Thursday, July 10, 2008

Separation Anxiety

I found this video of another Beagle who suffers from separation anxiety. Notice how the beagle leaves the food and water alone... he is too upset to think about eating. I'm sure if there were chew toys and other things they would be left alone too.

Duke, when we first adopted him, was far worse. He'd urinate within minutes of being left alone and howl non-stop, destroy rugs, chew his leash, and overturn everything in sight.

We've been working on this and he's getting better. We've left him alone for 1 hour and recorded him as well (audio only). He generally settles down after howling for a few minutes and in the span of an hour may howl 5-10 times in total. Patricia McConnell has a great booklet called "I'll Be Home Soon" which describes the program of desensitization we're following.

Some key takeaways:

1) Leave home and come home without fuss. We ignore Duke when we come home and when we leave we try to do it promptly and ignore him.

2) Associate positives with being home alone - We feed Duke his meals by the door and leave as soon as he gets his food.

3) Slowly turn up the length - We started by just sitting outside the door for 3 minutes.. then 4... then 5.... and now we're able to go to the gym and work out (1 hour)

4) Exercise helps - we make sure Duke has plenty of activity like fetch, tug, etc. to make sure his natural prey drive instinct is well satisfied.

What we've read is after you break the 2 hour window, your dog is pretty much cured!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008