Dogs/dog seperation anxiety
Hi Mr. McLeskey
I rescued a 1 yr old male (neutered) American bulldog/pitbull mix about 7 months ago from a shelter,all I know regarding his background is he was basically tied in a yard and left mostly to his own devices and almost starved. I figured he would be mostly unsocialized and probably have some anxiety issues but he is a bigger handful than I expected. My main problem is I am unable to crate him, nothing seems to hold him except an airport type shipping kennel (which would be cruel anyways to leave him in 8 hours a day while I am at work) but he will drool and barf and sweat so bad and get out of them, he has even ripped a claw off in the process of escaping them that I now have to leave him to have the house to himself with a kong with peanut butter in it and I leave the t.v on for background noise he has balls he can throw around but still at least twice a week I will come home to door frames and various other things chewed, urine on couch or bed (if I forget to close bedroom door). When I got him I got him a large wire type kennel that would hold about 3 of him and tried kennel training him and still he would break out and destroy it in the process and leave a big puddle of ..(as mentioned lol) so I figured ok I will get him a big huge dog run (it was 8 X 14 ft) chain linked with lots of those metal wire twist tie things to secure it extra good.. he broke out, ok so I doubled up chain link with double ties and he still got out, so back to original wire crate in basement and shut the door figured well if he gets out at least he will be in basement.... ya he got out then chewed and clawed his way through basement door and was upstairs when I got home. I have tried him on clomicalm meds and that didn't seem t faze him, I have tried the anxiety collar, I have probably tried everything to settle his anxiety a bit but I am out of ideas. I think his general anxiety is so bad that he even has nightmares every night (as funny as that sounds) as every night he sweats so bad and smells even worse and will bark and growl and violently kick and I have to call him name periodically through each night for him to stop. When I am home he seems like a happy go lucky big sucky goofball but left alone... brutal. Ok sorry this is long but wanted to give you the full deal about him and hope you can offer some advice on something else I can try beside some kind of babysitter or daycare as it is to expensive for me at this point. Thanks and have a great day! :)
First, I think it is so great that you rescued him and probably from a horrible fate. But to leave any younger dog at home alone for so long will cause problems. I see it almost every day. It's just tough for people to want dogs but work full time and on a budget. But as I said, this is better than his other fate I'm sure. Let's see if we can come up with something that may help.
He cannot be in any kind of crate all day either. Dogs do not want to go to the bathroom where there bed is and will do anything to get away from it.
Dogs by nature are pack animals. They need to be with someone or another dog. This is key to help curb any type of anxiety.
I also have to tell you that my specialty on this forum is in dog nutrition. This is by far a trainer question.
But I've had some first hand experience with this sort of thing so I will offer my advice for a couple things and you can go from there.
The best thing you can do by far is to have an animal behaviorist come into your home and work with you and him. This way this person can see the dog and you and establish some rules and boundaries. There main function is to show you how to handle and train your dog. Not so much training the dog themselves.
I understand the cost issue for trainer, baby sitter and or boarding. But you may have to be willing to do a couple of extra things in order to help with this type of anxiety.
If you have heard of Cesar Millan and his dog behavior shows on National Geographic TV, this is one of the things he specializes in. Look his website up, he has a lot of articles and some DVD's you can buy that may help with this.
One of his site's is at: http://www.cesarsway.com/
Read everything you can about animal behavior. You can learn to handle this yourself but it will take some studying and a lot of consistent work with your dog.
I know one of Cesar's philosophy's for training is Exercise, discipline and affection. In that order.
He's also big on establishing boundaries and limitations.
Exercise is one of the biggest things. Your dog is experiencing a lot of pinned up energy and he is releasing it as a behavior when you leave him alone. He don't understand it's bad behavior, just you do.
If you can run him before you leave to work, that will help settle him down a lot. But he needs to run, not just go for a walk.
If you can not get out for a run, get yourself a cheap treadmill. You can train him to walk, then jog, then run on a treadmill.
Just start slow standing over him with a leash on and go real slow. Do not let him go forward, backward or side to side. Just keep him walking.
Slowly speed up the pace. Eventually you can get off and stand beside him. Soon you would be able to get him on it and run him while you sit and watch.
You can wear a dog out in a half hour or more. You have to get him up to a fast pace to do this. Give him lots of affection and reward when the run is done.
This will help his anxiety a lot, but you have to wear him out. We've done this with dogs to help them loose weight.
Learn the Cesar way of establishing limits and boundaries around the house. Place he can and can't go, when it's fine to bark and not.
I know we've helped a couple dogs out from separation anxiety by starting to leave only for a few minutes.
You would just leave him alone in the house for a few minutes then come back in and not give him any attention until he is settled.
Then slowly work up to leaving a few minutes in the car, then longer and longer. Each time coming in the house and not showing any affection until he is settled.
This takes a while to train a behavior. But its got to be worth it. You have to dig in and start learning everything you can about dog behavior and how to control it.
Read all you can on the internet, buy a couple books or one of Cesar's courses or something else to start learning.
All this will take some time but you can and will get him in a better state of mind while you're away.
Another solution that we did ourselves is to get a second dog. If he is dog friendly, and you want him to be, then this a very good help with anxiety. They will bond and play all day while you're away. If he is not dog friendly, then you can train him to be while you're learning animal behavior.
We did this years ago and it worked great. But that's no gaurantee it will work for you and him.
It cost a little more for food but it's really not too bad. We have five dogs now and it really isn't that much more care.
If you want some help with nutritional advice and how better to feed this one and/or another one,I'll be happy to help you there. That is my expertise.
Sorry there really isn't any quick solutions. You can talk to a couple of dog behaviorist in your area and see what they might charge to help. Maybe you have something to trade with them. It don't hurt to ask.
One last thing. If he is dog friendly now, you can put an add in Craigs List or go to the dog parks and look for others who have single dogs that maybe you can drop him off at their place while you are away. This would help two dogs.
That's about all I have, I hope some of it helps you out. Let me know if you have any further questions or want more information about his diet. If you do, include everything that is in his diet now and include brand names so I can look up ingredients.
You want him to stay healthy and out of the costly vets office.
Let me know if you have anything else,