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Old 11-29-2012, 07:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Name: Ashley
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Sophie is 16.5 weeks old and we spend EVERY moment with each other. I love it, but I'm beginning to wonder if its developing separation anxiety in her. If she can't follow me around or see me in her line of view, she starts to cry. I know when I leave the house and my BF is home, even if I'm gone for a few minutes she lays right by the door and doesn't move until I get back. As long as its on her terms and she walks away to play she's fine, but if I walk away to long she starts to cry. It's not a whine or a bark, I can tell she really is sad. I hate hearing my baby so sad. Is there anything I can do to help her get over this? I don't want her to be heartbroken every time I get up from snuggles to go to the bathroom, but at the same time she needs to learn she's okay without me there for a few minutes.


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Old 11-29-2012, 08:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I read a long article recently about separation anxiety. In it, he said that if the dog thinks it's the alpha, it will have separation anxiety. In a pack, the alpha is allowed to leave but the others aren't. If one does anyway, he feels he has let the pack down by not doing his job correctly. It is actually good for puppies and older dogs to be taught that you are the alpha, not him and it is good for them to learn to be alone and teach themselves how to play alone sometimes and comfort themselves. When you first leave, you should not make a big deal of it. Just leave. Let him see you moving about doing things and then just walk out. Practice doing this in short intervals at first, like just a minute or two. Then, keep extending the amount of time you are gone. Same thing when you come back...do not immediately pick him up. Actually, you are to ignore him at first and again, let him see you doing something else first. If he is barking or whining, ignore him. When he quietens down, tell him "good boy" and then pick him up. I know first hand this is hard to do but if it's good for Leila, then I have to make myself do it. If the separation anxiety continues, it could get much worse and you'll come home to finding things shredded and chewed. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ashley -- this is called TRAINING!!!! Sophie is training YOU to do whatever she wants you to.

I think most of us "humans" on SM have been well trained by their fluffs. I sure know that I have.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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As much as Sophie will always be your baby, it is important to instill confidence in her as to avoid separation anxiety issues in the future. Practice in very short intervals and you can gradually lengthen the time. Don't make it a big production when you leave. A simple, "I'll be back" is enough. If you draw out the goodbye, the harder it can be. I just tell Obi, "be back soon." or "Be a good boy." and then, I leave calmly.

If I'm going to be gone a little while, I'll leave a Kong with a treat in it to have Obi be preoccupied while I'm leaving and gone.

Also, you should have confidence that she will be fine in your absence sometimes, we have more separation anxiety than the dog! (guilty as charged) lol!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Totally agree. As much as it looks like they are helpless and crying, I also think it is a display of dominance. Gustave is a complete cryer. We have been working on it for about 3 months now and there is improvement but we have a long way to go. He is completely OK if we leave the house (we use a webcam to monitor him), but if we are in the house and not with him, he does not stop whining. He does all those things you wrote about, sitting outside the bathroom and waiting etc.

In the morning after his morning potty and breakfast, we put Gustave in his pen. It is right next to my bed. He can literally touch me with his paw. But he cries constantly. It is so hard for me to just sit there and ignore him, but I do it everyday. As soon as he stops I turn around and interact with him. If he starts again I walk away. It sounds like torture for him when I write it down like this but I feel this exercise itself is helping him a lot. There is lesser crying now than there was 2 months ago.

I also don't think he does it because he is heartbroken I am not there in the pen with him. I think he WANTS me there. Believe me, I say this with all the love in my heart for him, he does not need me. He wants me in there.

Alpha/dominance issues aside, I need Gustave to trust me. If I think he is safe in his pen with me in the bathroom, he needs to trust me on that. I think we'll get there.

Just keep ignoring the cries. Start by leaving for a few minutes and give Sophie something delicious to stay busy with (a frozen kong, a bully stick etc.). Return in a nonchalant way like nothing out of the ordinary happened. Don't return if she is crying, wait for it to stop. It will stop, even if at first it doesn't seem like it. Do you use a clicker? You could click to mark quiet.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting this btw, it reminded me of practicing everyday. We forget sometimes.
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