Extreme separation anxiety help!

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Post by DianeG972 on Fri Apr 12 2019, 17:11

My daughter has a 2yo staffy crossbreed who has extreme separation anxiety with her. She can’t go upstairs without the dog crying and going crazy to get to her. Roxy will steal things/attack the furniture and sometimes even myself. She is autistic so she doesn’t often leave the house by herself but when she does the dog again goes into a craze. My daughter freezes a kong for her to have while she’s gone but it never lasts long and then she attacks everything/everyone in sight. Dog also sleeps in her bed with her because she wouldn’t settle in the kitchen by herself, peed and pooped everywhere every night and has shredded every bed we’ve bought for her.

It’s becoming a real problem as my daughter is getting agitated with the dog more and more. She loves her to death but wants some space and she’s finally gaining some confidence and wants to venture out that little bit more. I feel guilty for not wanting her to go out because I don’t want to have to deal with the dog.

We have owned dogs her whole life and a variety of breeds, we have never had this problem before and I didn’t know there was a word for it until recently. We have had Roxy from 9 weeks old so there’s no previous history.
Any suggestions are welcome.

Diane.


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Post by LizP on Fri Apr 12 2019, 20:17

Hi Diane,

First of all, welcome to the forum. I know you've introduced yourself here but not everyone looks in the T&B section so do pop over to introductions and say hi to everyone.

I know this is an unusual case in that it is so extreme and also because the bond between your daughter and Roxy is so intense, but I would treat this the same way I would lower key separation anxiety (SA, it's that well known dog trainers will immediately know just SA!). There is an info sheet on it here:

http://staffy-bull-terrier.niceboard.com/t66717-separation-anxiety

Because it is so extreme, the important thing is to take as much time as Roxy needs. If you have to work on each step over several or even many sessions, then do so. The key is to avoid Roxy going past the point of mild concern (what I call the 'uh oh' moment), and at least to start off with only having her at that point so briefly that she bared registers is.

You may also find that moving from one step to the next is difficult, too difficult, for her. In that case, look at how you can make it smaller. For instance, if the step where you close the door is too much, then just have it ajar for a second instead of closed. Almost everything can be broken down somehow, even though that might not be apparent to start off with.

What you are trying to achieve is a sense confidence in Roxy, confidence that your daughter will come back and confidence that she can cope when she is not there. Keep everything positive. Even when things don't go according to plan - and that will happen - keep positive. The feelings that she picks up from you will affect her feelings too.

See what you think when you've read the sheet. If you've got any questions, just ask.

Good luck!


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Post by gillybrent on Fri Apr 12 2019, 23:57

Hi & welcome. 

Great advice from Liz. Give it a try & if you have any questions just ask - there's no such thing as a silly question if you need to know the answer!

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Post by DianeG972 on Sat Apr 13 2019, 14:35

Hello, thank you for the replies. I’ve given the info a read and I have a couple of questions. When my daughter goes on the back to clean up poop and to the bins at the side of the house Roxy is usually calm, the worse that happens is a bit of crying and that’s rare. Sometimes Roxy will watch from the window or wait at the door but most of the time she’s not bothered. My daughter normally does this at the end of the day and then feeds her. This is pretty similar to what’s said on the info sheet on how to start off but it’s also said not to praise and I suppose she could see the dinner as praise. Just wondering your thoughts on this and how we could take it from there.

My other question is should we just begin with my daughter leaving and coming back until she’s okay with that before proceeding onto being alone completely for short intervals? If we are to practise this everyday there are going to be occasions when my daughter and dog are by themselves as I work three days a week. Roxy doesn’t mind when anyone else leaves but she’s never been left completely by herself and the last thing I want is to overwhelm her too soon.

Thanks, Diane.

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Post by gillybrent on Sat Apr 13 2019, 16:03

I would say just one step at a time. The less stress at each stage the better.

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Post by LizP on Sat Apr 13 2019, 17:21

On the feeding at bin time, I would say your daughter should feed her as she goes out, then ignore her when she comes back in. That way, leaving = something nice. If you have this time when Roxy can cope with your daughter going out, one possible thought is to use this opportunity to do a bit of training as well. She could do her normal things outside, then wait for a couple of seconds before coming back in. If that works, she could then very gradually build the time she's outside.

On the second question, yes, you want Roxy to be fine with one step before moving onto the next. It's all about confidence, so having something she can do instead of something she can't is a huge thing. That's why the tiny steps work best, because you can add something that she can do, albeit with a little difficulty, to her existing ability.

I can't remember if it says in the sheet, but if you do have a glitch and try for something that she can't cope with, the best thing is to go straight away to something she can do. 'I can' needs to be her mantra. The more you know you can, the less you fear you can't.


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Post by DianeG972 on Sun Apr 14 2019, 09:08

Hello, thank you to you both for the replies. I will have a sit down with my daughter and devise a plan for Roxy.

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Post by gillybrent on Mon Apr 15 2019, 08:28

Let us know how it goes, and if you have any problems  just shout!

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