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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19269
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a malteze x mini foxie. Mostly mini foxie from the

Customer Question

Hi. I have a malteze x mini foxie. Mostly mini foxie from the litter. 5 and a half years old. Male & not desexed. He is very well socialized with other dogs. He has always been kept on a property & very well behaved whether at home alone or not. Recently, I have purchased a 35 foot bus to commence travels around Australia. Since, living on the bus he has developed what we call FOMO, 'Fear of missing out'. Subsequently, we cannot leave him on the bus alone without him crying & barking???? We understand this is a change for him, however, we don't know how to help him cope with this. Any advise would be appreciated.... He is a well behaved dog in general, however, we need to travel without him stressing every time we leave him alone for an hour or so...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

It sounds like he has developed separation anxiety. There are some things you can do to help with this problem. Since the bus is mobile and the location changes, he doesn't really have a sense of stability which is probably how it started. You may have also encouraged it inadvertently by trying to reassure him when he first started the behavior. Attention of any kind will often cause a dog to repeat the behavior in the future in hopes it will get the desired reaction of either being taken with you or getting you to come back and reassure him.

Lets to over some of the techniques to help stop separation anxiety. First thing is to take your dog for a nice long walk before you leave, preferably 30 minutes or long. Make it a long, quick paced walk to tire your boy out. A tired dog is less likely to bark and carry on and more likely to sleep while you are gone. Second is to use a low-key approach to leaving. Ignore your dog before you leave and after you come back for at least 5 minutes or more.

Don't punish or shout at your dog when you come back and find he’s barked the whole time. When you do, you increase his stress level rather than reduce it. He also might not bark the whole time. He may bark when you leave and when he hears you coming he starts barking again. Dogs have good hearing and can distinquish between your sounds and other peoples sounds in many cases.

You can provide him with small stimulating toys or toys that you can fill with treats. Kong toys can be filled with peanut butter or yogurt and frozen. Give when you are leaving. If he is busy getting the treat out, he won't be barking. Also remember to not reward a dog's excitement to you with petting and affection or even eye contact. You want to show him nice calm praise when he is being calm.

Another thing that might help is a DAP collar. These use a pheromone to calm a dog. See one here:
vetmedicine.about.com/od/behaviortraining/gr/DAP-Dog-Collar.htm

Practice leaving the bus, opening the door immediately and rewarding him with a hot dog treat if he did not scratch, bite and carry one. This teaches him that you leave but come back quickly. Once he seems to not do anything when you initially leave, lengthen the time he must be quiet for you to come back in. Change the time as well. Make it 2 minutes one time and 10 mintues another, so he never knows if you are gone for an hour or gone for 2 minutes. It helps him stay calm for longer periods of time, just be sure you reward him when he is good.

Another thing that helps is to do things that might make the dog feel you are leaving and then don't such as putting on your coat or picking up your keys. Or leave without doing those things. This helps remove things that might trigger the dog to become anxious and start the barking.

These should help his separation anxiety and boredom and help curb his barking. It will not be an overnight cure and will take work on your and your family’s part to be consistent in your interaction with him. Here is a site that also offers idea to combat separation anxiety.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx

There are many other methods available such as citronella spray collar, shock bark collars that will stop excessive barking. They are effective and a quick fix for barking issues. He may switch to a different behavior though so if you use this, do the training as well.

Another option is medication, which is discussed on this site:

http://www.fidosavvy.com/dog-separation-anxiety-medication.html

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

I forgot to mention that some experts suggest melatonin.

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