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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 14884
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My ***** ***** cross is now 4 years old, she was good at one

Customer Question

My ***** ***** cross is now 4 years old, she was good at one point when I left her but now it every time I leave her she pee's on the floor. It seems that she does it as soon as I leave her, because it is drying when I get home again.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Lady and her accidents in the house every time that you leave her.

I suspect that your girl is suffering from separation anxiety. I know that she had been fine in the past but it is likely something occurred when you were gone one day that made her feel insecure about being alone. In most dogs the first several minutes after their owners leave are the most anxious time. This is usually the time that they are stressed most, pace and may have an accident, so your thought that she urinates soon after you leave is very likely.

If she does well in a crate (not destructive) then I would use it while you are gone. Many dogs can see a crate as a den. If you do not have a crate a small bathroom or bedroom could work as well. It's a secure place that they can be while the family is gone. She needs to learn that if she goes in her crate you always come back. Sometimes if they are out in the big house alone they just don't know what to do with themselves, get anxious and that can lead to trouble.
If you had a camera on most normal dogs while owners are gone you would see they spend most of their time sleeping. They are pack animals and if their pack members are gone then they rest up waiting for their "pack" to come home and play.
In dogs with separation anxiety you will see lots of pacing, seemingly searching and then destructive behavior, either chewing things or eliminating in the home secondary to their anxiety.

Don't feel guilty about giving her a place she can feel secure in and rest in. In time as she realizes you always come home and her anxiety wanes then she may be able to be out in the house again but for now if confining her keeps her secure and out of trouble then let do so.

Ideally while you are working on training her to be less anxious she should only be left for short periods at a time anyway. If you must leave her for longer periods you'll need a friend or dog sitter to come in and check on her, let her out to eliminate and make sure she's OK.

Work on leaving for short periods of time (initially minutes) and always try and make coming and going boring, don't make a huge deal of it as that increases anxiety. Change your routine so that she cannot ramp up her anxiety about your leaving before you've even left. While you are home and have no plans to leave pick up your car keys and walk around the house. Put on your coat and shoes and walk around the house.

Practice her going in and out of her crate or room and staying there for a few minutes even when you are home. Give her indestructible play things (like a kong ball stuffed with a treat she has to work to get out) to do while you are gone.
Leave a radio or TV on for company, initially both while you are home and away so that the noise level in your home is the same, whether you are home or not.

Make sure that you ignore her for the first several minutes when you get home. Busy yourself with mail, or putting things away so that coming and going is never a big deal. Once you've been home for a bit then sit down and give her attention.

Some of the OTC products for separation anxiety are safe and effective, but they must be used in conjunction with training. Medication alone almost always fails. Here are some links with training ideas that may help you:
http://www.bestfriends.org/theanimals/pdfs/dogs/separationanxiety.pdf

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1393

As far as over the counter medications I do like DAP products (dog appeasement pheromones) which are synthetic analogs of a calming pheromone a bitch produces while nursing. These come in sprays, collars and diffusors. See this link for information about these products:
http://www.dogappeasingpheromone.com/

See this link for some examples:
http://www.google.com/#q=dog+appeasing+pheromone&hl=en&prmd=imvns&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u
&sa=X&ei=_yGDT5KCBIiqiAL7jPn5Ag&sqi=2&ved=0CIgBEK0E&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=83ec0cc01db0c140&biw=1249&bih=569

I also like products made by Bach's Rescue Remedy: http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm

These products must be used in conjunction with training methods. If not they won't work alone. They simply calm her down enough so that she is able to learn. If she is terrified and extremely anxious then she won't learn to comfortably be alone or without you.

If these aren't enough I would discuss medications, such as clonicalm or amitriptyline, with your veterinarian. She is fairly young and they likely won't need to be forever, just until she learns to be less anxious and that it is OK for her to be alone in her safe place.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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