Friday, February 15, 2013

Developing seperation anxiety

As you can imagine, with a pack of rescued and special needs dogs who currently range in age from ten months to seven years old, there are issues and sometimes challenges.  

Our latest challenge involves Callie, who is around seven years old.

Callie

At our home, we have the same routine on work days/nights.  All the dogs except Hiker are crated and receive a Kong with some of their meal in it and canned food to hold it in tight. (yes, Hiker gets a Kong too, she just isn't crated)  The crates are always in the same place are never used as a disciplinary tool, they have nice bedding, toys and things to chew.


crates are a nice place to be


Since Callie doesn't always play nice with others, she has been crated when unsupervised since she was adopted five years ago.  

For some reason, over the past couple of weeks, Callie has developed an issue with her crate. It's been bent to the point where the door barely closes and latches.



She has been destroying her bedding and when I approach to open the door, she is panting, trembling and anxious to get out.  She runs to the water dish and gulps water. 


the crate door that has a divider panel attached since it was being bent

The first few times this happened I thought she maybe would be better with a dish of water in her crate.  That made no difference, it would still be there, untouched when I let her out.

Yesterday morning while I was in the shower, she got out of her crate, since I obviously didn't close the (mangled) door as well as I thought I had.  She was laying on the floor, on her bed in the room where her crate is.  (It's a small room off the kitchen where she hangs out and I've re-purposed the side of a baby crib to make a gate) 

When it was time for me leave for work, I showed her the Kong and said in my happy (cheery-before-the-crack-of-dawn) voice, "In ya get Callie!"  She just looked at me as if to say, "No damn way am I going in there."   Uh-oh.  I can't be late for work and I am not going to try and force her.  So, I decided to leave her in the room with the baby crib side rail gate.  Since I am a bit paranoid, I shut Hiker in a bedroom with a radio on and some toys.

"I'm not going in that crate."

When I returned, Callie was calm, relaxed and seemed only mildly interested that I had returned. Quite a difference from before.

Callie's appetite, urination, bowel movements, energy level and desire to play are all normal.

I've talked with a few fellow dog people who have and/or had older dogs and they all say that their dogs developed odd habits and some anxiety type issues as they aged.  I've never experienced an older dog since Cairo died at age seven and the only older foster we had was with us a few weeks before he was adopted. 

I really don't think of Callie as being an older dog but I suppose that at around age seven, she's getting to where she'd be deemed an older dog. 

When I was driving home earlier today after getting groceries it suddenly dawned on me.  Seperation anxiety.  Could that be what is happening?  The crate that Callie sleeps in at night in the bedroom is fine with her. She's not alone. Same thing if she is crated in the living room. She isn't alone. 

So, that's what we're dealing with.  Not a huge problem (yet?) but somewhat puzzling.


22 comments:

  1. Poor girl! I wonder if it's age related, or if something scared her when you weren't home...

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    1. I thought of something scaring her too but we live in such a quiet area and the yard is fully fenced (high) and secure. Puzzling.

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  2. If it were separation anxiety, it seems like she'd be anxious outside of the crate as well. From your description, she was fine when not crated. Can you continue the arrangement with gates, etc., in lieu of crating? Maybe others with more experience with crates will have ideas. Good luck!

    Susan and Wrigs

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    1. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's not separation anxiety and like you noted, she was okay outside the crate.

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  3. Maybe she just doesn't like the crate anymore...

    XXXOOO Daisy, bella & Roxy

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    1. That's what I'm thinking too, but I wonder why now?

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  4. That's so interesting. I wonder if something scared her when she was in the crate one time. Finn had a bit of a SA issues, and it involved her chewing through everything. Now I get up really early (5am) to make sure I get in a full hour of Finn & me time before go to work to make sure she's tired. Did you talk to the vet?

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    1. We've got the annual check-up in a couple of months and I am going to schedule the appointment for sooner and see what she says. I really like and trust the vets at the clinic we go to and want their opinions.

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  5. Maybe Callie's getting cranky with age. It happened to Audi. He's not as docile as he used to be.

    Ps. I'm dehydrating a kilo and a half of beef liver. Would love to send your gang some! :)

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    1. Callie has always been cranky and a bit of a challenge. At one point a few years ago it was suggested by a rescue that euthanizing her might be the best thing to do. NO WAY!

      Yumm...liver! (the dogs are saying that, not me) I'll e-mail you.

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  6. Oh, my oldest dog, Josey, has changed so much as she's aged! She was always the smartest most fearless dog, but now her anxiety level about many things has increased - for instance, until she was 7-8, thunder didn't bother her at all; then all of a sudden she was terrified by it, and stormy nights became dreadful for both of us. She used to be a very independent, standoffish dog, but she's very needy in general now, and although she used to sleep in a crate, I let her sleep with me all the time now. Once during a storm, she bent the metal on her crate door so much she was able to get out of it, open the door to the room she was in, and come upstairs to my door in the middle of the night; I on the other hand, couldn't bend the thick metal at all! No idea how she did it. At age 12, she's still the most physically strong dog I know, but mentally, I see a confusion and fear in her eyes sometimes that is heartbreaking...

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    1. A couple of people have said similar things about their dogs as they aged. It would be very heartbreaking to see the confusion and fear and not be able to explain it.

      We're going to be sure and rule out any health concerns just to be sure.

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  7. I've gone through the aging of a number of dogs, and they do often develop new behaviors and fears as they age. But, with most of mine, it was later than 7 years old. In one case, it was the onset of Addison's that triggered our dog to suddenly become afraid of his crate. It might be worth considering whether a veterinary issue could be part of it.

    Another thought would be to put Callie's crate in a room with another of your dogs. I can't tell if her crate is with another dog in the room while you're at work. One of our dogs (Shyla) is crated when we're gone, and our other, uncrated dog (R), lies next to her crate. It probably helps her immensely.

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    1. Callie is by herself in a room off the kitchen. She has her issues and isn't always nice to others. The problem is that if I did put her near another crated dog there could be problems and I wouldn't know. Of course, I have no idea what is going on now!

      We're going to have a complete health check soon just to be sure.

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  8. We dealt with separation anxiety with our foster, Kylie. The first couple months we had her she crated like a dream. (Though she would paw the crate like mad when we walked inside.) Then one day we came home and there she was wandering around. She had completely busted out. This happened several more times so we started holding the crate with clips so she couldn't break out. (At the time our two were loose together and I didn't want to risk anything.) She would still get out, and or attempt to get out and often end up with cuts on her face and a couple icky gashes a few times. Finally we decided of course not to crate her. Then she clawed our door frames and shredded our blinds. Being renters on a limited budget this was not going to fly. So back in the crate she went with more heavy duty clips. We'd come home and her crate would be scooted halfway across the room and she was in a frenzy every time. I felt terrible but it was either that or stop fostering her and have her live in a boarding facility, so I figured she was better off with us since she was perfectly happy and well behaved when we were home. If it had been my personal dog I would have had to figure out a better long-term solution but it was quite stressful and I felt bad that she was so anxious when we left. Thankfully she was adopted by a family who didn't believe in crating so she never had to see a crate again.
    I've never had an older dog either, being that my two are our first two. I know that personalities/preferences definitely can shift in odd ways though as they age. It's always odd when a dog is so comfortable with your routine and suddnely they decide they aren't having it anymore. Good luck with Callie's anxiety, if that's what it is. Sounds like she did well being out of the crate.

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    1. How frustrating that must have been with Kylie. Callie doesn't seem to care when left and it's never been a big deal. On goes the coat, grab the keys and walk out. No big production leaving or returning. Any time that any of the dogs are excited, pawing, etc they have to wait until they are calm and quiet before the crate is opened. I worry about her and hope this doesn't develop into anything more.

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  9. Wow that is kind of a tricky and puzzling situation. I haven't experienced this kind of behavior emerging on an older dog but it does sound like an alternative to the crate is a good move for her. My foster Pager absolutely hated the crate no matter what I did to help desensitize her to it, so leaving her out of the crate ended up being the only humane thing I could do--and in this case, it was fine for the remaining time I had her.

    Is the room with the baby gate a sustainable solution?

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    1. So far so good with Callie being left out. She is super calm and relaxed when I get home, so that's her new routine.

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  10. Poor Callie!! That is quite strange, but I am glad she seems to be doing better! Anxiety is a tricky thing to deal with. My Cooper had it for quite some time when he was younger. It can be a hard thing to work through. Best of luck to you and Callie!

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    1. I sorta laugh and think to myself that this is just yet another challenge that Callie is throwing at me! She seems very happy with our new arrangement so she'll remain out of the crate.

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  11. Hmm...that is puzzling. I noticed that since Riley was on crate rest in 2011 after her first knee surgery, she would start barking every time one of us would leave the house, and it just got worse after her last bout with crate rest last year...she now whines when we appear to be getting ready to leave and barks after we shut the door until we get in the car. I chalk it up to some mild separation anxiety. She's free roaming when we're gone (doesn't get into things or pee/poop in the house and plays nicely with Chloe) and when we return , she's usually sleeping or has just woken up, so I don't think she really has the "traditional" separation anxiety.

    Sounds like Callie's okay when she's left out, so maybe that's the solution.

    My sister's Boxer, Daisy, was crated as a puppy and absolutely hated it. My sister would come home and there would be Daisy, covered in slobber with slobber in about a 3 foot radius of the crate. She never tried to chew the crate like Callie did, but finally my sister started leaving Daisy out during the day. Daisy chewed every single stair spindle on her stairs and chewed the window frames. Of course, she was still a puppy, so some of that may have been teething, but I think most of it was anxiety. She would also pee and poop in the house all over while they were only gone a few hours. Once she grew up a little and they added a second dog (male, "Highway"), she was fine.

    Moral of the story: you need another dog...ha ha, just kidding!! ;) Hope you get it figured out and that it's nothing the vet can't help you with (I saw in your other post that you're going to get her checked out for any medical issues...good idea).

    Okay, that was long and not very helpful...sorry! Have a great Wednesday!

    Elyse and Riley

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    1. It's easy to understand why Riley would be acting up when crated, that makes sense!

      How awful for your sister and Daisy. That would be very difficult to deal with. So glad that she's doing okay now that she has a buddy.

      Ha ha ha....another dog! But seriously, that is part of the problem too - Callie can't be trusted alone and loose with the others. We're going to stay with Callie in her room and also ask the vet's opinion and make sure there is nothing physical.

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