Separation anxiety

23 February 2020 by
When someone is afraid of being separated When someone is afraid of being separated
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When we decided to adopt Foxy a year ago, we planned everything carefully,

we arranged his place in the house, bought the tools necessary for keeping him, and besides this I felt I had been ready in spirit as well to welcome our new cute family member.

 

But as Cezar Millan said: “You never get the dog you want; you always get the dog you need.”

 

It was only the first hour when everything went smoothly. Unfortunately I didn`t have a handbook about saved anxious adult dogs with information on what to do exactly, for example that it is not a good idea to pet them too much after their arrival. We just wanted him to feel being at home, and it didn`t cause any problems until we went to sleep. But 5 seconds later Foxy started to chew the front door, so ‘the dog sleeps in a separate room’ rule lasted until then.

 

We scheduled his arrival for the weekend to have more time with him at the beginning. I knew it of course that the summer would have been the most ideal, when I and my children are all at home because of the school holiday, but somebody couldn`t live without a dog any longer… Monday came along, with leaving him in the house alone for about 3 hours, and a further chewed door and a torn curtain hanging in front of it was the result. It was no joke, I thought, so it was time to do something. I didn`t have such a problem with my previous adopted dogs, so due to having no experience I called the animal protection foundation, where we brought Foxy from.

 

‘This phenomenon is called separation anxiety’-the head of the foundation said. ‘This feeling is like the kind of love, when one can’t live without the other. This is why he is following you everywhere. Don’t worry, it can be sorted out. At first, buy a dog box. One size bigger than he would otherwise need to have enough place in it. As he is a timid dog, he will feel safe in there at the beginning, when you are not at home.’

 

I found the idea odd, but if it helps him to relax then so be it. It might have worked well with most dogs, but in his case after I was staying away for 15 minutes, the chewed wire of the bomb-proof airport dog box was lying on the floor, while my new dog was waiting for me wagging his tail in the middle of the living room.

 

We had to think over again the possibilities of keeping Foxy safely and the chances of the safety of our newly renovated house. The garden was not a choice, because we didn`t have a fence. But it wouldn`t have been an option even if we had had one, as we had already known from the foundation that he can climb over it, and in addition I don`t believe in keeping dogs solely outside. So the inside of the house was still the only alternative. After reading further articles and listening to some more advice, the plan was the following:

 

  • We started the days with about an hour long walk, including running for 20 minutes. He became tired because of this, and I found the ideal form of free training. Of course it would have been better starting it later and not in February, but nothing is perfect.
  • When I left home, I didn`t say goodbye to my dog, like it was the most normal thing in the world to leave and come back.
  • I didn`t pet him immediately either when I arrived home.
  • I tried to stay calm as well and stop being anxious when I had to leave him at home temporarily, because dogs are the mirrors of their owners.

  • We practised the ‘Place’ command using treats and compliments.

  • And apart from these, patience, development in stages, consistence and hope to be able to bear the maximum 5 hours alone per day were on the agenda.

 

Fortunately the results came soon. At first he stopped ripping the curtain, then the rug in front of the door, and after a few days he didn`t touch the front door at all. And finally, by the end of the fourth week, his footprints disappeared from the kitchen worktop too, where he liked watching out of the window, waiting for somebody to come home.

 

Separation anxiety, which is when someone is afraid of being separated from a particular person, isn`t experienced by all dogs. But when it is, it is worth asking for the advice of a competent dog trainer, since it can be solved by perseverance and discipline. Of course it is also important not to panic about what we might find at home when we arrive, as dogs are mirrors, and they will immediately feel the anxiety of their owner. 

 

Caring for adopted dogs requires a lot of patience at the beginning, but it is worth the effort, as they show their gratitude with never ending love, like Foxy does.

 

 

(The Hungarian translation is available on www.onbizalomfejlesztes.hu.)

 

  

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