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Pam Palmer

We made a bad choice...

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Since separation anxiety is often related to other anxiety disorders (there's a really statistically significant correlation with noise phobias, for example), and since anti-anxiety medications such as SSRIs and TCAs can be so successful for treating separation anxiety, it's likely that there's an organic context to SA (i.e., a biological or physiological explanation for the behavior). Since anxiety also seems to be hereditary -- it is possible to breed lines of pathologically anxious dogs for research, for example -- there is also a genetic context for at least some cases of separation anxiety.

 

Many dogs with separation anxiety have a history of being recycled from one home to another. But, it's difficult to say whether the recycling is what made them the way they are, or if it exacerbated a tendency that was already there. I lean toward the latter explanation. There are some dogs who have been through a dozen homes and are still fine with being left alone, and others who have been in one home all their lives with crippling SA.

 

I think the moral of the story is that SA has to be approached as a behavioral issue or disorder, not a training issue.

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Now, this has been interesting! I've wondered, from time to time, if my Kali had a touch of SA. Now I can see that he hasn't - he's just hacked-off at not getting his own way! Once I'm out of sight, he annexes the sofa and goes to sleep :rolleyes: (We videoed him :D )

 

I have a much better idea of what this SA problem is, now - thanks, all!

 

Snorri

:cool:

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Can a dog develope SA over time if in a stable home? If there is a correlation between sensitivity to loud noise will a pup that shows this be more likely to get SA later in life if they don't show it now?

 

Marzipan is only 7 months and she is happy in her crate when we go. (Video tape says so) But she is very sensitive to pops and smacks and loud bangs. (She hates when I put laundry on the line outside as it snaps and makes a noise.) Could she get SA? Is there an age when SA starts to show? Or can it happen at anytime?

 

Thanks all - very good thread.

 

Denise

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Originally posted by BigD:

Can a dog develope SA over time if in a stable home?

Yup.

 

If there is a correlation between sensitivity to loud noise will a pup that shows this be more likely to get SA later in life if they don't show it now?
A correlation doesn't mean an absolute connection. Some nervous and sound sensitive dogs will never develop SA. And some SA does will show no discomfort about loud or strange noises.

 

I have had young puppies that I would say exhibit the potential for SA. You should read the rest of Melanie's post carefully though ... there are other indicators that are much more telling. Many good trainers can tell you if a shelter dog is likely to exhibit SA tendancies just by observing their interactions with people.

 

There is no specific age that a dog will "develop" SA. For some dogs a single negative experience can get the whole ball rolling. For others, it's a gradual accumulation of anxiety-drive behaviours that eventually snowball into full-blown anxieties.

 

There are also degrees of severity, and my personal opinion is that how the dog is handled can greatly affect the outcome. That't not to say that training alone can nip SA in the bud, but rather that if a "supsect" dog learns lots of independence training and developed self confidence from the start, the likelihood of the problems worsening us minimized.

 

RDM

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The thing to remember is that separation anxiety is a term that's been applied to a "syndrome" or constellation of problem behaviors. Only recently has there been hard evidence (although there has always been strong suggestive and anecdotal data) for an organic cause underlying the "syndrome" in some dogs. Another thing to remember is that it's not a black and white thing -- a you-either-are-or-aren't, like pregnancy or bacterial infection or having a tumor. If brain chemistry predisposes a dog to SA, it is also logical that there will be a continuity of expression with some dogs at one end being extremely pathological and dogs at the other end being "super-normal," with really nice and perfect brain chemistry. My guess is that there are dogs in the middle who may only exhibit problems if they have a history or rehoming or some other catalyst that causes underlying shortcomings to be revealed.

 

Either way, I think building a dog's confidence and independence training are always a good thing.

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Here is my story about SA:

 

I have a dog with SA. She exhibited signs when she was about 5 months. She is an acd which are supposedly independent dogs. I had her from the time she was 7 weeks.

 

She was crate trained and spent her time in the crate while we could not watch her. Her anxiety went from heavy panting to finally chewing the metal bars on her crate. She broke 3 teeth- one K9 is in bad shape but she was able to keep it-broke a good portion off, one K9 is good shape but the very tip was broken off, and she broke a front tooth that busted into the gums and had to be removed almost $600 later.

 

We actually tried clomicalm and a couple others and behavioral modification but she was that one in a million that actually got worse on meds. We took her off the meds but kept up the behavioral modification. We also spent a lot of time before leaving for work wearing her brain out. We also stopped crating her and figure that we could replace things she destroyed which was cheaper than more dental surgery (she is also allergic to anesthaetic so we have to be careful). We hid treats and such throughout the level she was allowed on... For the most part this stuff helped and we only loose books, magazines, cardboard etc... rarely. We have never lost anything major to her destuction. Now that we have the bc/mix, the destruction has decreased and my acd seems happier.

 

SA is not easy to live with but with work you can make changes. Some dogs are easier to manage than others. I was able to find a happy medium with my dog but I can understand why folks don't want to or can't put in the time. It is frustrating, takes a lot of time, consistancy, money and most of all PATIENCE.

 

Good luck

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I find all of this very interesting reading! By what most of you describe, my Golden and her pup would be candidated for S/A, but they aren't destructive in the least. Daisy has always been my "shadow", and follows me room to room. She also whines pitifully if I close the bedroom door on her (although she has allowed me to shower alone now for about 2 years, lol!). And god forbid I leave her in the house while I do something in the yard. Also makes frantic attempts to get in the car with me if she suspects she isn't being invited. When I get home, she is so thrilled she can't hardly hold it all in. But she doesn't destroy things. On the occasions that I leave her alone with someone else, they say she simply whines for a few moments before settling down somewhere to sleep until I return, and I assume that is what she does when she's alone as well.

 

Now her pup is doing all the same things. Only he still doesn't allow me to shower alone. He actually tries to get INTO the shower with me sometimes, other times he just sits in the bathroom, waiting for me to get out.

 

And I loved the comment about 4 dogs helping you go to the bathroom!! I swear, they must all think I'm going to fall in, because I always get a 3 dog escort into the bathroom, LOL!

 

So maybe I am just lucky that this S/A doesn't manifest itself in home destruction? Or is it just mild? They certainly don't seem to get terribly agitated...it's more of a dissapointment in not being included in the "fun". Mr. LeeH just thinks they all adore me too much and just want to hang out with me as much as possible. I don't really know. I do know that I've never added to a possible S/A development.... I never make a big deal about leaving and when I get home I also don't make a fuss. I always heard that's a bad thing to do to dogs....

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WOW! I haven't been able to check the boards over the last couple of days and I'm amazed at all of the responses! Thanks so much to everyone for the input. After reading a couple of the posts that said I would only be passing off my problems to someone else that would eventually tire of them and also one about how I could keep Chip and probably look back in a couple of months (or years) and wonder how I could have dreamed of giving him up, I've decided to keep Chip. I really can't imagine living with him or without him! We had a heart to heart talk on Saturday (Chip and I) and we decided that we are going to work together and do whatever it takes to get through this. He has agreed to take medication, provided it is wrapped in a nice piece of meat or peanut butter.

 

I had decided that I was NOT going to medicate my dog and see him walk around in a blithering stupor. What kind of life would that be?? Then I spoke to a vet and a couple of people that live with SA dogs and decided that Clomicalm is worth a try. In the right doses, it's no more than a calming agent which I feel would benefit Chip as much as it would benefit me and my belongings!

 

Chip is a total velcro dog, due to the SA I suppose, and goes wherever I go, including the bathroom. He's even given the shower some consideration, but decided against it. Fortunately, we have a see-through glass shower door, so he can still see me when I'm in there and he does just fine! (If only my humans were that enamoured with me!)

 

Chip is in his 5th week of obedience training and is coming along famously. He is incredibly intelligent and eager to please. He has already mastered sit, stay, down, and give. It won't be long before he is moving onto agility courses. I'm sure we will all have a great time with that.

 

I'm sure that this will all work out in the end. It will take enormous doses of patience and love, but I'm willing to dish those out for as long as it takes. My husband is coming around to the understanding that dumping Chip is not a solution to Chip's problems and will, in fact, only increase his anxiety. He loves Chip too (even though he doesn't readily admit it) and is willing to give him a shot.

 

Thanks again to everyone that gave their input. It has proven to be invaluable and made me stop and look into the eyes of my beloved friend and make the right decision. What's another 10-15 years of SA anyway? We can handle it, right?!

 

I'll keep everyone posted on his progress if you'd like. It may prove to be interesting reading!

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Pam,

 

You just totally made my day.

 

My dog Solo is on anti-anxiety medications -- he has generalized anxiety problems and fear aggression, and I made the decision that it's a quality of life issue for him. The one time we tried to take him off of the meds, we had very poor results, but, remember that Solo is much weirder than Chip is. Many SA dogs are only on meds while they are being rehabbed and can be weaned off them later.

 

In addition, if your dog is prescribed the right meds (what works will vary by dog because each dog is an individual), you should not notice any "blithering" effect. Ideally, anti-anxiety meds blunt the bad stuff and leave the good stuff. When Solo was off his meds, he was the same in good situations and way way worse in bad situations. No one who observes him would ever guess that he is on meds -- he works stock, has ridiculous problem-solving abilities, learns tricks in minutes (he literally learned to "play dead" in under 60 seconds), and is fast, focused, and flashy on the agility course. If Chip seems weird to you on medications, discuss switching drugs with your vet or behaviorist because there is a wide range available to you -- but be sure to give it some time -- it can take three or four weeks for anti-anxiety meds to build up and have an effect.

 

Good luck, and I'm just so happy that Chip is staying with you. I went through exactly what you're going through and keeping Solo was definitely the right decision for me.

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Pam,

 

You also made my day. I am glad you are going to try and work with Chip. You will have a closer bond, yes even closer than it is now.

 

Good Luck

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Hi, All,

 

GREAT discussion, and of course, I have to add in my several cents worth.

First, the following their humans around is just not a reliable indicator of SA. Buzz, (someday to be our Biker BC) follows us relentlessly, and yet settles down just fine when we leave. I don't think I've gone to the bathroom by myself in several years either, come to think of it.

 

The right medication may well do wonders for Chip. It will not turn him into a zombie, it will free him to be a happy dog, able to live in your world relatively calmly, (he is a border collie, after all :rolleyes: .

 

As far as meds go, I can tell you from the human anxiety disorder standpoint, there is absolutely nothing on earth I would trade my anti anxiety meds for. I have a wonderful rich and rewarding life that I could not have, (and didn't have . . .) before I started on medication. I spent many years trying to 'just work on it a little harder,' before I stumbled onto the reality that I have a somehwat whacky brain chemistry. At this point, if any dog I know exhibited symptoms, I'd be be doing my dead level best to get that owner to the appropriate veterinary specialist for a consult.

 

My own life was pretty horrendous in a lot of ways before I found medication. I wouldn't wish that confusion, depression and hopelessness on any living being, much less one I cared for.

 

It did take several tries to find exactly the right medication, so persevere! It's more than worth it in terms of the long range outcome.

 

Best wishes to you and Chip, and do let us know how you're all doing.

 

Ruth n the Border Trio

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Yay Pam!!!! I am really impressed! Chip is a very fortunate dog indeed. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I wish you and Chip the best of luck in the work you have ahead. Updates would be great!

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Kudos! for working with chip! Made my day too!

 

As far as going to the bathroom bymyself that is a intresting thought. My 5 year old Bc has always followed me into the bathroom. and sleeps on the floor waiting patiently for me to finsh up so we can go play or walk etc.. Now our pup also follows and waits. Course i always thought that Bc's naturally followed you around? If i am in the kitchen... i have a dog... in the living room... yep a dog asleep at my feet:) go out side definatly have a dog and a ball ready to play or a leash to go walk:)

 

So isnt this partly just part of being a dog who loves his owners? and wants to be close to their favorite ball thrower??

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Great news about Chip! I have a question - can anyone name a breed without SA tendencies? I follow German Shepherd rescue a bit (always trying to convince the family that we need another dog) There are awful stories abounding in GSD rescue about dogs going thru walls and doors and windows to get to their people. Is it just that the bigger dog does more damage and gets in more trouble? My Gsd loves me beyond anything in this world, head in the shower kinda dog. The collie seems more sensitive to changes in routine. With him, I can leave the room and he doesn't hunt me down.

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Pam, I don't know why your humans are not as enamoured of you as Chip is, because you sound like a class act. (Now, SEE how smart BCs are, since he knows this already???)

 

Good for you.

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No one ever said that if a dog follows you around, it has separation anxiety. What is true is that dogs with SA are more likely to do so than others, for reasons that may be somewhat different from the reasons why normal dogs might follow you around.

 

The important thing is to know your dog. Dogs are transparent. A tuned-in owner should not find it difficult to tell the difference between a dog who wants to play and a dog who is extremely insecure. Likewise, a tuned-in owner should be able to tell, when returning home, whether his or her dog is distressed or not. Dogs don't try to hide their feelings. Using a little common sense and learning to read your dog will help resolve a lot of these "does he or doesn't he?" questions about separation anxiety. That's why I'm always flabbergasted when people mistake genuine distress for misbehavior. Then again, people make the same mistake with little kids.

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It has proven to be invaluable and made me stop and look into the eyes of my beloved friend and make the right decision.
Pam,

 

Were those the eyes of the hubby or Chip? :rolleyes:

 

We're glad you're keepin' them both and hoping it all works out.

 

Jazz's pals,

Kevin & Midori

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Thanks for the kind words, Doc. There is nothing quite like the love of a dog; it brings out the best in me! It's as if Chip can tell that he was "spared" and is very appreciative. He's still his same old self, but with a more gentle edge, if you know what I mean. He even cuddled into my husband's lap last night for some love and that NEVER happens! I think forming that bond with him will make a difference too.

 

I would love to post a photo of Chip if someone can help me out with that. You really HAVE to see this handsome fellow!

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I am so happy to hear you've decided to tough this one out! I think it's a good decision for your dog's sake! As I said before, Dale was hard for the first few months, but he's a great pup now!

 

As for medicating him... I wouldn't worry too much. I've seen many dogs on Xanax and Valium, and they don't get all goofy on it. I have given my Golden Xanax a few times (4th of July usually...she has a fear of the flashing lights...not the noise.) It worked well...almost TOO well! She became so calm and happy about it, that she suddenly decided that fireworks were cool... so cool that she thought she was supposed to retrieve them. After a few chases after the bottle-rockets, I had to leash her for the rest of the fun, lol!

 

Dale didn't do well on Xanax though. It had no effect on him at all. I guess like people, some meds just have no effect on some dogs. Talk to a vet, I am sure he'll know what to give your pup if you choose to go with meds.

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Pam, your commitment to Chip brought tears to my eyes. Just know when things get tough we are all pulling for you. You have a vast support group here on this board who want you and Chip to succeed. Please keep us updated on your progress. I hope, the next time someone in a similar situation addresses this board that you will be able to offer help to them by relating your personal success story. I commend you!

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I had a dog with the same behaviour as Chip.Not sure what breed he was for certain but guessing now I'd have to say he was Lhasa/Border Collie X.

I adopted him from my local SPCA in 1994 and the problems started.He could'nt stay alone at all,was destructive and destroyed everything going,howled enough to wake the dead,hated all dogs larger then he was which,at 10 inches high, made up most dog breeds.

When I adopted him I was living a three hour drive from home taking a course.He was to be company/protection for me.The apartment I lived in had a doubtful rep but I did'nt know this until after I moved in.The first day of my course I found out that I had a dog who hated to be left alone.After I spent most of the eveing cleaning up his destruction I decided to crate him.

The lady living in the next apartment informed me that he howled most of the morning.I gave her my key so she could settle him that afternoon.I came home that night to an even larger mess.She let him out of the crate when he started his howling and he tore everything apart when she left again.I lost clothes,shoes,books,and the carpet in the living room.

After three days of coming home to his being crated and being taken out mid morning and after noon by the lady or her daughter,he seemed to be settling down nicely.Day four found him waiting for me,the door of the crate pulled inwards.He'd taken the door in his teeth and tugged on it until he pulled it free.After that there was no crating him and I'd spend two or three hours each night cleaning the apartment.

When I finished my course I returned to my home with the dog.Stupidly figuring that once he was in my home and I was around more he'd settle down.It did'nt work that way.The problem only got worse.I also discovered that no matter how short the time he was left behind it was still too long.This after going out in the yard for five minutes and returning to see the throw pillows ripped to shreds and pieces strewn 30 feet along the length of the house to the back door.

He also developed a hearing problem.If I had him outside,loose so he could have quality time with me,that would end as soon as I disappeared.If he got into the position of being unable to see me but I could see him he'd go deaf.I could call until I was blue in the face and nothing.Off he'd go on his merry way,no matter how loud or long I'd call his name.He ran off once for three days,I looked the full three days,calling and asking everyone in my area if they'd seen him before he ran up to me again.The place I located him near was an area I checked every day with no luck.

The final straw for me was his bowel habits.I could deal with his going while I was away shopping.Waking up and stepping on or in something in the dark was another story though.Near the end of his time with me I was staying up until midnight and being roused at 6AM,then 5:30 AM and finally at 5AM so he could answer the call of nature.I however did'nt like the idea and would fall asleep again.Each morning at 7 AM I would wake up and spend a half hour cleaning up numerous piles and puddles before doing anything else.

The happiest day for me was when he raced off,he had a thing for the tomcat down the street,and did'nt return.I found his body the next day.Did I miss him,you bet I did.In spite of his annoying habits,too me anyway,he was still a wonder dog with a very nice people oriented personality.I was glad,however,that he was no longer a worry to me.I knew that where he ended up was far better for him.I would never have passed him on to someone else as his former owners obviously had.I did return to the SPCA trying to track them down but the information they gave about moving and not being able to take him was'nt just a line.I'll never know if he was this way and they sent him there or if it developed from being tossed aside but I still wonder,even now.Sherry

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