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kami

Kelpie With Separation Anxiety

53 posts in this topic

kami   

Hi there! I have been reading the forums here on dogzonline with great interest, in the light of recently adopting a kelpie from a rescue organisation. The description gave no indication the dog was anything other than a lovely sweet gentle nature dog (all of which is true!). However, she also suffers significant separation anxiety, and appears to have signs of noise phobia (cries if it rains even if someone is with her in the rain.). (We have only had her for a few weeks).

Steps we have taken to address this:

- Twice daily walks of an hour each.

- Ignoring the dog before we leave and when we get home for about 15 minutes, so as to try and reinforce that us leaving or coming home is not a big deal).

- our sweet natured girl is provided with a variety of toys and treats when we are gone, namely:

- a kong which we have tried filling with frozen mince (a success) And peanut butter covered kibble (not a success).

Various rope and ball combinations

A stuffed scorpion toy to satisfy her prey drive

A bob-a-lot to make her work for her kibble

Bones, beef tendons (anything else she can consume in about 5 minutes) and multiple other dog treats that are long lasting.we rotate these and keep adding more treats and toys.

We want to create a positive association between treats and us leaving. - we want stuff to keep her occupied for while we are working (only usually about 5 hours on her own for 4 days a week - over night from about 3 am - 7.45 am). The rest of the time i would say she has someone with her about 75 % of the time.

I apologise for the long post but I want to give as much detail as possible so you guys can hopefully get a better picture of what is going on).

The behavioural issues we are having is that our sweet girl howls while we are gone, clearly becoming so anxious that she then destroys items around the garden (one bar stool, one pot plant, one bucket, one decking applicator). We have to put her outside for this period, as we are concerned for her safety (and our belongings) if we leave her inside. We tried after the first night of constant crying as per neighbour (who luckily is sympathetic)to leave her inside our bathroom - which she covered in poop and smeared everywhere (even up to the door handle) because she was so anxious and kept pacing. So based on that experience, we leave her outside, but have considered crate traini g down the track one she settles in. She has a comfortable memory foam bed in an enclosed porch as well as a kennel. When we are at home she sleeps inside her own bed in our bedroom.

our vet is involved and has prescribed alprazolam and prosac. We only give her the alprazolam on the nights we work, however i wonder if something that makes her sleepy would be more appropriate?

We also have bought Her a thundershirt to try and will trial that next time. We also bought her a pheromone collar which seemed to help.

Any advice you have would be appreciated! We are willing to try anything to make our girl happier. When we are home she is the worlds best dog,obedient, can sit, stay, heel....and i am teaching her a few new tricks. We are working on recall atm, but will still need her papers from the shelter so we can let her safely off leash. They are being rather slack about giving them to us which is making us rather anxious, as the sooner she is registered the sooner we can start obedience classes.

Anyhows apologies for the extremely long post again, looking forward to your ideas.

Thank you kindly,

Susie

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JulesP   

Probably best to get a trainer in. If you want to say roughly where you live we can suggest people.

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kami   

I'm a little reluctant to specifically post where due to not having her paper yet and being able to register her - but the south eastern suburbs of melbourne

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kami   

Thanks jules. Does it sound like we are on the right track with everything else?

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Good suggestions from Jules, have you let the rescue organization know about the dogs problems? Was she in foster care or a kennel situation before you adopted her?

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I think you are doing well, and yes, I hope you have notified the rescue .

Jules has given you good advice :)

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kami   

They rung up during the first week and i told them we were having issues with separation anxiety. They didn't really offer much advice, it is a large rescue with a high turnover of animals (no kill).

She went straight from the foster almost directly to us, as we had met her foster carer with the dog earlier, and he was happy with how dog, partner and I got on. I got the impression he was anxious she not have to wait at the shelter, which was kind.

All i know otherwise about her past history is that her foster carer thought.she had been treated badly by a male in the past by the way she reacts to them.

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JulesP   

All i know otherwise about her past history is that her foster carer thought.she had been treated badly by a male in the past by the way she reacts to them.

A lot of dogs with a weak nerve look like they have been belted up so I would take that with a grain of salt.

Actually thought of someone else that would be good Dave at Diggers Herding - http://www.diggersherding.com/ A Kelpie expert.

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hankdog   

The Dane rescue website has good insight and practical advice. Prozac works well for my boy. Lots of training in stay. Practicing opening door, knocking on door whilst in stay. I have built up to a stay outside whilst I get in my car and drive up the driveway. Crate training if you're only going to be a few hours away. It's probably a combination of lots of little things to nudge her confidence along.

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kami   

Thanks everyone for your wonderful ideas, we will definitely book her in to either prok9 or underdogtraining cheers Jules, thanks for the referrals to some good local trainers.

I think dave at diggers herding we might try down the track, she definitely can herd (tries to herd me when i run lol). Once she has settled in

Its really reassuring for my partner and I to know we are on the right track - this is his first dog, and my first for many years, so we are probably a little over anxious to make sure we do all the right things to help our sweet Annie.

Hankdog will definitely continue extending on the stay - had not considered just how much it would build up her confidence to keep extending it slowly over time. Awesome idea!

She bites her feet quite viciously at times which we are trying to ignore atm so as not to reinforce

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kami   

Heres a couple of pics for fun <div style="width:480px;text-align:right;"><embed width="480" height="360" src="http://pic2.pbsrc.com/flash/rss_slideshow.swf" flashvars="rssFeed=http://feed376.photobucket.com/albums/oo206/susie_young2/Mobile%20Uploads/feed.rss" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" /><a href="javascript:void(0);" target="_blank"><img src="http://pic.photobucket.com/share/icons/embed/btn_geturs.gif" style="border:none;" /></a><a href="http://s376.photobucket.com/albums/oo206/susie_young2/Mobile%20Uploads" target="_blank"><img src="http://pic.photobucket.com/share/icons/embed/btn_viewall.gif" style="border:none;" alt="susie_young2's album on Photobucket" /></a></div>

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BC Crazy   

Welcome Susi,

Dear Annie is a lovely looking girl :love: I love Kelpie's. Good on you for rescuing her. You are doing lots of right things with her :thumbsup: I am by no means an expert :laugh: I have a BC with a few similar issues similar to your girl. She is a very weak nerve girl though so Stella is on the extreme end of the scale . Very noise phobic & anxious. Stella is on Prozac & Kalma meds daily which are really helping her IMO. I can certainly notice that she happier & she settles a lot quicker than without medication.

Just reading down your original post. There has already been some excellent advice given. Getting a trainer / going to obedience classes, very beneficial for both of you. A 1 hour walk twice a day is great. Training & trick training are both really good ways of building Annie's confidence & that's one of the most important things you can do to help her overcome sep. anxiety.

You are leaving her things to do while you are gone, toys etc. Long lasting treats, all good. I don't leave bones though as they can be a choking hazard. Never cooked bones. Also make sure the bones you give her are not weight bearing ones as they can splinter. EG. lamb shanks & alike aren't suitable but beef flaps or soup bones are great. Mine get a meaty bone everyday.

ThunderShirt is well worth a try. Stella loves hers & is noticeably calmer when wearing it. Crate training can also be helpful as it will give her a 'safe' place to be. Do you have a doggy door or dog access she can come inside when she likes? Most dogs hate being shut off in a bathroom, even dogs without issues.

She sounds very obedient already which is terrific. With her recall I wouldn't be letting her off lead until her recall is very reliable. Maybe use a long line with her that way she can still stretch her legs but do it safely.

Why is she biting her feet do you know? are they irritating her perhaps?

Good luck with sweet Annie. Keep us posted on her progress. Will follow with interest :D

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kami   

Well, unfortunately we have had a rather large set back. About 2 weeks after we got dog, we invited some friends back to meet her. Annie has been around large groups of our family before but has not met my friends yet. One of my friends was pleased to meet her as he also has a kelpie - but unfortunately as friends came in theough the back gate he held her down to stop her running out (he was worried the second gate was open, which it wasnt). What really ruined everything was that he then PICKED her up! Poor annie then started peeing, where upon my friend set her down. She hid under the bushes for hours before I could coaxe her out.

This seems to have been a major set back for her, and she has been nervous of my partner since my male friend picked her up, and has been clingy but also shy with both of us. She has also started showing avoidance behaviours like trying to hide behind the couch, and appears even more noise phobic (became afraid of the oven - we fixed that one by getting her to do tricks and earn treats so she hopefully would associate treats and good things with the oven.

we obviously put her in a situation which was too frightening for her, with so many people. We will always warn ppl go never pick her up again. And always to ignore her for 20 mins when they first get there. We realise we did the wrong thing by putting her in that situation :-(

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Oh ! I really was expecting to read that she had bitten !

this is MUCH better news, really :)

She got a fright ... which could have been prevented ... and everyone has learned something .

She needs lots of simple exercises now to build her confidence again - from both of you :) good on you for persevering !

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sambuca   

I would put crate training on my list of things to do. You will be amazed at how much she will settle and calm as she will have a safe place of her own to go to.

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BC Crazy   

On the upside she didn't bite anyone kami.

She became overwhelmed & got a fright by the sound of it. Then shut down. My girl doesn't do crowds or more than a couple of people at one time. She will go & hide or cling to me. She used to be terrified of the oven,dishwasher or anything similar. She's improved but is still very noise phobic.

I would crate train your girl. This will help build her confidence & she will have her own "safe" place she can go if you are expecting guests you can pop her in there or just leave the crate door open.

Edited by BC Crazy

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