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Hello from Mila and I

Discussion in 'Say Hello!' started by Brandon Carus, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Brandon Carus

    Brandon Carus Forums Novice

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    Oct 10, 2017
    Hello All,

    My name is Brandon and I am the proud owner of a gorgeous blue merle Sheltie. Mila is a blessing to my girlfriend and I. I love the affection and the strong connection we share with her. Mila is 1 yr and a couple months old now and will be starting agility training this winter. I can't imagine having any other type of dog after the experience we've had with her. The main reason I joined the forum was to be able to strengthen my knowledge about the breed and how I can provide the absolute best life for my furry companion. One thing I strongly need to focus on is her separation anxiety. It is pretty bad to say the least. Smothered with love and affection is an understatement when it comes to describing my girlfriends interaction with Mila. With that being said, she goes bonkers when we aren't around. 2 pairs of shoes, a few hats, my walls have all taken the brunt of Mila's separation anxiety when we have tried to leave her out. Right now she is crated and has been since she was a puppy. She has ample amount of chew toys and would never dare chew on my things when I am around, only when we are gone. I feel like this is a self-taught reaction to us leaving. We tried short periods out of the crate confined to out kitchen only. She took out her anxiety on the walls near the gate. We figured leaving her free to roam the kitchen and living room would resolve the wall issue which it did, however, she found that shoes were the closest things to the door so she would chew on those. I don't want to give up on her because I know how smart the breed is and I know we can work through this. Can any one of you experts give some best practices on how we can transition Mila from the crate to free roaming the house when we are away? Are there ways for us to "practice" coming and going to lessen her anxiety? I just hate thinking of her in the cage for long periods of time while my girlfriend and I are at work. Thank you so much to all that took the time to read this and a special thanks to those that can add to the conversation.
     
  2. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    Welcome, Brandon and Mila! We're glad to have you here in the Forums. I don't have any experience with separation anxiety so I can't give you any advice. It sounds as though you're doing the right thing for the moment to keep both Mila and your house safe ... keeping her crated when you're gone. I'm sure others here who've dealt with this problem will chime in and give you further advice.

    A question or two for you that will help us give you suggestions: Mila is a year old which means she's still in puppyhood. In my experience, Shelties don't get over the chewing thing until age 2 at least. You didn't say whether you got her as a puppy or whether she was a rescue. If she came from a breeder, he or she might be able to give you some advice too. Just some initial thoughts. I hope we can help you find some answers!
     
  3. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    welcome:smile2:
    we love pix:yes:
     
  4. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

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    Welcome to Sheltie Nation!
    Sorry you are dealing with separation anxiety! My boy Laddie went through this early on. Once I took him to obedience classes he seemed to gain confidence and it stopped.

    Found this info that may help...

    • Exercise your dog well before you leave. A tired dog has less energy with which to be anxious and destructive. End exercise sessions 20 to 30 minutes before you go, so he has time to settle down.
    • Five minutes before you leave, give him a well-stuffed Kong to take his mind off your imminent departure (See “King Kongs”).
    • Make your departures and returns completely calm and emotionless. No huggy/kissy “Mummy loves you” scenes. If he gets excited and jumps all over you when you return, ignore him. Turn your back and walk away. When he finally settles down, say hello and greet him very calmly.
    • Defuse the pieces of your departure routine by also doing them when you are not leaving. Pick up your car keys and sit down on the sofa to watch TV. Dress in your business suit and then cook dinner. Set your alarm for 5 a.m. on a Saturday, then roll over and go back to sleep.
    • Mix up the pieces of your departure routine when you are leaving, so his anxiety doesn’t build to a fever pitch as he recognizes your departure cues. We are creatures of habit too, so this is hard to do, but can pay off in big dividends. Eat breakfast before you shower instead of after. Pick up your keys and put them in your pocket before you take your dog out for his final potty break. Put your briefcase in the car while you’re still in pajamas. Make the morning as unpredictable as possible.
    • Use a “safe” cue such as “I’ll be back,” only when you know you’ll return within the time period your dog can tolerate. As suggested in Patricia McConnell’s wonderful booklet on separation anxiety titled “I’ll Be Home Soon,” this helps your dog relax, knowing he can trust you to return.
    • Explore alternative dog-keeping situations to minimize the occasions when you do have to leave him alone - doggie daycare may be suitable for some dogs, but not for others. You may be able to find a neighbor or relative who is house-bound and might appreciate some canine companionship.
    • If you are considering adoption of a second dog, try borrowing a calm, stable, compatible dog from a friend, to see if that helps to relieve your dog’s distress.
    • Try using Comfort Zone (DAP)2 plug-ins and sprays in his environment to help ease his anxiety. (See “Please Appease Me”).
    • Remove as many other stressors from your dog’s world as possible to help him maintain his equilibrium in your absence. No choke chains, shock collars, physical or harsh verbal punishment (especially in connection to his anxiety behaviors).
    • Consider working with a behavior professional to be sure you’re on the right path - and to help you explore the possibilities of using anti-anxiety medications to maximize the effectiveness of your modification efforts.
    Hope this helps..,
     
    corbinam, Brandon Carus and Ann like this.
  5. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    To build on Gloria's wonderful advice here, I second the suggestion of a Comfort Zone plug-in. I use these whenever I introduce a new dog to the household, or if there's a stressful event going on and they really do help. Plug one into the room your dog spends the most time in. I get mine on Amazon. A refill lasts for a month.
    https://www.amazon.com/Comfort-Zone...r=8-1&keywords=comfort+zone+diffuser+for+dogs
     
  6. Brandon Carus

    Brandon Carus Forums Novice

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    Oct 10, 2017
    Thanks you all for the input! We picked her up from a breeder at 9 weeks however I lost my phone contacts so I will need to search down her breeder. That is a great idea to call the breeder; I never thought of that. We will try to desensitize her to our departures. We do have a kong toy that she loves so we will start leaving her with distracting treats before we leave. She does always get a small treat when she goes in the crate. I am ordering the comfort zone plug in today. Are there ways to "practice" leaving, or ways to reward her for not showing signs of anxiety? I was thinking maybe we act like we are leaving then sit back down for a few minutes, then act like we are leaving again and so on. She is more than okay with going into her crate when we leave and doesnt show any signs of stress when we leave her in the crate. Its only when she is roaming around and we leave that she starts having issues. I'm assuming this is because she feels safe in her crate. I just want to get her to the point where she feels safe outside the crate too.
     
  7. Phoebe'smom

    Phoebe'smom Premium Member

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    Phoebe basically just sleeps when I go out. I started small, going out for just a minute and that progressed to 5 minutes and then longer. I would do it randomly so she got used to the idea that I always came back. Before I leave I have her sit/stay some distance from me and then say ok and throw her a treat while I go out the door.
     
  8. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    yes- do everything the way that you usually do. go outside for 30 sec and come back in- if she's ok, reward her. build up the time gradually. if she really has actual separation anxiety, it will take a lot of time to get her accustomed to everyone leaving her alone and that she'll be ok.
    not sure where you are but google veterinary behaviorists- they can work out a specific plan that will work for your dog.
    a lot of the suggestions given earlier work for most dogs but nothing works the same for everyone.
     

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