Spencer has it in his mind that he wants out of the kennel, he is going to do what he has to do to get out.

The vet told me that there are things that I can do to help him get used to me leaving but he said that being that Spencer is already 3 years old and has been like this his whole life, he doesn't think I have a chance of changing him.

He said the only thing I can do is give him a tranquilizer every day that will knock him out. I asked if there was nothing a little milder that would help to calm him down and he said no, nothing that will actually work. Obviously that was not something I was willing to accept.

I then took Spencer to another vet in town and this guy was a lot better. He prescribed Clomicalm for him and he is getting 37.5mg/day and today is day 13 on the medication. He is having really bad reactions to the medication and is actually getting the runs really bad so I am working with the vet to try to get that under control as well.


Just over a week ago, I got a kennel that is 6ft x 10ft x 6ft and have been keeping him in that when we are gone. He has his water and a big bed with blankets, food, treat ball, kong, other food toys. I can honestly say that since we started the medication, things with him have just gotten worse. He is now barking before we even get out of the house most days. He is ignoring his treats and is still chewing the bars. The only difference is that I am now coming home to poop puddles every day (it is that runny, sorry for the descriptions). As advised by my vet yesterday, I have quit the medication and he wants to start a new anti-depressant in a couple days once his system is a little more back to normal.

Whether I walk him for over an hour (5km) before we leave or he gets no walk at all, his reaction is the exact same. When I am getting ready in the morning, he is exhausted and sleeping in his crate on the main level of the house (with the door open). He loves sleeping in the crate and playing in the kennel in the basement but as soon as that door is closed, it’s a different story.


From what I have read, SA can be caused by a traumatic experience as a puppy. When he was about 5 or 6 weeks old, hr was being kept in an outdoor kennel that was heated (this was January in Canada). He got out into the outdoor area one night and got stuck and couldn’t get back in and the end of his tail froze off. I have no idea if that could have triggered any of this but I figured it was worth at least mentioning.

So, I need help. I am at a point where I just don’t know what else to do and it seems to be getting worse by the day.
 

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I'm not sure how to help you, but have you considered day care?
I hope spencer will get better... no matter what the vet says, there has to be a solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have considered daycare but that would really only be a temporary fix because it's not like there will never be a time in the future where he will need to be left alone. Plus, it is very expensive, at least $20/day. I did find one place that it is $59/week but it is at a petstore and if they are not in a room in the store, they are out for a walk. I asked about how qualified the people are who look after them and found out that is is basically anyone in the store. I am sorry but I don't trust just anyone to take care of my dog.

I would really like to avoid using sedatives or something that would completely knock him out.
 

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I watched the videos and one thing i noticed is that the crate was bare...we were always told to cover the crate (top of it and a little on the sides) with a towel and in your case blanket or a sheet since the crate is bigger. This gives them a feeling of being in the den in the wild.

Also don't leave anything in the crate (blankets etc) except one toy that you are sure will not be torn into pieces (like a kong ball)...I can imagine what you are going through and feel for you...but I am sure with help from this group and a little bit of work..you will find a solution...a few suggestions from me are:

Have you also tried the going away for 20 mins and coming back and then slowly increasing the time so they know that eventually u are going to come back? If not, you should really try it (write back to me and I can explain in detail what the steps are). With another companion Spence should really be fine..in my personal opinion, I think he is scared that you will never come back...he needs to realize that you will come back ...

Also try to leave a CD in a boombox with your voice on it...(just singing...talking and keep playing it over and over again)..this will give him a feeling of you being around...

Try to keep in a crate sometime when u are in the house too(in the evenings, over the weekends etc)...like when u are cooking or just watching TV..this will give him comfort when u are gone..cause he will never know if you are around or not...

Also, try to let them play and get tired in the morning or a walk in the morning..this way they will sleep most of the day..

I am sure you feel right now that nothing will work...but please try some methods before giving in...hang in there..i am sure it will get better...you probably made one of the best decisions to start crate training him...but it might have been too sudden for him and now you will need to teach him to like being crated...i am sure it will work...

It sounds like you are doing stuff right like not making a big deal when u leave or also when u come back...keeping the radio on etc...I would say please try not to use drugs or other medication until you have to...but ofcourse..it is your decision...The day care idea is also very good...

Please keep us posted and good luck!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, well I just wanted to start off by clearing something up. Giving up on Spencer is not an option, I am in this for the long haul. He is my dog for life, that was a committment I made when I got him.

I have been practicing having him in the kennel while I am here for whatever reason and although it is slow, it's going so so. Today is his first day off of the medication and he is a totally different dog tonight. This is the first time in 2 weeks that I have actually seen him play and run with Sydney.

I might go back to the Bach flower remedies and give it a little longer before trying another medication that might or might not work for him and will likely make his tummy sick again. I hate drugging him like that.

I have thought about taping my voice but how would I be able to put that onto a CD that could keep playing all day?

I have actually walked him for 5km before leaving one day and he was still howling before I got out of the house.

I have seriously tried everything I can think of and am working with him daily, that is why we even went to the vet. I know something will click soon, I just have to figure out how to make that happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh and I almost forgot, that is not the crate that Spence ris in anymore. He is now in an outdoor kennel (in the basement) that is 6x10x6 and Sydney is in that crate next to him. I was never able to put a blanket or anything over the crate because Spencer would pull it through and shred that too. I did put his travel carrier into the kennel tonight though hoping that maybe more options for places to sleep will make him feel better and if he wants, he can be in his "den". He sleeps most of the night in the crate that we have on the main floor, he is almost refusing to sleep in bed with us anymore.
 

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Nothing more to add other than good luck to you. That video was a bit unnerving, I can only imagine how you felt. The little one really stuck up for herself although no match really. Poor things.
 

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My heart goes out to you. Been there/still doing that. Like you, I have 1 Beag with stubborn SA and one without. You are on the right road to problem solving for Spencer.

We have done tons of research and tried lots of different products over the years. It is my opinion that mild to moderate SA can be successfully treated with a combination of herbal or short-term prescription medication and behavior modification. But with severe, entrenched cases of SA, there is no magic bullet. I agree with your vet who likened it to panic attacks- and I think that in some cases, the best you might be able to do is manage the problem. Of course this doesn't mean that you give up trying, but that even when symptoms aren't present, that individual dog may never be completely at ease with being alone.

Here are a few of the best resources that I've discovered:

Articles:
http://www.marvistavet.com/html/separation_anxiety.html
http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/sep-anxiety.pdf

Books:
"The Dog Who Loved Too Much" ,by Dr. Nicholas Dodman,a veterinarian who teaches behavioral pharmacology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and is the director of its Behavior Clinic.

The "bible" on working with SA is a book (a pamphlet, actually) called "I\'ll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell. It gives invaluable information and helps to determine when a case is so severe as to require a consultation with a behaviorist.

The issue of crating is an important one. If an anxious dog can be successfully crated, the crate becomes a valuable training tool. It can make him feel like he's in a safe den, and protect your furniture and belongings. However, with some severe forms of SA, a dog cannot be crated and will in fact harm himself in what becomes a full-blown panic attack as he attempts to break out. So, it is vital to determine the severity of the SA to see if crate training is an option. My dog with SA cannot be crated (though we do crate the other one).

The other thing that you and I probably have in common is that people who don't have SA dogs (especially those who don't own dogs at all) do not understand the problem whatsoever. I can't tell you how many times family and friends have rolled their eyes and wondered aloud why my dog can't simply "get over it". They just don't get it. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/frown.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for that information. I have someone sending me that pamphlet from Patricia B McConnell. I will look into those articles and that book, they are worth the read.

Last night I moved Spencer's travel carrier into the kennel and now when he goes in there, he goes to that right away. I had meant to put it in there a couple weeks ago and for some reason, I forgot.

I was speaking with a friend of mine last night and we decided that it is best of I do not feed them in there as I am leaving the house because eating is an exciting thing for them and they are getting all wound up. This morning, they ate as soon as they woke up and then just got some toys to play with in the kennel (Sydney is still in her own crate). I kenneled them about 20 minutes before I was leaving and just sat there waiting where they could see me. Slowly Spencer would calm down and go into his carrier when I would tell him to go lay down. He did still bark when I finally had to leave but we had some calmer moments in there so that's a good sign. I guess the bed was just not a comfortable place for him even though it is a lot bigger and squishier than the carrier.

I have also been reading the Cesar Millan books and have been learning a lot from them in general. He says not to leave when your dog is excited, that you should wait until they are calm. I guess I will know better tonight how today went when I see the condition of the kennel.

And you're right, some people who have not had to deal with this often make the smart a$$ comments about how it is time for him to visit the doggie park in the sky. :rolleyes:
 

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Quote: And you're right, some people who have not had to deal with this often make the smart a$$ comments about how it is time for him to visit the doggie park in the sky.
Oh my god... I would never even consider something like that... I don't want to even say what I would tell those people to go and do.... :angryfire:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:Originally posted by Chloe's Mommy:
Quote: And you're right, some people who have not had to deal with this often make the smart a$$ comments about how it is time for him to visit the doggie park in the sky.
Oh my god... I would never even consider something like that... I don't want to even say what I would tell those people to go and do.... :angryfire:
I would have said something but it was actually my poss so I really had to hold my tongue. Anyone else would have had a strip torn off of them.
 

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I can completely and totally relate. Jersey has a major case of separation anxiety as well. We went through everything you talked about from trying to break out (she tried to chew through the plastic on her travel crate) to howling, shredding blankets... We tried every approach - herbal/natural supplements, vitamins, clomicalm (hated it!), acepromazine (tranquilizers), training...you name it we did it. I recently talked to my vet, again!, about her problem and he prescribed a medication called Reconcile (which I have now found out is just Prozac). However, it's working. We can leave her for short amounts of time now (just a few minutes at once). It's a huge improvement over the howling that would ensue the minute we walked out. It's a long process, but it sounds like you are making some progress.

As for your bosses comment? I wouldn't have taken that, even from my boss. I may have been nicer about the phrasing I used with him than with someone else, but my boss would have been more than clear about how I felt about his comments!
 

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I feel for you. We dont have to leave ours, both of us being pensioners, but would have a problem if we had to go somewhere without them.
As for your boss, we had a friend who dislikes dogs and he offered jokingly to rid us of our last beagle, when we couldnt accept an invitation. He also shouted at and kicked Spotty when she was barking in his garden. Needless to say he no longer a friend of ours.
Hope you solve your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I had researched both Clomicalm and Reconcile before going to the vet and when I went, he suggested Clomicalm so we tried that one first. Maybe I should ask him avout the Reconcile. I have already printed out all the information about that one with their training methods and everything.

For those of you who do have dogs with SA, what routine do you follow before leaving home?
 

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Sorry, no tips, but I know what you're going through. We've been dealing with SA in Gage, who's almost 2, and nothing has worked long term(although we haven't tried prescription drugs).

We try to let him get a bit of exercise, before we go, then have him get into his crate about 15 minutes before leaving time. If he realizes we're leaving, he won't kennel up on his own, so someone will pick him up and put him in. Just before we leave, we'll give him his treat toy.

I've noticed that Gage is fine with people leaving if he can see where they go. For example, he used to get upset when the kids went outside and seemed to disappear for a few hours, but has been okay when watched them getting on the bus. Of course, there's no way to set it up so he can see everyone riding away though.
 

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Hi there...it seems like u are really doing the right things...i am so sorry that some people like your boss just don't understand the real joys of having a dog...which is why i think they make comments like that...

Hope that things will start improving soon...hang in there!!

Belly rubs to Spencer!

Dexter and Toke
 

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may be a trivial thing but maybe a key word or phase when you leave lets him know you will be gone for awhile but will be back might help.at night when homer goes in his cage i tell him good night and he curls right up to go to sleep.when we have to leave during the day and crate him he stands in there looking confused like "it's not night-why am i in here with the door shut?"i always tell him " ok see you in a little bit" and he settles in for a nap.sounds kind of silly but i swear he knows
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have been working on getting him to calm down in the kennel while I am still in the room. I go and sit on the couch in the basement and usually he will go into his little crate and go to sleep (within 5-10 minutes) but as soon as I walk even near the stairs, he gets up right away.

When I have to leave, I have been doing the same thing, trying to get him to calm down in there before I leave. I thought it was going well at first but yesterday we had another poopy mess when I got home (was only gone 5 hours). So now I at least know that he is getting himself so upset that he is getting the runs.

We are also in the middle of switching him back to his old food so his poops are a little off right now anyway. I have tried pumpkin and it just makes him worse. I have tried rice and that just goes right through him.

I really think I am going to call the vet tomorrow to see if he can perscribe Reconcile to us.
 

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I can't help with the S.A., but I would recommend taking his collar off when putting him in the crate. Although it's unlikely, I don't think it's unheard of for a dog to get their collar caught in a crate and suffocate. And as much as he's thrashing around and trying to break out, it probably ups his chances.

Goodluck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks. I actually have been taking the collar off since seeing that video but he is not in that crate anymore, Sydney is in there on her own. His new one is about 5x the size.
 
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