Seperation Anxiety in Dogs

Ideally the drug is used hand-in-hand with training. Those are the cases where eventually the animal is weaned from the medication. However, I have seen it work well all by itself, although those animals need to be on clomipramine forever.

If it’s close to what you’ve BEEN doing, then the problem may be with one of consistency. Again, imagine from Lola’s POV. If she barks and sometimes there are no consequences, she’ll keep trying it, just in case. Might as well; what has she got to lose? You need to condition her consistently to understand that there are ALWAYS negative consequences, so she realizes that barking is a total dead end.

And yes, no “good girl” when she stops. That will just mix your signals, and it will take longer for her to figure out which response you REALLY mean.

Go and spend positive time with her when she’s been quiet. She’ll eventually learn not to be so anxious about your ever coming to see her again; she’ll come to understand that of course you will.

Again, her POV: “No one ever visits me when I’m quiet. Do they even know I’m here? I better let them know. Sure, they yell at me at first, but then I get that ‘good girl’ I need!”

Empathy is the greatest tool of a good trainer.

Sounds like Lola has had a hard life-- I don’t blame her for being anxious if she’s been abandoned by her people before.

You need to treat this dog like a new puppy, slowly allowing her access to the rest of the house as she earns your trust. I started by leaving my puppy in her crate, then allowing her to roam in the kitchen (penned in with baby gates) and then the downstairs . . . etc. Until she learns the rules of your pack, Lola needs constant supervision.

You’re fighting an uphill battle, here. If others in the house are not consistent with her discipline, Lola will be very confused and hard to train.

As a tool for breaking her of the barking, or chewing on things she shouldn’t, I suggest you try a water pistol, filled with plain water. (Never put anything into it which could sting the dog’s eyes.) Shoot her when she’s not looking, and pretend it wasn’t you. In this way, she thinks whatever she was doing caused the unpleasant squirt of water, not you.

I once read a solution for seperation barking in Dog Fancy, and it seems like a good idea. The owner put the dog in the crate, tied a rope to it, and fed the rope out of a window. He then left the house, and went to where the rope hung out from the window. When the dog barked, he would yank the rope, causing one end of the cage to lift slightly, startling the dog. He did this for a while, until the dog made the connection that barking made his cage shake, something he did not like. He said it worked like a charm.

You could adapt this idea to whatever Lola doesn’t like-- shooting her with a water pistol from a hidden location, or making a loud, annoying noise.

Secondly, try giving Lola something to do to distract her while you’re gone. Fill a toy with penut butter and freeze it overnight, and give it to her before you leave. Hours of yummy fun. One of my friends freezes bits of chicken in a bowl of water, then gives it to the dog to gnaw during the day (this can get messy, though.) There are all sorts of puzzle toys on the market which makes dogs figure out how to get to the treats or food inside-- keeps 'em busy for hours.

As a hijack, could I just say that while JustAnotherGeek might be getting away with this with Lola, please don’t anyone think it’s necessarily a good idea. With many dogs, particularly those with fear or aggression issues, it’s a really good way to get your face bitten. With timid dogs you run the risk of scaring them badly.

Dogs don’t make other dogs submit, submissive dogs offer this posture to more dominant dogs.

The Monks of New Skete have gone on record as being sorry for having recommended this technique in their first book, and don’t include it in later books.

There is a lot of good advice about treating separation anxiety on the net, this one pretty much sums up common and effective techniques.

One thing to bear in mind is that Lola sounds like a young and energetic dog and probably fairly smart, so one avenue for helping her will be lots of exercise (a tired dogs is a good dog) and something to do. If you’re leaving her alone, try giving her something to keep her mind occupied, like a Kong filled with food.

What do they offer as an alternative technique for dealing with a dominant dog?

Got it, and agree wholeheartedly.

I did not know that. Since I am a suspicious type, I immediately wonder if this is because someone tried it and got bitten (and thus was removed for legal issues). It is incredibly effective. My aunt who raises german shorthaired retreivers (some of whom have been large enough to rest their head down on a kitchen table) uses this technique, especially on the dominants. She’s got years of experience to keep her safe; I have only 190lbs and some background in wrestling. :smiley:

It doesn’t surprise me unduly that the Monks would back off from recommending it as a universal remedy, but used effectively it does, unquestionably, work.

blackhobyah’s comments may serve to make someone think twice before employing this technique, but it’s a technique that I’m comfortable with, and have a lot of experience with, and so will probably keep it in my bag of tricks.

(It’s true, blackhobyah, that in nature, dogs offer this position, but in nature they solve their problems by fighting and biting. In a human home situation, waiting for an aggressive, dominant dog to offer submission is not always going to be the wisest course. Imposing submission upon an aggressive, dominant dog, in a human-interactive environment, is sometimes an absolute necessity. Nature is a good role model–it’s the model behind my favorite training book, Mother Knows Best–but if we don’t adapt it for human environments, then, well, you just end up with a dog who might as well be raised by wolves.)

I train Border Collies and I don’t like the flip technique. Mostly I don’t like it because I don’t want to break my dogs spirit, I just want them to obey.

First of all, I think that 90% of behavioral problems can be toned down (if perhaps not completely solved) with consistent exercise. The absolute first step you should take is a morning walk. (hehe, get it…step/walk?) When your roommate first gets up, she should take the dog for a walk. It doesn’t have to be long, just get out. I take my two out for forty-five minutes every morning. Good for the dogs, good for the walker. Additionally, walks are really good times to bond with and train your dog. Make them stop and sit at corners, heel, and come.

The most important thing you can teach your dog is the “no” command. It should be a firm “no!”. Nothing else. No follow-up, no praise. “No” should mean: “Stop whatever it is that you are doing right this instant”. The no command should be sufficient to stop the dog from barking, jumping, etc. It also stops my dogs’ most annoying habit, and that is the constant offer of a ball. Obedience training is never a bad thing.

It’s really hard to cure true separation anxiety, with anything but time. There are thing you can try, like having the owner leave for short periods, and come back and praise the dog. Increasing the time between returns. This lets the dog know that she is always coming back.

Another method used, but I’m not sure how much I like it, is to decrease the dogs dependency on the owner. In this case the owner completely ignores the dog. A slightly less traumatic method (at least on the owner), is to forgo any “fun” associated with the dog. The roommates would feed, play, and walk with the dog until the anxiety dissipates.

Don’'t give up on Lola, she’s had a tough life. This kind of behavioral problem takes time and patience, but it can be done.

Good luck, and let us know how it’s going.

I agree; it’s very rarely necessary. It’s certainly not necessary with Lola, from the sound of it.

I can tell you how I deal with a dominant dog. I place myself at the head of the pack. My dogs don’t eat until I’m done. They aren’t allowed on the bed (OK, I’ll admit, this is alway short-lived), and the are walked at a “heal” position. They “sit” before I feed them, and (not for rookies) I take their food away while they are eating it. I give it back, but I mime eating it before I give it back.

The dogs I train are working dogs. They have been trained for competition, as well as service, and search and rescue. So the very first thing they get is intensive obedience training. Exercise and training are the key.

For one I think dominance is often misinterpreted by humans. A truly dominant dog is often very quiet about it, think Gary Cooper or John Wayne kind of quiet confidence. The dogs you see snarling and acting aggressively are usually not dominant dogs. They are bullies or scared dogs, or anxious dogs who don’t understand their place in hierarchy, or who, through poor human leadership, have been forced to take on a dominant position that they don’t want or can’t handle.

I have two, giant breed dogs or notoriously dominant temperament, plus one cross-breed dog who weighs in at around 80kg and is very dominant with other dogs.
I’ve never done the alpha roll on any of them. As light strand points out, the idea is to put yourself at the head of the pack without having to try and make the point physically.

Dogs recognise valuable resources (food, exercise, treats, attention), it’s the whole point of being alpha dog, you get access to the best resources and you control who else gets access to those resources.

So in my house, I’m in control of the good resources. My dogs have to sit and wait to be fed. They have to sit before they can go out a door. If they want me to pat them they have to sit and ask nicely … if I don’t want to pay attention to them, I ignore them.

They get nothing without having to do something for it, even something as simple as sitting. And I reinforce this consistently, every day, so that it’s a habit for me and for them. For very confident dogs it has the advantage of showing them who is in charge without challenging them physically, for anxious dogs it gives them a consistent framework which allows them to relax, knowing that the leadership role is being taken care of.

Doesn’t mean they don’t get food or attention or games, but that I’m the person who controls those resources.

It’s a technique called “Nothing in Life is Free” and you can find all sorts of information about it on the net if you’re interested, but really, I think it’s just a matter of getting dogs to mind their manners, I was doing a lot of this stuff long before I realised it had a name.