Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk1

I have started to keep a log of my SA sessions to track my progress and enable me to see where I am doing great and where I may have raised criteria too quickly. I recommend that you not read the rest of this blog, or at least skip to the last paragraph unless you are really interested! At least to the right I've included a picture of what Lance gets to do when I'm acting like a nut walking in and out of the house. He takes it to his "special hiding spot."

I started the SA sessions on May 7th and briefly blogged about it then, so this starts with Day 2.

Day2: Worked for about 10-15mn. Started with 3 exit/enters only, then progressed to a couple 10sec absences, and a few 30seconds. Vito did great for the first approximately 8mn, but then stopped chewing his bones. I kept entering and picking up the bones and putting back down the bones as I left anyway. Within 2 more trials he was happily chewing his bones again, so I did 2x30sec trials and called it quits.

Day2 session2: Worked for 10mn and did 11 trials. Did 10sec, 15sec, 4x30sec, 40sec, 2x45sec, 60sec, 30sec. At no time did he stop chewing his bones or get up from the doggy bed.
After I was done, I left Vito in the kitchen with a rawhide and the baby gate up while I went to the living room. He is still being content to chew his bone for the past 20mn. I am sure he knows I am home, but I'm being very quiet typing this so who knows.

Day 3: Worked for about 10-15mn and did 10 trials with a pigs ear. We did 20sec, 2x30, 45, I added pb to one of the bones to reward him, 2x60, 75, 2x90, added more pb, 105, 60. Vito did great, chewed his pig ear the entire time.

Day 4: I read that it's better to do long sessions rather than short ones when treating SA, so I set out with that in mind. I ended up doing 37 trials over 35mn, but it was not what I had planned. I started with 45sec, but Vito wasn't eating his bone (rawhide strip) when I came back so I then did 2x10sec trials, but Vito still wasn't eating. I then did 6xout/in trials where he started to eat his bone by the last couple. Next I did 3x10sec, 20, 30, I then offered him a marrow bone as well. I did 45sec, 2x60, 3x90. On the last 90sec trial Vito was standing on the dog bed when I came in, I think he had just finished chewing his bone as I was walking in. So I moved it down to a 30, 60, 75, but on the 75sec trial Lance barked outside at Adam and when I came in Vito was waiting by the door. I then sighed and did a 60sec trial where he wasn't eating, did 2xout/ins, and a 30sec where he was eating. I then bumped it to 45sec where he wasn't eating again, did 2x10sec where he was eating, 20sec, 2x30sec where he again wasn't eating on the last 30sec trial. So I did 3x15sec where he was eating and ended with a 30sec.

This was extremely frustrating. I didn't want to go so long, but I wanted to end on a good note. He mainly preferred the rawhide strip to the marrow bone, but went back and forth when both were down. I probably should have worked my way up and shouldn't have started with such a high time.

Day4 Session2: Worked for 30mn and did about 64 trials. This was also not the greatest session. I started with a pigs ear for Vito and just doing some out/ins (O/I) (about 2o trials), but Vito wouldn't even touch the bone until about 5mn in. I then tried a 10sec trial but it was too long as he was by the door when I cam in. So I did about 20xO/Is and Vito didn't touch the pigs ear until about the 15th trial. I then put a little rawhide down and 3x5sec trials where Vito chewed on the rawhide. I decided to put peanut butter on the pigs ear and did 3x10sec trials with Vito happily licking off the pb and 2x O/I. He was done licking off the pb at this point, but chewing on the ear so I did 15sec, 2x5, 2x10, 2xO/I, 15, 2x20, 2x5, 2x20, 15, 30.

I didn't feel like I could push it with any longer time this session so the highest I got up to was 1 30sec trial. He did have major diarrhea right after so maybe that had something to do with it? Aftwerward I waited about 10mn and left him in the kitchen with a different rawhide to chew on while I was in the living room. He chewed on it for a couple minutes before stopping and waiting quietly to be let out. I decided to go into the kitchen and put the dishes away to get him eating again before leaving him "alone" again.

Day 5: I worked for 20mn and did 41 trials with a pigs ear and a rawhide stick, but Vito went after the pigs ear the whole time. I started with 6xO/I, 2x5sec, O/I, 2x5- on all of those trials I decided not to pick up the bone upon coming in the house in order to get him really started on it. For the rest of the time, I picked up both bones upon coming in the house, except on the O/I trials I did not. I then did 3x10sec, 3xO/I, 2x15, 20, 2x5, 20 and then added pb to the pigs ear to reward him. I then did 2x30, 3xO/I, 30, 40, 2x10, 45, 5, 2x10, 45, 3xO/I, 10.

Vito chewed on the pigs ear the entire time we worked. I really tried to keep it very easy with him, the longest time I was gone was 1 45sec trial. I've decided that I really want to keep the times varied that I am gone, not always leaving longer. I know when teaching "stays" you have to be careful to make the time random so the dog continues to enjoy the stay and not dread each stay longer than the previous one. For SA, I have read conflicting ideas on what to do. Some articles say that it's ok to continually increase time since you are working on changing the emotional response and the dog is (hopefully) getting continual reinforcement while you are gone. I think that I am going to vary it though to be on the safe side and not risk Vito becoming anxious.

Day 6: I worked for 20mn and did 27 trials with a pigs ear and rawhide stick down. Vito only chewed on the pigs ear. I did 3x5sec, 2x10, 2x20, 2x5, 3x30, 10, 45, 2x5, 45, 60, 30, 60, 30, 15, 75, 2x10, 45, 60.

He chewed on the ear on the entire time. The highest time reached was a 75sec trial, but Vito also did 3x60sec with no problem.

Day 7: I worked for 25mn and did 29 trials with a pigs ear and rawhide stick down. He only chewed on the pigs ear except for a couple trials where I also added a empty marrow bone with some peanut butter smeared inside. I started with 10sec, but it was apparently too much as Vito was by the door when I came in, so I did a O/I, 3x5, 2x10 and Vito started eating the ear immediately on the first O/I. I then put the pb bone down and Vito licked it for the next 3 trials. 10, 2x30, 15, 60, 20, 2x60, 20, 5, 75, 90, 2x20, 90, 2x5, 75, 15, 30.

Wk1 Conclusion:
This has been the end of the first week of work. I was only able to do 9 sessions because of my split work schedule, but I still feel that it was a good week. In some ways we didn't make any improvements by the 9th session than the 3rd (highest time gone today was 90sec, highest time gone on the 9th was 105sec), but I feel more confident on my departures now. I think that I started out too high, even though he did great on day3, I don't think Vito fully understood the game (that I come back shortly and that great bones are his when I'm gone!) and that's why he started feeling anxious again on day 4. But I think that Vito is doing good now. It appears as though he really wants the bone and doesn't want me to come back to take it away.

Wk1 Data: Highest time by end of week (not including day3) was several 90sec trials. Still need to start each session with no greater than 5sec departures and gradually work up.

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