Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk8

Week 8 is upon us. For those of you new to my blog, this is Vito's progress on his separation anxiety protocol adapted from Patricia McConnell's "I'll be home soon."

Day 50: 135sec-N (ate for 120), 30 (ate for 10, N for 15, ate for last 5), 30, 90-N (ate for 20), 120, 15, 5.25min, 20, 17min-N (ate for 10min), 60-N (ate for 0).

He started out very slow, not into his bones. I did a 17min trial today and he was calm for the whole time even though he wasn't eating for the last 7min.

Day 51: 75, 195, 20-N, 30, 6.5min (ate for 50sec), 30-N, 90-N, 18.5min-N (ate for 50) 30-N.

Vito wouldn't eat his bones, but still remained calm and lying down for 18.5min!

Day 52: 15sec, 10-N, 20-N, 10-N, 20, 45, 15-N, 90-N (ate for 60), 15, 3min-N (ate for 20), 30-N, 30-N, 40-N, 5min-N.

I decided to take it very slow today. Earlier Vito had a vet's appointment where he had to be dropped off for 2.5hrs. Of course he was in full panic by the time I was allowed to get him :( He did decent though on the trial. Wouldn't eat his bones, but looked relatively calm. Maybe just a little more uneasy than normal.

Day 53: 60-N, 20, 4.5min-N, 60-N, 20-N. I took the baby gate up, 6.5min-N, 7.5min-N (wander), 45-N, 6min-N.

I originally was going to do a normal session and plan for 20min today, but halfway through I thought I would try something. I took off the baby gate that was keeping Vito in the kitchen where the door is. For the first 6.5min trial Vito remained on his bed, I don't even know if he knew the gate was up. On the 7.5min trial I gave Vito a dried tater which he ate and then went to drink water. Of course he then saw the gate was up and went wandering. I can't see where he went, but I think he went to the bedroom for a bit, then came back and sat by the kitchen door. When I came in he was in the living room. He was more excited to see me when I came in and gave one little whine. On the last two trials Vito stayed on his dog bed in the kitchen. He was a bit more anxious i think as he was lying down but definitely starring at the door. I have no clue what to make of this experiment.

Day 54: 20sec, 3min-N (ate for 20), 30-N, 20min-N (ate tricky treat ball for 13.5min), 60-N.

I decided to not have the baby gate up the entire session this time, and this was amazing!!!! Vito didn't eat his bones, but on the 20min trial he was playing with the tricky treat ball for 13.5min, the longest he ever has. After the TT he got some water and then it looked like he was looking for us. After looking this way and that, Vito went back to the kitchen and nudged the TT again. But then, he stood in the hallway for about a minute and finally decided to lie down on the living room couch! Vito didn't even get up when I walked inside later! When I did the 1min trial after that he immediately went to the door after it closed, but again went and lied down in the living room :) I really feel like we've made a huge leap in his progress today!

Day 55: 90-N, 15, 3.75min, 10, 15, 20min-N (ate for 4min).

I had the baby gate down again today for the whole session. He stayed on his bed until 4min into the 20min trial where he stopped, eating, drank water, and then went to the living room couch and lied down the whole time! Very happy :)

Day 56: 20, 90-N, 3.5min, 30, 25min, 60.

Baby gate is again not up, but Vito stayed on his bed in the kitchen the entire time. He also ate a bone, a piggy twist (which previously he has shown zero interest in) the entire 25min!

Week 8 Summary:
What a great week!!!! We started out at 15min departures and ended up with 25min today! This week I also tried something new, I took down the baby gate that kept him in the kitchen by the door. At first I think he was a little anxious about it, but then I think he enjoyed it. When he's not wanting a bone, he just goes into the living room and I come back to Vito lying calmly on the couch :) My goal now is to get up to 40min next week and hopefully be able to do two hours at the end of week 10!

ClassyChassy  – ( July 2, 2009 at 9:08 PM )  

Sounds like he's doing better. What causes this kind of anxiety? With my aussie, he is fine to go on a car ride, but when the car stops, he starts getting upset, roaming back and forth. If one of us stays in the car with him, he is still upset until the other person returns, then he sits nicely, and seems to know we are headed home again - and he's fine. What a goober!

Laura  – ( July 2, 2009 at 9:31 PM )  

I don't really know. Right when we got Vito he was very anxious whenever we left (the first night he shrieked for 2.5hrs straight with us completely and utterly ignoring him before we finally sat down next to him and found a shaking puppy). Technically he might have "true" SA as he is young, it could just be learning to deal with frustrations. But we did a ton of impulse control work, crate games, and much much more than the average puppy owner does. Instead of getting better Vito was getting worse with each time we left him alone. So who knows if it was really SA, as I decided to go through this protocal anyway!

Just so you know, you can also do a modified version of this treatment with cars too! Or you can use a different method where you slowly build up distance but teach your dog that only by being calm do you come back. Or if he'll take treats you can use a manners minder or simply start with one person staying in the car with him, treating for being calm, every second if you need to!

Honey the Great Dane  – ( July 3, 2009 at 6:16 AM )  

It sounds like you're making good progress! I think if more people committed to working on it gradually, like you, then more would succeed in "curing" SA - but unfortunately, a lot of people just too impatient (or lazy!).

We're really lucky that we've never had an issue with Honey being left alone - she just sleeps! It's like she has 2 settings: off and on! :-) We did do a simpler version of your process when she was a young puppy, to gradually get her used to being alone, even though she didn't show any signs of anxiety - but I think we were probably just lucky. She is a very mellow dog and doesn't get anxious about anything much! (Of course, the down side is your dog is fantastic at working whereas mine is comatose most of the time! :-) )

Hsin-Yi

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