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My 11yr old springer rescue dog (neutered) barks constantly
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My 11yr old springer rescue dog (neutered) barks constantly whenever I go out. He's never left for more than 2 hours, usually much less, How can I train him not to do this?
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replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am so sorry to hear about Barnaby. Because you adopted him as an adult and he is barking only when you are gone then he likely has some separation anxiety issues.
Many adopted dogs suffer from separation anxiety as they have already lost at least one family. Most dogs would prefer to spend all their time with their very loved family to make sure that they don't disappear. If he does well in a crate (not destructive) then I would use it while you are gone and at night. Many dogs can see a crate as a den. It's a secure place that they can be while the family is gone or when he needs to be alone. He needs to learn that if he goes in his crate you always come back and he is safe. 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. So don't feel guilty about giving him a place he can feel secure in and rest in. In time as he realizes you always come home and come back for him then he may be able to be out in the house but for now if his crate keeps him secure and out of trouble then let him use it.
If however he is tearing up his crate and is very anxious in it then that's not the way to go. Another option is to use a small bathroom where she cannot get into much trouble.
Ideally while you are working on training him he should only be left for short periods at a time anyway. If you must leave him for longer periods you'll need a friend or dog sitter to come in and check on him, let him out to eliminate and make sure he's OK.
Work on leaving him 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 he cannot ramp up her anxiety about your leaving before you've even left. Pick up your car keys and walk around the house. Put on your coat and shoes and walk around the house. Practice having him going in and out of his crate and staying there for a few minutes even when you are home. Give him indestructible play things (like a king ball stuffed with a treat he 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 and especially at night so that the noise level is the same, home or not.
Make sure that you ignore him 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 him attention. In the morning too don't make a big deal greeting him, just let him out and then take him out to eliminate. You can then praise him and give him a treat for eliminating as he should.
As you have found with the bark collar, negative reinforcement doesn't work for dogs that are barking because they are anxious, and in fact only makes things worse by making them more anxious.
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:
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 him down enough so that he is able to learn. If he is terrified and extremely anxious then he won't learn to comfortably be alone.
If these aren't enough I would discuss medications, such as clonicalm or amitriptyline, with your veterinarian. They likely won't need to be forever, just until he learns to trust that you are coming back and it is OK for him to be alone in his safe place.
We need to focus on building his confidence in general. A program that may help with that is called "nothing in life is free". This gives him confidence in your fairness and his ability to please you and where he fits in your home. Here is a link that better explains the program: http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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