Dog Separation Anxiety: One Family’s Story
Talk about a reason to smile! Dog separation anxiety is a real panic attack. Just ask dear MayDay. His worst episode was tearing through window screening and getting onto the roof. As you can imagine, this was not only terrifying for him, it was stressful for his people too as they love him so very […] The post Dog Separation Anxiety: One Family’s Story first appeared on So Much PETential.
Talk about a reason to smile! Dog separation anxiety is a real panic attack. Just ask dear MayDay. His worst episode was tearing through window screening and getting onto the roof. As you can imagine, this was not only terrifying for him, it was stressful for his people too as they love him so very much. We’ve worked together for about 3 months now and they’ve made such great progress. (Progress with SA is definitely not always linear.) I made this video to share their story – watch past the initial assessment. Below is Megan’s story written by her. She wanted to do that in hopes that it could help other families too.
We got him when he was about 6 months old and loved him instantly. He is the sweetest boy who ALWAYS greets you with a toy in his mouth, snuggles up next to you, and groans like an old man any time he stretches. But it was apparent soon after we got him that he had separation anxiety (in his case, it’s anxiety from being alone, not from being away from any one specific person). We tried crate training him, but he was having panic attacks overnight in the crate (thrashing around, heavy panting, in addition to near continuous frantic crying). He also started escaping the crate, even with bungee cords around the door. It became clear a crate wasn’t a safe option for him. We tried literally everything our vet and Google had suggested: a long walk/playing at dog park beforehand, leaving puzzle toys and/or a Kong for him, turning on the radio, a stuffed dog with a “heartbeat”, over the counter calming treats, a Thunder jacket. None of it worked long-term. At the advice of our vet, we put him on a daily anti-anxiety medication (which he is still on) that initially helped but not for long.
Thus began our attempts to train him on our own to be left alone on the first floor of our house. Mayday became destructive when he was left alone, even with all the above listed tools in place. He chewed books, remotes, eventually destroyed a shoe rack and entryway cabinet, and clawed chunks out of our front doorframe. The worst episode of his separation anxiety resulted in him on our roof after clawing his way through a screen window on the second floor that was left cracked open. DON’T WORRY, Mayday is completely fine and had no injuries – thank goodness we have amazing neighbors who rescued Mayday as soon as they saw him. At that point, we knew we needed to consult a professional who could help us with this extreme separation anxiety.
Lisa’s separation anxiety modification process is really structured, so there was no guess work on our end which was so helpful. Weekly we reviewed our progress, challenges and next steps together while Lisa tracked our process every step of the way. I loved getting her advice during our weekly Zoom reassessment – it was really helpful to know if we were doing things appropriately on our own.
It’s incredible how much progress Mayday has made in the 3 months Lisa has worked with us. We never could have gotten to this point without Lisa’s training, patience, and encouragement. My husband and I now have the confidence to continue the missions on our own, checking in with Lisa monthly, and Mayday has continued making progress! For the first time since we recognized his separation anxiety, we feel hopeful that this will not be a forever problem. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend Lisa if your dog is struggling with separation anxiety.”
Dog Separation Anxiety: One Family’s Story first appeared on So Much PETential.