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Reassurance needed!

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Jo17, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    Hi all, am hoping for some reassurance here or success stories with separation anxiety.
    We got a puppy 4 days ago from some family friends. Due to us moving from a flat to a house we waited until we had a garden so got her at 16 weeks old, they live quite far away so hadn't met her until that point. She was understandably very nervous being taken away from her mother and siblings but has started to bond with me and is doing ok on short walks, responding to "No" etc.

    Issue is separation. When we had a puppy in the past she came at 8 weeks and we did fine with the usual training but this girl has never been alone in 4 months. Today i tried leaving her for the first time in the kitchen while I had a quick shower, she had her bed, a treat, a toy and water. She howled throughout which I expected but when I returned she went nuts with relief, hurling herself at me crying (clawing my arms up in the process) which didn't stop for a good 3-4 minutes then she passed out sleep from emotional exhaustion! She had also peed on her bed and the floor :(

    I left it a few hours then have done a couple of "fake leaving" and leaving for 5seconds which is ok but she does cry immediately if I put a door between us.

    She's also been a bit hyper and did a poo in the house despite the back door being open and her having been outside less than a minute previously, this a good 5 hours after the earlier separation.

    Being a bit sleep deprived with her I'm instantly thinking the worst and reading horror stories on google so please help...is this separation anxiety, is she suffering, will it require months of gradual training? Or is this to be expected? I'm used to dogs and as mentioned had a puppy before but didn't really consider how different it would be getting a 4month old and now I feel stupid and so guilty for how panicked this has made me feel.

    If anyone has a similar story with a good outcome or just any advice I'd really appreciate it. Thanks
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JudyN is our separation anxiety guru - she will see she has been tagged.
     
    Jo17 likes this.
  3. Caro Perry

    Caro Perry Well-Known Member Registered

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    4 days is no time. She's still settling in. She's lost her mum, her siblings, the humans she used to know and she's in a strange unfamiliar place so she's needy at the moment and you are her security. Harri was velcroed to me for a good month or more. If he wasn't on my lap then he was sat on my feet to make sure I didn't sneak off.

    Indulge her for the time being until she feels more confident.
     
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  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Thanks @JoanneF :)

    Is she a lurcher? She looks lurchery in the photo, though her ears look a little 'something else'. Sighthounds can be very sensitive and prone to separation anxiety. As Caro says, for now, don't leave her, and let her follow you everywhere. Give it maybe a week, and hopefully you'll see her relax, and not so desperate to know where you are 24/7.

    Then, gradually, find something to engross her, like a stuffed Kong or treat ball, and casually walk out the room and back in again. You want her to not even register that you went. Eventually she'll realise that she doesn't have to follow you all the time because she knows you'll be back. Though bear in mind that even dogs without SA often choose to be wherever their owner is - that's OK.

    You can also start preparing now for when you will need to leave the house - so picking up keys, putting them down, putting shoes on, taking them off, walking to the front door, maybe opening, and closing it again - and so on. The aim is that she's always in her comfort zone - if you decide to pop round next door for 5 minutes and she panics, this will set back her training.

    You might also want to plan now for when you do have to leave her, by asking friends and relations if they'd be prepared to dogsit on occasion, or finding a dog sitter/walker/boarder. You might never need them, but it's always good to have a fall-back plan.

    I'll be honest, it took a good couple of years before I could leave my dog but he was rather an extreme case and I didn't stick to the 'rules' as much as I should have done. But it is VERY early days for your girl so you may well find that she's completely different once she's had a while to settle in.

    An excellent book is I'll Be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell - it gives advice on prevention as well as cure so would be well worth you reading.
     
  5. pongo111

    pongo111 Member Registered

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    Hi all,
    It's day 6 with our puppy and she does not like us leaving!
    We have been around all of the time but this morning i went out for an hour and came back to a turd :(
    She had seemed a bit off before i went out tbh.
    I have to be able to go out for a few hours and her be ok so hopefully this will improve.
    Good luck Jo.
     
    Jo17 likes this.
  6. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    Thanks all and esp @JudyN :) She's not a lurcher, she's a real mix of Malinois, Labrador, Breton Spaniel and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon... and a bit of mystery!

    She's actually not too bad for following me around, which was partly why I was so surprised at her extreme fear when I left her for the shower. She'll happily wander off into a different room than me, stay in the garden for a bit after she sees me go inside and won't follow me if she's particularly comfortable or senses I'm just going to be a few seconds. I guess it's different being shut in so am going to get a stair gate and work on separations with that for a while. The food toy will be useful too as she does like snacks!

    Good luck to you too @pongo111 :)
     
  7. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Hi Jo

    If it helps, I have had my puppy for a month now, and she still starts crying 9/10 times I leave the room, even if I'm just in the next room. She will start immediately, not just when I've been a while. But I don't consider her to have separation anxiety at all, not above the norm for a 12 week-old puppy anyway. Like you, I've been leaving the room for short amounts of time. If she's engrossed in something else then she doesn't care, but if she's not then she will definitely cry and yelp. She still occasionally has accidents too. But I'm not worried about it, and from the sounds of it, your puppy sounds normal. I'm just carrying on giving her lots of love, making her feel secure, but also training her to be left on her own bit by bit without putting her under too much stress.

    Something that seemed to work well for me in the first couple of weeks was waiting until she'd fallen asleep WITH me, e.g. on the sofa, then putting her in her crate. Because once she's in 'sleep mode' she is far less likely to whine when all she wants to do is go back to sleep, then when she's in there I leave the room/house to do other things and she is never awake or crying when I come back.

    This part especially sounds really good! That's exactly what mine does sometimes, and other times she's much more needy. I think it's all just part of them growing up and learning. This is my first puppy so I'm not an expert, but 16 weeks still seems very young - you've got loads of time for her behaviour to change.
     
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  8. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    Thanks Michele that is good to hear. I'm struggling a bit with the crate - at present it's in the living room where I spend most of my day, with the door open and she is happy to go in of her own accord and lie down in there. Today I closed the door for about 30 seconds sitting with her then opened and it was drama free so will work on lengthening that with treats.

    However as it's still the first week she is sleeping next to my bed on a dog bed where I can settle her when she wakes in the night, this is going ok. I can't carry the crate up and down each day really as it's big and heavy, I've already scratched a door doing it, so not sure how to achieve the combination of her sleeping in it but also it being somewhere she can hang out during the day and see as her space. I guess I could get two?

    I think my main worry is that I don't really know how she spent her first 16 weeks, I'm guessing she only met that family and her own litter so I think she's behind on socialisation and confidence. My husband had to go away 2 of the last 4 days with work so when he arrives today she'll not be fussed about him and I'm struggling with ALL her happiness being pinned on me.

    This too will pass! Thanks for responding :)
     
  9. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    If she's sleeping on her own bed next to your bed, is there a reason why you want her in a crate upstairs?
     
  10. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    When I first got my puppy home, I did the whole wait-til-she's-asleep-on-me thing before putting her in the crate and like you I left the crate door open for the first two or three weeks even when she was asleep, so she could wander in and out freely. I think this helped her to see the crate as non-threatening. But after a few weeks (and because I'm on my own with no one to help me) I started shutting the crate door as I simply needed to get on with other things (feeding, washing myself!) and was unable to supervise her. Then, after a few days of that, I started putting her in the crate without lulling her to sleep first. I was worried that she'd start to dislike the crate but that hasn't happened. When I put her in there during the day 30% of the time she won't make a fuss, and the rest of the time she'll only whine for max 5 minutes, but she always settles down and then sleeps - when I wake her up she is in no hurry to come out. And she also sleeps in there nicely all night. (The crate has been downstairs in the living room since day one.)

    Did your puppy have all her vaccinations etc before you brought her home? If she did she would have had experiences of the vets and seeing other people and dogs there, even if nothing else, and that counts for a lot. But if not I wouldn't worry.

    I TOTALLY understand about being the one responsible for her. I'm on my own, so dealing with a puppy is extremely hard when there is no one e.g. to simply watch her whilst I go and make dinner/have a shower/go to the toilet etc. There's so much pressure as well, especially if you're a perfectionist and want to get it right, like I am! But after the initial couple of weeks I started to toughen up quickly! Now it's not as stressful because you can only do what you can do!
     
  11. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    In the grand scheme of things I'm not too bothered about her sleeping overnight in the crate really, there were 2 reasons - if I can cover it and fool her into thinking it's dark she may not keep waking up at 5:15, and also she tends to jump up a couple of times in the night to check I'm still there / say hello so my sleep is disturbed. However on the second point, last night i moved her bed away about 4 feet so it wasn't directly by me and she didn't 'check in' at all so it may be that the proximity of my face was too tempting! I do talk in my sleep so maybe i was waking her and not the other way around :)
    On the early waking I've got a little used to it plus her getting older and the passage into autumn will help that! So yeah maybe i will relax about the overnight crate - i guess i was thinking she'd take to it more in the daytime if it was her official bed but that might not be the case.
     
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  12. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    She did have her vaccinations yep and they took her in the car a few times which is great as she's been so good in there - just snoozes!
    I'm definitely being over anxious, it's only been a week now and she's already got a lot more confident.

    I haven't been able to 'put' her in her crate as such - she's already 15.5kg and came to us old enough to understand her surroundings and barriers pretty well so I think it has to be of her own accord so I don't frighten her and establish it as a punishment place. This morning though she went in her crate when I said "crate" and encouraged her a bit and after giving her a nice chewy stick in there i pushed the door mostly closed and was able to potter about and even go into another room for a bit without her being bothered so I'm sure with continued small steps she'll get there :) What kind of dog id yours?
     
  13. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Great! Seriously it sounds like she'll be absolutely fine! I'm so anxious too - it's just my personality. I've got a whippet puppy. They are really chilled when they're older but a nightmare as puppies! So fast and agile and she gets into so much mischief. I can't complain though, as she's great at sleeping through the night. When I first got her home she slept from 10 to 5am. After a week I started adding 5 mins on every day until she was 12 weeks whereupon it became clear she would sleep until at least 7am if I let her, so that's what I did!
     
  14. Jo17

    Jo17 New Member Registered

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    Aww sweet, I do love whippets. They have the best snoots! I'm pretty neurotic too if I'm honest :) I'm sure both our pups will be just fine, mine's snoozing on the grass like an angel now.
     
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